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Certain sections of this wiki page are no longer being actively maintained ("Brief History" and "Recent Yeast Lab Analysis"). See Kveik Registry, relevant Larsblog posts, and Larsblog for up to date information on individual kveik cultures.

We've kept the content available in case there is anything interesting here.

Kveik (click here for pronunciation) is a dialect word for "yeast" in Norwegian ("gjær" is the common word for "yeast" in Norwegian [1]), and today specifically refers to non-purified yeast that has been reused for generations in traditional Norwegian farmhouse brewing. The term "kveik" does not refer to a style of beer, only the yeast used in traditional Norwegian farmhouse brewing. The word "kveik" is specifically used in the western part of Norway for family-owned, non-purified yeast, while other words such as "gjester" are used by central Norwegians, "gong" is used by locals in eastern Norway, "family yeast" is used by some Lithuanian brewers, and "hemjäst" is used by locals in Gotland [2]. Kveik yeast are extremely diverse genetically, presenting characteristics that are not typical in other brewing yeasts [3]. Most farmhouse brewers have started buying their yeast, but some kveik cultures have been passed down from generations and inherited by modern farmhouse brewers in Norway who still use this yeast today and brew with traditional farmhouse methods. Much of the knowledge about kveik and historical farmhouse brewing in Norway has been researched and publicized by Lars Marius Garshol on his blog, Larsblog, and in the book Beer and Brewing Traditions in Norway by Odd Nordland (1969). In recent years kveik cultures have been sent to yeast labs for propagation and distribution to brewers around the world [4]. The use of kveik is one of the many traditional methods still used by a few farmhouse brewers and homebrewers in Norway, along with other historical methods such as infusing the mash or boil with juniper, not filtering, using short fermentations to achieve low carbonation, the use of wood-fired copper or iron kettles, and sometimes not boiling the wort (Raw Ale) [5].

Brief History and Description of Kveik

Brief History

Kveik was passed down from generation to generation within the family, and also shared among fellow brewers in the region. In this way, kveik evolved differently than the two major beer yeast genetic groups that are used in industrialized brewing. While mostly POF-, a trait that is selected for in many beer yeast strains that prevents the yeast from producing 4-vinylguaiacol phenol, other traits are reflective of how this yeast was used by traditional farmhouse brewers of the region. For example, as far back as 1621 (and probably prior), kveik was often stored dry on wooden logs called "kveikstokker" for up to a year or longer. Kveik was typically inoculated directly into the wort by submerging the kveikstokker into the wort at 30-40°C. The wort was often high gravity of around 1.080 SG, and the beer was served just after 1-2 days of fermentation beginning at this hot inoculation temperature. The kveik was then taken from the fermenter and dried until its next use. It has been proposed by Tyrawa et al. (2017) that this treatment has produced yeast strains that are genetically distinct phenotypically from other domesticated yeast strains used in industrial brewing in Europe [6].

At one time kveik was the only available form of yeast in Norway (and, of course, similar methods for reusing yeast were used all over the world prior to Emil Chr. Hansen's introduction of the pure-yeast system in 1883). However, the existence kveik has mostly disappeared in recent times. Today kveik remains in the districts of Hardanger, Voss, Sogn, Nordfjord, and Sunnmøre, at least. Today, kveik is only used by homebrewers who still brew in the traditional methods of Norwegian farmhouse brewing [7]. Kveik was sometimes also used to ferment bread. Farmers seemed to have different preferences for top or bottom collecting their kveik [4].

Kveik was stored many ways. It was often stored in bottles with water or in a well. It was also dried on straw rings, on linen, or pieces of wood with holes drilled through them called "yeast logs". Often ashes were used to help dry the kveik quickly, or in the case of yeast logs, were lowered into the fermentation vessel to collect the yeast and then rolled in flour and allowed to dry for a few minutes, then dipped again to repeat the process. The log was then hung to dry. Although dried kveik was said to last for months or maybe longer, fresh kveik was always preferred, and often given away to those who needed new kveik (moldy kveik was thrown away) [4].

Sensory and Fermentation Profile

Kveik is not a single type of yeast. In fact, very likely the different kveik cultures don't even belong to the same species. So the term "kveik" means "ancestral non-lab yeast" rather than any specific strain of yeast or any specific characteristic of the yeast itself. Further, only a small fraction of the kveik cultures that exist have been sampled so far, so what is described here applies only to the cultures explored so far. The ones that still exist only "in the wild" may not fit this description.

The general flavor profile of kveik yeast is ester-driven, although a wide range of differences exist between strains. Kveik in its traditional form is usually a blend of closely related strains. The "Stranda" kveik was described as "lemon, nuts, grain, and straw" by Lars Marius Garshol. The "Hornindal kveik" with bacteria was described as "fruity, milky caramel, honey, and mushroom with a very unique aroma". The "Muri kveik" was described as "earthy on the nose, and fruity tasting with hints of rubber and sulfur and a thinner mouthfeel than the others" [8].

Omega Yeast Labs describes their two isolates as being non-phenolic and fruity, and complimenting of American citrus hops. They also note that the yeast has a very high temperature range (~68-98°F or ~20-37°C), attenuates high, tends to flocculate well, and also tends to ferment faster at the mid to high temperature ranges, while producing similar ester profiles throughout the entire temperature range.

Richard Preiss from Escarpment Laboratories shared his sensory notes after doing trial fermentations with various kveik strains/cultures. Fermentations were at 30°C in standard wort (1.050, 20IBU) with single strains, not the mixed cultures. 2/3 tasters were blind to the beers and order prior to tasting. This is a single data point on sensory information [9]:

  • Sykkylven 1 - clean, fruity, malty, rum-like. big, round, malty, slightly hot
  • Sykkylven 2 - subtle fruit, malt accented, slightly lagery-sulfury, lightly floral. medium body
  • Laerdal 2 (Laerdal 1 - data not available) - Lightly fruity, slight rubber, floral, sweet taste
  • Stranda 1 - citrus, red apple, very clean and dry, balanced
  • Stordal (framgarden) 1 - big citrus ester, slightly hot, red apple, floral, malty
  • Stordal (framgarden) 2 - red apple, slight crisp/sulfury (pleasant) lagery character, floral, slight tropical fruit, slight tartness
  • Stordal (ebbegarden) 1 - rum-like, slightly hot, medium mixed esters, round and malty
  • Stordal (ebbegarden) 2 - Christmasy, citrus, red apple, floral, clean and balanced flavour
  • Muri 1 - Earthy, herbal, sulfury, apple, pear, very slight clove, not super dry despite ridiculous attenuation (~95%)
  • Voss (Gjernes) 1 - Orange, floral, balanced flavour, good body
  • Voss (Gjernes) 2 - Cidery, floral, slight earthiness, slight orange, clean, dry
  • Hornidal 1 - Tropical, pineapple, rum-like, caramel, citrus, balanced malt/hop
  • Hornidal 2 - Floral, rose-like, sulfury, orange, rum-like, very malt accented
  • Hornidal 3 - Orange, red apple, rum-like, caramel, balanced
  • Granvin 1 - Lower intensity orange, red apple, slight pineapple, textbook “Kveiky”, balanced
  • Granvin 2 - Balanced esters, not as intense - citrus, slight (pleasant) sulfur, dry and thin
  • Granvin 3 - very muted aroma, clean flavour
  • Granvin 4 - floral (rose), honey, slight diacetyl, medium-low esters, complex but not necessarily good
  • Granvin 5 - light fruit, light floral, rubber, sweet taste.
  • Granvin 6 - fruity, floral, rum-like, citrus, slight diacetyl, balanced flavour
  • Granvin 7 - Slight fruity, very thin and astringent
  • WLP001 (control) - very fusely/hot, subtle floral note.

Note regarding Granvin strains: Preiss is still trying to sort out which Granvin yeasts are duplicates and which are unique.

Recent Yeast Lab Analysis and Commercial Availability

The dried kveik samples (Stordal) showed much better viability/cell health (less granulated/wrinkly appearance) than the liquid samples (eg Hornidal). However, some of the liquid samples were pretty healthy too (Voss). Source Richard Preiss of Escarpment Labs.

Thanks to efforts by Lars Marius Garshol and Håken Hveem, and Norwegian farmhouse brewers Svein Rivenes, Sigmund Gjernes, Bjarne Muri, Terje Raftevold, and others, kveik has been made commercially available to brewers around the world. Much of the analysis has been performed by the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC). See also the Kveik Registry being maintained by Lars Marius Garshol.

Analysis has also been performed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) by Truls C Rasmussen, as well as Escarpment Laboratories.

In general, most of the cultures of kveik that have been analyzed contain more than one strain of S. cerevisiae, which was the only species in all of the kveik cultures analyzed by Escarpment Laboratories except for the Muri kveik. The Muri kveik contains a single isolate of what appears to be a domestic (human produced) hybrid between S. cerevisiae, S. eubayanus, and S. uvarum. Genetically, kveik yeast form their own group of closely related domesticated ale strains that do not closely match the "Beer 1" and "Beer 2" yeasts from the Gillons/White Labs (2016) study that sequenced previously known ale strains (see "A family tree for brewer's yeast" by Lars Marius Garshol). The closest related domesticated strains were WY1318 London Ale III™, WY2565 Kölsch™, and WY1007 German Ale™ [6].

The kveik strains themselves can be divided into two major closely related genetic groups, with the Muri and Lithuanian strains falling outside of these two groups completely. The two major genetic groups are: Granvin, Stranda, Laerdal and Voss, which all come from the southern region of Norway except the Stranda kveik, and Sykkylven, Hornindal, and Stordal, which all come from the northern region of Norway (the north and south regions are divided by the Jostedal glacier, which created both a geographical and cultural divide in Norway historically). The Laerdal and Stordal kveik strains fall inside of the kveik family, but are genetic outliers [6].

Sigmund Gjernes's Voss Kveik

The NCYC found that a sample of Sigmund Gjernes's kveik was made up of three strains of S. cerevisiae. No bacterial contamination was found. DNA fingerprinting found the strains to be closely related [10]. See Larsblog Kveik analysis report for more information.

Omega Yeast Labs and The Yeast Bay independently isolated one of the strains from the Voss Kveik. It is not known if these are the same strains, or which NCYC strain they correspond to. However, they are thought to be similar in their flavor profile [11].

The full culture with all strains is available from Mainiacal Yeast.

Tips For Use

Svein Rivenes's Voss Kveik

Brewer Svein Rivenes deposited a sample of kveik in 2009 via Håken Hveem. No bacterial contamination was found [8]. Seven strains were isolated from the blend.

John Nornes's Voss Kveik

Martin Warren collected a sample from brewer John Nornes in Voss in 2015. The kveik has been analyzed by NCYC, but the strains have not been assigned numbers yet.

Bjarne Muri's Olden Kveik

"This is an unusual hybrid to see in brewing environments, but has been found in wine fermentations. Hopefully we'll be able to figure out some hints on what the origin of this strain is (e.g. is it a wine hybrid that has been adapted to brewing conditions, or could it be a natural hybrid between a brewing strain and a wild S. uvarum strain?). The high attenuations seem to suggest it does not have a wine background. Lager yeast is also a hybrid, but between S. cerevisiae x S. eubayanus. S. uvarum, like S. eubayanus, is relatively cold-tolerant, so it is possible that Muri does well in low temperatures as well. Unlike lager yeasts, this strain has functional PAD1 and FDC1 genes making it POF+ (as has been mentioned previously). What is also interesting is the contributions from S. eubayanus; what genes (and are they significant somehow) and where did they come from (from a lager strain or a wild S. eubayanus strain)? Many questions, but hopefully we can answer some of them!" ~ Kristoffer Krogerus [15]

Stein Langlo's Stranda Kveik

Terje Raftevold's Hornindal Kveik

Terje's kveik was mixed with 2-3 other kveiks. This probably explains the wider variety of isolated strains. It also contains bacteria, and these bacteria seem to be contributing positively to the aroma (and they don't sour the beer). See "Kveik testing" and "Hornindal: interviews and collecting kveik" on Larsblog for more information.

Two strains are packaged together as a blend by Escarpment Laboratories as their Hornindal Kveik Blend.

Olav Gausemel's Hornindal Kveik

This is the kveik Terje Raftevold's kveik branched off from in the 1990s. Olav says he has mixed it with other kveiks 1-2 times in the meantime. It was collected for comparison purposes. Little is known about this kveik, but it is described in Rasmussen's thesis.

The Lida kveik

From Samuel Lien in Grodås, Hornindal. Collected by William Holden. Samuel got the kveik from Hans Øen, who moved from Hornindal from Faleide in Stryn, so the yeast is originally from Stryn. Øen is dead, but Lien is alive. Pitch temperature 30.

Lars Andreas Tomasgard, Hornindal

Lars Marius Garshol collected this from Lars Andreas at the Kornøl Festival. More information needed.

Dagfinn Wendelbo's Lærdal kveik

Arvid Solheim collected this kveik from Dagfinn Wendelbo at Ljøsne in Lærdal. Wendelbo lost his own kveik a couple of years ago, and got this from Per Gjermann. As far as I understand it originates with Gjermann, from the farm Stødno in Lærdal.

Hans Haugse's Granvin kveik

Originates from Hans Haugse from Granvin, Hardanger, via Einar Vestrheim and Lars Olav Muren. NCYC analysis indicates that it contains both Pichia and Saccharomyces.

Commercially available from Mainiacal Yeast.

Sigurd Johan Saure's Sykkylven kveik

Originates with brewer Sigurd Johan Saure, at Tormodgarden in Aurdal in Sykkylven. Sigurd says the yeast has definitely been reused since his great-great-grandfather's time. His great-grandfather mixed it with another yeast from a friend in the 1950s, after the yeast "got weak". Collected, but not sent to the NCYC yet.

Ebbegarden, Stordal

This kveik comes from Jens Aage Øvrebust, and was collected by William Holden. Jens originally brewed raw ale, but started boiling the wort because his beer became sour now and then. Pitch at 28C, harvest yeast from the top after a couple of days. Prefers not to let the yeast go over 30. Usually ferments 4-6 days. Sent to NCYC and NTNU, but no results yet. Jens usually ferments down to an SG of 1010, because he doesn't want the beer sweet. He says the yeast has always been in the valley as far as he knows.

Appears to have an unusual relationship with hops, so beware that this yeast may accentuate the hop bitterness in your beers. Jens says he only dry-hops himself.

Framgarden, Stordal

From Petter B Øvrebust at a neighbouring farm in Stordal. Collected by William Holden. Petter still brews raw ale, pitches at 30C, ferments 2-3 days.

Commercially available from Mainiacal Yeast.

Midtbust, Stordal

From Odd H Midtbust at a third farm in Stordal, collected by Lars Marius Garshol. Jens Aage Øvrebust says this yeast is pitched at 33C, and that it should be kept at this temperature during fermentation. Usually ferments about 3 days. Midtbust harvests the yeast from the top.

Commercially available from Mainiacal Yeast.

Jarle Nupen, Eidsdal

Jarle brought this kveik to the Kornøl Festival, where he gave it to Lars Marius Garshol. Jarle originally got the yeast from Tore Hjelle in Eidsdal in 1979-1980, so the yeast comes from Eidsdal. Jarle has kept the yeast ever since, and he says "I've watched it like gold." Jarle pitches at 31 degrees, and doesn't want the fermentation to go above 36 degrees. He ferments roughly 30 hours.

Jakob Torp Årset, Geiranger

Jakob brought this kveik to the Kornøl Festival, where he gave it to Lars Marius Garshol. More information needed.

Eitrheim-kveiken, Hardanger

Jakob Eitrheim, born 1920, has been using this kveik in Bleie since the 1950s. He says he got it from his grandfather, who lived at Eitrheim (now part of the town of Odda), but he doesn't know where it came from before that. So he claims to know the history of the yeast back to the late 19th century. Jacob ran out of yeast in the late 1950s, and got new yeast from his brother, who had the same kveik.

The yeast is pitched at 37C, and harvested from the bottom. The Eitrheim family dry it and keep it in glasses. They usually ferment 3-4 days.

In Other Countries

Until the introduction of Emil Chr. Hansen's pure-yeast system in 1883, all yeast was treated in effectively the same way as kveik. However, pure lab yeast generally replaced the ancient cultures all over the world. In farmhouse brewing, the old practices continued until quite recently in several Nordic and Baltic countries. Farmhouse brewing still continues in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. As far as is known, Lithuania is the only country other than Norway in which the old yeast cultures are still alive, and used in the same way as they were in the past. See Lithuanian beer - a rough guide for more information.

Julius Simonaitis's yeast

One yeast has been collected from farmhouse brewer Julius Simonaitis in Joniškelis, Lithuania. It's a communal yeast that's been shared among the neighbours since time immemorial. NCYC says the yeast consists of 5 different strains. Four of these are closely related, while the fifth is quite different, and is probably a completely different strain. All seem to be Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Julius pitches the yeast at 35C, and top-harvests it. He ferments 12-16 hours, depending on activity.

People trading this culture have reported that there are lactic acid bacteria present in the culture. It is not known if this lactic acid bacteria was present from the source, or if it was introduced during trading. Julius Simonaitis's beers are reported to not be sour, but he uses a lot of hops in his beer and his beer is reportedly fairly bitter. DeWayne Schaaf reported that the lactic acid bacteria present in the culture he was given produced a favorable acidity. Lars Garshol is waiting on lab results to see if the lactic acid bacteria were present in the original culture [16].

Relevant Larsblog Posts


Raw Ale

  • Raw ale - Definition of "raw ale", and the methods used to brew it in historical and traditional farmhouse brewing.

Norwegian Farmhouse Ale (Maltøl)

Farmhouse Ale in Other Countries


  • Brewing with the elusive Hornindal-strain, done old school, no boiling, 2 days fermenting:

  • RåØl (Raw Beer) Brewday with John Palmer at EIK og TID:

  • Presentation by Lars Marius Garshol (in Norwegian):

See Also

Additional Articles on MTF Wiki

External Resources


  1. Bab.la Dictionary. Retrieved 01/21/2016.
  2. "Kveik" - what does it mean?. Lars Garshol. Larsblog. 10/29/2017. Retrieved 10/29/2017.
  3. "Analysis of farmhouse yeast (kveik)." Larsblog. Lars Marius Garshol. 09/06/2016. Retrieved 09/06/2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Kveik: Norwegian farmhouse yeast. Larsblog. 11/07/2013. Retrieved 01/14/2016.
  5. Maltøl, or Norwegian farmhouse ale. Larsblog. 10/11/2016. Retrieved 01/14/2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Traditional Norwegian Kveik Yeasts: Underexplored Domesticated Saccharomyces cerevisiae Yeasts. Richard Preiss, Caroline Tyrawa, George van der Merwe. 2017.
  7. Norwegian farmhouse ale. Larsblog. 10/27/2013. Retrieved 01/14/2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Kveik testing". Larsblog. 05/05/2014. Retrieved 01/20/2016.
  9. Sensory data on kveik strains shared by Richard Preiss on MTF. 09/15/2016.
  10. Analysis of Sigmund Gjernes Voss yeast sample for Lars Marius Garshol, RÆLINGEN NORWAY. September 2014. Retrieved 01/20/2016.
  11. Conversation with Lance Shaner and Lars Marius Garshol on MTF. 01/04/2016.
  12. Lars Marius Garshol and Richard Preiss on Voss alcohol tolerance. Milk The Funk Facebook group. 08/04/2017.
  13. Accugenix Report from White Labs on WLP 6788. Posted by Eskild Alexander Bergan on Milk The Funk. 6/4/2015.
  14. MTF conversation with Richard Preiss of Escarpment Labs regarding POF of kveik strains. 12/14/2016.
  15. Conversation with Richard Preiss on MTF regarding Muri DNA analysis. 12/14/2016.
  16. Lars Garshol, James Thor, and DeWayne Schaaf. Milk The Funk facebook group. 06/22/2017.