Peated Matsutake Porter Post-Mortem

Written by Damon on December 4, 2008

My very limited edition Peated Matsutake Porter (note the Matsutake is also known as Pine Mushroom) came to an abrupt end last night. I only made three bottles worth from Peated Porter leftovers after racking an over-filled primary fermenter to the secondary.


Photo Credit: soggydan

String of Setbacks

At first I thought the beer was ruined by some sort of infection. It was actually the inspiration for my Halloween Fermentation Friday post which is actually a piece of fiction because still haven’t lost a beer to infection.

What had happened was that the mushroom’s thin, whispy gills separated from the rest of the mushroom and floated to the top. Additionally, there was an oil-like film that eventually evapourated off. I presume the film also came from the mushroom, but I haven’t seen anything like it brewing with other mushrooms.

Taken together, the gills looked like mold growing on a slimy film.

Then last night, when I went to sample the beer, I discovered that I’d made a big miscalculation and badly over-carbonated the beer. When I opened the first beer I sent a foamy plume high in to the air and on to some recently washed dishes sitting next to the sink.

Worried that I had some potential beer bombs sitting in my apartment and wanting to try more than the mouthfull of beer, I quickly chilled the other two bottles.

To catch the anticipated fountain of beer, I set out a large measuring cup in one of the sinks and made more of a mess. But I was able to salvage a pint’s-worth of beer.

Sampling my First Matsutake Beer

The base beer wasn’t very good to begin with so I didn’t have very high hopes for this beer. Actually it was one of the worst beers that I’d made in a long time. It lacked flavour except for the hint of peat and seemed quite watery. But it was a beer made of leftovers solely for the purpose of seeing how the Matsutake sits in beer so that I can properly formulate a recipe for next time.

The Matsutakes added some of the same yeast-like flavours as the Winter Chanterelles did in my previous mushroom beers, but they weren’t as fruity as the Chanterelles and had a slightly unpleasant, but mild, bitter flavour. The flavour was quite robust and, like other mushrooms, mostly sits well in beer not really competing with other flavours.

Brewing With My Eyes Open

Now that I know how Matsutakes taste in beer, I’d like to try using Matsutakes in a bitter stout. The beer’s bitterness would mask the unpleasant bitterness from the Matsutakes and the yeast-like flavours would complement a full-bodied, full-flavoured beer.

I don’t think it was a mistake to use the Matsutakes in a peated beer either, but I think they would probably work better in a more strongly-flavoured beer. I used about 2oz (60g) of mushroom in this small batch which, when scaled up, would be about 1.3lbs (600g). I wouldn’t recommend adding more than this, but I suspect you could get noticable results with 0.9lbs (400g) of Matsutakes.

In my test batch, I boiled the mushrooms and then added the liquid with the boiled mushrooms to the beer and then left the mushrooms to sit on the beer for a couple of weeks.

I think, in retrospect, that this was a mistake. Having cooked with Matsutakes, they have a very strong flavour and aroma when you first cook them. But the flavour almost disappears from leftovers the next day.

The next time I make a beer with Matsutakes, right before bottling, I plan make a Matsutake tea, strain it through a coffee filter, and then add it to the beer right away before bottling. Hopefully, this will help seal the mushroom flavour in.