If you want to know how to make nettle beer your in the right place!
Nettle beer, the easiest home brew recipe? Yes!
Nettle beer is possibly one of the easiest 'beers' to brew. This simple beer is a great stepping stone into the wonderful rose-tinted world of home brewing. All you need to brew this yummy beer is a descent bag of nettles, some sugar, a few basic ingredients and some inexpensive home brewing kit. Nettle beer’s delicious unique flavor is worth the effort of trudging through field and hedgerow plus the odd sting!
With its zesty light notes nettle beer makes the perfect tipple for a summer's evening. Served chilled in the swing top bottles it really hits the spot with all its frothy goodness!
I love brewing nettle beer because:
Its very very easy to make, the major ingredient is free (nettles) and it is ready to drink so soon after brewing. Some home brews can take over a year to develop into drinkable potions, nettle beer can be ready to serve in under two weeks! The basic recipe is so adaptable that after a few batches you will have it dialed into your particular taste buds.
So let me show you how to make nettle beer you wont regret it!
Finding (foraging) the main ingredient, Nettles.
Stinging nettles also known as common nettles or Urtica dioica in Latin are found all over northern Europe, Asia and north America. They can also be found in southern Europe and northern Africa but are scarce due to the plant needing moist soil. Nettles are easy to identify from their distinctive foliage and characteristic sting.
By not touching the foliage with exposed skin the sting is easily avoided . Clothing that covers the arms and legs and a pair of gloves is all that’s needed to not get stung.
Nettles, what to look out for
When looking for a clump of nettles avoid nettles beside a busy road or path as they will likely be soiled. Also look out for wilted or curled up leaves that could show the nettles have been spayed with herbicide. Both these contaminates will produce disgusting tasting beer!
Once you have found a suitable clump ideally you want to pick the top of the stem, about the top three leaves worth. Avoid flowering older stems. In spring time nearly all nettles will be suitable but latter in the year look towards the edge of clumps or re-sprouting cut down growth.
How to pick nettles
For a gallon of beer all you need is a supermarket carrier bag full of nettles. Just wear gloves and clothing that also covers your arms and legs.
The sting isn't too bad and will fade after a few hours but it's best to avoid!
When picking the nettles remember not to decimate just one clump as even though nettles are considered a weed by many they provide excellent food and habitat for a load of insects and mammals.
- ~1kg of young nettle tops (I find the top 2 to 3 leafs gives the best taste and a full supermarket carrier bag is just about right for quantity).
- 450 g of sugar (I use caster sugar as it dissolves easily and is cheap)
- 2 rounded tea spoons of Citric Acid
or the juice of 2 to 3 lemons.
- 1 sachet or 1 heaped tea spoon of Super Wine Yeast.
- Tap water
To make nettle beer you will need the following equipment. (If you don't have a particular bit of kit please follow the items embedded link to where you can purchase it on amazon.)
How to make nettle beer
This recipe unlike other substandard recipes will produce a zesty refreshing clear bubbly lager like beer. It uses a two-stage fermentation so the worst of the sediment produced in the fermentation is removed at the bottling stage.
If you follow the steps below you will surprise your self at the quality of booze the underrated nettle can produce.
1) Rinse the nettles
Rinse the nettles in cold water to remove any dust or insects. Remove any foliage that isn't nettle at this point which may spoil the taste of the resulting brew.
2) Make the nettle tea
Put the clean nettles into the large pan and add around 5 liters or 1 gallon of water . Bring the water to the boil then simmer for about 15 minutes to make the nettle tea (a dark green solution with a hay like smell).
3) Measure out the sugar and get the yeast going
While the nettles are simmering weigh out 450g of caster sugar. Then take 1 heaped tea spoon of the weighed out sugar and dissolve it in a little warm water (~50mL). To this solution stir in 1 heaped tea spoon of dried 'super wine yeast'. This mixture can then be left on the side till it is time to add it to the cooled nettle tea.
4) Strain the nettle tea
Using the sieve and spoon remove the nettle leaves and stalks.
5) Add sugar and lemon
To the hot nettle tea stir in the sugar (450g) and citric acid (2tps) / lemon juice (two lemons). Adding the sugar when the tea is hot helps it dissolve easier.
6) Transfer the nettle tea to a demijohn
Pour the nettle tea into a sterilized demijohn and leave to cool till it is just warm to the touch.
7) Add the yeast and stopper the demijohn with the air lock
Once the nettle tea has cooled to being just warm add the yeast solution and stopper the demijohn with the air lock.
Move the demijohn to a cool spot out of direct sun light and leave it to do its thing.
The beer will then start to ferment and after a couple of hours you will see a steady stream of bubbles rising up through the air lock.
8) leave the beer to ferment for about two weeks
Leave the beer to ferment for roughly two weeks. You know it is ready for the next stage when all the sediment falls to the bottom of the demijohn and the beer clears. You will also see the rate of bubbles coming through the air lock will have slowed right down to hardly any bubbles at all.
9) Sterilize the swing top bottles and siphon
Before you bottle the beer you need to sterilize the siphon and swing top bottles.
Closely follow the instructions of the sterilizer you are using, too weak a solution and bacteria and unwanted yeasts will remain on the utensils and bottles. Too strong a solution and residual sterilizer could effect the taste of the beer or even stop the second fermentation.
10) Bottle the beer
Using the siphon transfer the beer into bottles leaving a inch of air space at the top of the bottle.
Take care not to disturb the sediment at the bottom of the demijohn.
11) Add half a tea spoon of sugar
To the filled bottles add half a tea spoon of sugar.
Tip, the easiest way of transferring the sugar is to use a piece of bent over foil.
Stopper the bottles and invert a few times to dissolve the sugar. Label the bottles and leave in a cool spot out of direct sun light.
After a few days the nettle beer will have finished fermenting and will be ready to drink!
Stick a few bottles in the fridge.....Now its time to enjoy your beer.
Please drink responsibly!
Please don't hesitate to contact me. I would love a picture of your resulting brews to add to the sites gallery. Happy brewing!!!