Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nettle Beer awwwwway we go.

As I mentioned last blog post, I am always sitting at home thinking about the things I have done in recent times, the things I would like to do in the upcoming times and the things that I would like to do right at that moment. I think I am slowly driving Marta insane with my ideas for goats cheese, ginger beer, fruit wines, anything! If you can name it and make at home I have talked about it.

So, due to me aforementioned affliction, I like to flick through numerous websites. Including, but not exclusively limited to, the really inspiring guys at
Blagger (Nik runs a great concept there), Channel 4 Food, I miss watching Landline in Australia, and then there was the TV show the River Cottage from the UK with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. The latter is where I got the recipe for the nettle beer after trying some in Prague at the beginning of the month last month and being excited. So here it is:

Nettle Beer


"We love nettles at River Cottage, turning them into everything from soup to gnocchi and tagliatelle and, yes, beer."


  • 6l water
  • A small carrier bag of nettle tops, washed
  • Juice of 1 lemon, strained
  • Juice of 1 orange, strained
  • 750g caster sugar
  • 30g cream of tartar
  • 5g yeast

Method: How to make nettle ale

1. Bring the water to the boil in a large pan.

2. Add nettles, stir, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour until it is at blood temperature.

3. Carefully - you might want to enlist a helper at this point - strain the nettle liquid through a colander lined with a large piece of unbleached muslin into a large brewing bucket or pan. Once the liquid has filtered through, squeeze the muslin to get the maximum amount of liquid into the bucket.

4. Gradually add the sugar, stirring constantly to ensure it is thoroughly dissolved, then add the cream of tartar, and lemon and orange juice.

5. Finally, once the mixture is tepid, stir in the yeast. Cover and leave for 2-3 days in a warm place, until it’s obviously fermenting.

6. Remove any scum which has risen to the top in fermentation and siphon the beer into sterilised bottles and seal with corks.

7. Leave for at least a couple more days or up to a month before drinking.

What I did:

Picked Large bag of nettles tips (in photographic display)

This guy certainly doesn't look trustworthy, with a face like that and gloved hands and scissors....

Here are the nettle tips

Now they are gone! Where are they?

I think we have found the cause here a major force in weed destruction.

He certainly looks happy with his find, something ready to consume, no doubt!

The proud nettle hunter!

Supporting Sokolka's finest fresh produce.

Then there was a few hours delay between picking them and getting them home. Once home at about 10 at night I started to work. Boiled nettles up in two pots, with 5L of water (4 in one 1 in the other) Then tipped the smaller into the larger pot to sit overnight to get some flavour out of the nettles.

Reboiled the next day to allow the death of any bugs and removed the foamy scum at top

Added juice of 4 lemons (one as per recipe and 3 as I had no crème of Tartar available)

Juice of one large Orange

750g of Caster sugar (certainly seemed a lot!)

Added a little extra water (about 1L to cool down hot mixture)

Then added yeast and allowed to start a little.

Poured all into Demijohn and waited about a week.

So then I was getting excited and started to make preparations. I wanted to bottle it, so sterilised as many as possible, and also brewed up some priming sugar liquid (to make it fizzy), I needed to rack the good part of the beer off so as to separate it from the dead yeast. This was relatively easy as I have 2 demijohns. So I could sterilise one and putthe good clear beer into the other.

The beer smelled more like wine, and quite a lot like Champagne. The taste is a little tart but still not horrible.
I had just about finished bottling, when I realised something, I went back to my calculations and realised I had made double the priming solution!

Some people would think this to be a good thing, but to me exploding bottles and lots of fizz in my beer isn't really what I am looking forward to. So it went all back into the demijohn to ferment a little more to reduce the available sugar. I did keep one bottle out though, it is one in a soft drink container, I have since been slightly letting out the extra CO2 each day. I will probably try it after a week or so.
Then along came a beautiful Saturday, and I thought it was about time to bottle. So we now have 13 bottles of Nettle beer, sitting in the pantry aging and hopefully not exploding.
I did add a small amount of sugar, about a quarter of a teaspoon, to the bottles to give it a little fizz. Fingers crossed now!

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