What Do You Do with Extra Truffles? Make Beer, of Course
What to do if you’re a chef faced with a surplus of black truffles and an insanely pricey bottle of booze? Turn them into beer. That was the mindset of chef Jason Bond, who has created one of the most expensive and extravagant ales likely ever made. And if you find yourself hanging around either of his Bondir locations (Cambridge and Concord), he might just give you a taste.
The story goes something like this: when local food blogger Drew Starr panned Bond’s idea to make a truffle-infused beer via Twitter, the chef decided to take on the challenge. “It was a great truffle year, so I figured why not give it a go?” Bond says. He began by making a truffle extract from a half-pound of fresh black truffles (worth roughly $400) and 16-ounces of Domaine de Jouanda vintage Grand Bas Armagnac from 1919, a rare bottle Bond purchased at auction ($65 for a two-ounce pour at Bondir). He then added the lavish elixir to a batch of porter home-brewed by Starr’s brother-in-law, Mike Schilling, a graduate of the prestigious Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, the oldest brewing school in America.
“We batted around all kinds of different styles, like a Belgian sour, but decided to go with something darker,” says Bond. “We cooked fresh truffles in the vintage 1919 Armagnac because the alcohol holds the flavor better. We then added that extract to the beer just before bottling so we would lose as little of the aroma as possible. Afterward we bottle-conditioned it, so you have mid-notes of earth and truffle to go along with the coffee flavor present in the porter. I think it turned it out really good.”
The entire production (a five gallon batch) only yielded 24 22-ounce bombers and 16 regular 12-ounce bottles, from which Bond is slowly sampling out to special customers. “It would be difficult to sell because it was extremely expensive to produce. If the goal was to make something we could sell, we failed,” Bond says. ” The artist who painted our murals came in the other night, so we surprised her with a bottle to go with her dinner. And we had a couple who came into our Cambridge location from San Francisco, they were just nice people, so we cracked a bottle for them. We’re just going to do that sort of thing, where we taste it out with people who are enthusiastic about their meal or if we have some special events or menus we can pair it with.”
If you miss out on this scarce offering, Bond will be testing his brewing chops with other unique recipes later this summer. Using the garden behind Bondir Concord, Bond intends on experimenting with the wide array of fresh herbs and produce to create saisons, sours, and other Belgian-style beers.
As it turns out, Bond isn’t alone in town when it comes to making truffle-infused booze. Sam Treadway—he of the olive oil and chicken fat cocktails—is also at it, infusing black truffles and mushrooms into Patron XO Cafe for the “Treadway in Truffle,” which combines the ultra-sweet infused liqueur with reposado tequila and mezcal.
“My head bartender Melinda Maddox wanted to create a drink-of-the-day with a coffee liqueur,” says Treadway. “I offered to help, but she said that I ‘always take over recipes,’ so I backed off. She was was unhappy with what she’d come up with, and service was set to begin, so I suggested a mushroom cordial I’d made before. Once I combined the two, it was still missing something though, so I decided to use a sepatori funnel to create a rapid truffle oil infusion in the mushroom coffee liqueur. Melina begrudgingly admitted that it was a tasty drink, so when it was time to name the cocktail, we ended with ‘Treadway in Truffle,’ which obviously sounds ominously close to ‘Treadway in trouble.'”
So there you have it when it comes to truffle-infused booze. Still not enough? Treadway was kind enough to offer up his “Treadway in Truffle” recipe, should you find yourself a bottle of truffle-infused Patron XO Cafe anytime soon.
Treadway in Truffle
1.25 oz El Tesoro reposado tequila
1.25 oz mushroom and black truffle infused Patron XO
0.5 oz El Buho mezcal
stir / served up / garnished with an orange twist