Nature's Secret Larder - Nettle Beer


Bushcraft Blog

Nettle Beer
16th December 2008

Nettle Beer

The nettle beer pictured above was made using my own variation of this recipie to give it more kick, the only trouble is you rarely get any in the glass! Thank you to Andrew for holding the bottle and giving me a hand getting the brew ready for Christmas.

There are many ways to make nettle beer. Each version has its own unique taste, fizz, colour and potency, but the recipe here is quite a traditional one which should leave you with a fairly mild brew of around 3.5/4%, but take that with a pinch of salt as there are lots of variables to consider.

3 Gallons of young nettle tops
12 litres of water
50g Cream of tartar
1.3 KG of granulated sugar
12g of yeast (beer yeast is fine)
For added flavour you may also add some young Goosegrass

Nettle Beer


It's important to take only young nettles for this recipe, but this does not mean you are restricted to only spring, as there will be plenty of young nettles about throughout the year if you look hard enough, but of course there will be more in spring.

Nettle Beer

Young Nettles

If you grasp a nettle firmly you won't need to wear gloves.

Nettle Beer

Grasping the nettle

Once you have about three gallons of nettles you are ready to go to the next step.

Nettle Beer

Fermentation Bucket/tub

Using a large stock pot boil 12 litres of water, once you have a rolling boil, add the nettles and allow the to cook away for about 20 minutes or so. Once this has been done simply strain the nettles out using a sieve.

Now dissolve all of the sugar and cream of tartar into the golden liquid and stir until fully dissolved. Allow to cool, and when the temperature is about that of blood temperature add the yeast, cover and leave in a warm place for about 4 days. After the four days is up remove any scum from the surface and siphon off into bottles. I usually leave these in a warm place for a couple of days and then put them somewhere cold until the brew clears.

I should mention that as with all home brewing, you need to sterilise EVERYTHING throughout. A prior knowledge of home brewing will help. It's also quite easy to kill the yeast so make sure your liquid is not too hot when you add it, but still warm enough to allow it to activate.

One more thing I will point out is this, if you use glass bottles, please make sure your brew has finished fermenting (in the tub) before bottling, as nettle beer can be quite violent if it ferments in the bottle, often leading to explosions which can cause serious damage due to shards of glass. For this reason, I would recommend small plastic bottles for first timers. These can still burst but obviously with fewer consequences.

If you make your brew today, it should be ready to drink at Christmas, good luck!

Catch you on the trail



Jean on 05/07/15

My mum used to make this when I was a child used to call it nettle pop remember her putting it in a gas boiler will this be the same rescipe it's over 60years ago

Kris on 25/04/14

Hi Adam,

Was it just the young nettle tops that you added?

Adam on 18/04/14

Hi there,
Just mixed up a batch and put it aside to ferment, but any idea why it has turned out a pale red colour? Same ingredients and method as above.

Kris on 09/04/11

Hi Mat,

That should work fine, although you'll have a job to get it boiling at once ;) if it’s your first time, I’d suggest making smaller amounts, as mastering nettle beer can take a while. If not fermented correctly and glass bottles are used they can end up like hand grenades, which although sounds amusing, they are very dangerous. The taste too may take several attempts to get just how you like.

When I say 3 gallons, I refer to 3 gallons in volume... i.e. a three gallon tub, but using only young nettles tops. 3 gallons will take quite a while to collect so anything much more than this will take ages!

Good luck and let me know how you get on.


Mat on 07/04/11

Hi Kris,

Thanks for the recipe, say if you wanted to scale this up to say 26 gallons or so ; ) Would you just multiply all of the amounts equally?

When you say 3 gallons of nettles do you mean by weight or sight? What would 30 gallons of nettle tops look like?

Kris on 23/08/09


I will be adding more soon. I may get a simple one on to day if I get the chance.


Dangerman on 21/08/09

Hi Kris.

Did you manage to dig out any more drinks recipes? After the nettle beer success I was hoping you may have another idea or two.


Kris on 04/06/09


Many thanks for the kind comments and updates. I do think nettle beer can be much stronger than readings suggest, but it does lose its kick after a few weeks. I also find that they can turn from a light pop to a bang in just a few days so take care when you get back from your holiday, I hope you have a great time. I should (if I get chance) put another drink recipe up on the site shortly.

Dangerman on 03/06/09

Hi Kris.

Thanks for your guidance I have just finished my first pint bottle and luckily enough I am still alive to tell the tale, a bit of a worry as I used glass bottles. I reckon the 8 day ferment must have finished off virtually all the yeast however I was very carefull and I am happy to say the beer didn' t come gushing out but made a nice pop and it certainly is a livley sparkler. I say beer but it is more like a very light cider or dare I say it champagne in fact who needs champagne when one can have this drink!! I have made several beers from kits and I forage for fruit to make sloe gin and blackberry whisky but this is by far the best brew I have ever made. In fact I am stunned it is so good, I never would believe it possible. My hydrometer readings suggest it should be about 4.6% alc by volume but I reckon it could be a bit stronger. It has only been in the bottle since sunday and was already quite clear. I am sure it will become clearer and better as the days pass. I am off on holiday in a few days but as soon as I get back I will make another batch. I reckon you should patent this fast! Thanks very much for showing this recipe I am sure that I will be making this for years to come. I have an allotment and enjoy outdoor life, it is people like you who are an inspiration to people like me who want to learn about such things. Thanks very much!!

Kris on 02/06/09

Thanks for the update Dangerman. It’s more important to use young nettles if you are going to be eating them. If they were only 35cm tall, then they are still quite young, and you shouldn’t have any problems. I would be more worried about priming the bottles (especially if made of glass). If they are somewhere warm I would take great care and open one a day. The chances are that if any fermentation has taken place in the bottle they will either erupt and you will lose the beer (makes it taste odd too). Or, they can explode in your hand. It sounds quite tame, but when they explode they do so with huge force so it's something you really need to keep an eye on as they are potentially deadly. The force can even burst toughened plastic bottles, or steel flip tops. I have even seen them buckle metal bracings on flip tops and at the same time shatter toughened glass bottles or break them clean in half. I’m sure you are aware of all of this, but I just thought I would mention my findings to date, and also help out the other readers. I look forward to hearing how it tastes soon!

Good luck.

Dangerman on 02/06/09

Hi Kris,

Sorry to bother you once again. I have just read through your web site in regard to the importance of using young nettles only. I could not find many young nettles at all but did find lots of youngish nettles. I only used the very top inch of each nettle and none of them had formed seed heads. I reckon they were about 35cm tall. Do you think this brew will be safe as I do not want to give myself or anybody else kidney probs?


Dangerman on 02/06/09

Hi Kris.

I let it ferment for 8 days in the end and it had a final SG of about 1000. I gave several friends and family a small sip and we all agreed that it tasted pretty good and I am sure it will be even better in a couple of weeks. The problem is that it may not get that far as I primed each pint bottle with half a teaspoon of sugar. Keep your fingers crossed for the next 2 weeks that i do not have mass explosions in my garage!! Hopefully I might have let it ferment long enough though as it did seem to be really good and I don't want to loose it by going bang. It only cost about £3 to make, not bad for 16 pints!

Kris on 29/05/09

Hi Dangerman,

Thanks for the message. I have used Champagne yeast in the past too; it makes it very explosive as the yeast ferments differently, so I always give it at least 5/6 days in the bucket, and never prime the bottles, unless I want a pretty big bang! I look forward to hearing back from you with your results :)


Dangerman on 29/05/09

I followed this recipe exactly except that I used champagne yeast. It has been fermenting for 6 days and I will bottle it either tonight or tomorrow depending on latest hydrometer reading. From smelling pretty awfull it now smells pretty good and beery. I look forward to trying it and will report back in acouple of weeks with my findings. For the record the OG was 1045 and has dropped to about 1012.

Kris on 30/12/08


Thanks for the message. Exploding bottles are almost always down to bottling to early. Most recipes recommend fermenting for about 3 days, but I always leave it to ferment for at least 4 days, sometimes a week. You will also notice that nettle beer does often have a nasty smell if the yeast has not turned the majority of the sugar into alcohol. Once it’s almost done, the smell is very strong but quite pleasant, much like a brewery! Yeasts which are tolerant of varying degrees of heat often work best as you can speed the process up a little by placing the fermentation bucket into a warmer place, as long as it’s not too HOT.

Good luck with your next brew and Happy New Year!


lee on 30/12/08

i recently made nettle beer myself, this was a surprise to family and freinds. everyone did enjoy it. also mine exploded so i guess i didnt leave it long enought to ferment. lucky i had presurised glass bottles. but i do have one question, the smell was questionable is this due to the fermenting or do you have tips to make it smell better. looking forward to the spring....

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