If you haven’t guessed by now, kveik is one of our favourite types of yeast. We love seeing the unique characteristics they bring to beer. Plus, the fast turnaround time is a benefit. We like to see how many styles we can make – or even improve – with kveik, and today we’ll be looking at stouts.
Traditionally stouts (well, porters really) are from London and are dark, exhibiting a range of “darker” flavours from coffee and chocolate to caramel, roasted malt and smoke, to dried dark fruits and prunes. They’re a very versatile style which are easy to experiment and play around with, and it’s no surprise so many subcategories have appeared.
Depending on the type of stout or porter, usually English ale or west coast yeast will be the yeast of choice. English ale yeast can promote malty flavours, has some subtle esters and goes well with old world hops; whereas West Coast yeast is clean and crisp and is great in more modern styles which use adjuncts and “cleaner” malts like carafa.
So where does kveik come in? If you need to get that stout made extra quick, Voss can ferment super fast and imparts an orangy flavour with some woodiness, not too dissimilar from English ale yeasts. For a more modern crisper, cleaner stout, Skare or Opshaug will provide that when fermented at slightly cooler temperatures.
Whilst all those options are good, the variety we’re focusing on today is Espe. Described as having notes of dried plums, prunes and apricot, alongside a slightly floral quality, it also gives a smooth, cognac-like warming alcohol character. It sounds like it was made for stouts and dark beers! Espe has a fermentation range of 20°C – 32°C and like all kveiks, the warmer it ferments the more flavour it will impart. It will also be good in imperial stouts and barleywines.
Espe will provide the dark fruit and esters more in line with a traditional stout or porter. With this in mind, here’s a recipe which will make the most of that. We have this as our kveik stout recipe kit if you want a hassle free way of getting all the ingredients.
Batch size: 23L
Maris Otter 4.5kg
Carafa III: 0.7kg
Roasted barley: 0.3kg
Dark crystal: 0.3kg
Magnum 12g @ 60 min
Mash in at 65°C for 60-90 minutes, then raise the temperature to 75°C for 10 minutes. Drain off the wort and sparge, collecting around 28 litres of wort. Bring the wort to the boil adding the hops in at the prescribed time. Cool quickly and then pitch rehydrated yeast. Ferment at 32°C for a week or until final gravity is reached. If possible, cold crash for a few days then bottle or keg.