Yarrow (Achillea millefolium – “the thousand-leaved plant of Achilles”) is an intriguing herb for brewing, and has been used in this capacity for centuries or more. According to Stephen Harrod Buhner, “throughout Scandanavia it is called jordhumle, ‘earth hop.’ ” It was commonly used in gruit ale in the middle ages, before the exclusive use of hops was mandated by the authorities (not coincidentally, around the time the witch hunts began, when wise women herbalists were the victims of genocide and their knowledge was systematically eradicated). Yarrow is, however, still used to some degree in Europe for ale brewing.
In addition, yarrow is “highly inebriating and stimulating” when used in brewing, “far out of proportion to [its] individual effects outside of fermentation.”
I wanted to try a mead using yarrow, so as always I adapted my standard mead recipe in the following ways:
- Brew 2 gallons of yarrow tea, using about 2 ounces of dried yarrow. Boil 2 gallons of water and pour it over the yarrow, let it steep for about an hour, and then strain it.
- Add a gallon of honey to the must
- Add the juice of 8 lemons (I wanted to have a bit more of a citrus-y flavor, I think it will blend nicely with the yarrow herb flavor
- Brew a small pot of black tea, using 3 black teabags and some of the yarrow tea, letting steep for 5 minutes, and add to the must
It has a beautiful golden color:
UPDATE: Here’s the label: