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We were asked to do a mushroom themed brewing demonstration for a local festival/market. Yes, I said mushroom.

At first I wondered if this really is such a good idea, but because I like crazy brews I figured: why the hell not - try anything once! Then another question arose...how? Things that I can think of:

  • add mushrooms to the mash (no idea how this would affect the beer, I suspect you would lose a lot of mushroom flavour)
  • add dried mushrooms (maybe shredded) to the wort when it is still hot, just before cooling and pitching the yeast.
  • secondary fermentation (sounds like an infection hazard)
  • including other additives, like nuts or spices that would go well with the flavors.

would these be a good ideas? What would be good styles to use (I'm thinking stout?)

any other ideas?

I'm interested in fun ways to include mushrooms into the brewing process, that add something to the flavour of the beer. I'm not interested in 'magic mushrooms' or hallucinogens.

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I'm not sure, but I'm thinking that it might be best to treat it like whole fruit, as if you were making a fruit beer. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 23 '12 at 18:57
    
never done a fruit beer before, could you elaborate? –  Stephan Oct 23 '12 at 19:53
    
Neither have I! ;) I've done fruit mead - I once put a whole bunch of strawberries when preparing the must (and removed them before pitching the yeast). It came out very nice, though mild-tasting. I understand with beer it's more common to add the fruit part way through primary or during secondary fermentation, though you'll probably want to look that up in more detail. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 23 '12 at 19:56
    
No thoughts on process, but suggest you try candy cap mushrooms (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candy_cap). Not a traditional mushroom flavor, they have a maple-like taste. Could go well with a light-bodied malt-forward style. –  Galapagos Jim Oct 23 '12 at 23:25
    
A local brewpub made a candy cap wee heavy. It was good, but I prefer chanterelles. –  Denny Conn Oct 24 '12 at 16:20
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Randy Mosher in his fantastic book "Radical Brewing" describes a chanterelle beer that he does. I won't post the recipe since I'm not sure how copyright works for that kind of thing, but I'm sure you can google around for it if you don't own Radical Brewing. http://www.radicalbrewing.com

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I have made this beer many times and served it to Randy at this year's NHC in Seattle. I was pleased that he liked it so well that he brought Tasty McDole and Mitch Steele back to try it. I picked 2 lb. of fresh chanterelles from my property, lightly brushed off the dirt, chopped them, vacuum packed them, and froze them. When it was time to add them to secondary I thawed them and added all the mushrooms and juice to secondary and let it sit for a couple weeks, then lagered for 2 months. –  Denny Conn Oct 24 '12 at 16:18
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The vacuum packing and freezing are the key to extracting flavor. I've tried soaking them in vodka, but didn't care for the harshness the vodka added to the beer. My recipe is at wiki.homebrewersassociation.org/WeeShroomy –  Denny Conn Oct 24 '12 at 16:19
    
Wow, thanks for the info Denny! I stepped right over chanterelles for years without realizing what they were, so I'll be eager to pick some soon and try this. I also have stopped using vodka for extractions, as I wasn't pleased with the flavor I was getting too. –  Graham Oct 24 '12 at 16:54
    
accepted this as an answer, as the recipe sounds great. I would prefer to apply the shrooms on brew day rather than in the secondary, because this is for a demonstration after all. Probably going to go with something like this homebrewtalk.com/f13/… hopville.com/recipe/1102747 –  Stephan Oct 24 '12 at 18:50
    
You can certainly add them on brew day, but my experience is that you'll lose most of the mushroom character. –  Denny Conn Oct 25 '12 at 15:33
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I would be inclined to say that this should be done in secondary. A quick google search shows that some people have tried making mushroom vodka that apparently turned out well. I would suggest making an infusion in vodka with dried mushrooms like you would a spice and adding that to the final product. I can't say too much as to quantity currently, but I would err on the side of more than less, as mushroom isn't a strong flavor.

As for the style, while a stout was my first thought too (as they just seem to go together), it might overpower the flavor of the mushrooms. A lighter beer would probably be able to show off the mushroom characteristics better.

But, this sounds like something up my alley. (I tend to be weird with my brews. E.g. potato pale ale.) I've marked this question and added it to my backlog of brewing. I'll see if I can report back with some experiment results in a month or so.

Shortly after posting this, I remembered you asked because of a demo. If you need results sooner than a month, you should be able to prototype it since this method would be taking the infusion route. You could make the mushroom infused vodka, then buy a few different commercial beers in different styles, then add varying amounts of the infusion to different samples to determine a good starting point.

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on second thought, I might go the vodka infusion route. However, because it's a demonstration I would prefer for people to actually see us applying the mushroomon brew day. I'm considering putting the sterilized mushrooms (+ vodka extract) into the empty primary fermenter and racking the wort on top of it. Just for showmanship reasons ;)... as long as it does not hurt the flavor. Or would the vodka/alcohols inhibit fermentation and is it better to add them to secondary? –  Stephan Oct 25 '12 at 21:31
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