The Fungus Among Us….The story of a Mushroom Beer

by Steve Thanos | Updated: March 12, 2019

When you think of mushrooms, you usually think of pizza, cream of mushroom soup, or maybe some sautéed mushrooms to adorn your medium rare steaks. I know this is what normal people think of when thinking about mushrooms. I too think of these tasty concoctions. I also think of beer. That’s right, the cold elixir that we all long for after a long day.

At first I was hesitant about creating this beer. I really did not think mushrooms would taste good in a beer. The first time I thought of joining these two seemingly never to join forces was when I was brewing for a local festival Morel Fest.

This annual fest is centered around morel mushrooms in Ottawa, Illinois. This fest allowed people to forage through the nearby forests and find morel mushrooms that are in-season from the end of March through early April in Illinois. You can read more about morel mushrooms by clicking here.

Along with people searching for these morsels of mushroomy goodness, there is also beer served from area homebrewers. There were around ten homebrew clubs who joined the festivities this year. My homebrew club, Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts(PALE) , sent up shop and served about fourteen homebrewed beers this year.

I knew this was my chance to brew some crazy beer that incorporated mushrooms. I had recently heard about a mushroom beer from The Experimental Brewing Podcast. I wanted to take a shot at creating my own recipe that incorporated mushrooms. I thought of the mushroom’s flavor profile and concluded that the earthiness of mushrooms is what really stood out to me the most. Now to find a beer that would match this earthiness. It didn’t take me long to think of the American Brown Ale to be joining the forces with these willing, soon to be drunk mushrooms.

My Rye Addiction

Upon milling my grains for this beer, I decided to throw in some rye malt at the last second. I am of the believe that everything tastes better with Rye malt. The Fungus Among Us, a Mushroom Rye Brown Ale was born. The earthiness of the Rye malt pairs well with both the mushrooms and even the hops I used for this batch of beer. Both East Kent Goldings and Liberty hops possess a nice earthiness that lended itself to this beer.

beer
My love for Rye Malt is real.

 

The Fungus Addition

After a quick run to my neighborhood Whole Foods, I found some wonderful, organic, Michigan-grown mushrooms. Forest Nameko and Trumpet Royale mushrooms and dried Black Trumpet, dried Chanterelles, and dried Porcini mushrooms were added to this beer.

beer
Fresh mushrooms from MyCopia from Michigan.

 

Days before I even brewed this beer, I placed all of the fresh mushrooms in the freezer. I did this because I knew that adding fruit to beer in the secondary breaks down the cell walls of the fruit. I was thinking this could have some validity to mushrooms as well. I have no idea if this is correct. Nevertheless, these mushrooms lived in my freezer for a few weeks. After three weeks of fermentation, my mushrooms were well sprayed with a little StarSan and dropped into an empty, sanitized carboy.

beer
beer
beer

Dry shrooming is the process of adding dried mushrooms to a beer.

The Verdict

The beer itself was very well received. People at the fest, homebrewers in my homebrew club, and friends who tried it all commented on how earthy the beer turned out. The earthiness from the rye malt was very distinguishable, along with the lingering earthiness and umami flavor contributed from the mushrooms. I thought the rye really added another dimension of flavor that made this beer just that much more interesting.

Check out the recipe:

Malt
50% 2-Row
5% Crystal 60
5% Flaked Oats
10% Brown Malt
10% Chocolate Rye Malt
20% Rye

Hops
1oz East Kent Goldings      60 min.     5.5 AA  19.5 IBU
1oz Liberty                           20 min.     4.0 AA    8.6 IBU
1oz Liberty                           5 min.       4.0 AA    2.8 IBU
1oz Liberty                           Flameout  4.0 AA

Yeast
Fermentis Safale US-05

Mushrooms (Secondary)
1 12oz package Forest Nameko mushrooms
1 12oz package Trumpet Royale mushrooms
1 6oz package Dried Black Trumpet mushrooms
1 6oz package Dried Chanterelles mushrooms
1 6oz package Dried Porcini mushrooms

Batch Size 5 Gallons
Boil Size     7.5 Gallons
OG 1.058
FG 1.011
Color 28.3 SRM
Efficiency 80%
Bitterness 30.8 IBUs
Alcohol 6.1% ABV

 

I am the former President of my homebrew club, Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts (PALE) in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL. I brew on my BIAB system with my incredibly patient and understanding wife, adorable 9 year old daughter, and 12 year old brew dog.