Rise of the Super Yeast: Will an ancient Norwegian yeast revolutionize American craft beer?

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by ESHBG, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. ESHBG

    ESHBG Aspirant (231) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    https://growlermag.com/rise-of-the-super-yeast-kveik/
     
  2. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (111) Feb 25, 2013 California

    sounds like all the yeasts winemakers use
     
  3. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,221) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    It will be interesting to see what these nearby breweries can accomplish. Sounds like there is the potential to save them some money and energy, with higher temperature tolerance and shorter fermentation time.
     
  4. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Meyvn (1,195) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
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    I had a beer brewed with Kveik yeast by Stone Berlin and Lervig just yesterday and it really wasn't great. Some kind of a weird cross between an IPA and Farmhouse Ale that just didn't work out all that well. That's not to say that other brewers won't use this strain with more success, obviously.
     
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  5. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,082) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    A local brewer used this yeast in a release late 2018.

    Double Shift's Mareritt.

    I thought the beer was enjoyable, but just okay. I would be interested in seeing it used more.
     
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  6. Ozzylizard

    Ozzylizard Poo-Bah (3,364) Oct 5, 2013 Pennsylvania
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    In answer to the question posed: no. It'll be incorporated into brewing techniques and be used to varying degrees by various brewers, just like any other yeast strain.
     
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  7. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,396) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    White wine yeast operates at Ale yeast temperature. Red wine yeasts go up to 80F. Kveik yeasts go up to 100F and are pretty clean.

    Some breweries around me have made beers with Kveik yeasts, I can say those have been clean.
     
  8. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (521) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    I tasted two identical beers fermented with hothead when it was still being tested by Omega for what it can handle at both ends of its temp range, and could not tell the difference.
    At home, I've used the Hornindal and the Hothead, and can get from brewday to fully carbonated and in a glass in about a week.
    I currently am using the Hornindal for a raw ale, and at day two they are content with about a inch and half head, and bubbling away.
     
  9. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Devotee (454) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia
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    Local brewery Benchtop loves the Norwegian yeast
     
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  10. fmccormi

    fmccormi Meyvn (1,360) Oct 24, 2010 California

    If it has a reputation of fermenting "cleanly" in a short period of time (i.e., without producing many if any off flavors and aromas), then I'm guessing brewers are interested in two things: one, shorter turn around time*, and two, how much more they can get from volatile hop compounds.

    Think especially about wet hop beers. Whether or not the drinker would notice much, if any difference is unclear to me, but if a brewer can say the hops in the beer in your glass were picked three or four days ago, then it's at least a selling point.


    *it seems like brewers are using kveik right now for pale, hoppy beers. Because these already have a short turn around, compared to a lot of other popular styles, I'm guessing a bigger limitation is available budget for hop contracts and the cost of heavy dry-hopping regimes. So, I'm curious if kveik's short fermentation would actually make that much of a difference for most breweries pumping out pale, hoppy beers. I dunno. Thoughts?
     
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  11. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,506) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Well I'm definitely curious about this, not for the short turn-around time, but for the fruitiness. If I could even slightly reduce my dry-hopping that would save me money. I might even be willing to continue with heavy hopping if the fruitiness from the yeast added that much more but I doubt it.
     
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  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,812) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I have only had one beer fermented with a Kveik yeast strain so far (from a brewpub) and I was not a fan of the flavors of that beer; I would not consider ordering that beer again. I would not use the term of "off flavors" for that beer but the flavors the yeast produced were not favorable for my palate.

    I will try other Kveik fermented beers in the future. Hopefully I will enjoy those?

    Cheers!

    P.S. Hopefully @Prep8611 will chime into this thread.
     
  13. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (116) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
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  14. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (553) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    In the Philly area and if so which brewpub/beer? I am curious and would like to try it if there is a local option.
     
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  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,812) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    No, it was not local. A few months ago I took a road trip to/from Texas to visit family & friends. On the way we did some camping in Arkansas. There was a brewpub in Hot Springs that had a Kveik brewed beer on tap.
    Are you willing to travel to South Jersey? Maybe @NeroFiddled will have a Kveik fermented beer available in the near future?

    Cheers!
     
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  16. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (116) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
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    ....my bad....I said @pweis909 in post 13 but meant @minderbender. Their avatars look (slightly) similar at a (really quick) glance.
     
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  17. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (111) Feb 25, 2013 California

    I've fermented reds up to about 92-94 (I got nervous at that point), but reds routinely are fermented up to 90
     
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  18. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,767) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
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    I haven’t used any Norwegian or similarly derived strains yet. I’m intrigued, but I’m usually last out of the gate on these “new” brew trends. I’m still trying to figure out black IPA (pale and black at the same time?). After that, I want to try these new Citra hops I’ve heard so much about. It’s going to take some time before I get to kveik
     
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  19. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (199) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    I've brewed several beers with kveik that I enjoyed. In particular it works well in gose since its ideal temperature range overlaps significantly with the ideal temperature range for Lactobacillus. (Note that kveik is not a single strain of yeast but rather a general type of yeast used in a particular way in Norway. But for our purposes that doesn't matter much.)

    I think kveik will definitely gain market share over time. I tend to think that its effect on the final product is not distinctive enough for it to be all that visible to the consumer. (In other words, maybe 20 years from now a lot of IPAs will be brewed with kveik, but they might not be labeled in a way that makes them distinguishable from other IPAs.) Whether that's truly transformative is a subjective question.

    What I would point out, though, is that kveik really represents two different things. On the one hand, it's a remarkable organism for the reasons cited in the article. There's no question in my mind that as a yeast its brewing qualities will help it gain a foothold in craft beer. That is understandably the main focus for a lot of beer enthusiasts in the United States.

    On the other hand, kveik is interwoven into Norwegian culture, and in particular into Norway's pre-industrial brewing culture. What I mean by that is that until very recently you wouldn't find kveik in any of Norway's commercial breweries. It is used by true farmhouse brewers who use it in very particular ways (for instance, they almost always use juniper extensively in their brewing). There are rich traditions associated with the beer brewed with kveik, such as the gjærkauk (yeast scream), the oppskåke (social gathering to drink freshly-brewed beer), and "roaring" the beer (heating it and releasing carbonation rapidly, making it "roar"). And check out the sweet "beer glove" at the top of this post.

    This kind of brewing is endangered precisely because it is so particular to the culture in which it evolved. In most places (maybe everywhere) it is hard to obtain juniper in the quantities you would need for large-scale production of this type of beer. The beer is often raw (unboiled), leading to lower shelf stability, and in any case it is meant to be consumed very quickly after brewing is done. And even if you could overcome those limitations, I don't think it would taste the same from a tulip glass in a beer bar as it would out of a reused plastic soda bottle around a fire. (By the way, if you ever get to sample a Norwegian farmhouse beer, make sure to tell the brewer he or she must be very lazy. If you don't like the beer, on the other hand, tell the brewer that he or she must live near a great lake.)

    I guess what I'm saying is that I hope kveik is transformative not just because it's a useful yeast but because it gives us a glimpse into a beautiful, vanishing way of life. It's a bit of a living fossil: Something like the current Norwegian farmhouse tradition would have been ubiquitous once, and it's died out nearly everywhere, driven out by cheap, consistent commercial beer. I don't think that's necessarily regrettable—there are few things in life better than cheap, consistent commercial beer—but it's a chance to reflect on what was and what could have been. And it's a chance to be a responsible "tourist," either in the literal sense or the figurative sense.
     
  20. Tucquan

    Tucquan Poo-Bah (2,820) Oct 11, 2007 Pennsylvania
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    Thanks for the detailed analysis and comments. I really enjoyed your post.
     
  21. riptorn

    riptorn Initiate (116) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
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    Funny you mention the traditional scream. I poked around earlier today and saw the video in your link that shows what I would think of as a cheer or chant, and not a scream....it’s about 50 seconds in.

    This guy (DrHans) says it’s to ward off evil spirits, and took “scream” to heart at about the 17:30 mark.
     
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  22. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Meyvn (1,452) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
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    @honkey you have experience using this (hope my memory is correct lol), when you have time can you give us your take on it.

    Cheers
     
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  23. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,396) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    OK I was going on what the yeast vendors were saying. From beer yeasts' ranges should have been suspect.

    I do know that wine yeasts used in meads are used on the low 60s range.
     
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  24. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (123) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    Wouldn't mind trying it but i'll need a 7 gal crock pot to ferment in.
     
  25. TigerDriver91

    TigerDriver91 Initiate (132) Jan 17, 2017 Illinois

    had a couple of hazy IPAs made with kveik yeast in Chicago, it seems to work really well in that style and definitely compliments fruity hops.
     
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  26. MrOH

    MrOH Champion (872) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    I've used a Kveik yeast in every non-Saison beer I've made in the past year and a half. Ferment cool for less expression, warm for more fruity esters.
     
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  27. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,506) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    ~ If someone else in the area were to buy the yeast I'd gladly "borrow" some but I don't see the owners putting out money for it, and I certainly wouldn't push for it, although I do find it very interesting.

    ~ Additionally, we certainly don't have a problem with needing to turn over beers quickly; although I might run into a snag shortly as I have a Belgian Quad and Imperial Stout going at the same time, both of which require a little more time in the tank.

    ~ On that note, I'll often ferment some beers higher than most people normally would, depending on the style of course. I'm on board with Brian O'Reilly (Mainstay Independent, formerly of Sly Fox) in letting Belgian strains go "free range", often getting up into the 80's before I bring them back down.

    ~ Finally, if we did have a need to turn-over beers quickly I'd still think that the yeast would be limiting - i.e. you can't brew a German-style hefeweizen with it. Who's got some ideas on what to brew with it? I'm guessing APAs, IPAs, American Strong Ale, American Amber, Spruce Beer, etc.

    With all of that said, I'm really curious about the beers from Scandinavia and the Baltic region; and I've considered traveling there with a friend of mine who speaks Danish and has friends who live there. I'd love to brew a traditional Sahti, and there are plenty of other local variations. A lot of these are still truly "farmhouse ales", or home-brews. Many of them are smoked, and I do love smoked beers. The one guy I know who's worked with any of these is Tom Baker from Brewery Techne / Bar Hygge and Earth Bread + Brewery, so maybe I'll talk to him about it.

    Ahh, and another thought pops into my mind... if I were to brew these styles would anyone drink them? Smoked beers are generally not very popular, nor are gruit beers, or beers brewed with branches, twigs and spruce needles and so forth. That's something to consider as well.
     
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  28. honkey

    honkey Zealot (548) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Premium Industry

    The yeast is interesting and I love using it. I think this article is poorly written and overstates the benefits of using that strain. It does ferment quickly, but not significantly moreso than any other ale brewed with proper pitching rates, aeration, and temperature. Ales should be done fermenting in 2-4 days and then they might need another couple of days to clean up diacetyl. The Kveik I’ve used ferments dry in about 3 days normally and doesn’t need time to clean up diacetyl, but the beer is too green at that point anyways to cold crash it and drink. The cells still need a couple
    Days to swell so that they’ll flocculate well and a hoppy beer will still need time for the hops to settle.

    I really like the lemon-lime flavors we get from the Voss Kveik, though the IPA’s we’ve brewed with it have been significantly less popular than our hazy IPA’s with most of the comments saying that it’s dryer than drinkers would prefer. I jokingly told people that we brewed Brut IPA’s 2 years ago with this yeast before Brut IPA’s became a thing. I’d love to use it more often as I found those beers to be highly drinkable, refreshing, and interesting, but the demand for hoppy beers brewed with it just isn’t there. I could see giving it a shot in an imperial stout, but we’ve been going in the opposite direction of trying to get the body and mouthfeel more full for those beers, so I don’t see it happening soon.
     
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,812) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Jim, a couple of weeks ago I finally got a chance to visit Locust Lane (I believe you have been there). One of the brewers was working the bar and we got to chatting about brewing. He informed me that they have been open 2 years. He stated that in the beginning they purchased yeast in pitchable quantities but lately (the past year?) they have been buying homebrew size packs from a local homebrew shop (Fancy Camper) and just propagating that for their brewing. He mentioned they did a two-stage step-up over a period of a couple days. He went on to say this saves them lots of money. Would your brewery owner be receptive to this idea?

    You can purchase Kveik yeast that is produced by Omega Yeast and you should be able to purchase homebrew size packs for less than 10 bucks. Omega has three Kveik products: HotHead, Voss, and Hornindal. I have not brewed with any of these yet.

    https://omegayeast.com/yeast
    From the Omega website (link above):

    HotHead: “Hothead™ is clean enough for both American and English styles. It has a unique honey-like aroma with overripe mango which is complementary to modern, fruity hops. Temperature control is unnecessary with this strain. Non-phenolic and no fusels, even at higher temperatures.”

    I would guess that depending on what fermentation temperature you choose you can vary from clean (ferment on the cooler side of the range) to more fruity (ferment on the hotter side of the range).

    Voss: “Voss Kveik’s orange-citrus notes present throughout its wide temperature range.”

    I would think this strain would be a good choice for American style hoppy beers (e.g., APA, IPA, DIPA,…)

    Hornindal: “Hornindal produces a tropical flavor and complex aroma that can present itself as stonefruit, pineapple, and dried fruit leather, which complement fruit-forward hops. Add even more dimension to “C” hops and increase ester intensity with a high fermentation temperature. Ferments well at 90° F/32° C or higher. Non-phenolic and no fusels, even at higher temps.”

    Hmm, with the aspect of “dried fruit leather” this strain sounds intriguing. The aspects of stonefruit and pineapple seems consistent with American style hoppy beers but I am uncertain about this “dried fruit leather”. Maybe produce a sort of Belgian IPA with this strain?

    Cheers!
     
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,812) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Weedy, what final gravity did you achieve with Voss Kveik?

    Cheers!
     
  31. honkey

    honkey Zealot (548) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
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    If I remember correctly it was about 1.002
     
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  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,812) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Wow! That is like what I get for Saison yeast strains (var. diastaticus). At least for the Saison strains that I have used they produced a fair bit of glycerol which provides a sense of 'fullness' to the beer.

    Do you think these Omega Kveik products contain var. diastaticus yeast(s)? Is this a concern to you in your commercial brewery? Do you think they produce notable glycerol?

    Cheers!
     
  33. honkey

    honkey Zealot (548) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Premium Industry

    I was told that it doesn’t contain diastaticus. I do not use french saison yeast as I had a bad experience with a cross contamination about 5 years ago. I’m more likely to use Brett in the brewery (and I do so) than I am to ever use French Saison. I do not notice any glycerol with that strain. I used a lot of oats in the beers I brewed with it to try to get a more full mouthfeel
     
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  34. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,506) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I could prop yeast but we're not really set up to do it. I'd have space issues. It would be easier to fill a corny-keg from somewhere else. It is something to think about though considering that I wouldn't have to worry about temperature.

    The question is, would I want to use it? I only get to create about 20% of the beers now, and they need to be approved first, so I'm not sure I'd want to waste one trying something out but I will do a home-brew and see what it produces. I think I'll try the Hornindal as it's quite easy to get orange flavors with Amarillo and Mandarina Bavaria. If that works out it should save on tropical hops, which might get the green light. We'll see. It will all depend on what the yeast really does. Seeing as it's a high attenuator it might be good for a Brut IPA, not that I really want to do one.
     
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  35. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (199) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    I think big beers are probably the best use case for kveik (as well as goses/Berliners, as I pointed out earlier). Here is Lars's post on brewing with kveik. Here are some key passages:

    The key to really bringing out the yeast character is to underpitch. Kveik thrives with being pitched at levels that would be dangerously low for normal yeast, and produces more flavour that way. A good rule of thumb is a teaspoon of slurry for 25 liters of wort. If you do this take care to ensure there is some oxygen in the wort. Old-style splashing by pouring the (cooled) wort from waist height is enough.

    And:

    Kveik has very high alcohol tolerance (typically 13-16%), probably because it's used to fermenting very high gravity beers. That also means kveik seems to have lost the ability to produce some of the nutrients it needs on its own. It's used to having lots of it available at all times. So fermentation on low-gravity worts can be quite slow and give low attenuation. The same goes for fermenting cider and mead. Putting in lots of yeast nutrient helps.
     
  36. montman

    montman Disciple (370) Mar 10, 2009 Virginia
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    Yeah, Benchtop uses a Norwegian yeast (not sure if it is related) they refer to as "gong" that ferments much warmer, they have had some excellent results imo.
     
  37. minderbender

    minderbender Initiate (199) Jan 18, 2009 New York

    Yeah, for path dependent reasons people in the U.S. use the term "kveik," but in fact there are a variety of regional words as detailed in this blog post. Gong is another, and gjær, gjester, and barm are also used. Having summarized all that, Lars writes:

    I'm tempted to use "kveik" to mean "Norwegian farmhouse yeast." Jørund Geving points out that if we manage to revive yeasts from central Norway we'll then start calling them "kveik" even though the locals call it "gjester." And the yeasts from Ål in Hallingdal, which the locals call "gong" will then be called kveik by everyone else. That's not ideal, but realistically I think introducing that many words is going to be difficult, unless some of these yeasts really are totally different from the others. Which they could be. We don't know yet.

    So, that's my conclusion. I'm going to use "kveik" to mean "Norwegian farmhouse yeast" from now on, and probably "farmhouse yeast" for farmhouse yeast in general. Whether "landrace yeast" catches on I guess we'll see.
     
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  38. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,506) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    If I do get a hold of this yeast I'll call the beer I make "Jr. Gong".
     
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  39. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Devotee (454) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia
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    FWIW, they already make a Gong Water and Why the Gong Face, so the pun train has started.
     
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  40. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,506) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    I wasn't making a pun, I was going to name it after Damian Marley, "Jr. Gong", but maybe I should just go for Tuff Gong instead, that might get more acknowledgement. Irie Mon!