Brewing in the Kitchen: Nettle Beer

Tea Trail Tales #5       April 10, 2014


Brewing in the Kitchen

"Hops rather make beer a physical drinke to keepe the body in health, than an ordinary drinke for the quenching of our thirst". - John Gerard, 1597

Cédric and I are big fans of fermented beverages from the obvious beers, kombuchas, kvass, kéfir to olden medicinal ales and herbal beers. If you're looking for some Kombuchas made with Namasthé Teas, Vancouver-based Harvest Union and Graze Vegetarian have some revolving and seasonal flavours. This week, we decided to brew some Douglas Fir Blanche straight up as we love the aroma, taste and feel of foraged young Spring Tips of Douglas Fir. For fun, we want to make all the old beers with interesting yeasts and blends. So expect to see some interesting ferments on our website and in our feeds on social media. As an Herbalist, wild herbal beer, wines and tinctures are a staple in the kitchen, which is actually our medicine pantry.

We had an exciting visit to the homebrewing shop looking for Belgian, IPA and Ale yeasts and a few additional tools, including an auto-syphon to add to our Carboy, Apple Cider gallon glass jars. This spring, we will brew several versions of herbal beers, some hybrids, medicinals with hops and various beers. The shop at Dan's Homebrew on Hastings is next to Fromagers Les Amis du Fromage in Vancouver. Like Cédric says, he much prefers beer pairings with cheeses and though I do too, I do love wine with cheese too! Another amazing pairing with cheeses is tea of course. I'll save this for another post coming soon!

This evening, we racked our Mother IPA made with Citra and Mozaic hops with a little difficulty as the wand did not fit. It is made for carboys, so we used the old one to syphon the old way by mouth. A little messier mouthfuls, but it works nonetheless. We are also dry hopping it with Citra and Mozaic hops in a cheesecloth. We did not have any marbles so we sanitized a 11.25 in Bamboo BBQ double prong skewer to it hold down at the bottom of the wort. Random successes are fun when freestyling in the kitchen.

While the Nettle beer wort is cooling prior to adding yeast, I waited to measure the potential alcohol via a hydrometer I bought over 14 years ago and never used before now. There is always a first and tonight seemed fitting. I sipped the wort and it was tasty, so the Nettle Green Tea Beer should turn out really nice. Meanwhile the Douglas Fir Blanche is still fermenting really well so we'll for it to stop so we can rack it as well. We may decide to dry hop with more Douglas Fir to get those mandarin, grapefruit, lime and lemon notes we love. We will post recipes once they are done and have been tasted.

Brewing transforms grains into Vitamin B rich probiotic beverages that aid digestion, complement foods and are enjoyed with great company. It is one of humanity's most ancient heritages, often associated with sacred rituals, myths of the original gods of fermentation, to religious monopoly that grew into great Abbey beers, cheeses and wines. Cultures around the globe were developed with the help of yeast fermentation from preserving foods, enhancing taste, culturing healthy gut bacteria (that is the basis of immunity), and these ferments were also part of religious rites, celebrations and even debauchery that led to great art and poetry. Brewing is part of our human history with brewed libations as old as civilization.

As Hippocrates once said: "Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food."

As we brew in the kitchen, we reconnect to our roots, our cultures and our sacred heritage as creative human beings gifted by the heavens with these yeasts gracing most every fruit, grain, and blossom on our fine planet, just waiting to get infused in our hearts and mugs. Brew on!

"Rise up, become abundant with thine own greatness, O barley". - Arthava Veda

Isabelle Ranger
Forager & Teacrafter

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