Shades of Pale Kveik Beers
Sometimes our humble local producers flex their not-so-little talent muscles and remind the rest of the country that Utahns are capable of producing the best products in the world when it comes to beer, wine and spirits. That is exactly what happened last week at the Great American Beer Festival, where Shades of Pale brewing took home a gold medal for the Kveik (pronounced “ka-wike”) 1 beer. That’s the kind of thing that makes us proud to be Utahns here at Utah Grape and Grain, and although the Kveik 1 was a limited edition beer, we wanted to shed some light on this series so that you don’t miss future production runs.
The Kveik 1 is an american style sour ale that takes its name from the Kveik yeast used in the brewing process. Brewmaster Marcin Buffolo used the badass laboratory that Shades founder Trent Fargher walked us through a few weeks ago to isolate several different Kveik yeast strains from a sample he received whilst on vacation in Slovenia (because that’s where you go to swap Norwegian yeast strains for fun).
In order to understand some of the fun history behind the Kveik beers, it’s important to understand the history of the Kveik yeast. Maybe you know this, but it’s actually a pretty modern phenomenon to have pure yeast strains that are nicely isolated and stored in ready-to-pitch format. Back in the day, brewers kept their yeast handy in dried format (you know - on a log or sheet of linen). Where do you guys keep your yeast when you’re not using it? Don’t send me pictures.
Anyways, a few of these log-toting brewers who never adapted to more modern yeast practices are the ones who have been behind the resurrection of Kveik yeasts in the very recent past. Some of the unique characteristics of Kveik include high heat tolerance, quick fermentation, high alcohol tolerance and the ability to be dried and reused (on your logs and linens). The domestic craft beers being made with Kveik yeasts today are mostly in the Belgian and Farmhouse categories (including a bunch of IPAs within those styles), and that’s where the Shades of Pale offerings fit as well.
As of today, Shades has produced three distinct Kveik beers. Kveik 1 is a dry hopped golden ale that displays some farmhouse characteristics and clean, fruity aromas (although it has no fruit). Kveik 2 adds sweet cherries to the brew and ends up bright red but without an overpowering influence from the fruit. We drank some of the Kveik 2 while interviewing Trent, in fact, and found it delightful. Kveik 3 adds lactose to the brew to produce a thick and buttery mouthfeel (think about a wine that has undergone malolactic fermentation). Combined with the addition of tropical fruit, this beer ends up a really interesting combination of hazy and fruity.
If all this sounds interesting, head on over to Utah Beer News where Tim Haran spent a ton of time nerding out on yeast strains and chemistry in his article on the Kveik beers and in his interview with Trent and Marcio. Then come back over here in a few weeks for our deep dive with Trent on the story behind Shades of Pale (including his take on what its like to brew for an entire festival on a glorified homebrew setup… ah the joys of bootstrapped entrepreneurship). Until then, head over to the Shades of Pale brewery and snag a selection of brews so that you’re ready to taste and listen to their story!