Spring. A good time to get out there, grab yourself (in gloved hand) some nice young nettle tops and brew yourself some nettle beer. Foraging for food was an everyday practice in the past (and making a come-back today), so this recipe keeps this good old tradition going. Just watch where you pick the nettles to ensure they haven’t been delicately flavoured by the local dogs.
Ingredients & Method
- Find a strong pair of gloves.
- Gather enough tender young young nettle tops to fill up and swell out a plastic carrier bag (around 1kg).
- Give them a quick rinse with clean cold water.
- Next, put them in a large pan.
- Draw 4 quarts of water and cover the nettles with just enough of the water, keeping the rest of the water back.
- Boil the nettle tops until soft and tender.
- Strain off the liquid into a large clean bowl, and half a pound of sugar, stir the sugar in well, and add the rest of the water, plus two lemons cut into slices.
- When the liquid has cooled to blood heat, add one ounce of fresh yeast (or a sachet of dried brewing/beer yeast), cover the bowl and leave the covered bucket for 3 days in a warm place.
- Siphon the beer into sterilised swing-top or other strong bottles making sure not to disturb the sediment that will have accumulated at the bottom of the bucket.
- The beer will continue to ferment in the bottle so ease the pressure in the bottle every 2-3 days by gently easing the bottle top. Be careful when you do it.
- Leave the bottles for at least a week before drinking; longer if you can resist.
- There will undoubtedly be sediment in the bottle, so expect the beer to be cloudy when you drink it – it is a home-brew after all, but probably the best home brew in the world. Cheers!
Source: [adapted from] Victoria Wright (1981) A Haworth Kitchen. Recipes from the home of the Brontes. Published by Watmoughs, West Yorkshire.