San Diego, CA has managed to become the craft beer capital of the country. Supposedly there are more local breweries here than any other county, including past champion Portland, OR. With places like Karl Strauss, Stone, Green Flash, Ballast Point, Pizza Port, and many more breweries, it was only a matter of time before someone smart and entrepreneurial created something like PubCakes. PubCakes are cupcakes created with craft beer. Beer in cupcakes. As if that is not mouth-watering enough, each cupcake is iced, filled, and/or topped with ingredients to match the beer flavor.
Not long ago, Misty Birchall, the creator of these delights, did a Kickstarter campaign, so she could start selling craft beer cake mixes, so people like me could actually try making such cakes. Despite my non-existent baking skills, I thought this was a great idea. Even better was the option to be taught by the master herself about how to create such tasty treats. This past Saturday, I got to attend my first cooking class.
The group of students were divided into two teams. Misty brought all the custom ingredients for us to craft our cupcakes. Mango, lemon, lime, orange, chili, cayenne, honey, vanilla extract, bacon, sea salt, Jameson’s, jalapeno sauce, chocolate, strawberries, pecans, almonds, coconut, peanut butter, and more were available for our noses to match with the specific beers. I was on Team Spicy, which ended up using the chili and cayenne. Team Brought The Beer did just that and was willing to share.
I was definitely beyond my baking knowledge in this class. Most of the others already had good skills, following Misty’s detailed explanations easily. One woman had an apron that read “Baking is Science for Hungry People”, which she got from the online comic Questionable Content. Not that our skills mattered much. We made the decisions and Misty ended up doing most of the work. I did learn how to use an apple corer to create a space for cupcake filling. And to hold the icing bag like a boob. And how to melt chocolate correctly in a microwave. And to use a scale for measuring ingredients. And that I need to hang out with my foodie friends more often.
In the end, each team crafted three cupcakes each. I wish I could remember the three beers used. But it was 9 AM on a Saturday and I had three (half) beers and three (half) cupcakes before lunch. What was unforgettable was how good they all were. Some were more successful than others. Besides leaving with more than six cupcakes and a bag of craft beer cake mix, the experience was a fun time. It was a mixed group of people (about half men and half women) that ended up having fun making and tasting and joking and learning together. My hope is that Misty gets to do these classes more often. We were the guinea pigs. Many more would enjoy just how crafty she can be with beer and cake.