Monday 31 May 2021

Amazing Nettle Beer!

 Now I know I try a lot of different things, some work, many don't and some are terrible. But occasionally you come across one that is out of this world good. This is one of them! 

I mentioned on twitter that I fancied trying to make some nettle beer and a twitter friend sent me a screenshot of a recipe his dad used to use.

Not sure what book it came from but it was a good starting point. 

So in the middle of April we went and set about collecting some nettle tops.

As the recipe was for 5 gallons, and I'm never one to do things by halves, we picked two huge "bags for life" and filled them to the brim. We tried to just pick the nettle tops on, seriously green on that sunny April day. I also had no trouble finding some dandelion roots to add in either! Nice to find a good use for them! 

As usual I didn't follow the recipe exactly! I had no oranges for a start. I also didn't add the mixture back to heat up again to dissolve the sugar. So really I just steeped the nettles in most of the boiling water, used some of the water to dissolve the sugar and then strained the nettle juice back in to combine. 

I did buy a proper ale yeast and will probably do so again, that along with the cream of tartar are the only "expensive" ingredients, but even then you're probably only looking at £6 for the 5 gallons (so long as you already have the brewing kit. 

 Then it really is a quick brew, just three days fermenting and time to bottle up. Then leave for at least a week before drinking, but it has got better after three weeks. 

Last night we each had a glass of it with our roast (the children drink this as well as it's very low alcohol and we think it's good not to completely withhold alcohol from them then let them drink (and go crazy) when they turn 18!). My wife actually said to me (and please bare in mind that most experiments I make she hates) that "this seems like she's been waiting her whole life to drink" She mentioned that she went out the other night and none of the drinks she had came anywhere near this one for taste. 

It's not a beer at all in taste, it's sweet, almost grassy taste and lightly fizzing, just enough to make it an interesting drink, it's far more like a lemonade or a ginger beer. 

I've just started a second batch! Just a good refreshing drink to have chilled, we've been enjoying it with a meal. Although I have a few beer kits that are nearly ready to drink as well  - good job we're allowed to be social again. 

I'll do a post on some of the beer kits soon, things have moved on so much since I last tried - I honestly can't believe how good these beers are and great that there's no need to buy a high taxed item like beer if I don't want to! 

I'd also like to try a traditional ginger beer if anyone has a recipe they've tried? Do you have any quickly brewed drinks? 


  1. We did the same with our girls, allowed them to try drinks, when younger it was beers or a watered down wine, in their teens they could try drinks at home, we encouraged them away from spirits. They could find their own taste in the safety of home and not go stupid with their mates.

    1. Yes, seems crazy not to let them try these things, although they all already have a taste for beer or lager, but I'd say they have quite a mature pallet. They see my wife and I enjoy a couple of glasses of beer or wine on the weekend, with a meal or when out with friends and that seems healthy.

  2. I wish I still had the kit, this sounds good to both make and drink. I agree about children and alcohol too, however, an innocent apple juice drink recipe doing the rounds here in the '80's, served copiously at children's parties, was getting stronger by the day and the children merrier! It stopped as soon as it was discovered.

    1. Hahaha. One morning here I gave the children apple juice for breakfast a friend had given us. Only when I sat down to drink mine did I realise that it might not be quite, shall we say, "pasteurised". I'm sure they had a good day though... 🤣🤣🤣
      Like the idea of the merry children's party - really made me laugh 😅

  3. That looks like a recipe to keep - we will definitely try that. Nettles are commonly available here in the farmers markets in Spring (although young folk tell me only old people from villages eat them). They make great hortopita (greens pie - like spanakopita without the spinach). Interestingly, the introduced nettles we have in NZ aren't like your nettles in UK, and it wasn't until I arrived in Greece that I discovered we seemed to have acquired Mediterranean nettles. I hope they produce as ale as good as yours. (Ginger beer recipe: it was my job to make this every weekend as a kid -
    Half a packet of yeast (I have no idea now how much that is, whether a packet was enough for a 1lb loaf, or a larger packet. I know it meant dried bakers yeast, but there is no reason to not use brewers yeast. If I had to guess I would have said 10-15 grams and it doesn't really matter as you will see)
    1 dessert spoon of ground ginger and 1 dessert spoon of sugar
    2 cups of warm water

    Put all that in a jar and give it a bit of a shake- it is your 'bug'. It will grow.

    In another jar mix equal quantities of ginger and sugar, and feed 1 teaspoon per day of this mix to your bug for a week (keep it on the bench with a muslin cover so it can breathe.)
    To begin with your bug will be super active so don't be surprised if it froths and tries to climb out of the jar - use a big jar and sit it in a bowl.

    At the end of the week, carefully decant the clear liquid off the bug. Dissolve 2 cups of sugar in hot water and make the quantity up to 7 pints with cold water. Add the liquid off the bug and the juice if 1 lemon. Strain it through muslin, bottle, cap and wait at least 3 weeks before you drink it. (refrigeration is recommended in case it is a bit lively)

    Divide the bug in half, throw half away (or give it away, or feed it to your pigs - they'll be surprised!), add 1 cup of water, 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of ginger to the bug and feed it as normal for the rest of the next week.

    Continue week after week.

    We found that after a while the ginger beer started to get a bit wild and blow tops off bottles etc, so we would start a completely new bug from fresh 'industrial' yeast. Apparently the air is full of 'wild' yeast that can give your brews unpredictable results.

  4. Okay, you've definitely got me interested! Now all I need to do is grow some nettles.

  5. Fascinating! I had no idea you could do this with nettles. Thank you for sharing!


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