My first mushroom beers consisted of Winter Chanterelles on a Belgian base. I tried different quantities of mushrooms and different methods for getting mushroom in to beer.
For the first beer, I used 0.9 kgs (2 lbs) of Winter Chanterelles soaked the mushrooms in vodka for three weeks. I then added the vodka to the 23 L (6 gal) batch of beer before bottling. The final beer was a wonderful Belgian Ale with some strange yeast-like characteristics that would (very) occasionally hit you with the full mushroom aroma.
For the second beer, I used 2.3 kgs (5 lbs) of Winter Chanterelles added directly to the secondary and let it soak for several weeks. The resulting beer tasted like (big surprise) Winter Chanterelles and Belgian Ale.
Here in Vancouver we’ve had some great mushroom weather over the last two months. That means it’s been wet. So, while I’m not too happy about the weather, I am happy to be planning some more mushroom beers. It should be a good year for Chanterelles, Hedgehog Mushrooms, and maybe Matsutakes (aka Pine Mushrooms).
I expect to be able to achieve roughly the same effects as I achieved with Winter Chanterelles using the same proportions of Chanterelles and Hedgehog Mushrooms in my brews.
Chanterelle Beers for This Year
Based on how the cousin-of-yeast flavours blended with the Abbey yeast flavours in the first beer, I’ll be trying to see how Chanterelles sit on a Belgian Blanche. I really loved the interplay between yeast and mushroom and want to try different combinations of tasty yeasts with mushrooms. I will probably try the Blanche with 0.9 kgs (2 lbs) of Chanterelles.
I’d also like to see how the flavours sit in an even stronger beer than the original 7% Belgian Ale. So I’m planning on making my first Barley Wine. Based on mostly on style, alcohol tolerance, and past experience I’d like to try Wyeast’s London Ale III for this beer. I also think I’ll increase the amount of mushrooms so they don’t get lost in a stronger beer. I’ll probably try 1.2 kgs (2.7 lbs) of mushrooms.
Matsutake Beers (Depending on Availability)
The Matsutake is more strongly flavoured. I estimate that no more the 0.5 kgs (1.1 lbs) would be necessary, or even appropriate. I have only cooked with these mushrooms a limited number of times, but their flavour tends to taint everything they are cooked with and disappears if they are overcooked or re-heated. Based on this, I think the best thing to do is make some mushroom tea and add it to the secondary right before bottling. I might try a small side-batch with the mushrooms added right at the very end of the boil for comparison.
Using Hedgehog Mushrooms in Beer
I probably won’t get around to using Hedgehog Mushrooms this fall. There are just too many beers that I want to make (I like standard beer-styles too). Although there are clear differences, there are also a lot of similarities between Chanterelles, Winter Chanterelles, and Hedgehog Mushrooms. I freely switch between these three types of mushrooms when cooking and can’t really tell the difference unless they are served on their own.
My current set of Belgian Blanches are taking forever to finish fermenting, so I’ll probably start something that uses London Ale III before doing the Chanterelle beers.