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What is Kveik?

Kveik is an old Norwegian name for yeast. Until late 19th century, all yeast in the world was multi cultures, meaning they all had several yeast types in one culture. It was common that households and farms had their own yeast culture that they nurtured and took care of so they could make beer and bread. 

After Louis Pasteur in 1866 discovered that yeast was living organisms that made beer ferment, the work started to isolate single yeast types so the breweries could make stable and consistent beer every time. Carlsberg was the first brewery to brew beer with single strain yeast, and soon every brewery in the world were to follow. When yeast reached the store shelves, this was the end for the multi strain yeast all over the world except from Norway (there are also found a few strains in the Baltics).

Brewing traditions in Norway

Since the old days, farms in Norway have produced beer, and in the Middle ages they were required by law to produce beer. If they did not make beer, they risked heavy fines, losing their farm or being exiled.

A few farms have upheld the old brewing traditions and taken good care of their kveik. The beer is often made in a copper boiler over open fire in their brew house, and they often make traditional Norwegian konnjøl (barley beer with local juniper).

The old brewing tradition has preserved the multi strain kveik, and thanks to the farmers taking care of the yeast we still have this fantastic ancient yeast today. What they have on their farm is an old cultural treasure.

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