Here in the UK, nettles are easy to come by, so why not turn your hand to brewing an inexpensive yet unique and tasty nettle beer? This recipe shows you how to brew a delicious and thrifty beer from a common weed, unlike anything you’ll find in shops or down the pub!
It is important to pick good quality nettles to use in this recipe. While many common weeds have a number of uses to us, it is important to be aware of what they may have been exposed to out in the wild, as well as making sure your picking doesn’t damage the local area.
Wearing gloves to avoid being stung, pick the top 6 or so leaves from the plant, these being the freshest and best for the recipe. Avoid withered, unhealthy looking plants, or ones which have flowered or seeded. Nettle patches are a vital habitat for wildlife, so only pick from large areas of nettles to minimise your impact on the area, and keep the plant’s roots in tact so they can continue to grow.
You will need:
1kg fresh nettles
500g demerara sugar
25g cream of tartar
1tsp brewer’s yeast
1 gallon demijohn
Remove the roots and thicker stalks from the nettles and rinse to remove dirt, debris or insects. Place in the pan with approx. 4.5 litres of water and bring to the boil.
After simmering for 20 minutes, remove from heat and strain the liquid into a jug, squeezing well to make sure all the liquid is used. Add the juice and rind of the 2 lemons, sugar and cream of tartar. Stir, adding water if necessary to make sure the liquid remains 4.5 litres in volume.
Transfer the liquid to a glass demijohn and allow to cool. Once cool, add the brewer’s yeast.
Wait 3-4 days for fermentation to take place. Carefully strain the beer using a muslin cloth and transfer into sterilized bottles.
Nettle beer can take some experimentation to get right, but with the main ingredient so readily available, it’s easy to try this recipe and make your own variations until you get your beer how you like it. For added flavour, try brewing sliced ginger root with the nettles, or adding a few handfuls of elderflower.
Image sourced: David Baileytagshome made beernettle beerrecipes