Welcome to the fascinating world of Kveik! This blog explores the magic of Kveik and what makes it so unique. From its origins in the Norwegian yeast tradition to its advantages and applications in beer brewing, we can answer all your questions about Kveik.
What is Kveik?
Kveik is a yeast strain that is taking the beer world by storm. Kveik originated in Norway and literally means ‘yeast’ in Norwegian. So when you say Kveik yeast, you are actually saying ‘yeast yeast’, so we won’t be doing that from now on.
Norwegian farmers have used this special yeast for beer brewing for centuries. Kveik is famous for its ability to ferment at higher temperatures, and it does so much faster than regular brewer’s yeast. This is also why it is a highly desirable yeast for professional breweries and homebrewers alike.
The history of Kveik
Shut your eyes and travel to the Norwegian fjords 400 years back in time. Picture a small farmhouse at the edge of one of these fjords, with a Norwegian farmer stirring a beer kettle. And what will go into the barrel after the brewing process? Right, Kveik! Because that’s how old Kveik is. Although there is no record of exactly how old Kveik is, we know that it was used throughout Norway for beer brewing in the early 17th century. This yeast was passed from one family to the next and through generations. They did this with Kveik rings. These rings have wooden links to which the yeast attaches after fermentation. These rings would be hung up, dried, and could then be used for the next brew. So, Kveik has actually been used for centuries. But what makes it so unique?
What makes Kveik unique?
The thing that makes Kveik genuinely unique is its ability to ferment quickly and effectively. Whereas traditional brewer’s yeast can sometimes take several days or weeks to ferment, Kveik can complete this job within days and sometimes even hours! Besides its fermentation speed, Kveik can also tolerate much higher temperatures. Whereas traditional brewer’s yeasts tend to stop making tasty beer or die off above 25°C, this Norwegian superstar has no problem with temperatures of 40-45°C. Thanks to this resilience, Kveik has gained massive popularity among brewers worldwide in a very short time. Besides all the technical stuff, Kveik often produces unique and exciting flavours that can be used for plenty of experimentation. By using Kveik in our new Countdown beer, we have made it the ultimate thirst-quenching beer.
How does Kveik ferment?
The fermentation process with Kveik is similar to that of traditional brewer’s yeasts. First, the wort is boiled and hopped to obtain the desired flavour and bitterness. After that, the wort is quickly cooled and transferred to the fermentation vessel. At this point, the Kveik is added, and it can start doing its job: fermentation.
In the fermentation process, the yeast, in this case, Kveik, converts sugars into alcohol, aromas, and flavours. The aromas, flavours, and amount of alcohol produced depend highly on which yeast variety is used. So, Kveik can do this job at much higher temperatures, between 20 and 45°C. Moreover, Kveik tends to ferment faster and can add flavours and aromas distinct from those of traditional yeasts.
How does Kveik affect the beer's flavour?
All this technical stuff is great, but the important thing is how Kveik affects the beer’s flavour! There are various strains of Kveik, all with their own characteristics and flavour profiles. These flavour profiles are often adapted to the environment they come from. Kveik is renowned for its intricate, fruity, and spicy flavour profiles. For example, beers brewed with Kveik can have aromas of citrus, tropical fruits, peach, apricot, pineapple, and even red berries. Besides all these fruity notes, Kveik can also introduce spicy and clove notes to the beer. By all accounts, Kveik ensures that any beer for which it is used will be packed with flavour and, above all, character! The Kveik used in Countdown has introduced notes of pineapple, sweet fruit, and citrus.
What are the various Kveik strains?
There are various Kveik strains, each offering unique properties and flavours. These strains have all been named after the originators of the original yeast cultures. Each strain can have a different impact on the final beer’s flavour and character. For example, the Kveik strain used to brew Countdown, Hornindal, is known for its complex mix of fruity esters, spicy aromas, and sometimes even caramel notes. If you want to brew a beer with a strong citrus flavour, you should go for the Voss strain, as it is known for its citrusy notes. The higher the temperature at which this Kveik is left to do its job, the more citrusy the beer will be. Yet other Kveik strains, such as Ebbegarden, again provide subtle spicy and earthy notes. So, the type of Kveik strain used significantly influences the beer’s flavour!
Which beer styles are suitable for Kveik?
Kveik is suitable for brewing a diverse range of beers. It is traditionally used in the brewing process of Norwegian farmhouse beers, such as Norwegian Farmhouse Ales, known for their spicy and complex flavours. Yet Kveik can also be used for contemporary beer styles such as IPAs, Pale Ales, Saisons, and many more. When we brewed Countdown, we wanted to bring out the hops’ fruity flavours even more by using Hornindal Kveik, which has worked out quite well! On top of the fruitiness, this Kveik has made it a superbly refreshing beer.
Undoubtedly, Kveik is one of the most exciting yeast varieties available. Thanks to its unique ability to ferment quickly and at higher temperatures, Kveik presents countless possibilities for creating unique and flavourful beers. Exploring Kveik opens up opportunities for exciting beers and new flavour creations, something we are far from finished with!