Mushroom Beer Cans  

by Michael Kuo, 23 March 2023

Melissa and I collect not only mushrooms, but also beer cans—and there are rare occasions when our hobbies intersect! This page features some examples, from the past and the present. When I was a tween, in the 1970s, my parents got so flustered by my screaming "Stop!" whenever we passed a desperately-wanted beer can in a ditch somewhere that they made a rule: I had to say "Beer can! Stop!" so they would know we weren't about to be hit by a huge truck or something. Later in life, when I became a mushroom collector, I faced a similar problem: spotting potential mushroom collections from the moving car and trying not to slam on the brakes and cause an accident. If you're thinking the moral of the story is that Michael's hobbies are dangerous, I think you're missing the point, lol.

Candy Cap Stout


Candy Cap Stout, from Public Coast Brewing Co.

Here's a can from Oregon, featuring Stackstock Candy Cap Stout, from Public Coast Brewing Co. "Candy cap" is the common name for Lactarius rubidus, a West-Coast milky cap with a strong odor that is reminiscent of maple syrup or slightly burned sugar.

I can't drink beer, but Melissa says this dark, thick stout is delicious.

Candy Cap Stout

In 2013 I coauthored a paper with Andy Methven and others in which the name Lactarius rubidus was made official; Andy described the species and used several of my collections, along with his collections and the holotype collection (made in 1970 by mycology giant Alexander Smith in Polk County, Oregon—not very far from Public Coast Brewing) to support the species.

Houby Festival beer can

My buddy Joe McFarland, author of Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois (check out Joe's website,, is also a beer can collector. His collection includes this 1976 commemorative beer can from the Houby Festival in Berwyn and Cicero, Illinois, an annual harvest-time celebration of Czech and Slovak heritage in the community.

The Houby Festival beer can was made in the style of "cone top" beer cans—early beer cans with conical tops produced in the 1930s and 1940s. "Houby" is a version of the word for "mushroom" (huba in Slovak, houba in Czech), and the can features three Old-World mushrooms: Amanita caesarea, Morchella esculenta, and Boletus scaber.

In North America there are many versions of these mushrooms. Amanita caesarea is represented by several species: Amanita jacksonii, Amanita arkansana, and Amanita species 04 are among them. Morchella esculenta in North America is also represented by several species: Morchella esculentoides, Morchella cryptica, and Morchella prava are three that I named in a 2012 paper. As for "Boletus scaber" . . . that name is a very old name for a "mushroom" that is now a large genus, Leccinum. There are something like 20 species of Leccinum currently recognized in the Old World, and we are still figuring out the North American species. I published a broad-strokes view of the genus on our continent in 2020, and my collaborator Beatriz and I are still working on the many species.


Houby Fest


Houby Fest

Kuo, Michael (March, 2023). Mushroom Beer Cans. Retrieved from the website:

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