Weird Kveik Taste

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jceg316

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I used to brew exclusively with kveik and made a range of really good beers with it, sours, goses, pales, pseudo lagers mostly. Then I started to get this really weird flavour in beers, and for almost a year all my batches were coming out bad. I thought I had an unmovable infection and wrote a post or two on here and other places looking for help. I took a break from brewing, but when I came back switched to iodine instead of starsan, boiled a lot of what I could etc. and kept recipes simple using dried yeast like US05, Philly Sour, MJ yeasts and my beers were coming out great again. Bought some liquid yeasts and the beers were still good. Then I went back to kveik...
  • Omega Hornindal: first use was good. Saved it and used again, came out well. Third use I got that bad flavour again so thoroughly cleaned my kit.
  • Opshaug flakes bought from an Ebay seller and had been sitting in my freezer for months: I made a starter and the beer came out well. Second use I got that bad flavour.
  • Ebbegarden flakes from same Ebay seller sitting in my freezer for 2-3 months: tastes awful on first beer.
  • Skare flakes from same Ebay seller: Bought same time as Ebbegarden, fermented at 21°C and seems to be clean.
In between some of these "bad" brews I've also brewed with regular yeast and they've come out well. The off flavour is bad milk/honey/kind of like almonds which would suggest lacto infection, but it seems to live through heat which lactobacillus can't do, and only infects certain brews.

My thoughts:

Why it's a lacto infection: I ferment the kveiks at 30°C+ which is the optimum temperature for lactobacillus.
Why it's not: It hasn't infected all kveiks fermented at that temperature, and whilst lactobacillus thrives at 30-35C, it still grows at 20C and this flavour is not in my other beers. It doesn't come out over time either.

It could be kveik specifically: The pattern seems to be reusing kveik, or using old kveik. Just like using regular yeast past its prime will throw out some off flavours, maybe kveik does the same in not treated right? My Skare batch has come out well, but maybe that yeast was still in a good condition and fermenting cool didn't stress it out.

There's a lot of anecdotal evidence on how much of a powerhouse kveik yeasts are, but there's still little known about it's limits scientifically speaking. I haven't read much about it recently, but there was little information on how different the yeast actually is in these extreme use cases from scientific research. Maybe this has changed recently and I need to read up some new articles.

Why it's not: I've not read anything like this elsewhere, but as mentioned it could be because most information is colloquial. I have read that some people don't like the taste of any kveik as it has a "weird flavour" (maybe it's a gene thing like with coriander), but some has tasted great to me.

Would be good to hear your thoughts and if anyone else has experienced this
 

Sadfield

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The kveik I use is Ebbergarden purchased from ebay (yeaster bunny) and contains bacteria according to the info on eBay. It also has recommendations pitch temperature of 25c, possibly as result. Which will likely explain that one. Never had any unpleasant off flavour from it though, more tropical fruit esters.

Are you drying your kveik in between brews or storing wet? The later might result in a higher bacterial load when pitching, causing a pronounced lactic flavour.

Also, the majority of these aren't individual stains, rather farmhouse multicultures that have often been stored and used to brew a beer by the exact same processes for decades. Often ones that are very different to accepted modern homebrew procedures. So, drift in outcome is to be expect when used in an entirely different context. They're not clean fermenting, lab cultured and selected brewing yeasts. They just don't throw off the flavours what are typically perceived as fermentation off flavours, at high temperatures. Which is likely why some people don't like them, still too different to what they are used to.
 
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jceg316

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There are different types of lactobacillus which contribute different flavours. The lacto in Ebbegarden (I think I read there are 2 lacto strains in Ebb?) are desirable and add a nice clean sourness to the beer, and I chose this yeast (also from Yeaster Bunny) to make a sour beer. I've ordered Ebb from them before and made one of my best beers ever. The flavours I'm getting are off milk which is undesirable and tastes like bad lacto. I wish I could be more specific with lacto varieties, but my knowledge stops there sadly. (I make pickles for a living, this is very shameful! :laugh8: )

I understand when using farmhouse cultures there can be 2+ strains and they've been dealt with by homebrewers, not labs, and have a different provenance to the majority of other beer yeasts. I was never looking for clean IPA yeast, more just seeing what sort of flavours come out when I hot ferment these yeasts. What I'm asking is are these flavours simply off flavours from a stressed yeast or is it something else? Bearing in mind when I use lab isolates of kveik strains I get the same thing.

I'm storing my yeast wet. I know this throws the balance of strains off but that's half the fun. I often harvest my yeast with no problems.
 
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I have read that some people don't like the taste of any kveik as it has a "weird flavour" (maybe it's a gene thing like with coriander), but some has tasted great to me.

I've not used enough kveik to comment fairly, but certainly some people are convinced there's a "kveik tang".

I suspect part of it is to do with stressed yeast - in particularly kveik need lots of nutrient, particularly to maintain the high metabolism of high-temperature ferments.

It sounds like it's possible that you've got two problems, and some kind of infection may be part of it too. Maybe only buy from established labs rather than random Ebayers of unknown hygiene, whilst you're trying to resolve the problem? (not that labs can't have infection problems too, but they do take QC more seriously and at the very least you're likely to hear about it PDQ if one of them has a problem).
 

jceg316

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I have one unopened pack of kviek flakes so will do an experiment. I'm brewing a gose tomorrow and will ferment 5 litres with kviek and see how it comes out compared to the one fermented with regular yeast.
 

Sadfield

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  • Omega Hornindal: first use was good. Saved it and used again, came out well. Third use I got that bad flavour again so thoroughly cleaned my kit.
  • Opshaug flakes bought from an Ebay seller and had been sitting in my freezer for months: I made a starter and the beer came out well. Second use I got that bad flavour.
  • Ebbegarden flakes from same Ebay seller sitting in my freezer for 2-3 months: tastes awful on first beer.
  • Skare flakes from same Ebay seller: Bought same time as Ebbegarden, fermented at 21°C and seems to be clean.
If you use the flakes you have, I'd pitch them as they are, no starter (assuming your implying the usual way of preparing a starter days in advance). Or, ideally get them going in some cooled first runnings. Looking at your initial post at least half of the issue appears to arise after harvesting and storage. Top cropping and drying on wood, paper or cloth has served Nordic brewers for generations, possibly for a reason.

Omega Hornindal - Fine until you stored wet and repitched.
Opshaug - Fine until you stored wet and repitched.
Ebbegarden - Known to contain bacteria and fermented at the optimal temperature for it.
Skare - Clean (is that just one use though?) although not fermented at the optimal growth temperature of Lacto.
 

RoomWithABrew

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@jceg316

I bought my opshaug kveik from white labs.
Half a packet in my first batch and half in the next batch.

I dried some of the good slurry from the second batch on greaseproof paper, then when bone dry broke up the flakes to a size that would fit in a tupperware.
Kept in freezer.
If I'm using Kveik in a brew then I just drop about 5cm square of flake on the top of the wort after oxygen aeration and a double dose of yeast nutrient at about 30 celsius. Keep it no lower than that temp and under 40 celsius.
Works great every time.

But it's first generation yeast each time. Not overpitched, no starter.

I'd say less is more and stick to first generation.
Paraphrasing " it's Kveik Jim, but not yeast as we know it ".
 
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I‘ve done lots of Kveik brews and only had one problem. That was with an eBay purchased Hornindal. Not only was my batch ruined but it also infected my Fermzilla All Rounder. So I had to buy a new lid.

Since then I’ve only ever used the professional isolates (White Labs Hornindal, Lallemand dried Voss and Omega dried Lutra). Never had an issue with them and I’m working through jars and jars of trub.

I still have some eBay Kveik toe nail clippings left and I might try one of the others as an experiment with a smaller batch size.
 

the baron

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The only problem I have had (I have put this in another Thread I started) was that the KVeik on 3rd generation took the standard time to ferment as most other yeast but it still out perfect after 2 weeks
 

Sadfield

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The only problem I have had (I have put this in another Thread I started) was that the KVeik on 3rd generation took the standard time to ferment as most other yeast but it still out perfect after 2 weeks
Could it have been your wort composition, was the 3rd brew mashed higher, etc? Kveik apparently struggle with the more complex maltotiose after ripping through glucose and maltose.

 

the baron

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Hi Sadfield it has consistently happened on 3 occasions with the same yeast so from what some other Kveik users have said to me is to not overpitch (which I did)and preferably dry the 1st generation slurry and use the flakes instead of the slurry seems to be the consensus of opinions but thanks and I am reading up all the time on tips to try and get it right.
It has not been detrimental to the beer at all but just takes longer to ferment down that the 1st generation Kveik so it is just a time issue
 

jceg316

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I did my double brew yesterday and took the first 500ml runnings after the mash to "wake up" my kveik flakes. I was pitching hornindal farmhouse strain which I bought from the Yeaster Bunny and put straight in my freezer. I took them out at the beginning of the day, and once my 500ml of starter wort was at pitching temp (35°C) I pitched the yeast. However nothing happened. I carried on with my brew day and by the time I got to the end of the day, having done everything but pitch this starter, still no sign of activity. The yeast flakes just sat on the bottom. I tried giving a stir and checking later but nothing.

I left it over night and checked this morning and still nothing. This leads me to think the yeast is dead, and maybe the other sachets I've used were dead and kveik wasn't fermenting the beer but some other yeast or mix of bugs. I will speak to YB about this, see what they say and if there's anything of interest I will post back here.
 

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@jceg316
Try some with a bit of DME or even sugar and yeast nutrient as a further test. But it doesn't sound hopeful.
Do you have some yeast that you can pitch ? as you appear to have a double batch sitting with no activity.
 

the baron

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if you are really stuck and do not have a homebrew shop nearby run down to Wilko's and grab some of their yeast and get some in as soon as poss
 

jceg316

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I do have some yeasts sitting in my fridge. I did a co-pitch of philly sour and WY3056 Bavarian Wheat Blend. I've got no more kviek left but think I'll give it a miss for a while. Still waiting for Yeaster Bunny to get back to me.
 
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