17 September, 2009

Nettle Beer - A Beginning

Nettle tea helps promote kidney function, reducing the risk for kidney stones and gout. I get attacks of gout when I am not careful what I eat and many of my family members have kidney stones. I do not drink a lot of tea, and rather than changing my habits (putting me dangerously close to sounding old) I thought it more appropriate to get nettles elsewhere. Enter homebrew.

The cup of nettle tea I made to get a feel for the flavor tasted vegetal and slightly peppery. Few people, me included, want to drink beer that smells of boiled vegetables. My thinking went to covering it up with a healthy dose of American hops and some big malt. That was yesterday and I didn't have any Amarillo on hand... or yeast for that matter. The nearest LHBS is a day away by UPS. Because I was being interviewed for a homebrewing segment on the local news there were timing constraints. The beer had to be rolling at 2:30 when the reporter arrived. Not wanting to pay for overnight 10 AM delivery shipping I placed an order and crossed my fingers.

I should have known better. UPS usually delivers to my house around 7 PM. Not to worry, I wasn't really sure what kind of beer I would make today. Grabbing the first bag of hop pellets from the freezer, I settled on German Pearle. Next I went to the larder and ripped open new 55-lb bags of Vienna and Munich malt. Here's what happened:

3 gallons of Some Nettle Beer

Fermentables

  • 4 lbs Vienna
  • 2 lbs Munich
Doughed in 2 gallons of 160° F water (mostly RO with some tap water for "minerals"). The mash hit 157° F for 40 minutes. Using an ad-hoc brewing setup I batched sparged through a colander and collected a little more than 3 gallons of 10% brix sweet wort. So far so good. The reporter arrived right on time as the wort was starting to boil.

Bittering
  • 1 oz 8.1% AA Perle 60 minutes
  • 6 oz dried loose leaf nettles 60 minutes
I wasn't sure how much nettles to add - most of the recipes you find online measure by the fresh bucket or the peck. They went in until I had enough to almost overflow my kettle. By then the wort had a sharp nastiness to it signaling to me that it was a good time to stop.

We conducted the interview while the nastiness boiled. Right now I have just about 3 gallons of 13.6% brix wort cooling slowly as I wait for UPS to deliver some Safale US-05 yeast. The slow cool means that the resulting beer will have a lot of DMS, but it is a veggie beer to begin with.... Oh yeah, batch sparging with a colander causes a lot of splashing and hot-side aeration. Maybe my nettle beer won't start.

Looking forward to improving on this recipe with a little more preparation.

2 comments:

megejas said...

Interesting topic, though would be great if you could share how did it come out? Did you try making any more?
Regards.

Dean said...

Haven't packaged it yet. When I put it into the fermenter it tasted pretty nasty. I'll post an evaluation when it's ready.