Kveik Yeast: From Farmhouse Obscurity to Craft Darling

CBC Online 2020
Speakers: Lars Marius Garshol

Link to article CBC beer styles

In western Norway, farmhouse brewers do not buy yeast. Instead, they inherit it from their parents or grandparents, or simply get it from their neighbors. The yeast is repitched from batch to batch, seemingly endlessly. This is how brewers all over the world used to maintain their yeast before the advent of modern lab techniques. In western Norway, these old yeast handling methods are still in use.

These yeasts from western Norway are known as kveik, and until a few years ago professional brewers and modern home brewers were not aware of them at all. They have recently become very popular, because of their unusual brewing properties. Kveik can produce either quite strong aromas of tropical fruit, or more subdued aromas, depending on how they are used. They can ferment at temperatures up to 42°C (107°F) without off-flavors, can produce beer ready to drink in less than a week, tolerate alcohol up to at least 13-16 percent ABV, and can also handle drying. They are extremely stress-resistent and easy to work with.

This talk will explain where kveik comes from, how the farmhouse brewers use it, and how we know what kind of yeast it is. On the way we will show that the history of yeast is very different from what most people imagine, and learn about the brewing properties of these yeasts. The talk ends with a brief tutorial on how best to make use of kveik.

Learning Objectives:

  • What is kveik and how is it similar to and different from other yeast
  • Where kveik comes from and how farmhouse brewers use it
  • That the history of yeast is what most people think it is
  • How to make the best use of kveik

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