Fungtn is the first adaptogenic alcohol-free beer brewed with functional mushrooms. No, they won’t get you high, no magic there. What they do is that they keep your mind and body in good form. Oh, and this beer is also vegan and gluten free. How cool is that?
Fungtn was launched by mindful drinking consultant Zoey Henderson in November 2020. We reached out to Zoey and asked her about beer and mushrooms... and beer with mushrooms. Read on to discover more about the fungtional beer!
How did you come up with the idea for Fungtn? What motivated and inspired you to create your brand?
There is a movement of mindful consumers wanting to reduce their alcohol and sugar consumption and they are looking back to nature for solutions to health and immunity.
After 15 years in the food and drink industry I saw it was the social ceremony around these pastimes that was the magic. I started a studying for a Diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition and I knew a product was the way forward. Combining social ceremony with positive benefits, we seemed hit the curve of the no and low alcohol boom at the right time. Beer and my favourite adaptogen; functional mushrooms became the perfect partnership for this. I want to get more adaptogenic fungi and plants into our everyday and help consumers make more mindful choices.
Why is beer and mushrooms an ideal pairing? What are the benefits of medicinal mushrooms in beer?
All of the mushrooms we use have natural adaptogenic benefits due to their high levels of beta glucans and other compounds that work in harmony with our bodies to help them perform at their best. Our optimum human condition is pretty amazing, almost super human you could say. However, our hectic toxic lifestyles are what diminishes our super powers and affect our immunity, hormones and aging. Adaptogens help re address this and restore balance.
We currently use Reishi, Lion’s Mane and Chaga, these are three of the most well known medicinal mushrooms.
Their complex molecules, notably their high levels of Beta Glucans have shown in studies to support the immune system, working synergistically to help synthesize compounds we already produce. An example of this is Nerve Growth Factor. Essential for cognitive and neuronal health, it is stimulated by the erinacines and hericenones found in the Lion’s Mane mushroom. Repeated studies in mice have shown positive antidepressant and hormone regulating effects (yes humans are different to mice but they are used as our brains work in similar ways, sorry mice).
Chaga is full of antioxidants such as triterpenes, polyphenols, and Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). The concentration of antioxidants, as well as the diverse types of antioxidants makes Chaga a great natural support in overall health.
Reishi, one of the most revered medicinal mushrooms was referred to as the mushroom immortality in ancient Eastern texts. It is a natural antihistamine and also naturally high in antioxidant compounds that fight free radicals which contribute to its anti-aging properties.
Concentrated extracts are highly soluble and bioavailable so they work perfectly in drinks. They have earthy, nutty, bitter profiles that pair perfectly in brewed drinks especially beer!
Medicinal mushrooms were widely used in ancient medicine. Why do you think they hold such an appeal now?
People are looking more to nature for natural sources of immunity support and to help aid physical and mental health. We live in a culture that is becoming tired of chemical dependence and want to take health and wellness into our own hands. The notable rise in self care and further research done on adaptogens, fungi and internal systems such as the cannabinoid system have brought credible ingredients back into our frame of reference.
The ancient wisdom held by our traditional medicine keepers was pushed aside as we made vital developments in modern medicine, however although we may have been able to stop people dying from small infections and made leaps and bounds in complicated surgery, we stopped listing to the fungi and plants that healed us for millennia. We can now take our developed knowledge and start to show why organisms like medicinal mushrooms were used and back up the claims that our elders always knew about.
What challenges have you faced in launching Fungtn during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Being from a hospitality back ground I had always seen brands launch in venues / events and festivals and had planned any launch I may do in the same way. This clearly was not meant to be! We launched last November straight to direct to consumer and then looking at independent retail as our next focus. Not being able to build those on trade relationships has certainly framed the launch in a different way but there are benefits in building a closer relationship with customers right from the start.
Tell us a little bit about the magic behind producing your beer. How is it brewed and at what stage you add the functional mushrooms?
We add our duel extract , full fruiting body mushrooms in at conditioning stage, the liquid is cooling and the beer remains in the tank for around 7 days. This lets the compounds break down and starches from the mushrooms give the beer body and depth. We put 500mg (post filtration level) of extract into every beer so if you are drinking a few beers you get a functional dose. Typical suggested supplementation dose between 1-3g RDA.
Which of your beers do you usually drink: Chaga Lager, Lion’s Mane IPA or Reishi Citra beer?
One of my favourite mushrooms is Lion’s Mane. This is a natural nootropic which means it helps support cognitive function and focus. Studies have shown the powerful effect of Lion’s Mane on our bodies ability to synthetise Nerve Growth Factor. This Neuropeptide helps protect and nourish our neurons, Lion’s Mane contains diverse phytochemicals, including polysaccharides, such as β-glucan, as well as compounds called erinacines and hericenones and these help our body to produce NGF.
Our Lion’s Mane IPA takes this amazing mushroom and blends its earthy, nutty taste with a classic IPA hop profile. Nootropics and cognitive function seem to be a key focus of current research and a consumer wellness driver. We love our IPA as a great way to get more Adaptogens into your life!
What's your favourite food to eat with beer?
I love the cooling and refreshing taste beer has with spicy food. It cools, whist complementing the flavour – anything too sweet can make the heat more intense and mask the delicate or aromatic spices. I love Indian heat and spices, our Reishi Citra goes extremely well with a good dhal!
If you could send a bottle of Fungtn to anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Beatrix Potter…stay with me. As well as being well known for writing beautiful children’s illustrated books such a Tales of Peter Rabbit and children’s classics, she also worked with Kew gardens and was a passionate mycologist. She catalogued and drew fungi under the microscope and the very first illustration in Britain of the fungus Tremella simplex was created by Beatrix Potter. It is also said that much in line with her female ‘ can do anything’ attitude she liked an occasional pint of beer!
She was also a feminist and was not letting the fact she was a woman get in the way of her work. I think she would love the fact that a female entrepreneur was making a beer with mushrooms!