Ideas for beer sometimes kick around in the back of my mind for months, even years. This one dates back to at least 2010 – a co-worker, whom we called Sushi, brewed a pale ale with chaga (a fungus with alleged tonic properties, usually used for a sort of herbal tea…) – the mild earthy taste and fragrance the chaga added to the beer was pleasant, and I wondered what a more rich mushroom flavor might add. I sort of forgot my intended experiment until recently when I began to receive a catalog from a French food importer, Joie De Vivre. Among the delicacies available were real French chanterelles and cèpes (porcini mushrooms) and a dried woodland mushroom blend. Flash back to the chaga pale ale, and I knew what I had to do.
As I began to plan the brew, I looked online to see what others might have done with mushrooms – and came across, naturally some thoughts from the ever-creative and experimental Denny Conn – and my beer was off and running! I decided to play with words, as I often do, and combined the idea of mushroom beer with mushroom sauce – Sauce Chasseur, it would be called in French cuisine – and ended up with an echo from the late beer writer Michael Jackson – in the French press he is known as “le Chasseur de Bière” – the Beer Hunter… Serendipity. This is a bière de garde style beer, normally an earthy, rich style anyway, the umami factor from the mushrooms enhances that side of the beer.
Bière de Chasseur,
3 gallons, all-grain
Dedicated to Michael Jackson, le Chasseur de Bière
- 5-1/2 lbs. Chateau Belgian Pilsner malt
- 1-3/4 lbs. Weyermanns Munich type 1
- 1/3 lb. toasted Belgian Pilsner malt*
- 1/3 lb. Belgian biscuit malt
- 1/8 lb. 20°L crystal malt
- 1/2 oz. roasted barley
- 1 oz. Galena hop pellets (16.0% aa)
- 3 oz. mixed dried woodland mushrooms**
- White Labs French Ale yeast (WLP072)
- 1/3 cup corn sugar for priming
Crush grains. Mash 60 minutes in 18 quarts water at 148°F. No sparge required, runoff all liquid. Bring to boiling, boil 15 minutes. Add 3/4 oz. Galena pellets. Boil 45 minutes. Add 1/4 oz. Galena and 1.5 oz. ground mushroom blend. Chill to 75°, pitch yeast. Ferment at 65°F for ten days. Rack to secondary and add 1 oz. mushroom blend (in pieces, not ground). Condition cooler (50°F) for three weeks. Prime with corn sugar and add at bottling 1/2 cup tea made from steeping 1/2 oz. mushroom blend at 175°F for 30 minutes. Bottle condition three weeks – will probably be at its best after six to eight weeks.
*Toast the malt at home, on a cookie sheet, for 15 minutes at 375°F. Cool before crushing.
**My blend consisted of 1.4 oz cèpes (porcini), 1.4 oz. dried forest mushrooms (JdV’s blend of cèpes, bolets, oysters and black trumpet), and 1/4 oz. of my own dried morels, handpicked and processed last spring. I ground the first mushroom addition in mortar and pestle to increase the intensity of the flavor. The other additions remain unground as they will be steeped/soaked longer.