This presentation given by Omega’s owner, Mark Schwarz, was rich with information. See the slideshow presentation, videos, talking points, and some notes taken from the presentation!


Notes from Presentation:

Slide – What does Omega Yeast Do?

  • Entirely liquid yeast
  • Custom propping fresh strains for breweries
  • Privately bank and prop your strains, example Brett strains that have changed over time can freeze in time

Slide – History of the Company 

  • The yeast world is NOT collaborative like the brewery world
  • Omega props every pitch fresh, does not prop 100 bbl like Wyeast and White Labs
  • Fresh props leads to better QA and much higher consistency
  • Currently doing crazy experimentation

Slide – What is Kveik?

  • Lars Garshol, lives in Oslo Norway, is a beer geek who drives around to weird farmhouse brewing areas to find cultures. He found an area Voss, and they call yeast Kveik, pronounced “KUH-V(eye)K”
  • Norway never had a commercial brewing culture unlike Germany, England, and USA
  • Norwegians traditionally only drink beer only when some one is born, weds, or dies
  • Lars started playing with the Kveik strains and sent the strains to Omega
  • Omega’s first Kveik was called HotHead, and they didn’t quote understand what HotHead was or what it could do.
  • What makes the Norwegian beer? Ferment them HOT. They produce no fusels, no off flavors.
  • They are very alcohol tolerant, Hornindal can handle 16%
  • They are non-phenolic
  • They flocc. hard, can create crystal clear beers with no finings.
  • Norwegian Yeasts work great for any English Style beer and its derivatives.
  • Why Norway? Isn’t Norway really cold? How does this yeast enjoy hot fermentation when Norway is so cold? They stick their fermenters into the ground during fermentation for insulation
  • They recommend knocking out at 90ºF
  • Commercial brewers set your glycol to 95ºF.
  • Homebrewers, a sleeping bag is a good idea for insulation
  • Brewstock recommends a FermWrap plugged into a temperature controller like an InkBird.
  • Kveik Ring has a high surface area. They inoculate the ring, and add it to the fermenting batch, and then hang at the top of their barn to dry out. It sits for months until the next birth, wedding, or death.

Slide – Hallmarks of Norwegian Farmhouse Brewing Tradition

  • They have a “Kveiker Stoker” they’re able to carve out this stoker log which has a large surface area and inoculate their beer that way
  • What is a Norwegian style beer? How do they use it? They don’t use hops and instead use juniper infused in the mash with a significantly long boil time
  • They brew super high gravity beers
  • When fermented hot, they take ~48 hours to ferment out, and can go grain to glass 7 days or less.
  • If you don’t scream into your fermenter when pitching yeast, you’re doing it wrong.

Slide – Where do Veik fit in the world of brewing yeast?

  • Richard Price from Toronto sequenced a bunch of strains and made this chart?
  • Humans domesticated yeast 500 years ago
  • Some ancient strains from 1000 years ago
  • As the wheel expands COUNTER CLOCKWISE, Africa and East Asia started out earliest yeast
  • Eventually we get to Germany, Belgium, and then UK and USA
  • The Kveik strains DNA seem to sequence close to both ancient yeast and German/Belgian yeast
  • The Vikings probably brought UK strains back to Norway after raiding England
  • Russia and Asia probably brought wild ale strains to Norway
  • The Kveik strains nowadays are likely a hybrid of the domesticated UK yeast and ancient Asian yeast.
  • Omega has found ways to mate two yeast strains in modern times
  • Their their best hypothesis as to how Norwegian Kveik strains were born back in Viking days is from odd conditions that caused UK strains and Asian strains to mate and create new hybrid Kveik strains.

Question – How do yeast perform at lower temperatures? 

They perform fine. HotHead is very consistent across temperature range. Voss and Hornindal have better ester production (desirable) at higher temperature levels, and more clean flavors at lower temperatures, but takes longer to ferment.

Slide – Omega Yeast Kveik Offerings

  • HotHead is the cleanest by far
  • Voss is a bit more citrusy, and is fantastic replacement to Chico strain
  • Hornindal is most recent, more tropical fruity flavor

Slide – Kveik FAQ

  • Kveik is 100% Sacc, they are no different than any English strain you’ve used.
  • None of the strains are diastatic.
  • Sidebar, some competitors are in a large lawsuit with Left Hand brewing over diastatic.
  • Diastatic is a huge deal in commercial world…
  • Chico can eat all simple sugars, and leave dextrins or complex sugars behind. The sweetness in the beer is from complex sugars.
  • Diastatic are generally saisons, generally happen to also be phenolic.
  • It secretes an enzyme, a glucoamylase enzyme, that breaks the dextrins into simple sugars and eat those sugars as well. 
  • Kveik are NOT diastatic, unlike saisons or belgian ales. 
  • Why do homebrewers care? We don’t.
  • Left Hand brewed a Nitro Stout but had up to 3 diastatic cells in their cans, and a moth later the cans start exploding on the shelf from over fermenting and off flavors being produced. 
  • Omega started their company without knowing how White Labs and Wyeast props their yeast, they prop very very differently than the big guys. 
  • Omega works on a small scale and avoids these issues.
  • Literally make any kind of style beer related to English lineage of beers. 

Slide – How do Kveik cultures Fit Into Modern Brewing

  • You can make fast and high ABV tolerant beers
  • Omega made a 16% Barleywine with Hornindal in 72 hours, no boozy burn, very drinkable in 1 week.

Slide – Future Projects

  • Expanding on hybrid strains of yeast, Omega has indeed found a method to force two yeast strains to mate and create brand new strains 
  • The first available example of this is Omega’s strain called Saisonstein’s Monster
  • They loved the taste and flavor from the Belgian Saison DuPont yeast, but it’s frustrating that the yeast often stalls out at 1.030
  • The mating of Belgian Saison and French Saison produced ~200 babies, or 200 unique new strains of yeast
  • After testing these cells, Omega found one they liked that produced all the great flavors of a Belgian Saison, but with the strong attenuation of French Saison, and the result is an idealistic saison strain
  • The newest release is called Gulo Ale… Gulo meaning glutton because this yeast eats everything
  • The Gulo Ale is a hybrid like Saisonstein’s Monster, but a progeny of French Saison and Irish Ale. Why? Omega enjoys the clear and citrus esters of Irish Ale yeast, and the huge attenuation of French Saison.
  • The result is a strain that will attenuate 85-90% by itself with no help from any extra enzymes like glucoamylase, and be left with a very clean and dry drinking ale. This is great for a future Brut Stout project that Omega is going to do.
  • Brewstock says that Gulo Ale will work fantastically in a wide range of styles, like a Brut IPA, a Dry Irish Stout, a Dry Irish Red Ale, Dry Hybrid Style Beer

Ask more questions at Brewstock!