Traditional 1930’s Stinging Nettle Beer Recipe

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The following Nettle Beer recipe was created by Maude Grieve back in the 1930’s. Maude was a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, as well as an extremely respected herbalist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of medicinal plants.

During the First World War she wrote and published pamphlets on the cultivation and uses of herbal medicines. It is these pamphlets that went to make up her Magnum Opus “A Modern Herbal”. It is from her book that this Nettle Beer recipe comes from.

Don’t expect anything alcoholic or ‘sweet’, as this Nettle Beer recipe produces a drink that is dry and crisp, yet extremely refreshing. Most of my friends that I tried it on liked it, and found it an unusual drink. Some friends simply didn’t get on with it at all.

Personally, I liked it, and have used it in a Road Kill Venison casserole that was cooked up over an open fire along with numerous wild edible plants. A good time was had by all.

So if you are looking for a low-alcoholic refreshing Springtime beverage, then this Nettle Beer recipe might just be the ticket. Or if you leave it mature, then you can drink over the Summer.

Ingredients

  • 2 gallons of cold water
  • a bucket of nettle tops
  • 3 handfuls of dandelion leaves
  • 3 handfuls of cleavers
  • 2oz of fresh (bruised) ginger root
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 1 slice of toasted brown bread
  • 1oz fresh yeast
  • 3 tsps of cream of tartar or 9 teaspoons of lemon juice

Suggested Instructions

  1. Add 2 gallons of cold water to a large pan. I use my jam making pail.
  2. Add the Nettles, Dandelion leaves, and Cleavers.
  3. Next bruise the ginger and put in the water along with the other ingredients.
  4. Bring the water to the boil and allow to simmer for 40 minutes, then strain and stir in 2 cupfuls of brown sugar.
  5. When the water has cooled and is lukewarm, crumble the yeast into a dish and mix in a little water and a teaspoon of sugar to form a paste, then spread on the toast and then place the toast on top of the beer. (Fresh yeast is available from bakeries and health stores).
  6. Put your pail in a warm corner and allow to sit overnight, then strain through muslin and add either the cream of tartar or lemon juice.
  7. Bottle and tie securely. You can drink this pretty much immediately or leave it to ‘mature’ till the Summer.

Further reading: Traditional and Modern Use of Stinging Nettle

 

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  1. My mother made nettle beer in the 1950’sand it tasted really nice. The mystery ingredient was masons extract. Where can I get this from and will my beer taste different wiyhout It?

    Reply
  2. During WW1 my grandfather Edward Holt from Norfolk, a herbalist, taught me how to make nettle beer almost identical with your recipe. It could be very explosive, blowing the corks, when left behind the sofer in our best room. It tasted heavenly and was soon drunk. A cool glass full on a hot day is remembered with much pleasure. I believe he put dandelion roots in too and we put the whole thing in an earthenware crock to ferment. Thanks for reminder of method. Third generation beekeeper. Two books on bees on Amazon.

    Reply
  3. Sounds amazing! Have to try it soon. A question: when you place the bread in the pot which side touches the water? The sude with the paste or the dry side?
    Hope you can clarify this for me.
    Have a wonderful day!
    Greets from LA

    Reply

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