Kveik is a hot topic the last few years. Not gonna call it a hype at this point of writing this blogpost. And when something is this popular there are misconceptions as well. Not saying that I’m right or have all the proper knowledge.
But I would love to point out some basics about ‘kveik’. Kveik, not kviek!
Let’s start with a statement; kveik is not a style! A lot of people believe that kveik is some sort of beer style. I can understand why people think it is. Because breweries are mentioning the word kveik on their packaged beer. Like a ‘kveik IPA’. What the proper way of mentioning should be, in my opinion, will follow later in this not-scientific-article.
The thought that kveik is a style comes presumably from the confusion with Raw Ale. None the less, a very interesting way of brewing! And beautiful to see that there are still brewers out there that brew this style the same way as it was done back in the day.
One of the most beautiful things about this, is the screaming at 3:19 in video. The brewers claim they do this so that the beer will be strong, and people will be cheerful when they drink it.
I see and hear people spelling and pronouncing it wrong. And thats a shame, because it would be appropriate to show some respect. There is a mnemonic to keep in mind to pronounce it more easy; like, bike, kveik!
To understand ‘kveik’ even more it is important to know where kveik comes from. Kveik means “yeast” in a Norwegian dialect. Gjær is the Norwegian word for “yeast”. But when we talk about kveik we should also mention the term ‘Landrace yeast’. More to that in a second. So, kveik means yeast, and farmhouse yeast would suit it even more.
“I see this is about to become a myth, so just to clear things up: kveik is not a style of beer. It’s farmhouse yeast.” ~ Lars Marius Garshol, December 29, 2016
Even though kveik is more about tradition and origin, there are a few famous strains out there that are sold by yeast labs. Like Voss Kveik and Hornindal Kveik. As you can see the kveiks sold by yeast labs are referring to specific regions in Norway. Like all kveik strains are, see this map.
Let’s explain the history of kveik a bit more. Back in the day the yeast, or kveik as you like, was passed down from generation to generation within the family and it was even shared with fellow brewers in the region. Because of this sharing mentality, kveik evolved in another way than the two major beer-yeast-genetic-groups (Beer 1 and Beer 2) that are most likely used in industrialized brewing, because of the POF- trait selection. POF- is a trait that prevents yeast from producing 4-vinyl guaiacol.
If you read some research results on the internet you find that, surprisingly, a lot of ‘kveik’ is often a multiple Saccharomyces Cerevisiae culture. This does not apply for all the landrace yeast out there, Simonaitis for example. A lot of people reported lactic acid bacteria present in the culture. Also on Lars Garshol’s blog is a Y reported for bacteria. The Simonaitis strain was provided by Julius Simonaitis via Lars Garshol. Simonaitis is not considered as kveik but is also passed down from one brewer to another. It also ferments on very high temperatures; 35°C – 42°C. And that’s where the confusion probably comes from.
So far in this article I mentioned a few cultures; Hornindal, Voss, Simonaitis. And they all carry a name that refers to the original owner or region. And breweries that use kveik in commercial beer should give credit to the brewers who have donated their family heritage to the brewers world wide. Besides that, it can be very interesting for the consumer to know exactly which yeast was used and where it comes from. For example, a brewery should not mention ‘kveik IPA’ on there packaging but preferably ‘IPA fermented with Hornindal Kveik’.
- kveik is not a style
- kveik means yeast in Norwegian dialect
- kveik is more about tradition and origin
- scream when you pitch the kveik