Brewing Beer With Mushrooms: 6 Things You Should Know
Once you’ve mastered the basics of brewing beer, you might be itching to try something new and experiment with different flavors and ingredients. If this is the case, it might be time to consider adding mushrooms to your next brew.
Brewing beer with mushrooms can take a little more work and money, but it may be worth it for the potential health benefits and flavor profiles the resulting beer provides. Be careful and only use mushrooms that are safe to eat.
Let’s take a look at everything you should know about brewing beer with mushrooms so you feel confident in your ability when you decide to give it a try.
What Is Mushroom Beer?
To put it simply, mushroom beer is any kind of beer brewed with mushrooms, whether those mushrooms are fresh or powdered. These beers tend to be darker and earthier in flavor than other types, although the flavor depends on the type of mushrooms used.
Common types of mushrooms used in beer include candy cap mushrooms, which have a rich flavor that can add sweetness to any brew, and oyster mushrooms, which give the beer a distinct, umami taste.
However, as the practice of incorporating mushrooms in the beer-brewing process increases in popularity, more and more fungi varieties are entering the scene. Each of these mushrooms offers its own distinct flavors and benefits.
Some mushroom beers also have health benefits, thanks to the properties of the fungi used in brewing. Some mushrooms have medicinal properties that they can pass onto whatever brew they’re used in, especially Ganoderma mushrooms.
Some breweries choose to use mushrooms to create no-alcohol beers for healthier beer alternatives with wellness benefits. However, you can also add mushrooms to various beer recipes to add a distinct flavor without removing the alcohol.
Things To Know Before Brewing Beer With Mushrooms
If you feel like you’ve entered a rut with your homebrewing, or if you’re sick of all your beers tasting the same, why not give mushroom beers a try? Adding mushrooms is a great way to mix up your normal routine and create something unique and out-of-the-box.
For more guidance on why your homebrews are all tasting the same, you can read my article on the topic.
Just like with any other new ingredient, it may take a couple of tries before you create a mushroom beer that you’re happy with. However, I think you’ll find that the right mushroom beer is well worth the effort.
1. Mushroom Beer Can Have Health Benefits
If you’ve ever had anyone give you a hard time about your love of beer, making beer with mushrooms might be your best rebuttal. Ganoderma lucidum is a genus of fungi frequently used in brewing because of its compatibility with the taste of beer and its health benefits.
If you think a mushroom beer will sacrifice taste for its health properties, think again! Ganoderma beer was tested among male and female tasters with positive results, with commercial Pilsner beer as the foil.
The female tasters evaluated both beers similarly, whereas the male tasters tended to prefer the beer brewed with Ganoderma, noting the enriched liveliness and taste.
Here are some of the various benefits of consuming Ganoderma mushrooms (also known as Reishi):
- Reishi improves the immune system. Regularly consuming Reishi increases the activity of white blood cells and improves the functionality of lymphocytes.
- Reishi can reduce fatigue. Patients who take Reishi supplements experience a reduction in feelings of fatigue.
- Reishi may improve heart health. The mushroom can decrease triglycerides. Too many triglycerides in your blood increase your chances of developing heart disease.
- Ganoderma mushrooms have anti-cancer properties. The mushroom can cause the death of cancer cells, especially breast and prostate cancer.
- Reishi can help treat patients with liver failure. Continuous consumption of Reishi mushrooms can promote the regeneration of the liver and limit the extent of liver damage.
- The mushrooms can alleviate stress. Adaptogens are plants that can help combat stress, and Ganoderma mushrooms are one of these plants. Studies have shown that consumption of Ganoderma mushrooms reduces feelings of stress-induced irritability.
- Reishi may promote brain health. Reishi mushrooms can help protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease and seizures.
- They can decrease blood sugar. If you have type 2 diabetes, eating (or drinking, in this case) Reishi mushrooms can decrease blood sugar by inhibiting a glucose-producing enzyme. They can also prevent kidney problems in those with type 2 diabetes.
- They are rich in antioxidants. Overall, the antioxidant properties in Reishi mushrooms can reduce the risk of disease and signs of aging.
If you want to brew delicious beer with health benefits, I recommend giving mushroom brewing a try, particularly with Ganoderma mushrooms. That way, you get a delicious drink that you don’t feel guilty about drinking!
2. Raw Mushrooms Require Preparation
One option when working with mushrooms is to purchase the mushrooms in powdered and in a bag. In this case, you don’t need to do anything with them before adding them to your brew.
However, if you want to work with raw mushrooms, you’ll need to do a little prep work before adding them to your recipe. Here’s what you need to do:
- Don’t rinse the mushrooms with water because this could alter the chemistry of your brew.
- Use a vegetable brush to clean any dirt off of the mushrooms. I like this Maizsur Fruit and Vegetable Cleaning Brush from Amazon because the high-quality nylon bristles are durable and can reach every crevice of your mushroom to remove all the dirt.
- Chop up the mushrooms so they can fit in a steeping bag.
If you don’t want to take this extra step, you should use dried or powdered mushrooms instead of purchasing them fresh. Some recipes clearly state which type of mushroom will work best.
Another way to prepare fresh mushrooms for use in a brew is to freeze them in a vacuum-sealed bag. This method helps the flavor of the mushrooms come out more readily, and you can keep the mushrooms for longer without them growing mold or going bad.
I like these O2frepak Vacuum Sealer Bags from Amazon.com because they are compatible with all clamp-style vacuum sealer machines and are made with food-grade material, so it is safe to store raw and cooked foods in them.
This extra step isn’t too difficult and can be viewed as simply another step in a worthwhile hobby that you (hopefully) find enjoyment and fulfillment in. For more about brewing your own beer, you can read my article on whether the process is difficult.
3. Be Prepared To Spend a Little More
If you’re on a tight budget, now might not be the best time to start experimenting with mushrooms. Depending on the type of mushroom you want, they can be quite expensive.
Chanterelles, a common type of mushroom to use in brewing, can cost approximately $25 per pound ($55 per kilogram), and some rarer types of mushrooms can even cost hundreds of dollars per pound.
The following table outlines the cost of a pound of some common mushrooms, so you know what to expect before you buy:
|Type of Mushroom
|Average Cost of a Pound
Another option is to purchase powdered mushrooms. These tend to be more affordable and come in smaller packages, which is better if you’re just getting started and aren’t sure how many mushroom beers you’ll be making.
It is up to you to determine if the additional cost of the mushrooms is worth the experience of creating and tasting a unique brew.
For a more thorough discussion on the cost of homebrewing, check out my video on if brewing your own beer is worth it:
4. Saute the Mushrooms To Understand the Flavor
Some mushrooms’ flavor profiles will change when you add them to alcohol. Sometimes, the best way to deal with this issue is simply trial and error, and eventually, you’ll reach the point of having the best brew you can.
However, if you’re eager to get it right on the first or second try and don’t want to waste your ingredients, I recommend sauteeing some of the mushrooms and tasting them to determine what flavor they’ll give the beer.
Simply sautee the mushrooms in a pan without any fat, and the taste of them then is truer to what they’ll taste like in a beer than when raw.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble, take a look at this table for a general idea of what various mushrooms taste like:
|Type of Mushroom
|Peppery, lightly fruity
|Spicy, piney, earthy
|Earthy, meaty, umami
|Earthy, smokey, buttery
|Earthy, fruity, slightly sweet
There are many beer recipes online that include mushrooms that will give you an idea for a starting point. You can start with these recipes as a blueprint and tweak them according to your preferences and tastes. I have an article on what beer tastes like to give you some guidance.
The right mushroom can add a distinct and delicious taste to your beer. Some mushrooms can even help your brew taste less bitter if that’s the flavor profile you’re after. I have an article on why your home brew beer is so bitter; you can read it for more information.
5. Be Careful When Picking Your Own Mushrooms
In most cases, you’ll probably purchase your mushrooms from the store or online instead of foraging for your own. If, however, you live in an area where mushrooms grow in the wild and you want to pick your own, be very careful.
Approximately 3% of all wild, known mushroom varieties are poisonous. This percentage may seem small, but you may pick a mushroom that can cause discomfort, illness, or even death if you aren’t careful.
There are various tips and tricks to picking edible mushrooms, but not all of them are true in all cases. Therefore, my best suggestion is to avoid eating mushrooms you can’t identify with 100% certainty.
In most cases, drinking homemade beer isn’t dangerous. However, when adding outside ingredients, you take on additional risks. For more information on the potential dangers of homebrewing, check out my article on if homemade beer is dangerous.
6. You Can Add Fungi to the Brew in Various Ways
How you add the mushrooms to the brew depends on the type of mushrooms you use; fresh or powdered. If you’re using fresh mushrooms, clean them with a vegetable brush and cut them up.
To add powdered mushrooms to your homebrew, all you need to do is measure how much you want to add and pour it into the fermentation mixture while in the fermentation chamber.
If you don’t already have a fermentation chamber, or if you’re in the market for a new one, I have a list of the seven best fermentation chambers on the market.
Because this method is so easy, I recommend using powdered mushrooms for your first couple of ventures into the mushroom beer world. Additionally, powdered mushrooms are often more affordable and come in more reasonable sizes.
If you’re using raw, fresh mushrooms, chop them up, place them in a dry hop bag, and steep them in the fermentation mixture.
I like the TM Store Muslin Steeping Bag from Amazon.com because the muslin is durable, absorbent, and stretchy, so it can handle however many mushrooms you want to put in there. Additionally, the bags are reusable, which reduces your carbon footprint.
Adding mushrooms to beer is a creative way to make a distinct and original beer with a taste unlike any other. It may take a little more effort and money than other, more traditional recipes, but you may find it well worth it for the taste and potential health benefits.