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Is Kveik the new King of Rum?


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Anyone following the brewing microbiology world and the growth/prevalence of Norwegian Farmhouse Yeast styles (Kveik)?  Anyone using today?

Fairly unique yeast "styles" compared to typical pure strains - I say styles since most Kviek are multiple strains / mutated strains blends, not a single genetically unique strain (like we use today).  As a family, they are being described as a previously undiscovered branch of brewing yeasts.

Working w/ one yeast lab to do some rum trials using Kveik strains, because from my perspective they seem fairly well suited for rum.

High ester, remarkably low off-flavor/fusel production at high temperatures (90f+), fast fermenters, POF- (No phenolic off flavors in distillate, clove, bandaid, burnt).

Hornindal is one of the more popular strains - heavy/intense tropical fruit ester profiles - pineapple, mango, citrus.  Happy to about 14-16% alcohol, happy to 98f.  For people struggling with temperature control w/ uncontrolled fermenters, it seems like a godsend.  Typical recommendation is to pitch into 86f or higher.

The home-brew market is out of their mind about the kviek strains, even seasoned home brewers are shocked at how good their beer is, without any concern for temperature control, in fact, many are saying the hotter the better, pretty atypical.  Even extreme cases, pitching into 100f wort, finishing beer in 2 days.

Fairly interesting stuff, domesticated yeasts that are genetically distinct from common "industrial" stains we use today.  We're taught that generally, serially repitching the same strain of yeast is "bad" as mutation starts altering the strain characteristics.  In this scenario, that serial repitching created a new set of domesticated strains, with unique characteristics..

From the attached:

Also, analysis of the volatile ester profiles revealed the kveik yeasts produced above-threshold concentrations of three yeast fatty acid esters: ethyl caproate (pineapple, tropical), ethyl caprylate (tropical, apple, cognac), and ethyl decanoate (apple) (Comuzzo, Tat, Tonizzo, & Battistutta, 2006; Verstrepen et al., 2003). One or more of these esters was present at above-threshold levels in all of the kveik yeasts. Phenethyl acetate (honey, floral, yeasty) was also detected at above-threshold level in 5/25 kveik strains. These data suggest that kveik yeasts present a potential new option as POF- ale yeasts with a range of intensities of desirable fruity esters.

 

194969.pdf

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We plan on using it for Rum and testing it for other things for the very reasons you mentioned. Lance Shaner from Omega yeasts was giving a talk to a local homebrew group about Kveik. I said everything he said about esters/heat/ABV was exactly what a distiller wanted. He said he was going to work with some of the local Chicago distillers to test it out. Not sure if he did or not.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Crazy, I just recently got back into home brewing after a couple year break. As I started looking at home brew forums the talk of Kveik was everywhere. As I looked into it, it sounded like a great yeast to try for rum, and low and behold what do I see on the ADI Forums? 

Glenlyon, where did you source your Kveik from? I looked at Omega Yeasts pricing and for a 20BBL pitch it was way too expensive. Being a former brewer before a distiller, I love the idea of playing with beer yeasts for rum, but have felt a bit restricted to dry yeast due to the expense of liquid yeast. 

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We started with a bit of liquid culture we scavenged from a home brewing store and built it up, basically using the same techniques as the home brewers would - a small batch, then a larger one, etc. My mashes ferment dry in approx. 50 - 55 hours so it allows me to keep up the pace with less fermenters because I can turn them over faster.

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Ok cool. I also saw that Lallemand will be releasing the Voss strain of Kveik here sometime shortly. Did you guys play around with Voss at all before moving to the Hornindal strain? Sounds like the Voss seems to be more neutral and citrusy and Hornindal more pineapple and earthy. Is that what you are seeing Glenlyon?

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Would love to hear your results. Once I get ahead of my schedule I’ll start playing around with it myself and report back here. Under pitching this yeast with no Off-flavors seems to ring true throughout the brewing community. Lots of benefits to this Kveik yeast so far, and I’ll be curious to see what it’s downsides might be as people experiment more with it. 

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5 hours ago, Patio29Dadio said:

Note that you will need a yeast harvesting and propagation system in place to make this economically feasible.   You should get 8-15 generations from the initial pitch.   A 3BBL dose is about $180.

I use an expensive liquid beer yeast in one of my rums. I just order a home brew pack and start with a 5 gallon carboy, and then step up batch size in the fermenter. Pretty easy to do with a rum. I don't have conicals, and I don't fully boil my rum wort, so I can't harvest multiple generations of yeast. It's kind of a pain, but it works.

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I didn't bother with a propagation system, too complicated for me right now. I also haven't been slowed by not boiling my mash. I just simply harvest the yeast and move it along. So far so good. I'm many generations from my original batch as still going strong.  

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Those of you that use the Kveik yeast or are experimenting with it - what results have you gotten? Are the fruity esters really that pronounced? I've experimented with other beer yeasts, including Belgian farmhouse strains, and haven't been able to make any rum better than what I currently make with wine yeast. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 7 months later...

Just bringing this back to life.  We did a Bourbon with Hornindal, and have a pack of the Lallemand Voss we'll pitch in another bourbon mash to be able to lay down a few barrels as a "side-by-side" comparo.  Not rum, but continue to be excited by the crazy ester profiles of these.

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I'm not sure if it will carry through to the spirits world, but in beer several of the tasters/judges I trust often pick up something "odd" or "off" with Kveik strains.  

Think things like smokey/savoury.

But yes, they sure do work fast.

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I've never come across smokey or savoury flavours - although I have also not consumed very much Kveik made beer, I'll admit. However, I find for spirits it gives a nice clean profile with wheat and citrus overtones. It makes great vodka, but if I were making whiskey - I might make other yeast choices depending on what I wanted to achieve.  

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