It never ceases to amaze me that people blitz their gardens with chemicals then go to the pub and spend their cash on beer, when they could sit back, let the nettles grow and then enjoy a nice tipple free.
Okay, I admit the sugar, lemons, oranges and yeast cost a few pounds but the principle remains the same.
With our nettles growing fast and approaching the picking stage, I thought I’d share my recipe for nettle beer.
- 5 gallons of water
- 3 bags of nettle tips
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 2 oranges, juiced
- 3kg sugar
- 100g cream of tartar
- Yeast (Girvan 5 is good, but if I haven’t any I just use bread yeast, beer yeast or even my rye leaven!)
- Large dandelion root, chopped (optional)
- Large ginger root, chopped (optional)
Don’t use both the dandelion and the ginger, use either or none!
- Boil the water – either in batches or get a brewing boiler (a 6-gallon one is good for doing 5 gallons as you get less splashing). Put the nettle tips in a large tub (at least 6 gallons), and pour the boiling water over them. Leave to infuse until cooled to around 35-36C (usually takes a couple of hours).
- Strain back into your boiler (or a multitude of pots!). Add the lemon and orange juice, the sugar and the cream of tartar. Heat gently and stir until the sugar has dissolved – do not boil – and then transfer into a brewing vat.
- Leave to cool to about 20C (overnight is usually best), then pitch the yeast. If using leaven, I spread it on a piece of toast and then float the toast on the liquid. Cover the vat loosely with muslin and leave to stand in a warm place for about three days. (Or use a brewing heater set to 20C.)
- Carefully skim any scum off the surface, then rack the beer into beer bottles, taking care not to disturb the sediment.
- Leave to condition for a week or so, then serve cold.