Friday, January 13, 2012

Stinging Nettle Beer in time for spring. Last week it was very warm for winter here, and some of the early spring greens started trying to grow. It's back to frost, but it reminded me to be prepared when Spring does come to visit. One of my favorite recipes from last year was this stinging nettle beer recipe adapted from several recipes in Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, one of my bibles for fermented beverages.

Stinging Nettle Beer
5 gallon pail of nettles
Large handful of cleavers
Large handful of dandelion leaves
2 inch piece of gingerroot, shredded
2 lbs. sugar
1 packet Premier cuvee dry wine yeast

Place the washed plant matter and ginger into a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain, squeezing out juices and stir in sugar while still quite warm. Add plant fiber to compost as nettles make a fantastic compost addition. When the liquid is lukewarm, add yeast and pour into carboy. Add additional filtered water until you have 5 gallons. Place airlock on top and let ferment for several days. Once fermentation has stopped, beer can be bottled. To get a nice fizzy beer, add a tsp. of sugar to each bottle before closing and shake. If adding sugar, wait about a week to try one. Last year, using the same amount of sugar in each bottle, I had varying rates of carbonation. This recipe can be done without the cleavers and/or dandelions. Dandelions add a bitter edge to the beer, but are very nutritious. I started using the dry wine yeast for herbal beers at the suggestion of the guy at the brewery supply  store and it really does give herbal beers and ciders a superior flavor.
Sacred and herbal healing beers: the secrets of ancient fermentation [Book]

This herbal beer could be considered a traditional spring tonic; it's high in minerals and ginger is a digestive aid. It's a nice excuse to drink a fresh herbal beer. I like these for the nutritive qualities, but also as a gluten-free person; it's a beer that I can drink. Cheers.