I just got a new pamphlet written by a friend, Steve Stuffit, called Radical Brewing (number 10 in the Bristol Radical History pamphlet series). It talks about the history of brewing, and includes a section on the philosophy of nettle picking for brews. There’s even a recipe that I’m going to try.
The pamphlet gives a rundown of the history of brewing, from its origins as a small scale activity that was widely practiced, through the regulation of brewing and the beginnings of its development as big business, to the present day. There is an emphasis on home brewing as asserting one’s rights over the commons, particularly if one isn’t using hops (which although you can find wild or grow yourself tend to be commercially farmed and quite expensive). I recommend it as a good and interesting read. I’ve certainly found it inspiring.
6 ltr water
• A small carrier bag of nettle tops, washed
• Juice of 1 lemon, strained
• Juice of 1 orange, strained
• 750g sugar
• 30g cream of tartar
• 1 packet Ale yeast
1. Bring the water to the boil in a large pan.
2. Add nettles, stir, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour until it is at blood temperature.
3. Carefully – you might want to enlist a helper at this point – strain the nettle liquid through a colander lined with a large piece of unbleached muslin into a large brewing bucket or pan. Once the liquid has filtered through, squeeze the muslin to get the maximum amount of liquid into the bucket.
4. Gradually add the sugar, stirring constantly to ensure it is thoroughly dissolved, then add the cream of tartar, and lemon and orange juice.
5. Finally, once the mixture is tepid, stir in the yeast. Cover and leave for 3-4 days in a warm place, until it’s obviously fermenting.
6. Remove any scum which has risen to the top in fermentation and siphon the beer into sterilised bottles and seal, or transfer into a secondary fermenter and close with an airlock for a week before bottling.
7. Leave for at least a couple more days or up to a month before drinking.
(better still, siphon from bucket into demijohns and keep for another week under an airlock, then siphon into bottles, adding 1 tsp sugar per litre)
dandelion tips, sloes, elderberries, elderflowers, sea-buckthorn