Nettles are nasty stinging weeds and we all hate them. Except that they are also a fantastic for turning into nettle beer which gets you trousered is easy to make and tastes utterly delicious. For these reasons I have to say that I think nettles are wonderful plants that should be praised.
I have a small corner of the back garden where I let the nettles grow. I don’t spray them and leave them to their own devices. Then when the nettles get big and a bit scary, I harvest the lot (about a shopping bag full) and turn quite a bit of it into a beer. I only use the top six leaves or so from each stem for beer making. The lower leaves take on too much bitterness and a very pronounced metalic tang.
If you are collecting nettles from the countryside think about whether these nettles have been recently sprayed, and avoid those plants at the edge of a clump that might also have been sprayed by local dogs, cats, foxes etc.
The first task is to remove the bugs, so before you bring the nettles indoors give them a good shake.
Next we want to de-sting our crop stings so bring a gallon of water to the boil, chuck in a pint of nettle tops and let it boil away for for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and once the boiling stops, add 500g of sugar and stir to dissolve, then add the juice of two lemons juice and 50g cream of tartar.
Strain the sweet nettle water into fermenting bucket.Add water to bring it up to 4 gallons When the liquor has cooled to body temperature add a teaspoonful of beer yeast.
Now just let the yeast get to work and in three days once the ultra rapid fermentation has died down a little, transfer to demijohns with airlocks. The beer will be ready in a week, although better after two.