Canberra’s truffled beer

The black perigord truffle (tuber melanosporum) boosts the aromas and flavours of other foods, at least partly through absorption of its penetrating, seductive aroma in fat – dramatically so in the case of eggs and cheese. But would it work its magic, I wondered, in the truffle beer about to flow at the Wig & Pen?

A week later, after a couple of small-scale trials, brewer Richard Watkins pulled the first pints just hours after adding truffle slices to the Wig’s Modus Hoperandus – a metal reinforced glass percolator, built originally for fresh hops flowers, and now perched permanently on the bar.

After the hops season Richard created Spies’d Olde Ale, a 5.8 per cent alcohol, mild, malty brew to seep through a changing feast of fresh spices – including vanilla beans, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg and juniper – on the way to the taps.

As the spice influence waned, Richard added thick slices of fresh local truffle and detected its influence almost immediately – as a strong boost to the ale’s molasses and brown sugar flavours.

I hadn’t tried the ale beforehand, but the post-truffle brew impressed for its wine-like richness. And as it warmed in the glass there was a definite truffle note mingled with the hops aftertaste – perhaps extracted by the hop oils or alcohol, or both. Richard hopes to serve the beer for the duration of the local truffle season.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009