The Sandford Stinger – A Strong Nettle Beer Recipe

20150503_215408Mr. Nitwits Enjoying a demijohn full of nettle beer

Stinging nettles.  They’re great aren’t they?  I mean who wouldn’t want to stumble and fall into a patch of the nasty little bastards? (if you need any further unpleasant connotations: apparently the Nazis used nettle fibres to make the thread that their uniforms were made from)

So let’s see if we can’t make something good from them, eh?

I took a myriad of online and old book recipes to come up with the following:

Half a carrier bag of nettle tips*
500g white sugar
100g soft brown sugar
The juice of a smallish lemon
4 litres of water
Ale yeast

*Note that I say nettle “tips” and not “tops” – just take the top two leaves…it makes you feel a bit like a tea-picker – if that makes the back-ache seem any more bearable.  I also included the 100g of soft brown sugar for the colour and hopefully some unfermentable sugars or sweetness.

20150503_202724The method is simplicity itself:

  • Pour the 4l of boiling water over nettles
  • Let it all stand for an hour and enjoy the stink of urine throughout your house
  • When the lot gets to 35c, add the lemon juice and sugar
  • If the sugar isn’t dissolving quickly enough add a bit of heat from the stove if you need to
  • You may need to skim it, but if you don’t prod, poke and bugger about with it, it’ll stay clear and you won’t need to
  • When it’s all cooled to about 20C, strain it through a sterilized sieve and funnel into a sterilized demijohn
  • Pitch the yeast.  I used 2/3 of a pack of Young’s “Ale” yeast
  • Stick a bung and airlock on it
  • Put away at 20C for a couple of weeks before bottling

I was lucky enough to be enjoying a boisterous ferment within 12 hours.

Then I thought I wonder how strong it’ll be? so I plugged 600g of sugar and 4l of water into Beer Engine and found out that the original gravity is probably about 1.056, and then realised with some horror that because it’s all sugar as the main fermentable and not malt, it’ll all ferment.

Probably right down to a dry old 0.987 or lower.  Which means an ABV of 9.2%

Whoops.

I’ll let you know a) how it tastes and b) how long it is before I become brain-addled on it and fall in a patch of nettles.

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