THE MID HUDSON MYCOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION is having boozy fun with fungus, and the club will offer a special beer-making workshop on May 2 using locally foraged mushrooms. You might call it a myco-brewing workshop.
“I just bottled my white birch Chaga Belgian amber—it’s very good. I’ve also brewed a Reishi Saison and a Chanterelle Ale. All three beers have been well received,” says club member and workshop leader Ray Sykes, who’s been brewing beer since 1992 and foraging for a decade. Sykes. Catering to experienced brewers and novices alike, the beer-and-mushroom workshop will include a brief overview of the brewing process, varieties of mushrooms best for brewing, and a hands-on beer-making component.
Why would anyone want to add mushrooms to beer? Mushrooms give a hint of earthiness and a savory quality known as umami (one of the five basic tastes). Each type of fungus imparts a distinct flavor profile that compliments different styles of beers, from lagers to stouts. Sykes describes chanterelles as being “mildly apricot” in flavor, which pairs nicely with a malty lager; the chaga mushroom (found on birch trees), on the other hand, offers bitter, earthy qualities similar to Angostura bitters. In addition to flavor, adding foraged ingredients to beer imparts a distinct terroir and connection to the local landscape.
For more details about the mushroom/brewing workshop, visit the Mid Hudson Mycological Association at www.midhudsonmyco.org.