Updated: Apr 4, 2019
Nettle beer is one of my favorite summer drinks. I brew a few batches every year and they just keep getting better.
Light, refreshing an slightly herbal, nettle beer is slightly alcoholic and great served over ice. It's also super easy to make. You won't need any specialist equipment, just a clean bucket and a few weeks to let your brew ferment and fizz.
So, let's get brewing!
Nettle Beer Recipe
Yield: 5 Litres
Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 30 min
Bottling Time: 10 min
Total Time: 3 weeks for the best brew
1 demijohn or large, sterilised bucket
1 muslin cloth
Swing top bottles (Or washed fizzy drink bottles with screw caps - this is the safer option)
Funnel or syphon tube
At least 70 nettle tops (the top 6-8 leaves of stinging nettle)
6 liters water
500g of any sugar
10g brewers years (you can use a beer or wine yeast for this recipe)
STEP ONE -
This is the first ferment. You'll be making your 'wort' which is essentially a tea, plus yeast and sugar. The yeast will eat the sugar, making your nettle beer alcoholic and giving it a beautiful taste.
In a large pan (you may need to use two), pour 6 liters of water over your nettle tops. Bring to the boil.
Boil for around half an hour, until you have a strong nettle tea.
Scoop out the cooked nettles and save for cooking - Try nettle pesto or nettle samosas. Save as much of the liquid as possible.
Take off the heat, and stir in 500g of sugar until dissolved.
Allow your mixture to cool to until just above room temperature.
In a small jug, stir your 10g of brewers yeast up with a little warm water.
Pour the jug of yeast water into your nettle tea.
Add the juice of 2 lemons and stir.
Now pour this into your sterilised bucket, or syphon into your demijohn. If you're using a bucket, you'll want to cover it with a muslin cloth.
Leave in a warm place for 5-7 days. Keep an eye on the activity. It's ready for bottling when the bubbling as slowed right down.
This is the second ferment, which is all about making your nettle beer fizzy. Now's the time to syphon the beer into your bottles.
But, all that fizz means building pressure inside your bottles. Which is why plastic bottles are safest. You'll know your brew is fizzy by giving the bottle a squeeze, or if the bottom pops out. Swing top glass bottles are beautiful but can be a hazard, use high quality ones and brew at your own risk.
Syphon your beer into your bottles. You can try to pour into a funnel but it will be tricky. Better to use a syphon tube, which will only set you back a few pounds.
Store your bottles out of the way. If you're using glass, i recommend wrapping them in fabric (just in case!).
It will be ready to drink in around 7 days. Pop open a bottle and taste it! If it's too sweet for you, leave it a few more days. Chill it when it's ready.
Additions: Try adding a thumb of grated ginger with your lemon for a spicier beer.
Serving: I like mine served over ice with lemon and mint.
Storage: Your beer will keep for at least a few months. I've had bottles a year old and they've been delicious.
Are you going to give nettle beer a go? Let me know in the comments below! I'd love to see your results, share a picture on Instagram with #foragedbyfern