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Kveik: The Ancient and Modern Way to Brew

It’s time to discover these Norwegian farmhouse yeasts that have been honed over centuries and really showcase what you can do with the original Norwegian farmhouse-brewing methods.

Martyn Cornell Jul 24, 2019 - 12 min read

Kveik: The Ancient and Modern Way to Brew Primary Image

For hundreds of years, the farmers of western Norway have been brewing beer for themselves, for friends and family, for everyday drinking and, especially, for special occasions, such as weddings and festivals. Few from outside the area paid much attention.

A university lecturer from Oslo wrote a book about the country’s farmhouse-brewing traditions in 1969, detailing the differences between “mainstream” brewing and the art as practiced in the land of the fjords—how Norway’s farmhouse brewers used juniper infusions to sterilize their brewing equipment and make their wort, how they saved their yeast between brews, how they often did not boil their wort, and how sometimes they did not use hops. But his conclusion was that farmhouse- beer making was a dying tradition, and while homebrewing might continue “for some years yet,” it was inevitably doomed.

Happily, this was far too pessimistic: Half a century on, there were still several hundred, at least, homebrewers in the glacier-carved lands facing the Atlantic who maintained the old traditions. But what they were brewing was, until very recently, almost entirely unknown to the wider world. There had been an explosion in interest in beer and brewing techniques in the past few decades, and the numbers of breweries in countries around the world had soared, as did the numbers of homebrewers. Nobody, however, was particularly noticing what a few Norwegian farmhouse brewers were up to—not even other Norwegians.

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