Kveik (“yeast” in Norwegian) strains have all originated from farmsteads of Norway. They produce unique flavors and ferment cleanly at unbelievably high temperatures. It’s this lack of necessary temperature control that has helped propel these strains of yeast into stardom with homebrewers.
Hornindal #5 is one of the most popular kveik strains (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that is now available commercially. It has also become my personal favorite kveik strain, so I wanted to learn about where it came from and how the different commercial strains differ from each other.
Hornindal Kveik History & Origin
The Hornindal strain of kveik came from Terje Raftevold, a brewer that procured the yeast from Olav Sverre Gausemel when he was trained by him in the 1990s. Olav’s family farm is located in the Hornindal municipality within Norway, from which this yeast strain gets its name.
Raftevold typically used this yeast blend to brew what’s called a raw – or “No Boil” – farmhouse ale, which is the most common style of beer made in the area.
In 2015, Raftevold shared the strain with Lars Marius Garshol, a scientist and blogger from the Oslo area. Lars single-handedly brought the spotlight on this and other kveik strains through his website Larsblog. After writing for years about the benefits of these once-hidden yeast strains, commercial yeast banks began to take notice.
Omega Yeast first became aware of the Norwegian kveik strains in 2017 via Lars’ blog. They were fascinated with the history of Norwegian farmhouse brewing and the yeast strains being used to brew traditional Norwegian farmstead beers and shortly after received a package postmarked in Norway that contained the strains that we all use today.
Lance Shaner, co-owner at Omega knew right from the beginning that this yeast has the capability to become a huge success in the US.
Profile of Hornindal Kveik
Many of Hornindal’s properties are similar to other kveik strains. Most kveik strains do best in a nutrient-rich wort and can work most efficiently at unusually high temperatures without producing off-flavors.
Hornindal produces a tropical fruit flavor and complex aroma that can present itself as stone fruit, pineapple, and dried fruit leather. If allowed to ferment at even higher than normal temperatures, the more citrus flavor you get, specifically lemon. These flavors and aromas overlap significantly with the fruit hop notes that are commonly used in IPAs. I have sometimes gotten a farmhouse taste from this yeast that has subsided as the beer matured.
It also turned out that part of the flavor of the base Hornindal strain that came from Norway was due to bacteria inside it. These added flavors of milky caramel, honey and mushroom may not be in the commercial strains because they are a pure isolate of yeast, and lack of accompanying bacteria.
Hornindal ferments clean and fast at 90° F (32° C) or higher. Some commercial strains of Hornindal mention that it can be pitched as high as 100° F, but I have not tried it to that extreme. This strain also happens to be non-phenolic and does not create fusels, even when allowed to ferment at these unusually high temperatures. When pitched at the low end of the temperature range you can expect clean flavors with less fruity esters.
Hornindal is popular to be used among IPAs, Pale Ales, Stouts, Imperial Stouts, Barleywines and Porters. It does great with higher ABV beers due to its maximum alcohol tolerance of 16%.
Pitch rate of this and many other kveik strains are a common source of disagreement between homebrewers. Unlike other “normal” yeast strains, it is generally recommended to under pitch Hornindal. I personally only use about 1 tablespoon of Hornindal per 5 gallon (19 L) batch.
Commercially Available Hornindal Kveik Strains
Most of these strains were cultured from Raftevold’s original sample. While Omega was the first to commercialize Hornindal, others soon followed with their very similar versions.
- Omega Hornindal Kveik (OYL-091)
- GigaYeast Hornindal Kveik #5 (GY135)
- The Yeast Bay Hornindal Kveik (WLP4050)
- White Labs Hornindal Kveik (WLP521)
- Escarpment Labs Hornindal Kveik Blend
- Imperial Bartleby (A46)
- Omega Lutra Kveik (OYL-071) – Lutra is an isolate from the original Hornindal Kveik strain in OYL-091. This version ferments very clean and is considered perfect for lagers.
The image of Lake Hornindalsvatnet in Grodås, Norway at the top of post is courtesy Markus Tacker.