I challenge you, can you say the name of this beer 5 times in a row quickly? Not easy right? This beer marks a milestone, the hotel’s debut in Kveik fermented beers. It’s also the first time we have guests, friends in our house, who joined for the evening. As if to say, they came to clean the malt basket. Shouldn’t really be a mark that would stand out, but in this pandemic year, we learned to value even small things like this.
The world of beer has changed a lot in recent years, we have seen the most varied trends appearing, disappearing. Surprising stuff, boring stuff, a little bit of everything. IPAs for instance, use to come as bitter as possible, then they turned dark or brown. Meanwhile, there was still the fever of hopped “water packages” in the form of Session IPAs.
Beers aged in barrels, acidic or not. From drinking beers all over the world, we moved to the hyper-local, hyper-fresh, making some beers almost impossible to buy.
It all comes down to a constant struggle for the next big thing.
But while half the world lived the American dream, somewhere else there was a man on a quest. Lars Marius Garshol. With the recent Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing, Lars explores the world of rural brewers in Northern and Eastern Europe, far from 21st century technologies, challenging the assumptions of the modern brewer.
A tradition on the verge of extinction, saved by an unexpected hero. A hero without a cape. Summarizing all the author’s work in one word is quite ungrateful, but here it goes: Kveik.
Kveik means yeast in a Norwegian dialect, other names in different regions were used, such as barm, gong or gjær.
Yeasts with a wide genetic variety, have characteristics that cannot be found in other brewer’s yeasts. Yeasts that carry the legacy of families, preserving generations and generations of production in rural Norway. Unlike other brewing schools, these cultures were never purified to a single strain. The world of Kveik still has a lot to explore, but we are facing a unique yeast, as evidenced by the genome sequencing in Richard Preiss’ tests.
In terms of behavior, Kveik are yeasts that produce esters (fruity aromas) and do not produce phenolics (spices) and low rates of off-flavors production, such as diacetyl, acetaldehyde or fusel alcohols.
They conduct fermentations at very high temperatures, between 30ºC and 40ºC, with a lot of tolerance for high alcohol levels (13% -16%).
The alcoholic fermentation ends very quickly (~ 48 hours) with high attenuation and flocculation levels.
If quinoa is a superfood, Kveik is a super yeast.
Coming back to our hotel’s patio, after two doubtful paragraphs to explain a job of several years in half a dozen lines, it is time to fill our pots with cereal. As we do not follow rules, if our system is prepared to carry 7 kg of cereal, we thought it would be wise to stretch the limits.
Now this would be the time for a paragraph that would explain in detail, why this beer, with all these elements… but there is no explanation that could convince you. Let’s say we lost a bet. But follow us, will make sense. Kind of.
American – some hop character, addition of Columbus and Cascade hops in whirpool at 80ºC
Tropical – resinous aroma and hops fruits, notes of orange from kveik and coffee from Zanzibar
Buckwheat – buckwheat incorporated in the recipe, contributes caprylic acid that Brettanomyces can metabolize into ethyl octanoate: pineapple, cognac, umami.
Oatmeal – oats, plenty of oats, smoothness and dextrins to feed the Brettanomyces.
Kveik – Yeast for alcoholic fermentation, Voss Kveik. Aroma of orange.
Brettanoymes – Clausenii, phenolic, pineapple and earthy aroma. It may give some acidity in the medium term.
Coffee – Soluble coffee from Zanzibar. Acidity, fruity notes and chocolate.
Stout – Roasted barley – by the book.
The consequence of milking the capacity of the equipment over the stipulated values? Terrible efficiency, a worse result than that strange colleague in physical education classes, you may not admit it but you know who that colleague is.
In other words, from the 15º plato provided, we extracted a mere 12.5º plato. The cereal after mashing and sparging still had plenty of sugar, the top had a sticky consistency. Now it remains a secret of Ninkasi which cereals had greater or lesser extraction.
Wort with a low extraction doesn’t even look too bad, we’ve all been there, the problem was that we already had a water profile designed to fit the planned extract. Well… let’s see how it goes.
Instant coffee from Zanzibar? Do you know those gifts or souvenirs that your friends bring you from their vacations and you have no idea what to do with that? Okay, instead of wrapping it up and offering it to someone, it ended up in the beer. And no, it was not a spectacular variety of coffee, it is instant. Instant coffee and quality coffee is an oxymoron.
It was a fun day on the patio, we relaxed, we had friends come over, we entertained. As hosts, we did everything right. Reception cocktail (with beer, one day we’ll talk about it), varied beers at user discretion, active participation in the planning of new beers, pre-bottling flavorings, snacks with the best quality products. A luxury.
All of this in exchange for some bottling, and subsequent labeling help, parallel to production. Yup, bottling is so boring. You know what we are talking about. And we happily passed on the job.
And you can say “yeah Karma is a bitch, you gonna get it”… and we did.
Things went sideways. It’s a good thing that at this point the beer is already boiling and in no time at all we’ll be done – in a double sense.
Everything was normal until we measured the pH after boiling, which was below expectations. And Kveik yeasts have an extraordinary ability to acidify, during alcoholic fermentation when compared to the already known Saccharomyces. It’s not like beers with Kveik are acidic, but maybe a little rougher than their counterparts. So we had to do something.
Easy problems, easy solutions. Get some baking soda! There is none – fuck it. Well, there’s a jar of Royal baking powder, it’s almost the same.
After too many measurements and spoons, we reached the desired pH. Victory!
From now until the end of the day, there is little time left, cooling down to 40ºC. If you want to cut unnecessary water costs, the Kveik world is your solution. Someday we will see someone from Greenpeace sporting a stylish Kveik Ring on their neck.
Beer inoculated, activity after two hours – yes, 2 hours, I shit you not. Welcome to the enchanted world of Kveik, where there are Vikings, Princesses, Dragons and Yeasts that are always hungry. Fortunately, these yeasts, which looked doomed like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, were saved just in time. Thank you, Mr. Garshol.
We’ll let you know how it worked out. In a few months…
American Tropical Kveik & Brett Buckwheat Oatmeal Coffee Stout
Total Cereal: 7,80 Kg.
Original Gravity: 1.048
Boil Time: 90 minutes
49.4% – 3,85 Kg. Pale Malt
5.8% – 0,46 Kg. Oats Golden Naked
12.4% – 0,97 Kg. Oats Flaked
8.8% – 0,68 Kg. Oats Malted
15.4 – 1,20 Kg. Buckwheat
2.9% – 0,23 Kg. Crystal Dark
1.8% – 0,14 Kg. Black Malt
2.3% – 0,18 Kg. Roasted Barley
1,2% – 0,09 Kg. Carafa I
28 gr. Columbus (pellet, 14% AA) @ 60 min.
20 gr. Columbus (pellet, 14% AA) @ 5 min.
38 gr. Cascade (pellet, 6,3% AA) @ 5min.
Lallemand Voss Kveik
White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces Claussenii
Cl to SO4 Ratio: 0.58
Saccharification at 69º C for 60 min.
pH@30 min. 5.80
pH@60 min. 5.32
27/06/2020 – Brett joins the party