In general, kveik has a fruity profile, but each one has its own characteristics. Its worth spending some time to become familiar with them.
Once you’ve gotten your hands on some kveik the first thing you should really do is make a starter. While it’s perfectly alright to pitch it into some wort and make some beer, you might as well create a starter so that you can prove the yeast is viable. You can (overbuild and) save some for later, and you can use the starter beer for some experiments. The starter beer will give you a sense of what kind of aromas and flavours you’ll get, and you can dry hop the “beer” in little mason jars to get a feel for what hop/Kveik combinations appeal to you.
Believe it or not, “A good rule of thumb is a teaspoon [5 ml] of slurry for 25 liters of wort” . This will produce a lot of the kveik (ester) character with many of the strains, but some don’t have this characteristic So, I’ll often use about 10ml of slurry to make a starter about 5% of the size of the batch (1L for a ~20L batch). But you’ll figure out after a few batches what pitching rate provides the flavor profile and fermentation speed that you’re after. Whichever approach you take, it’s important to remember to add yeast nutrients (0.5 tsp per 20L batch) and “properly” aerate the wort. This can be as simple as using a whisk, or pouring back and forth between a few buckets.
Many of the Kveik strains are good for top-cropping. The registry will tell you whether you should harvest from the top or bottom and when to do it. Lately I’ve been using Årset and will harvest after 36 hours. From a 12L batch I can harvest the yeast and some beer (about 250ml) from the top and use that to fill 4 x 50ml vials. With a healthy ferment each of those vials will provide plenty of yeast! It’s worth pointing out that you can grab all the yeast from the top, there will be plenty left to soldier on. Since getting my hands on some Oslo, I’ve started top cropping at 24 hours and grabbing 500 ml. That nets me about 100 ml of yeast solids.
I like to keep several 50 ml vials ready to go in the fridge. If I’m collecting from the bottom, I try and keep a few jars available (125ml or 250ml). These can be pitched directly if need be. When ever I run out I’ll make a starter from dehydrated flakes stored in my freezer.
Dehydrating can provide a lot of dried yeast for future batches. The process itself is quite simple:
Here are some notes on the ones that I’ve managed to play around with:
|Kveik Strain||Flavor Profile||Recommended Styles|
|Oslo (single strain)||Very neutral||Blondes, and any other beer you need a clean profile|
|Hornindal or Årset||Tropical fruit, (mild) caramel||APA, IPA, Brown Ales, English styles, general use|
|Ebbegarden||Pineapple, mango, guava||APA, IPA, sours, general use|
|Voss||Orange, some spice||APA, IPA, Winter Ale|
|Granvin||Like Voss but milder||Blonde Ales, “clean” beers|
Figure 4 Kveik flavor, styles, and attenuation
The main reason I started looking into Kveik is because I’d heard that it thrived at high temperatures without creating fusel alcohols, phenolic esters (like a Saison yeast), or banana flavors. Each strain has a specific “best” temp, but all of them seem to work well in the 28C-30C range. If you’re anything like me, room temperature is ~23C; which is fine for Kveik. But to provide optimal temperatures you may want to use a heat source:
I ferment in kegs, so prefer using a heat-wrap and a temp controller.
Kveik will ferment your beer in 2-5 days depending on temperature, nutrients, and gravity. A good safe strategy is:
Once you get more familiar with how quickly things work you can work on shortening this process Brewing quickly and bottling Bottling works well, and carbonation is achieved quickly. I recently made an American Blonde ale with Simcoe where I did the following:
One week after brewing I was enjoying this tasty beverage. It should be noted, that of course this beer was better after about a week of “conditioning” in the fridge.
Kegging is a bit simpler in some ways. After verifying final gravity, you can transfer to a keg and then force carbonate/condition in your kegerator or keezer. 24 hours at 30 PSI will get you damn close to the standard you’d expect from a north American beer (remember to draw a beer to release the pressure and dial it back down to serving pressure). This is my preferred approach with Oslo, which gives yeast the best chance to flocculate out completely. If you have a counter-pressure bottle filler, then another interesting option is to naturally carbonate (described below) and fill from the keg.
Putting everything together and taking advantage of natural carbonation allows us to brew incredibly quickly. Once you’ve done a few batches with Kveik, you’ll probably figure out a timeframe when most of the fermentation is complete in your setup (with 1° Plato or 5 gravity points left). For me that ends up being 36-48 hours. To take advantage of that here’s what I like to do (borrowing some ideas from Low Oxygen Brewing ):
Further details and discussion see our Five Tone Brewing page about low oxygen brewing
Since this process is so fast, you should seriously consider doing no-chill. You can make a starter using dehydrated flakes with real wort while the main volume of wort safely chills in your fermentor! For a 10L to 20L batch this will only set you back 12-18 hours; if you brew on Sunday, you’ll still be able to serve beer Friday night.
Kveik happens to love the same ideal temperature range for L. Plantarum. This makes co-pitching Kveik and Lacto bacteria very attractive. There is are a lot of details about Lacto ferments on the Milk the Funk Wiki that are a bit out of scope here. Suffice it to say, that co-pitching Ebbegarden (or another Kveik) and L Plantarum at 28-30°C will get you to a nice pH and a good ferment very quickly.
Simonaitis is a related yeast that loves high temperatures, but unlike Kveik it produces some phenols (pepper). It will give somewhere between 75-80% attenuation; since it doesn’t have the STA1 gene, it is more like a Belgian/Trappist ale yeast than a traditional Saison yeast.
Jovaru is Lithuanian (Saison) yeast that also loves high temperatures, is a Saison yeast (lemon & pepper). It has the STA1 gene, so it’ll give you very high attenuation. I co-pitched Jovaru with some brett and Lacto dregs from a few of my favorite beers and it performed well. After two weeks it achieved 93% attenuation (in a sour beer).
I’ve included a few sample “recipes” to help give you a few ideas about the kind of things that work. In general, kveik is going to give you some citrus/tropical-flavors that you’ll either want to harness or overpower. Hornindal and Årset will produce an almost caramel flavor, so you may want to reduce the amount of Caramalt/Crystal used in a recipe to match your desired target.
Keeping in mind the typical flavors that Kveik produces citrus, tropical fruit, in some cases a bit of caramel; it should be obvious that Kveik is a natural fit for North American Pale Ales and IPAs. Here’s a sample “recipe”. I used crowd-favorite Citra, but almost any new herbal/piney/spicy hop will work well. Use recipe software and the ratios below to target an OG of about 1.050. Assume about 75-80% attenuation (depending on your specific yeast choice)
Want something lager-like grain-to-glass in 6 days? Look no further
Use recipe software and the ratios below to target an OG of about 1.046. Assume about 80-85% attenuation
Taking advantage of kveik and L Plantarum’s shared affinity for ~30C, in this recipe we co-pitch and accept that we’ll have live Lacto. The tropical fruit flavors that come out of Ebbegarden match wonderfully with a tart sour and can be bolstered with a zesty dry-hop (think Simcoe or even a combination of Citra and Columbus). Ingredients: