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Take your senses on a trip with this mushroom beer from Beacon Brewing Co.
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Beacon Brewing Co.'s Advice from a Caterpillar. - photo by Kelsey Podo

If you took a sip of Advice from a Caterpillar, and I told you it was brewed with mushrooms, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Not at first, anyway. 

Liv Lawnick, brewmaster at Beacon Brewing Co., incorporated chanterelle mushrooms into her ale, post-fermentation. 

Advice from a Caterpillar 

Brewery: Beacon Brewing Co. 

Alcohol by volume: 7.8%

Style: Umami ale

Bottom line: Curiously scrumptious 

She put a bunch of raw chanterelles into a paint strainer bag, and dunked them in the beer.

The result — an apricot-tasting brew with an umami mouthfeel. 

For those unfamiliar with umami, I like to describe it as the savory flavor you get from broth, tomatoes, asparagus, cooked meats and mushrooms. 

Lawnick said she was inspired to make this beer after chatting with the brewery’s head chef, Corey Wyble, who owns a mushroom foraging company. He told her about how chanterelles have a characteristic apricot aroma. 

“This was one thing that sparked my curiosity,” Lawnick said. “The different flavors from mushrooms.”

Instead of the meat-like flavor of other types of mushrooms, I noticed a strong note of sweet apricots, hint of apples and a little earthiness and umami on the back-end. 

“I don’t tell people until after they try it,” Lawnick said. “I like that element of surprise. I don’t know how many people know that I used chanterelles.”

If you’ve read my column before, you might remember me raving about YOHO Brewing Co.’s Umami IPA, which is brewed with fish flakes. 

Advice from a Caterpillar is an entirely different sort of umami experience. It’s malty, easy-drinking and smells similar to an Oktoberfest Märzen-style beer. 

Although I’m a devoted fan of YOHO’s fishy beer, Beacon Brewing’s umami ale proves more approachable. You truly wouldn’t know that it was brewed with mushrooms unless you read to can or someone told you. 

Let’s take a moment to admire this beer’s can design. 

Whimsical colors, fonts and images cover the can, conveying the same fantastical tone of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

Incorporating one of her watercolor paintings, Sara Monty, illustrated the scene in the book when Alice meets the caterpillar sitting atop a mushroom.

The image is in the shape of a keyhole, offering a peak into Alice’s world. 

This is a prime example of how far craft beer can stretch its creative roots, becoming an artform in both beer and can design. Craft beer doesn’t have to be confined to a set style or rigid guidelines, it can be whatever the heck it wants. 

If you’re wanting to undergo a fun sensory experience, pick up a pack of Beacon Brewing’s Advice from a Caterpillar

The brewery is located at 700 Lincoln St. in LaGrange. For more information about Beacon Brewing, visit beaconbeer.com.

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