Dehydrating kveik yeast in a food dehydrator. A “new” concept applied to an “old yeast”. I have come up with a “new” way to make dried kveik yeast. That is probably one of the coolest properties of kveik yeast. So let’s look at how I got here, and what I am doing. I am not an expert, just a guy who is dabbling in the world of kveik.
My Background With Kveik
So I fell into the rabbit hole of kveik yeast. I found myself constantly searching for any information that I could find. It was really great to run into the information from Lars on the Larsblog, who is like the godfather of kveik in the brewing culture around the world. He may not have been the one that found it, but he documented in research, and gave me and others so many things to learn about.
I have now joined a few Facebook groups to get more information, and have the opportunity to buy strands that are not commercially available. Another important figure is William Holden. He is the originator of the
Kornølfestival, a beer festival in Hornindal to be dedicated to farmhouse ale . This festival has grown and has introduced a ton of people to the world of kveik.
What Makes Kveik Different?
What I love about this kveik is the fun properties that seem to scoff at all conventional knowledge about yeast. Some interesting things that I learned along the way was the commercial versions are usually an isolated strand. If there was originally a bacteria or other things that end with it in the farmhouse, those have been removed and one strand has been isolated. Although these are great relatives to the originals, they don’t seem to get the same fanfare as those who are receiving small vials or bags of chunks from the original Norwegian farm breweries.
One of the things that totally intrigued me was the ability to dry out the east on your own. With this dry yeast you can pitch a small amount, under pitch in reality, and end up with a crazy fermentation. Also, the kveik loves warmer temps. There is a great thread of anecdotal data of pitching amount, fermentation temps and times in this post here.
So I had some Imperial Organic Yeast, Loki. So I gave it a whirl with a brew. I tried to ramp up the temperatures with some seedling germination mats. But they just weren’t giving them out of heat that I was looking for in my basement when just loosely wrapped around my big mouth bubbler. This was my first time using the mats. I got them on a lightning deal on Amazon. I decided to be a little more conservative with them…..so I could truly figure out what they can do.
So I put the fermenter inside a cooler bag, that was originally intended to make lagers and pilsners in. Inside that bag I wrapped the seed mats and it ramped the temperature right up and allowed fermentation to finish out quite quickly. This batch of beer was part of my Wunder series, using Wunder Grains from Austin Brewing Company. I used Buzz Bullets and Zythos hops. For that batch, the yeast was under pitched from a starter of Loki that I had begun earlier. This sent me on my dehydrating kveik yeast experiments.
Let’s Dehydrate Some Kveik Yeast!
I turned to Reddit, to see if anyone had used a food dehydrator in an attempt of dehydrating kveik yeast. While I was not successful on finding anyone with experience doing this, I did get some encouragement to try it and report back. Sure….be the guy who jumps off the cliff into the water to see if is ok to keep doing. So lets try the dehydrating kveik yeast with it!
Later while my dehydrator was running I ran across this, in which the author was doing some experiments drying the top croppings of the kveik yeast. There has since been a few postings about the viability of the yeast across time. I must say, they are taking quite a bit more scientific approach to the yeast than I am. I have been following up in their posts of the viability….and it is looking great!
First Time Drying – Wish I Had More
The first time that I tried to dry the yeast, didn’t turn out so great. Or so I thought. I cut some pieces of parchment paper and laid them out on the trays of my dehydrator. The slurry that I used for that was not very thick and was probably more wort that it been fermented by the starter then yeast itself. I dried the yeast, that provided just a small amount in a harvest, and then tried that in a new starter.
For the new starter, I did not get any visual action in roughly 36 hours, so I pitched some liquid slurry of Loki, from the last starter, into help it out. It took off within 12 hours. I don’t know how close the starter was to ramping up….so this is a variable in my experiments. I truly think that it was close to ramping up with just my dried yeast in there….I just had not given enough time for it to go nuts. For this, I used a bunch of yeast nutrient and did not attempt to heat the starter. I pitched the yeast when the flask was still “warm” in the 90s and let the temperature drop on it’s own during the time on the Stir Starter.
Dehydrating Kveik Round 2
I then used that starter to try a different approach to drying it out. I purchased some fruit and liquid trays for my dehydrator they fit in right on top. Then I can pour more slurry directly onto the trays to have a dry out like that. I decanted more after a cold crash than I did the first time so I could get a pure and more concentrated slurry to dry out.
I fell asleep while I was running the dehydrator and it ran for about 10 hours and this is how it looked. I wonder just how much I over cooked it. I mean, this yeast does love heat….right? The temp on my dehydrator is not variable, so it is running hotter than what is recommended for the yeast to be treated properly. Yet, this was all in the name of science for dehydrating kveik yeast.
The dry yeast was easy to remove. At first I was keeping the chunks in larger pieces.
Later while storing the larger chunks of yeast in a jar I broke it up into smaller pieces. To do this, I just shook the jar and it flaked down.
Running A Starter With My Dried Kveik
The next step was to attempt to use the dried-out yeast as a way to get a starter going. I used approximately 1 teaspoon of yeast chunks. And I let the starter go. Again, I used plenty of nutrient and pitched in the 90s and let the temp drop on its own.
I was really worried about the fact that the starter was not going anywhere, you could see some movement in the starter wort, but I didn’t know if it was sediment, dead yeast, yeast nutrient, or actually yeast growing. In about the 36 hour mark I checked it again, and it was finally running it was great to see a nice layer of krausen in the head formed.
So I let it spin. I will decant it. and this next time I am running the dehydrator for a shorter time, being sure not to fall asleep. My goal is to maybe not heat the yeast as much due to a shorter amount of time. All this so I have a more concentrated and more viable dried yeast bank to pull from.
Kveik The World Blend
Since then, I also purchased a new kveik yeast blend from Mainiacal Yeast. It’s called Kveik the World. It’s really cool on the fact that part of the money from the yeast is going to charity in honor of William Holden. So my next side of experiments will work with a blend of the types. I’m hoping that it will react the same way with the food dehydrator for drying it out, but I will also keep some of the liquid starter in the fridge.
Post Dehydrating Kveik Yeast Thoughts…
My suggestion along the way would be to try the different methods of drying some out, but also to keep some liquid slurry as a backup. This is to your benefit whether you would be drying out using a dehydrator, like I have, or putting it on a cookie sheet and drying it out in the oven on a very low temp. Another method would also be putting it on a sheet and putting it up on top of something to let it dry out using just the air. I think I will always keep at least one sample jar of liquid slurry around so in case the dry doesn’t work, I can throw in like a teaspoon of liquid slurry. Also the liquid slurry is a good way to get the starters going fast, if I need to, or ferment a batch quickly as well.
I also plan on trying to top crop my next batch, and try dehydrating the krausen. I think this would also give me a good idea of how viable my methods are.
And A Little Sharing Love….
Have you tried some crazy stuff with kveik? Have a question you want to get answers on? Leave a comment below! The more conversations we get going about the kveik yeast, the more all of us can learn. Want to share a recipe you made with a particular strand? Share away!
As a way of paying homage to the kveik’s brewing culture, anyone who comments on this article, retweets this tweet, or shares the Facebook post will be entered into a Wheel Decide. The winner will then provide a mailing address, where I will send off some of the dried yeast to help spread this brewing technique. The winner will be picked on July 26th.