Mushroom beer is a brewer secret for the art of creating a unique taste depending on the type of mushroom used in the beer. There are various types of fungi that give beer more robust and complex sensations for the palate. The slow processing of mushroom aroma and taste leaching into the finished beer is what gives mushroom beer the unique umami taste that brewers want. As such, the styles of beer they tend to share a recipe with are just as wide-reaching, from lighter ales to heftier porters and strong beers.
Technically speaking, working with mushrooms doesn’t pose any major technical hurdles during the brewing process, making it an easy ingredient to play around with, although approaches vary by brewery. Some infuse whole dried mushrooms into the wort (the water extracted during the mashing process), transforming the hot liquid into a sort of mushroom broth, which is then fermented and bottled. Others dry mushrooms and grind them into a powder, which is then made into a tea and added to the beer after fermentation is complete.
The funnel-shaped Black Trumpet mushroom is highly sought after despite it’s less attractive appearance. It is packed with protein and contains sugar-alcohols that give it a sweet taste but with a lower net carb count than many sweet vegetables. Dried black trumpets can be crumbled onto dishes as a condiment while fresh forms are perfect for use in both desserts and savory meals.
One of the most commonly used mushrooms around the world, the white Button mushroom has a mild taste that easily adapts to the flavors of any spicy or savory dish. They were first successfully cultivated in the late 1800s but at the time all specimens were brown in color. The Cremini mushroom is a moderately mature version of the white button mushroom, which is why it has a similar flavor.
Commercial Examples: Scratch 119 – Mushroom Ale |Tröegs Brewery; Moonshadow Mushroom Stout | Vine Street Pub & Brewery; Mushroom Mojo | Arbor Brewing Company; Ooh Mommy | Church-Key Brewing Co.; Mushroom Stout | Burnside Brewing Co.
Candy Cap mushrooms are native to the Pacific Northwest and can be found growing along the West coast of the United States. The small mushrooms are often found growing beneath conifers like pine and hardwoods like oak, amidst the moss or on rotting wood. When consumed, Candy Cap mushrooms are sweet in flavor and have a unique aroma that is similar to the scent of maple syrup, butterscotch, or brown sugar.
Chaga is a type of fungus that grows mainly on the bark of birch trees in cold climates, such as Northern Europe, Siberia, Russia, Korea, Northern Canada and Alaska. Chaga is also known by other names, such as black mass, clinker polypore, birch canker polypore, cinder conk and the sterile conk trunk rot (of birch). Although usually found growing on birch trees, it has also been found on alder (Alnus spp.), beech (Fagus spp.), oak (Quercus spp.) and poplar (Populus spp.)
The well-known, flashy yellow Chanterelle mushrooms are highly sought after for their unique flavor: something between peppery and fruity. They are very popular in Europe and North America, and some chefs consider them a delicacy up there with truffles. Cooking them in fat, such as butter, brings out their rich flavor and they make a great addition to sauces, soups, and even souffles.
The ganba jun, ganba fungus, or Dried Beef Mushroom is a species of coral fungus in the family Thelephoraceae. The ganba ja like many mushrooms in China, takes its name from another food it is thought to resemble. It is deeply savory with a pleasantly chewy texture. This species is found only in sandy soils under pine trees, and only in Yunnan. It has a pungent aroma and flavor, like concentrated pine, and is typically served shredded and fried.
Commercial Example: Black Magic | Chaba Brewing
Lion’s mane mushroom, also called monkey head mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, satyr’s beard, bearded hedgehog mushroom, pom pom mushroom, or bearded tooth fungus, is an edible mushroom belonging to the tooth fungus group. Native to North America, Europe and Asia. In the wild, these mushrooms are common during late summer and fall on hardwoods, particularly American beech.
Commercial Examples: Seasons In the Field (Lion’s Mane Edition) | Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour & Brewery; 5th Kingdom – W/ Oyster & Lion’s Mane Mushrooms | Barn Hammer Brewing Co.; Lion’s Mane | Newstead Brewing Co.; Mushroom STEEP |Fiction Beer Company
Originating from Canada and New Zealand, Clover honey is one of the most widely available and popular honey varieties. Depending on the location and source, clover honey varies in color from water white to different tones of amber. White clover in particular is grown as a widespread blooming pasture crop and is a major nectar source in many parts of the world. A favorite varietal of many honey lovers, this classic honey has a pleasingly mild, floral sweetness that is easily accepted.
Lobster mushrooms are typically found in temperate forests across the northern United States from the Pacific Northwest to New England and throughout Canada. The cap is textured, firm, and mottled, ranging in color from white to a vibrant orange-red, with split, wavy edges. When sliced, the flesh is white, dense, and spongy with a faint, seafood-like aroma with a subtly nutty, woody, and delicate flavor.
The strangely-shaped, ribbony Maitake or Hen-off-the-Woods mushroom is a staple in Asian cooking. The name comes from the Japanese word meaning “dancing mushroom.” It is also commonly known as hen-of-the-woods. The flavor of the maitake is deeply earthy and rich, making it a great choice for meals with complex flavors that might overpower the taste of milder mushrooms.
Commercial Examples: Scratch 119 – Mushroom Ale |Tröegs Brewery; Translucent Wisps of Crispiness | Tired Hands Brewing Co.; The Song of the Earth: Maitake (2019) | The Referend Bier Blendery; Dancing Hen Mushroom Porter | Birdfish Brewing Co.
The prized but rare Matsutake mushroom is popular in many eastern countries. It has a thick, tall base with an undersized cap and a uniquely spicy aroma. Because they prefer to grow in very specific conditions in certain types of forests, they are not always easy to find. Recently, pine parasites and continued deforestation have greatly reduced the number of matsutakes harvested each year, which has driven up the price exponentially.
Easily one of the most prized edible mushrooms in the world, this honey-combed capped fungus has become its own multi-million dollar enterprise. Because they’re difficult to cultivate, the majority of morels used in restaurants have to be wild-harvested—a task that can net the hunter a pretty penny. Morel mushrooms have a rich flavor that goes well with a wide range of dishes and are often served alongside meats or inside ravioli.
Oyster mushrooms are well known throughout the world but most popular in Asian cuisine. They were first cultivated during World War I as a ration food but are now considered a prized ingredient in many dishes and sauces. They can also be served on their own and have a mild flavor with hints of anise or bitter almond. A rarity among mushrooms, these fungi are known to feed on certain types of worms and even bacteria.
Commercial Examples: Oyster Weiss | Scratch Brewing Co.; Saison du Champignon | Gigantic Brewing Co.; Snörkel | Jester King Brewery; Oyster Mushroom Saison W/ Cracked Pepper And Sea Salt | Evergreen Brewery
Another well-known porcini, the King Bolete (a.k.a. Penny-bun Bolete) is a large mushroom celebrated in the culinary world for its excellent, nutty taste and versatility in the kitchen. The younger caps are the most sought after for their smooth, creamy texture, but even older ones can be dried and used in a variety of meals. This fungus is native to the northern hemisphere but has since been introduced in Australia, South Africa, and other southern latitudes.
Perhaps the second most well-known mushroom in the West, the portobello (also called portabella or portabello) is actually just the mature form of the most well-known—the button (or cremini) mushroom. When allowed to reach full size, the Agaricus bisporusloses much of its moisture and gains more flavorful, earthy notes. This texture and taste make the portabella an excellent choice for replacing meat in vegan meals.
While completely edible, this deep-red, fan-like Reishi mushroom is most often consumed as a supplement in in Chinese medicine. Its red-varnished, kidney-shaped cap and peripherally inserted stem gives it a distinct fan-like appearance. Wild populations of this mushroom have been found in the United States in California and Utah. The white textural part of this mushroom is the edible and can provide a source for an earthy bitterness flavor.
Shiitakes are well-known mushrooms that have long been cultivated and used in China and other East Asian countries, but have more recently become somewhat of a staple in Western kitchens. These large, brown mushrooms have an umami flavor and, when cooked, develop a pleasing, velvety texture. The stems are often discarded due to their tougher consistency, but, when cooked longer than the caps, develop a nice chewy texture.
Commercial Examples: Shroominous | Blank Slate Brewing Co.; Umami Shitake Ale | Bridge Road Brewers; Bog | Epic Ales; Scratch 119 – Mushroom Ale |Tröegs Brewery; Shiitake Mushroom Porter | Birdfish Brewing Co.
The Tea Tree Mushroom (Agrocybe Aegerita) is also known as the willow mushroom and velvet pioppini. It is called (chashugu) in China and yanagi matsutake in Japan. The mushroom has a small, soft cap, around 0.5 to 2 centimeters (0.2 to 0.8 inches) in diameter. It has a thin, long, and tough stem, 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches) in length. The mushroom has a concentrated woody and earthy flavor and a firm, meaty texture.
Commercial Example: Black Magic | Chaba Brewing
In the wild, turkey tail, also known as Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor, grows on dead hardwood trees throughout the world and is one of the most commonly found species of mushroom in North America. Turkey Tail is so named because its fan shape resembles the tail of a standing turkey. It is striped with dark to light bands of color in brown, beige, blue, orange, and black. Turkey tail mushrooms taste mildly earthy and bitter.
Wood ear or black wood ear (alternatively, black fungus, jelly ear, tree ear, Judas ear, Chashugu, or by a number of other common names), is a species of edible Auriculariales fungus found worldwide. The fruiting body is distinguished by its noticeably ear-like shape and brown colouration; it grows on wood, especially elder. Although it is not widely consumed in the West, it has long been popular in China, to the extent that Australia exported large volumes to China. Wood ear mushrooms are commonly added to Chinese hot and sour soup and to Szechwan and Hunan cuisine to soak up the spicier flavors.
Truffles are an edible fungus that are considered a delicacy. Truffles are small and lumpy, with either a dark skin or lighter coloring. Unlike other types of edible mushrooms, truffles grow underground. They’re found near tree roots, and form a symbiotic relationship with the tree. Truffles enjoy very specific growing conditions, preferring well-drained alkaline soil. There are two main types of truffle: white truffle and black truffle. Black truffles are slightly more pungent, and are cooked into dishes. White truffles are highly aromatic, and can be eaten raw.
Commercial Examples: The Forager | Mikkeller: Truffle Shuffle | Fort George Brewery; San Servolo Gold Truffler | Bujska Pivovara; Istarsko Tartuf | Istarska Pivovara; Man Full of Mushrooms | Dock Street Brewing Co.