yarrow

Fermenting Fun: Achille’s Heal 2.0

A new year means another new home brew, in particular another pale ale overflowing with ultra-piny yarrow blossoms and a generous helping of complimentary hops to add some flavors and aromas of citrus and coniferous woods. I’m really getting into the swing of home brewing on a regular basis now, mainly because there is a lack of outdoor activities that I am willing to participate in this time of the year but also because I’d like to be able to enjoy a regular supply of (hopefully) delicious home brewed beer. (more…)

Achille’s Heal Gruit Ale: Tasting Notes

The completion of this recipe marks the beginning of a new era for me in terms of my gradual evolution as a home brewer;  bit of an eccentric home brewer at that. There are a few different techniques and ingredients featured in Achille’s Heal Gruit ale that I have read extensively about but never put into practice until now. The first major change that was made was my switch from using almost exclusively liquid malt extract (LME) to experimenting with dry malt extract (DME),. I’ve got to say that I welcome this change and will very likely continue to use DME from now on. I find it significantly less messy and you don’t need as much of it because LME contains roughly 10% water and so is slightly less concentrated than the DME which has all of the water removed from it. Furthermore, I made the switch from amber malt to pale malt, although this was made not necessarily out of preference but because I was attempting to replicate a different style in this beer: something with a very light malt profile and much more hop character and bitterness. This, I believe, I most definitely achieved. (more…)

Achilles’ Heal Gruit Ale

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is probably one of my favorite native perennial medicinal herbs. It was one of the first plants that I learned to identify with confidence, and it is a common sight in many parts of the northern hemisphere, found virtually right across the top of our world. One of the chief medicinal applications of yarrow has been to both as a topical disinfectant and to stop profuse bleeding when wounded. It’s these compounded characteristics of the plant which earned it its genus name Achillea. Achilles is a warrior in Greek mythology who was believed to have treated the injuries his soldiers sustained in battle by applying a poultice of crushed yarrow leaves.

Indigenous peoples, where ever they have access to this plant, developed surprisingly similar medicinal and therapeutic traditions for yarrow, many of which have been proven by modern science including it’s ability to increase perspiration and thin the blood. Folk medicinal proclaims yarrow to be almost something of a cure-all, and many of this proposed medicinal attributes I can personally vouch for either directly or indirectly including it’s effectiveness for soothing sore throats, relieving nasal congestion, easing headaches and discouraging/relieving symptoms of indigestion and nausea. (more…)