At this year’s Yukon Beer Festival we are looking forward to releasing our first ever collaboration brew.
Collaboration brews seem so commonplace for craft breweries down south, but for us being so far north it’s not as easy to collaborate on beers with other breweries. It’s something we’ve had on our bucket list, as what could be more fun than getting a bunch of brewers together to come up with a recipe and have a fun day of brewing and drinking beer together.
To mark the 5th anniversary of the Yukon Beer Festival the festival organizers encouraged us to work on a special collaboration beer with an outside brewery. We jumped at the chance! Category 12 Brewing from Victoria, BC was a brewery at the top of our list to work with since we had met the founders, Michael and Karen Kuzyk, last year when they served at the Yukon Beer Festival. We also love every Category 12 beer we've ever tried.
Michael agreed to work with us and we discussed over email on potential brews and flew him up last month. With Michael having a doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry he offered up some options for yeasts to use. We decided to go with something new to us, a Kveik yeast. We took inspiration from Kveik’s Norwegian roots and started researching Norwegian farmhouse ales. We found that many recipes incorporate juniper branches in the brew and we just so happen to have an abundance of juniper in our neighborhood and liked the Yukon-foraged twist we could add to the collaboration. We also had several pounds of spruce tips left over that would go nicely with the juniper.
The star of the show, the Kveik yeast brought up in Michael's suitcase.
Harvesting juniper branches from the local Sima neighbourhood.
Prepping the Spruce Tips.
Michael arrived by plane on a Friday night with his suitcase bursting at the seams with containers of yeast and freshly canned Category 12 Juicy Data IPA (thanks Michael)! The next day we awoke bright and early and met Alex and Kevin (our brewers) at the brewery along with our friend Sean (contributing spruce tips and delicious homebrew). We had soaked a few pounds of juniper branches in our brew water over night but found we wanted a bit more juniper influence so added some more to the boil along with the spruce tips. The malt bill was kept simple with 50/50 pilsner to 2-row barley. Hops were added only for bittering during the boil to let the yeast and locally foraged ingredient take center stage.
Coffee quickly turned to beer followed by BBQ burgers and more beer as the afternoon wore on. We finished off the day with a hike up on Mount McIntyre to soak in the fall colours and dinner at Woodcutter's Blanket.
All hands on deck! You can't just stand around and drink beer, all day!
Adding the finishing touch, the yeast.
A cool thing about Kveik yeast is that it can ferment at really high temperatures and be done within a few days. Most of our beers are fermented at 19-21°C but we pitched the yeast around 25°C and were going to let it free rise up to a max of 35°C. In typical Kveik yeast fashion the fermentation took off by the next morning. It was almost too vigorous that a lot of the yeast might have got pushed up and out of the fermenter! After that it was a sluggish finish to a final gravity we could be content with (not quite as low as we were targeting). Such is life when you are working with a new beast.
Superpowered fermentation leads to a big mess on the brewery floor.
All in all it was a fun brew day all together and the beer turned out great and unlike anything we have made before. The Kveik shines in the beers aroma and flavour with a light spicyness and juicy orange and apple cider character. The spruce blends nicely with the Kveik yeast flavours, while the juniper shows up as an herbal dryness towards the end of the sip.
Get the first taste of Norse Code Norwegian Farmhouse Ale (7.5%) at the Yukon Beer Festival this Friday and Saturday night. After that it will be available at the brewery on draught.