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WHAT'S NEW: Cupcakes Made With Beer

PubCakes are made with beer.
Photo by PubCakes

Beer is food is a popular war cry among craft brew enthusiasts, and a local baked goods upstart is looking to expand on that. Founded earlier this year by self-proclaimed “Beer Girl” Misty Birchall, PubCakes is looking to simultaneously satisfy San Diego’s sweet-tooth and thirst for superior suds, with a line of cupcakesusing beer as the primary flavoring agent.

Birchall is a San Diego native who served six years abroad in the U.S. Navy before returning to discover the brewers in her hometown “make some damn good beer.” She funneled her awe over craft beer’s broad spectrum of flavor complexities straight into the stainless steel bowl of her KitchenAid mixer.

The result is a variety of artisanal cupcakes that includes:

-- Stoned Portzilla, a cake made with Stone Smoked Porter and topped with coffee-infused chocolate ganache and caramelized coconut flakes;

-- Top Ten Cake made with Karl Strauss’s hoppy Top Ten IPA, cherries, ancho chilies and cayenne-spiked caramel;

--Beer For Breakfast, which is fortified with AleSmith’s high alcohol toasty caramel Wee Heavy Scottish Ale, adorned with maple cream cheese frosting and garnished with crispy flecks of bacon.

These certainly aren’t your grandma’s cupcakes. Both the venture and its consumables are anything but ordinary, and it all started when Birchall was working as an accountant, and thanks to her deft kitchen skills, was charged with the honorable task of baking birthday cakes for her coworkers.

“One day, it was my office friend’s birthday and he was a big fan of beer," she says. "I came across a chocolate stout [cake] recipe and thought it would be fun to turn it into an Irish Carbomb cake. I had some extra batter and made cupcakes out of it and gave them to friends at Toronado [beer bar in North Park]. That’s when an idea sparked. Can you use other beer…good beer…to make cupcakes? I started experimenting and bringing the test cupcakes to Toronado.”

The thought of selling her experimental creations never crossed her mind until it was suggested to her at Toronado, which soon became one of her initial accounts. Currently, PubCakes are available at Toronado, The Tipsy Crow in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter and Del Cerro’s KnB Wine Cellars (the latter of which also carries Birchall’s super-sized “Gigantor” cakes) where they’ve been well received, even by those who are pretty skeptical about something that, until first bite, seems quite outlandish.

“I have met multiple people who have [insisted] that they do not like beer and, yet, I have always been able to find one that they are shocked to enjoy,” says Birchall. “I wouldn’t try to sell something that I didn’t love. I want everyone to enjoy them as much as I do. I’m proud of every recipe I create and hope that they bring a smile to all who taste them.”

So far, so good, and that’s not surprising considering the variety of PubCakes line. Birchall also sells Cup O’ Hefen, which incorporates Ballast Point’s Wahoo Wheat (a beer brewed with coriander seeds and orange zest), coriander and a citrus buttercream. There’s even a vegan offering called Punkin’ Vegan that gets its flavor from North Coast’s high-end Old Stock Ale and mashed pumpkin and is finished with a maple-based topping. With so many different to styles to choose from, dessert lovers may have to resort to the beer lover’s technique and pick up a six-pack.

PubCakes are baked to order and can be purchased by the dozen online or by phone (858-952-8523).