Finding Great Uses for Kveik Yeast

Editor’s Note: Jon Sicotte spoke with many breweries about their uses with Kveik yeast strains. This is a multiple-part series.

More than a year ago, Trevor Luther was doing ancestry research on his family and the head brewer for Grove City Brewing found out he had some Norwegian heritage.

“I wanted to brew a beer style from that area so I started researching,” he said. Around the same time, his assistant brewer said he had read somewhere about a new yeast called Kveik.

“I looked it up and it was perfect,” Luther said. “I was looking to do something from that region.”

So Luther began building a traditional Norwegian Raw Ale with common Juniper.

A raw ale is a beer brewed without going to the boil kettle, so the Ohio brewery only used its hot liquor tank and mash tun in the brewing process.

“I infused my sparge water with the juniper and used traditional grains,” Luther said, indicating that he then pulled some of the wort at about 30 minutes into the mash to use to boil some hops on an induction burner for 45 minutes. He then added back to the mash before mashing out and pitched with the Hornindal Kveik strain and it worked great, Luther said.

The Grove City, Ohio brewery has used Kveik in other beers as well.

“I love the yeast. It is a beast,” Luther said. “It has great benefits.”

Those include working at a higher temperature without producing off flavors.

“That, in turn, saves us money and time with knockdown, fermentation and it finishes very quickly so we have faster turns on our tanks,” he said. “That is very beneficial to us having a 3.5 barrel brewhouse.”

Eric Tennant seems to be a big fan of Kveik. The founder and head brewer for Bench Top Brewing used a strain of the yeast in the Norfolk, Virginia brewery’s Soft Crash Mosaic IPA and it captured a Top 40 honor from Paste Magazine during a blind tasting.

“It is our one of our house strains now,” he said, adding the brewery gets about 10 generations out of it.

“We have done everything from NEIPAs to Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, and even as the primary fermenter for mixed fermentation beers.”

The yeast has been used by the brewery for a little over a year now after Tennant and his team heard about it at a Master Brewers Association of America (MBAA) meeting.

The most remarkable thing Tennant said the brewery has done was a wet hop Ale last year.

Bench Top had Citra hops flown in from Oregon and the brew team brewed with them the next day before pitching in the Kveik

“Ten days later we released the beer so the hops went from harvest to glass to 11 days,” Tennant said. “It generally produces some great citrus and tropical flavors and aromas if you encourage that with pitch rates, that tends to complement many of the most popular hops.”

Nebraska’s Boiler Brewing makes a beer made with all Nebraska-grown hops and malt called ‘THAT! NE IPA.’

“It’s a New England IPA with Nebraska-grown and malted barley from Missouri Valley Malt, and Nebraska grown hops from Midwest Hop Producers,” explained Tim Thomssen. “We switched the yeast over to in-house propagated Kveik — which was nice to give the beer yet another layer of local — plus the flavor and performance is great.

Low pitch rates and fermenting hot is particularly attractive for brewers who might have difficulty controlling fermentation temperature and pitching enough yeast, Thomssen said.

For those out there that want to give it a try, Thomssen would confirm that a 20% pitch quantity with an 86 degree pitch temperature, fermented at 100 degrees makes a tasty, clean, fruity beer, free of phenolics.

“The beer turned out nice. We’ll use Kveik again for sure,” he said. “On the next batch, we will likely explore pitching even warmer to see if we can coax even more sexy fruit out of the yeast.”

Grove City plans to continue to use Kveik and test its limits on temperature and its ability to produce different Ales.

“We are a winery as well so I have played around with trying it in some Mead production,” Luther added. “Overall I’m very excited about using this yeast. Not only do I feel a connection with it personally with my family ties but I love its versatility and robustness.

“I can’t wait to see what others do with it.”

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