Traditional Norwegian Farmhouse Brewing

Our friend Amund Polden Arnesen, a Norwegian beer-maker,  shared the following information about a traditional farmhouse beer known as Maltøl:
The Norwegian tradition for farmhouse brewing has survived particularly on the west coast and in the middle part of Norway. In Stjørdal they still malt their own barley in specially built traditional malting houses on the farms called “Såinnhus”. They use direct fire with alderwood to dry the malt. Some of them also use a juniper infusion, called Einelåg, made from juniper branches as brewing water.
Their traditional yeast is unfortunately gone so they use bakers yeast or yeast from the local lager brewery. In Hornindal, Voss, Sogn and Møre on the west coast of Norway though they still keep their farmhouse yeast which they call Kveik. How old some of these strains are and how many generations they go back we are not sure of. We are also unsure of their origins, only that they are not of modern and laboratory pedigree. These yeast are traditionally pitched at close to 40 C which sounds insane to a modern brewer, but produces some interesting flavours in the beer.  Beer made with one strain I had made an orange liqueur flavour that I have never gotten from any modern yeast strain.
Many of these brewers make raw beer (not boiled), with makes for a different malt flavour and mouth feel. If one looks at what these Norwegian farmers have been doing through generations it in respect to the modern way of producing food and beverage products most of it doesn´t make sense. But if one tries to think like a farmer would it suddenly makes perfect sense. Take the fermentation temperature as an example. What is the most exact temperature one can measure without a thermometer that is closest to a good fermentation temp? Body temperature of course, and there anthropological surveys made in the fifties where the farmers were asked at what temperature they added the Kveik. An answer that pops up quite frequently is “milk warm”, a reference a farmer would know like the back of his hand.
For more information, check out Amund’s full article.

A wreath used to store yeast

A juniper infusion