Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nettle Beer

My appreciation for nettle is so strong that when I first came across the recipe for Nettle beer I knew that I would have to try making it...and I don't even like beer that much.  Still, my compulsive do-it-yourself-ness came through loud and clear that this had to be tried.  I went down to collect nettle tops and figured my box full (all the nettle that was there) should do nicely but when I weighed it I realized that nettle tops don't weigh all that much and I didn't really have enough.  You need 2 lbs of nettle tops!!  Besides which I was loath to use all those lovely tender tops in something that I wasn't even sure would turn out and if it did turn out I mightn't even like it.  I dried my tops for winter helpings of infusion instead. 

Then along came my ever helpful and inspiring friend with a box full of her own nettle last week and she got me back on track.  (you know you've got a real friend when they are willing to pick nettle for you) ;-)

On Friday while we hosted another woodcarving class I washed and trimmed nettle and filled (stuffed full ) my biggest pot.  (I had a good laugh at the recipe instructions reading - "you will need a very large pan for this or preferably a cauldron."  Do people actually have cauldrons to hand?!?!?) 

I boiled the nettle and saved the liquid. It was a gorgeous dark colour and I started to feel that perhaps I DID know what I was doing and that I actually could make beer. ;-)

There was a slight hiccup as I tried to figure out just exactly how much yeast was 7.5 grams worth and an even bigger hiccup when I realized that I was using dry yeast not fresh.  Emergency phone call to helpful friend and all was well.

This sat at room temp for a few days and then I bottle it up.  I only used one of my special bottles, the rest I put in a wine bottle and a plastic bottle.  I was a little leery of the possibility of exploding bottles and didn't want to chance wasting my self-capping Grolsch bottles.  (Can still recall many years back when most of a batch of rootbeer exploded the old brown stubby beer bottles we used for rootbeer making)

And now...we wait.  We'll give it awhile and then when my nettle-supplying friend comes down again we will taste test it and see.


Jain said...

This is a totally ignorant question but I'm here and I'm wondering so I'll ask. How the $#%% do you deal with nettles? The only time I ever came into contact with them, I screamed in pain for days.

Leigh said...

I will be very curious about the taste test!

Heather said...

Hi Jain - I wear garden gloves when I pick them to protect me from their stings. Once they are dry or cooked then they no longer sting. When I have been stung I usually just rub some dock leaf on the stung spot or I've used mud or dirt on stung spots on my boys. My friend also told me that baking soda works to reduce the sting.

There are some people who pick nettles bare-handed and my understanding is that if you just grab it straight on (firmly) that it doesn't sting the way it does if you just brush up against it.

Hi Leigh - I'll be curious about the taste test too. No bottles have exploded yet so surely that must be a good sign. ;-)

Annie said...

Can't wait to hear how it turns out!

Jain said...

Thanks for your reply, Heather! I'll think about this for 5 or 6 years, then maybe give it a try. ;o)

Heather said...

Jain - Eep!! Please don't wait 5 or 6 years to try nettle. Nettle beer maybe, but I do hope you'll give nettle a try before then. I'm going to do a post on the merits of nettle infusion to try to convince you. ;-)