Picture of British - Stinging Nettle Beer
Being a lover of FREE things, the idea of making beer out of a common weed sounded pretty cool, but the results have been much better than expected.

We have a long tradition of beer in this country, indeed, historically, beer was the only safe thing to drink.

I love beer, it is one of my favourite drinks so, producing something that I would enjoy was a real challenge.

Step 1: Get the Nettles

Picture of Get the Nettles
First you need to collect nettles.

You need a lot of them. You don't want to decimate an area, stinging nettles are an important plant for wildlife, so leave a good percentage alone.

The lower leaves are not so good, so only pick the top six leaves.

Don't pick any at "dog" height, near paths or alongside busy roads, because they will be "contaminated".

You want nice, fresh, clean nettle tops off young plants, if they have flowered or gone to seed, you are too late. Be careful to pick only stinging nettles, you can check they are stinging nettle by rubbing your hand on them, if they sting, then you probably have the right plant!

Spring is the best time, as they are bursting into growth all young and vigorous.

It takes a long time to pick enough nettles to make a batch of beer.

So after a nice walk in the country I had a cup of Tea and a Fig roll before unpacking the bag with a lot of very compressed nettles.
JaimeL53 months ago

Sadly after letting my nettle concoction sit for 5 days, there was a bit of mold floating on top. Do I have to throw the whole thing away?

masoon4 years ago
is that 8.4 kilos of sugar? - could you make an ingredients list with proper measurements? I don't fare well in the kitchen and don't want to mess up by adding too much of this or not enough of that. - Thanks, and thanks for posting this article.
brucedenney (author)  masoon4 years ago
The amount of sugar and water is dependant on the amount of nettles you get.

I used 1.7Kg of nettles, 800grams of Sugar and 8 litres of water,

(If you had 2.5 times as much then you need 2.5 times as much of everything eg 4.25kg nettles 1.225 kg Sugar and 20 litres of water.)

If you put more/less sugar in a recipe then you get more/less alcohol. this is a strong recipe, if you put a lot more sugar in the yeast will not fair so well.

Yeasts have different properties, you could use a win yeast and double the amount of sugar and make something that would be more of a nettle wine.

You could use a quarter of the sugar and make a very low alcohol "small" beer of the sort that was given to children in days gone bye...

The recipe is a guide, you should make it your own by changing things about it yourself and hopefully brewing many different batches over the years and discovering what YOU like and making it the way YOU like it.
wow, thanks for the information! I go boating in small waters around Kentucky and "discovered " nettle for the first time last year. I look forward to trying your recipe. I wonder if nettle could be frozen for use later in the year when the plants have gotten too old to harvest. I do appreciate your answering my questions, its unusually kind of you to take the time to do so, thank you.
brucedenney (author)  masoon4 years ago
The nettles just turn to mush when you "cook" them so I see no reason why freezing would do any additional harm, indeed it could help the juices flow.

Traditionally drying nettles was a popular method of preserving them and indeed is what you need for nettle tea, which is very nice. So if it is warn and dry, it might be worth having a go at drying some.

I know of some people making nettle beer from a nettle tea mash.

Having said all that, seasonality is a great ting and only having nettle beer in the spring when the nettles are young is not a bad thing, just helps your body keep track of where in the year you are.

Thats it! I'm going to throw my calendar away and keep track of time using only intoxicants. Seems like a great way to pass /observe time in these recessionary times. Cheers , and thanks again.
masoon4 years ago
you suggested we use a "few" teaspoons for the yeast, maybe you could be more specific? two, three, four? please use specific measurements.
brucedenney (author)  masoon4 years ago
The yeast grows on the sugary solution, you could put half a teaspoon in and it would get there, just it would take a lot longer and the chances of some other, [potentially unwanted yeast taking over would increase. Eventually you end up with a thick cake of yeast in the bucket so the quantity is not that important.

If you want an exact number then 3 but 2 would work fine
A half spoon of sugar to each bottle is way too much.  You should also disolve your priming sugar in water first.  Here is a not too shabby chart on the amount of sugar to use per 5 gallons of beer:


In addition I would recommend doing a transfer to a second container a couple days prior to bottling to keep the sediment out of your bottles.
Its Giggles5 years ago
Is it possible to check if it is nettle w/o getting stung? I dont want people to look at me funny after getting stung cause i easily get an adrenaline rush and totally start shaking. lol (i say that cause here out in the back roads a lot of people grow pot and so if i have shaking hands. . . well then they might think im looking for cannabis or such haha)
brucedenney (author)  Its Giggles5 years ago
I don't think you will have a problem, mistaking cannabis for stinging nettles, they look very different. If people think you are high on cannabis, so what! If you don't know what a stinging nettle looks like and have never been stung, then it might be a good life experiance to get stung and find out. I am pretty sure that there are no risks to normal people from getting stung, If you are not prepared to get stung, Don't do it, because it is very unlikely that you could complete the making of nettle beer without getting stung at some point. If your reaction to stinging nettles is so severe, perhaps you should seek medical advice before stinging yourself, or consuming nettle beer.
I remember getting stung by nettle a few years ago. I didnt like it, but i think i will get used to it. Thanks for reassuring me; and you are right, the two plants are not at all alike. Silly me, i should of thought about that one.
west9095 years ago
Can definitely vouch for GUIDED's reccomendation. Followed his advice on the bottling and ended up with lovely fizzy brew. Certainly no need for excess sugar/syrup in the empty bottles as coating them seems to provide plenty of CO2.
doobuzz6 years ago
Mine's brewing as I speak - A few observations: 1. I added honey instead of sugar in order to 'prolong' fermentation (which in hindsight seems a bit unnecessary). However, that fermented fully in under 2 days and I have just topped it up with another batch of sugar. This is going to be VERY alcoholic (as in14/15% alcoholic - and it's beer!) 2. I decided to only pick the top 10 cm or so of nettles which had not yet flowered, and it took 45 minutes to yield just 320g. If you're interested in doing this project in the UK i recommend you get out there and do it NOW or you will find yourself wading through groves of metre tall stingers to get to the rapidly diminishing supply of new growth. Overall a great instructable which shows just how easy brewing can be!
willayl doobuzz6 years ago
Doobuzz How much honey did you add initially to start the fermentation? I would be interested in making a strong batch like you mentioned above.
Is it beer?
By definition, beer is made from converted starches, which in turn are mostly from cereals.(barley, wheat, rye, rice...other possible sources are pumpkins, potatoes...)
It's just nitpicking of course ;-)
A very interesting book about all kinds of fermented beverages:

No affiliation with the author from my side of the Atlantic...
brucedenney (author)  doobuzz6 years ago
1. Sounds like mead, which I have made several times, but it needs to sit a long time to taste good... perhaps I feel another instructable coming on.
cepartin6 years ago
A rinse is a good idea. During and after flowering, the stinging nettle forms cystoliths on its leaves which may irritate the urinary tract or even contribute to kidney stones. I'd put them in a colander and rinse the heck out of them -- that ought to be enough. Boiling might not rid you of the minerals of which the cystoliths are composed.
You might be able to get those labels off with acetone (nail polish remover). It will dissolve all kinds of plastic and glue.
brucedenney (author)  discontinuuity6 years ago
Good idea ... but... To be honest, I would rather not use nasty chemicals, especially as the only issue is cosmetic. If I really wanted I could just wait for more bottles.
Seeing as you live in the UK Wilkinsons sell x6 beer bottles without labels for this very purpose for only £1.29. That's how I got mine.
As a homebrewer, i removed labels from thousands of bottles. As long as they don't have alluminum foil, it's no problem. Fill a large container with hot water, then add some dishwashing machine detergent and fill and soak them for 30-60 minutes. The labels should come off easily. About two years ago, we got hold of a commercial dish washer. We converted it to a bottle washer and it takes only 10 minutes and all the labels come off automatically. In breweries, they use hot sodium hydroxide. But this stuff is a bit too harsh on the skin for everyday use... We have it for stubborn "dirt", but use it only with gloves, goggles and protective clothing. By the way: We make elder flower sparkling wine.(It's the time of year now) We let it fully ferment with a fermentation lock.(Until there is no more bubbling in the lock.) Then we transfer it into a bottling container and add a defined amount of boiled sugar water to get the appropriate carbonation in the bottles. This way, you can prevent gushers or even bottle bombs.(Yes, it's dangerous! Champagne bottles burst at around 40000 hPa, that's almost 20 times the pressure of your car tires!) A picture of our bottle washer.
Mtalus t.rohner6 years ago
Washing soda from the laundry aisle (basically automatic dishwasher detergent without the other stuff, scent etc.) works almost every time. Used hot it will eat through most labels and gunk in no time. Your hands too for that matter so wear gloves or be prepared for the Mrs. to jump a mile, and not in a good way. My bottle washer is cobled together and grungy looking. I'm a little jealous and maybe even embarrassed now.
brucedenney (author)  t.rohner6 years ago
Cool bottle washer... I made elderflower cordial, took pictures so should really make and instructable out of it.
Is cordial the same as syrup? If you intend to do a instructable, you shoud hurry up. Otherwise the flowers will be berries... and then it's elderberry cider. In higher elevations (1000m above sea level) they are still flowering.
I used to work for a cheap boss who would buy product in bottles that were packaged together and had "buy one get one free" stickers on them. He had us cut them apart and then use orange spray (the kind that you use to "freshen up" a bathroom) to get the stickers off. If you spray them and then give it a couple of seconds, they slide right off. It beat the heck out of picking each one off with our fingernails. The spray has to be made with real orange oil, or some other type of citrus, though.
I learned a trick from wine making when starting yeast. Instead of sugar and water, use warm grape juice. The yeast really loves it. I always use it now when I make bread. The small amount of grape juice may color (or in your case colour) and slightly flavor your beer though. An alternative is to boil some raising for a few minutes in water then use that when it cools to "not to hot". (100F, 37C) This trick is really good when the yeast is a little old and slow to start in sugar and water. P.S. I think baker's yeast makes yuchy beer and wine. Spring for some of the good stuff or try a "lambic". :)
o hey by the way what are the proportions that you use when you are using the grape juice? Sounds pretty cool though think that i might try nettle and grape juice flavour.
Flavour! don't forget flavour :) thanks for the warm grape trick :D
Hey. How much yeast do you need exactly in proportion to the sugar? Is it necessary to start the yeast and is this what is fermentin so should i use a lot or is it the nettles or are they just for flavour? I know these are probably silly questions just found an entire brewing kit in the attic looks about 30 years old so im going to start and why not start with nettles. Really great post though:)
Looking for bottles? I was drinking my way to 40 pints in a hurry so I could bottle my first batch of Homebrew... then I said to myself,"self" why don't you just take a bin to the local pub that serves 500ml cider, and tell them to put them in your bin instead of recycling them. With the smoking ban all over britain, you don't even get any fag ends in the bottles anymore. Magners labels come off really easy with a hot water soak.
twocvbloke6 years ago
You know, I've never thought to use Nettles to make beer, not that I've ever made beer, but this is an interesting idea, I've never tasted nettles, but they are a nemesis of mine since I fell into a patch of them when strapped into a pushchair when I was very young, I'll never forget that!!! :S Still, if I ever get the chance to start making beer, I'll have a go at is for sure... :D
msw1006 years ago
Yes let it ferment before you bottle, this is my kitchen after opening a bottle had to call fire service http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01116/peru-foam_1116107i.jpg
tichus6 years ago
I ate boiled nettles when I was at survival school (AF), they were good, only lacking a little salt. - I didn't know you could make beer from them. I can't wait to try this. It almost looks like you could make an indian saag curry with the leftover greens to go with the beer.
zabdiel6 years ago
Great instructable. Just looked up Hemlock - it'd be difficult to mistake for nettles. I've seen it growing loads of times and not realised what it was.
polalbert6 years ago
Yes, you could try to siphon all the beer off in one or more containers, without the yeast, cleaning your yeast away from your fermentation container, and do the first 3 days of the fermentation in this one without yeast and with your added sugar, and then you could bottle...
A simple bubble lock would do also for releasing gas. Cheap from a brewing supplier or make your own from tubing and clips if you are desperate.
Or a balloon with pin holes poked through it, stretched over the opening of the bottle. When the gases inflate the balloon the pin holes open, letting the gas escape.
It is an option but it can leave you with the taste of latex in your brew. Better to pay a small amount of money at a brewing suppliers for a cheap reliable plastic airlock if you can get hold of one.
I never thought of that! Thank you!
that is genius!
Sterilisation; Is pretty important, but glass or glazed ceramic "hot out of the Dishwasher" will be adequately sterile for almost all purposes (including many surgical procedures but that's beyond the scope of this article). As is freshly ironed linen incidentally, (except the bit where you put your grubby little fingers) if you want something traditional to filter your mash with. Lemons; Also juice really well if you Zap them in a microwave for a few seconds. Too long and they'll be too hot to handle but just warm and the juice will bring with it some of the lighter oils and thus more of that lemony Flavour. 70 Degrees and no thermometer? There's a couple of "tricks" for getting the temperature right that I found out when I was researching Medieval Technology. Firstly for plain water, one part cold water to 3 parts BOILING water, will put you close enough for most purposes. I now use this trick to get my water just right for making coffee. Even more interesting is the one "By Observation". When the steam reduces to the point that you can see your reflection in the surface of the liquid it's actually surprisingly close to the right temperature. Obviously you need to be in reasonably well lit room or out doors, and you may need to calibrate or "get your eye in", so a little testing and practice is advisable but I was really surprised at how accurate these techniques were. Not so surprising I guess when you figure that they've been making beer for a lot longer than they've had thermometers.
brucedenney (author)  Dream Dragon6 years ago
Working without thermometers sounds really interesting. 70C is far too hot would kill any yeast 25C is my target temperature although I think it would be okay in between 20C-30C. If you had 3 units of just thawed water at 0C (ice) and 1 at 100C (boiling) then the average temperature when they mixed would be 25C The observation method sounds excellent, I will have to have a go with it.
xilefakamot6 years ago
We have literally thousands of nettles in our garden... how long do you think they would last as beer?
RTyler70716 years ago
Yes you can use the "American Nettle" and it does work. For some added fun, you can use jalapeno's, I use it in sweet mead, very good! You can also use spices instead of hops. Most traditional scottish ales use almost no hops and mostly spices. Biggest thing to remember is to use lactose "milk sugar" for sweetness in finished beers and meads as it does not ferment. As someone stated 3/4 cup of sugar in 3 cups boiling water till dissolved. Let cool to room temp, then add to 5 gallons for bottling. Most beers ferment out in 5-7 days. Any longer and the lees (expended yeast) will give it off flavors. You should rack the beer to another container if you are going to ferment more than one week. I have brewed beers that take months to age. You should use beer yeast for beer. You will get a much better taste than bakers yeast and you can salvage the yeast from bottled home brew to continue using it down the road. I expect a good ale yeast would work. Beer brewer for 8+ years
Sorry, not clear, use 3/4 cup of regular sugar, not milk sugar for priming.
Calorie6 years ago
I had my first experience with nettles when I moved to York. I was out in the countryside riding a bike. There was a horse that came near the fence and I stopped to pet it. There was a lot of green weeds around and I gave a cursory check for insects that may bite. I walked into the area and good God almighty my legs felt like they were being stung by dozens of wasps. It hurt so much, my skin to crawls with memory after four years. I had been introduced to nettle. My English flatmate said that they didn't hurt really so I made him a gentleman' s bet (what other kind of bet can you make in Uni anyways?) We found a bush full of nettles. He walked through it several times with no apparent ill effects. I dared him to take a branch and slap it against his shin. That did it. He winced quite a bit, yelped obscenities and limped away. I felt vindicated at one level, yet said that I had inflicted pain on him. It all evened out in the end after I bought a beer for him.
chynnakat6 years ago
another positive to using nettle...it's a natural anti-histamine. So anyone with allergies...enjoy the benefits of nettle beer. It's also a fantastic ingredient (for the same reason) in loose teas. I'm not aware if the fermentation process in beer- brewing has any negative effect on these benefits.
wgrube6 years ago
Stinging nettles are fantastic, you can eat them, you can make a insect repellent, a liquid fertilizer, they correct the soil pH and you can make beer with them!!! I live in Brazil, where Urtica dioica was introduced by european immigrants, but a native Urtica has almost the same properties, I've used the as liquid fertilizer and it worked great, also as insect repellent. I wonder if they would work to make beer... Hope so! I'd love to make my own beer of nettles. I'll also try to get some U. dioica to have them in my garden. This instructable is great! I can't wait to try it out.
I dare you to make a beer with a small amount of henbane in it.
Pretty cool could i ask is this non alcholic or alcoholic ?? Also to get the labels off your bottles put them in a Sink or big bucket of warm water and a little bleach it sterizles it Plus it gets the labels off
He said quite early that "This is a STRONG (Alcoholic) beer".
Ty i scanned through and didnt see that
Good instructable, but no photos of the finished product?
Did it not survive long enough? =)
mdgnys6 years ago
I got stung by stining nettel and it hurts like heck i dont know why anyone would want to drink it! My whole arm swell up with white patches!
YopTodd mdgnys6 years ago
I would think that could be your final revenge on the nettles that have wronged you in the past... eat their brethren...
I've been stung way too many times by nettle as well but if you wear gloves when collecting them, you can wash and boil nettles and then eat them like spinach. They're very nutritious and tasty and don't sting once cooked.
guided6 years ago
Respectfully to the previous commenters, but you want to seal off the bottle for storage so balloons and airlocks won't work. It defeats the point of bottling. I would reduce the amount of sugar you use in the refermentation (inside the bottle). Overpriming can lead to explosive release and excesive foaming. If you can find priming sugar from a brew supply store, that would probably work the best. Dissolve a small quantity (30g) in warm, clean water (300ml) and just coat the inside of your bottle. This feeds the active yeast and makes it carbonated (and a bit more alcoholic, too). Good luck!
Thetis6 years ago
WD40 (light penetrating oil) will get the most stubborn glue off food jars (I make a lot of jam and chutney) but I expect it would be equally effective for beer bottles. It is a messy business and best done outside.
zook746 years ago
Hmm... I'm a homebrewer and had always wondered about brewing with something besides hops. I have NO clue where to find these stinging nettles that you speak of, though. I hay have to look into that in the near future. Thanks for the 'structable.
KingJaymz6 years ago
I think a quick rinse is warranted. You don't know what wild life has done to them. Plus, who wants the taste of dirt in their beer? I don't know how long you rinsed them, but you might get a small sink-full of water and swish each leaf quickly.
jaewonder6 years ago
Great instructable! You could soak bottles in baking soda( a few tablespoons) and water to remove the labels. Let them soak for 15-20mins. Was the brew cold when you opened it and got a gusher?
MacFadyin6 years ago
Nettle beer is great. My gran used to make it. If you can get hold of them the Grolsch bottles with the old-fahioned ceramic tops are the best. Even if you can't find them at the bottle bank and have to buy a crate you get to drink a decent beer
novex6 years ago
by all means eradicate vast swaths of nettles, they are an introduced and uncontrollable species. gotta give this a go though, plenty of these weeds sprouting up around. here.
Jim_teacher6 years ago
First, obviously give the beer more time to clear after pitching the yeast - 4 days is too little. A week would maybe do it, but two weeks would be a sure thing, depending on temperature. You should not let it get colder than, say, 70 degrees.

You can take a hydrometer reading to be sure, or you can just wait long enough or you can (and should, IMHO) put an air-lock on that bucket thing - just carry a tube through a stopper in the top of the sealed bucket into another bucket (or bottle) that has a little water in it - let the gas escape, see: http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2l90hza&s=5 When the airlock stops bubbling, you are good to go! Sanitize the tubing and stopper, obviously.

Also, try priming the whole batch for carbonation, not each individual bottle. Just boil up some sugar water (3/4 cup for 5 gallons, you do the math) and pitch it in there, give it a swirl and you're off to bottle with a siphon. Aerating beer is bad news, so think about that.

If you really get the bottles cold, you can still drink what you have made. Make the VERY COLD (like close to freezing, or put them in ice and salt water for a half hour before drinking). CO2 will stay in solution in frigid temperatures! In fact I would do that NOW so you don't have exploding bottles (ew!).

Otherwise, nice instructable! Consider putting some honey in for the ferment or some fruit or rose hips - but buy rose hips or use your own organic garden - your neighbors likely put nasty chemicals on theirs... hormones are the worst case scenario but really it's all not food-grade stuff we use in our typical flower garden... and they cost like a dollar at the store :D
Bizzozero6 years ago
You have inspired me... I have 3 kilos of nettles in the frezer that I was gonna use for soup, but beer sounds a lot more fun...
catman5296 years ago
I'm not drinking age yet, but this would be something interesting to make in the future...we've got plenty of nettle growing near the river in our area. Great 'ible!
catman5296 years ago
Lol about the hemlock...that would make a nice "death draught"
1arrow246 years ago
Darn! i was about to make an 'ible for this. Better than mine would be though. Nettles make for good brews!
Hawthorn blossom wine that I made was just about the only alcoholic beverage that I made successfully year after year. It was beautiful! A couple of times rhubarb wine worked out really nice too. I never made good beer. If people like a little alcohol, hard cider that is just half made and then popped in the fridge after 3 or 4 days is really nice with the right ammount of fizz. You can make it from rhubarb or apple or ginger. Just about any flavouring will work.
brucedenney (author)  gaiatechnician6 years ago
Now that sound good
mikeasaurus6 years ago
Stinging nettle beer is a challenge, good job for trying this. In your Epilogue you mention you opened a beer and it exploded. There's a few problems with the brew method you've chosen. Since you started you brew in bottles, there is something you need to know: In brewing where the beverage is carbonated (bubbly) there is 2 fermentation processes. The first is the primary fermentation where the yeast reacts with the sugars in the plants you used. This process is what makes your drink have an alcohol content. Once all the sugars have been eaten by the yeast they become dormant and sink to the bottom. Secondary fermentation happens when you add more sugar to the mix, which will reactivate the yeast. Through a process of capping the bottles after the addition of sugar the secondary fermentation will occour, creating a carbonated beverage. I mention all this as primary fermentation requires that gasses be able to escape, which is why primary fermentation is usually done in a large vat with a controlled opening. Secondard is done in a sealed unit (like your bottles). What you have described is releasing the gas from the primary stage of fermentation. You will need to do this to all your bottles, then in a few weeks reopen all your bottles again to begin secondary fermentation (unless you want flat beer). I may have made this sound more complicated than it really is. Your method may still produce some tasty results, however if you plan to repeat this you may want to invest in some brewing equipment. It's inexpensive and the ease of future brews will pay you back countless times down teh road. Good luck!
I think the bottling was the second ferment as the author had mentioned they had done a primary ferment for for days in the bucket. I would have suggest at least 7 to ten with this amount of sugar. A beer hydrometre is the best way to tell, if it reads constant over two days then fermentation has finished. Hope this helps
i think you missread....he said he did the primary fermentation in a brewing bucket...THEN put sugar in the bottles, filled, then capped...thereby doing the secondary fermentation..... the eruption (as stated by the poster) probably occurred because he bottled too early (i.e. it wasn't completely done with the primary fermentation)...thus causing too much fermentation
good catch. End of step 6. I did indeed misread. You are also correct, the eruption could have happened due to early bottling as upon rereading he states that the fermentation period was only 4 days. If primary fermentation was finished the eruption may have also occurred due to too much sugar used for the secondary.
is this anything like 'poison oak tea'?
lemonie6 years ago
Still haven't finished mine (clearing problems) - fantastic.


SinAmos6 years ago
I seriously love you and this instructable. I can't participate because of location, location, location, but I appreciate your efforts.
thepelton6 years ago
Sounds interesting. I heard that you could cover the bottle mouths with baloons, which would allow the gases to escape the brew (As long as you still had capacity in the baloon), but keep contaminants out. That might reduce the "Eruption" when you opened the bottle.
Kiteman6 years ago
Oh, I wonder if Lemonie has seen this...?
Great Instructable. Very informative!
AndyGadget6 years ago
Good point about the hemlock (conium maculatum) - no relation to the American hemlock wood). I've got nettles and probably enough hemlock to take out the whole village growing in my wildey area at the bottom of the garden.
I've never made nettle beer, but I've had nettles on toast (with scrambled egg and lots of butter) several times.
(Yes, it is an intentional wildey area for wildlife. It's not that I can't be bothered to clear it. Honest ;¬)
wgrazier6 years ago
Great job on this instructable. Do you recommend using any other plant? I haven't seen stinging nettle since I lived on the West Coast when I was a kid. I love how your daughter was willing to help!
jrekkedal6 years ago
Great instructable! I am wondering if something like this can be accomplished with any North American variations of Nettles...
They're the same plant, Urtica dioica