Making Nettles Beer
Making beer with nettles is easier than you’d think, and yields a wonderful, gluten-free, ipa-style brew!
- 750g nettle tops
- 4 litres water
- 450g brown sugar
- Juice of two lemons
- Homerown yeast culture, or a packet of beer yeast
In terms of supplies, there are a few basic items you should have. You can often find these on craigslist, and definitely at a brewing supply store, or you can order them on amazon. Keep in mind that you can re-use everything over and over again, once you have a few basics.
- Using gloves, wash the nettles thoroughly.
- Put two pots of water on the stove to boil. The second pot should have a generous four liters of (preferably filtered) water. With tongs, quickly blanch the nettles in the first pot, then drop them into the second pot. Once all of the nettles are in the second pot, boil them for 20 minutes to make the wort.
- Add the lemon juice and brown sugar to the wort, and let it cool. Pour into the (sterilized) fermentation bucket.
- Let it sit in the fermentation bucket for 2-3 days, and then pour it into sterilized demijohns, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the bucket. Add the yeast or yeast culture, and top with airlocks.
- Let the nettles beer sit in the demijohns in a place that’s not too cold and drafty. In 3-4 days, it’s time to “rack” the nettles beer, siphoning it into another sterilized demijohn, and again leaving the sediment behind.
- About a week later, when it not longer tastes sweet to you, it’s time to decant into bottles. Using swing-top bottles is really important, as there needs to be a mechanism for letting gas escape. Use a siphon hose to fill them up, leaving a bout an inch of space at the top.
- Let the bottles sit at room temperature for 2-3 days, and then try one, to see how the flavor and carbonation is doing. If it’s still sweet and under-carbonated, give it another day and test again. Once your Nettles Beer is where you’d like it, move them into the fridge, and enjoy!
I have written out a much more detailed explanation of my process for brewing this beer, along with lots of extra tips and idea, below!
Here is how I made Wild Nettles Beer at home.
As I said at the beginning, just two weeks after picking the nettles, we were drinking the homemade nettles beer! And I wish you could come over and try it, because it is really, really good! Both Jeff and I were surprised and impressed by the good flavor and the very beer-like character, all without any of the usual beer ingredients. Nettles totally work– and gave it a flavor similar to an IPA! And using brown sugar added some extra dimension. I totally recommend it.
So, this is what it looks like:If you look closely, you’ll see that there is still yeast in the bottle, it just settles to the bottom. It’s nice and fizzy!I think we may go out foraging again this weekend, so we can start another batch! I also wanted to mention that after I cooked the nettles, I strained them and pureed them to use for cooking. We made a really nice Nettles & Roasted Garlic dip (like a traditional spinach dip) and I plan to use the ones I froze to make a nettles soup, and maybe a nettles version of saag paneer.
So this experience of making nettles beer provided a really pleasant afternoon out gathering, plenty of greens to eat, and a wonderful beer! Have you ever brewed your own beer or wine? Do you think you’ll give it a shot?
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