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What could go better with a frosty brew than a big, steaming plate of mushrooms?

Nothing, I say.

Perhaps, however, it isn’t as crazy as it sounds. After all, what turns sticky barley juice into tasty beer? Yeast. And what are yeast? Yes, fungi, making yeast and mushrooms kissin’ cousins.

So it isn’t so all that weird that Mendocino County is hosting its 14th annual “Mushroom, Wine & Beer” festival from Nov. 1 through 10, celebrating the return of the shrooms with the advent of the rainy season. Organizers say this will be high season for porcinis, chanterelles and candy caps (that little guy up there in the photo is a Suillus Tomentosus, another fall species).

The festival will feature a variety of food and beverage-related events around the county, including mushroom hunting and eating-themed promotions by various hotels and inns and special menus by local chefs.

From our beer-centric perspective, the main event will be Nov. 2, when the beloved Skunk Train, recently restored to service after a life-threatening tunnel collapse earlier this year, will host a wine, beer, and food pairing ride, featuring 30 local restaurants, wineries and breweries. There will be a competition for best food and wine or beer pairing, judged by several local notables, including the Press Democrat’s own Michele Anna Jordan and beer author Jay Brooks. The ride runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets are $95 each. Proceeds will benefit the Mendocino County Museum.

The breweries involved, the museum says, are Anderson Valley Brewing , Mendocino Brewing , and Ukiah Brewing Company.

For tickets, visit the museum website here.

- Sean Scully

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