Saison Achillea — Gruitbier inspired saison

Yarrow LifeGregory and I brewed this saison back in June 2015 and we ended up bottling a few gallons and kegging the rest.  Though we thoroughly enjoy hoppy beers, we also love brewing experimental hop-less brews that take their inspiration from historical beer styles and bygone brewing techniques.

The name Saison Achillea is a reference to the binomial name of the flowering plant widely known as common yarrow, Achillea Millefolium.  We used foraged yarrow as well as a small amount of foraged local lavender (another plant traditionally found in gruit) in the production of this beer and pitched our go to saison yeast, Wyeast 3711 French Saison.

Yarrow & LavenderYarrow has a varied history and mythology, including being revered as a healing herb and magical plant in ancient Greece.  In China, the I-Ching is traditionally cast with yarrow stalks which represent the Yin and Yang forces of the universe.  In Native America, yarrow was used as a medicinal herb by tribes across the continent.  In beer, yarrow imparts a sweet floral fragrance but acts as a bittering component and imparts tartness on the palate.  I consider this a sour beer, although we didn’t pitch any bacteria; all the tartness comes from the yarrow.

Check out our recipe and complete tasting notes below:

Saison Achillea

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.25
Anticipated OG: 1.059
Anticipated SRM: 9.0
Anticipated IBU: N/A
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes


81.63% — 10.00 Lbs. Vienna
08.16% — 1.00 Lbs. Wheat Malt
06.12% — 0.75 Lbs. Caravienna
04.08% — 0.50 Lbs. Crystal 40L




6.00 oz. Yarrow @ 60 min.
4.00 oz. Yarrow @ 5 min.
0.50 oz. Lavender @ 5 min.
0.50 oz. Lavender @ 0 min.
0.75 oz. Yarrow @ 0 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.


Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Water Profile

1.00 g Calcium Chloride
1.50 g Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 90 min @ 150F


06.08.15 — Made a 1L starter with 1 Wyeast 3711 French Saison smack pack.  Brewtoad suggests 224 billion cells to ferment 5.5 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

Brewed on 06.10.15 with Gregory

06.10.15 — Chilled wort to 70F and pitched the French Saison yeast

06.12.15 — Signs of vigorous fermentation activity

06.20.15 — Transferred two gallons into bottling bucket after 10 day primary fermentation

06.22.15 — Kegged the rest of the beer and began force carbonating

Tasting Notes — 11. 01.15 (poured from bottle)

This beer is quite clear now that it has had time to bottle condition for over four months.  The aroma is floral and herbal-sweet like tea with a hint of lavender.  Surprisingly, there’s not much in the way of spicy saison yeast phenolics or fruity esters (though I don’t recall if we utilized the brewbelt this time around).  The yarrow dominates the palate, starting as an herbal, sweeter ginger-like note before it melds into the malt backbone which is reminiscent of wild honey.  There is a hint of lavender sweetness before the yarrow returns to dry out the finish with some balancing astringency and acidic tartness that pierces the sides of the tongue and lingers on.

Calculated OG: 1.059
Calculated FG: 1.006
Approx. ABV: 6.9%