Viking Totem Stick

Beer, Beer Styles, Engineering, History, Yeast

While looking into how to culture wild yeast I came across a really interesting fact about Viking culture. They were all micro-brewers with their own yeast strand passed down between generations. The diversity of flavors of their ales, meads and ciders must have been AMAZING in their culture and that’s one brewery punch card that anyone would be jealous of.

Vikings used a stick, made of birch or alder traditionally, to stir anything that they fermented. The stick would never be cleaned and all the lovely lovely yeastys would stick to it. So the next time they went to brew it would transfer whatever yeast that was on it from the last batch to the new one.

They called this stick a “Totem” and it would be a family heirloom passed down for years. Sounds like a great way to culture wild yeasts to me.

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Photo: Duncan Harris


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