Without yeast, there is no beer. Without beer, there is no fun. So far this year, the trend is all about a yeast that has been handed down from generation to generation in Norway for centuries called Kveik (pronounced “queek”).
Of course, yeast has more properties than simply creating alcohol and CO2 gas that makes your beer boozy and bubbly. Different strains of yeast have incredibly different properties, thus creating the myriad of beer styles we have today. If you’ve ever tasted a Weihenstefaner Vitus, you’ve no doubt picked out the lush banana character. If you’ve had a Belgian tripel, there’s that immense spiced character.
With Kveik-fermented beers, it’s more than just flavor. It has yeasty superpowers. Most ale yeasts produce flaw-free beer at around 68 degrees. Any higher, they’ll give off unwanted esters, phenols or other compounds that are both unwanted and unpleasant. Kveik, for whatever reason, can ferment at as high as 100 degrees without any discernible off notes. Higher temps = faster turnaround. Faster turnaround means more beer for everyone.
“Yeah, you totally have the ability to ferment beers with this yeast strain very quickly,” notes Evan Price of Green Cheek Beer Co. in Orange. “I’ve heard of brewers being completely done with fermentation in a matter of three days and being able to cool the beer down at that point.” Most turnarounds take more than double that time.
“We’re able to pull some pretty great tropical fruit-like aroma out of it, with mango and lychee characters being the most notable,” Price says of the flavor. “I’ve had it in a hazy IPA by Modern Times, and it worked perfectly with the hop profile they went with.”
Had a kveik-fermented beer lately? Let us know your thoughts!
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening on June 29th in Anaheim!