Wine and beer have been made in the home since time immemorial and as commercial wines become more and more expensive, interest in this ancient domestic art is reviving. Almost any fruit, vegetable or herb can be used for wine making and brewing beer—even the dregs of tea.
A number of shops sell very adequate wine making kits and equipment. Once the initial outlay has been made it is only necessary to purchase or grow the ingredients for subsequent batches as the equipment can be used over and over again.
Herbal beer is a term usually applied to beers made with herbs other than hops. The hop is however a wild herb as well as being widely cultivated for beer making.
After the initial investment in equipment, the cost of making beer, especially from herbs like the common nettle, is relatively small.
Large pan (sufficient to contain all the weeds collected)
4.5 liter/1 gallon (10 pint) polythene or plastic fermenting vessel with a lid
(polythene or plastic bucket will suffice)
Strainer or remnant of terylene net curtain
Bucket or other larger container
Beer Bottles (cleaned and sterilized) and stoppers
The equipment should always be used spotlessly clean and if possible sterilized. (Kits for sterilizing babies’ bottles are useful for this task)
Using rubber gloves and scissors gather fresh, young green stinging nettle shoots. Take only the top two or three pairs of leaves. The quantity is not vital, but the shoots, not pressed down, should just about fill the brewing bucket. This will make approximately 4.5 liters/ 1 gallon (10 pints).
Crystal malt, hops and ale yeast (for quantity follow the manufacturer’s instructions) are obtainable from home wine and beer kit suppliers. One teaspoon of citric acid may be substituted for juice of half a lemon.
4 oz. Crystal Malt (broken)
2 lbs Malt extract
1 cup sugar
1 handful of dried hops
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon Salt
Simmer the washed nettles and crystal malt in a large pan for about 40 minutes.
Put malt extract, sugar, lemon juice and salt into the fermenting vessel fitted with a good lid and strain contents on to the washed nettles and crystal malt. A remnant of terylene net curtain is preferable to an open strainer. The nettle shoots should be squeezed by gloved hands, to extract the full flavor. Stir the mixture thoroughly.
Make the quantity up t o 4.5 liters/1 gallon (10 pints) with tap water.
When cool (between 18-20 C or 65-70 F), stir in yeast according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Maintain his temperature, and keep the vessel covered.
Allow fermenting for four to seven days. Remove the yeast from the top at intervals if necessary. When fermenting has finished the liquid looks clear and bubbles cease to rise. Siphon beer into another clean container.
Dissolve ¼ cup sugar in a small quantity of hot water. Add to the beer. Siphon into clean beer bottles and stopper down well. Store in a warm room for two days.
Transfer to a cool place and store for at least a month before drinking.
Learn to Grow Your Own Nettles Here!
Kali S Winters