Kveik yeast had been on our radar thanks to some of the early reports brewers were offering in regards to turnaround, fast fermentation, and low ester and phenol profiles. We toyed with the idea a bit and finally got our hands dirty in September 2018 when Sean Buchan of Cerebral Brewing (Denver, Colorado) joined us for a collab. We riffed off our standard IPA recipe and built a pretty cool hops bill that we thought would play off of the Omega Hornindal Kveik yeast. None of us had used it before, so we were shooting in the dark.
Our pitch rates were pretty standard—we didn’t want to go too short—and we kept the oxygen in the wort pretty standard. We wanted to use it as a baseline to judge how this new (to us) yeast would perform in our cellar. We’ve brewed with California Ale yeast and English Ale yeast for years and have a very good idea of how they will perform but had no track record with impacts of temperature and other factors on how the kveik yeast would perform.
Once fermentation started rolling, it took only 4 hours for us to see the gravity drop. We were just floored at that point. One of the important advantages of these yeasts is the warm temperature range they ferment at, and we wanted to explore that, so we knocked out the wort at 80°F (27°C). It was freaky seeing that going through the system, but we let it ride, and we set the temperature jackets on the tank at 95°F (35°C) so it wouldn’t get too crazy, but by the next day it was already at 95°F (35°C) and had fermented 10°P (1.040 SG) from the starting gravity in just 12 hours. It finally hit terminal gravity at 5°P (1.019 SG), so it was pretty predictable using our IPA recipe as a base.