I thought I would give this beer a go; it seems very popular in certain areas so I am going to have a go simply to find out what all the fuss is about. Its a recipe I have had for a while - I am not sure where it originally comes from, but it seems fairly simple and seems to be a traditional beer recipe utlising fresh yeast. I also thought that if I actually liked it, it would give me chance to make some more and perhaps have a few bottles put up for Christmas. And if I don't like it - well I just won't make it again.
2lb nettle tops (the top two inches of the plant) *
1 gallon/8 pints water
8oz sugar (Brown or Demerara)(*)
0.25oz fresh yeast
Small piece of toast
0.25oz Powdered ginger or a small piece of fresh or dried root ginger.
*When picking nettles I only ever use the top two inches of the plant and only pick until May as from June onwards the plant becomes more bitter (oxalic acid)
(*) In a lot of beer recipes home brewers have been using powdered glucose instead of sugar as it assimilates into the liquid it is being placed in and starts brewing more quickly - apparently it gives a better result all round.
In a large pan boil the nettle tops in the water for half an hour (a large preserving pan works well).
Strain the nettles through muslin or a fine sieve (nylon one). Retaining the liquid only add the sugar stirring to dissolve. Stir in the powdered ginger and then pour the mixture into a sterilised brewing bucket. Toast the bread and then spread the yeast on to the toast and float on the surface of the nettle liquid. Cover and leave for about three days at room temperature. Stir the brew every day. Do not allow the temperature to fluctuate too much as this will ruin the fermentation process. Strain again and put into clean strong beer bottles. This can it says be drunk after a couple of days.
When picking nettles I wore a pair of bright marigold gloves to stop being stung. You can use a pair of scissors to cut the nettles, but I found that the top two inches came away quite well. I only use the leaves, discarding the stalks which can go into your compost bin.