Subscriber Exclusive

Brewing with Kveik: What Have We Learned So Far?

The world’s brewers have had a few years now to play with the unusual, high-performing, previously little-known heirloom yeasts from Norway. So, what have we learned about what they can do?

Joe Stange Feb 15, 2021 - 19 min read

Brewing with Kveik: What Have We Learned So Far? Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves

The weather was brisk in the Dyrvedalen valley, in Norway’s Voss region, but it was warm inside Bjørne Røthe’s wooden shed. At its heart was a steaming, bubbling kettle of magic potion, directly heated by a log fire.

The kettle was almost full, but lautering continued—slowly—off to the side. We knew there were juniper branches in the bottom of that mash tun, and we saw more piled in a trailer out front. The smell of them was in the air, mingling with sweet wort. Every now and then, Røthe would take some of those additional runnings and add it to the kettle—why waste a drop?—which boiled and reduced for more than six hours to make his potent version of Vossaøl, or Voss ale, which would finish at 10 or 11 percent ABV.

He shared some from a previous batch. First, we tasted it cool, then warm—he heated it in a cup by setting it in the boiling wort. It was equally delicious both ways: deeply malty from the long boil but not thick or cloying, getting balance from a gentle bitterness and distinctive twist of orange-like citrus character. Røthe poured it into wine glasses for us, and it was flat like wine—totally without carbonation. This true barleywine was clean in its profile, and I had to ponder how many beers would taste as good warm as they do cold while being as flat as a pancake. Not many.

Make & Drink Better Beer

Subscribe today to access all of the premium brewing content available (including this article). With thousands of reviews, our subscribers call it "the perfect beer magazine" and "worth every penny." Your subscription is protected by a 100% money back guarantee.