Posts Tagged ‘saison’

Farewell Yarrow

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

from theweeklybrew


This last year was full of discovery in terms of herbal beers. I brewed my first gruit with yarrow in the spring, and instantly fell in love with the herb. I followed that up with adding yarrow to other beers in a random fashion, not caring if it enhanced or detracted from the flavor. Well, I think I have burned out on yarrow because of it.

Yarrow is purportedly a healing herb with it’s use going back past the middle ages. It’s not a beautiful plant like a hop vine, it kinda reminds me of Queen Anne’s Lace in fact. For smell and aroma you can’t beat it. This stuff is amazing…. and strong. It has a sweet, grassy, herbal flavor, with some slight bittering. and the nose is very floral and grassy. This stuff really is a trip in beer because you don’t expect it.

Here I am singing it’s praises though after saying I’m burnt out. The reason I’m burnt out is because of my beer that just finished carbing. Recently I brewed a roggenbier with some modifications. The first mod was I amped the rye malt and barley malt up without increasing the hops. This worked better then I planned, the beer tastes like liquid bread. It’s thick and yummy, but it’s def a beer you only have one of. The second mod I did was I tossed in some left over heather tips and yarrow…. Ya, now I’m not certain what to think of the beer. It’s not bad, but the herbal taste just over runs the beer. I’m hoping my yarrow saison doesn’t have this overpowering quality…. Especially since I used much more yarrow in it then I did the roggenbier.

After this experience though I think I’ll lay off the yarrow for a bit.

Brew Day Saison

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I’m finally getting around to brewing my Gooseberry Yarrow Saison. This beer has been a long time overdue, but what can I say? I picked up a nice French Saison yeast that is a special put out by Wyeast. I’ve been told that it’s less temperamental then the Belgian strain and has higher attenuation. This will help get that really nice dry finish. I also grabbed some grains of paradise and a book on designing beers. Once I get this book finished I’ll do a review. Also I added some beer to my cellaring collection. Deschute’s Black Butte XXI has been released. XXI is an imperial version of their porter. The bottle is now aging away next to my bottles of Mirror Mirror, Old Rasputin, Old Foghorn, and Languanitas Imperial Stout.

I have one concern about my aging beers though that I’m looking for advice on. How long does one age an Imperial Porter??


Friday, June 26th, 2009


So right now I’m getting ready to brew my saison as soon as the yarrow arrives and I realized it’s been awhile since I’ve done a style rundown. I find it interesting to look at a style and why it got it’s start, and how it has evolved over the years. Saison is one of those really interesting beers because a years ago it was a nearly extinct style.

Saison literally means season and was a beer brewed by farms in Belgium for workers in the summer. Hence it’s other name, farmhouse ale. Saison isn’t just any ole summer ale though. Saisons are usually considered unique to Belgium although apparently there is a French style too. They were brewed in the winter and cellared till summer. Traditionally Saisons are around 3% abv, but the American revival of this style tends to be around 5% or higher. The reason why it was traditionally brewed at a low abv was that it was brewed for farm hands during the summer and fall. Not only did the workers remain more sober while drinking lower abv beers, but lower alcohol beers are much cheaper to brew. When farm hands were entitled to a certain amount of beer from their employer you better believe the employer was trying to cut costs.

According to the modern thought of craft brewing a lower abv beer should have less flavor. Saisons though managed to pack flavor in a small package. They did this in multiple ways. First off saisons have more hops then their maltier Belgian parents. Also farmers often provided more flavor to their beers by adding fruit, or cutting the beer with lambics. An interesting effect of this process is it gave the beer a tartness that makes it much more refreshing.

While historically saison refers to any number of summer beers brewed in Belgium the definition has become much more standardized in modern times. According to the BJCP a saison should have a aroma dominated by fruity esters. It should poor a pale orange color, and have a light to medium mouth feel. The flavor should be lightly bitter and refreshing with a light malt flavor that supports the other flavors in the beer. A modern saison often times has a tartness to mimic the older version and is usually a dry beer. Most modern saisons are medium to high alcohol content.

Herbal Infusions

Thursday, June 25th, 2009


The North American Organic Brewers Festival is upon us this beer event laden weekend. One thing I’ve noticed looking at the beer list is the number of beers with different herbs in them. The trend in craft brewing right now seems to be towards barrel aging beers, but I’ve noticed a trend towards herbal beers here in the northwest, and to a much lesser extent around the nation. Could herbal beers be the next big thing?

Personally I love  the aroma, and to a much lesser degree the flavor, that herbs other then hops impart to beer. I’ve used both yarrow and bogmyrtle a couple times. So I find myself wondering why the trend?

I think part of it is the novelty value to the consumer, and an interest for the brewer in stretching their horizons. I think it’s one of the reasons oak aging has exploded. To the average non brewing public the idea of barrel aging, boiling with hot rocks, or adding dandelion flowers is something way out there. There is a big draw in trying unique or unusual beers for the beer snob crowd.

As a brewer I’m interested in the techniques from a non novelty stand point. What can these different ingredients and methods do to change the characteristics of my beer? Are they effective? It’s the same curiosity that caused me to dump peanut butter in a stout. It’s also the same curiosity that caused me to develope my recipe for a gooseberry yarrow saison that I’m brewing this weekend.

So am I full of it about these fads and trends? I’d like to know others opinions. I’d especialy like Soseman’s input since she works in marketing.