NEVER LISTEN TO THE DOUBTERS!!!
I’m ticked off! For another year in a row I have raised the challenge, and for another year in a row they shot me down. No one want to Try the Mushroom Challenge!
Every year in a “friendly” contest of brewers (we got started together, and still talk shop), we were discussing the theme of next year’s Duel. Of course I recommended a Battle of the Shrooms.
Why you ask? WHY NOT!
OF course, as usual, the idea was crushed. “Ooh Gross…that sounds terrible.” Said one. “There is no way we are ever trying that!” Said Another. Mind you, these are pretty adventurous brewers!
So, I am fed up. “I’ll show you all that Mushrooms will be great in beer!”, I exclaimed. So here we go, I am off to the mushroom kingdom, like two stalwart Italian plumbers before me, I traipse off into a scary and subterranean world of Morel foragers and Toadstool Toadies.
Phase 1: Research.
Surprisingly, there is actually a lot of literature already posted about Mushroom Beer. All I had to do was find a surefire combination of Beer style and Mushroom species. Some of the styles that came to mind
- 3rd Place: Irish Stout or Roasty Porter-Several commercial beers already available
- 2nd Place: Lime, Ginger, and Shiitake Wheat Gose-Would the savory go well with the salty, sour, “Asian” flavor profile?
- First Place: Flanders Red Ale-I think the acetic, vinegar flavors would marry well with a savory mushroom broth.
OK, so style determined, I just bought the first Flanders Red Extract kit I could find. WHAT! Im not blowing 3 hours mashing for a beer that might taste like a compost heap. Im not that crazy.
Phase 2: Foraging. Go Big or Go Home.
It is really hard to research mushroom flavor comparisons. Apparently all mushrooms are good in savory stocks and stir-fries…DUH! So here is the plan, but a shit-ton of different breeds, and segregate my batch into 1 gallon fermenters. Batch 1: Control and Blending. Batch 2: Morels (BTW why are these so expensive?) Batch 3: Wood Ear. Batch 4: Oyster ( I love oyster shrooms!!). So Where to find them? Found the local organic grocers, and jackpot, dried shrooms in a gazillion varieties.
Phase 3: Methodology
So how to incorporate the Shrooms. Some people recommended the freeze/thaw and juice method, but I don’t want to deal with sanitizer. Others recommended boiling, but the downfall of that method appears to be volatilizing off the various flavonoids. Option 3: Knockout infusion. This seems to work, but I am going to have to figure out how to separate into 4 containers and then cool. Final option: Make a hot shroom tea, and add to the secondary’s for each batch.
Phase 4: Keep the Wife Happy
Some people’s spouses really embrace the beer craze. Mine tolerates it. So I am going to have to do a little creative selling. “Hey its only a half batch, I can strip the furniture while I am brewing…no it doesn’t have mushrooms in it…I don’t know why there are 3 pounds of Morels in the fridge!”. Phase 4 failed. 😦
Okay folks, game day is here, time to begin brewing. I will let you know the results soon. Well not that soon, it is a sour beer for crimini out loud!