Being a Denver local and finding that the brews being put out by Great Divide Brewing Co are some of the most assertive and balanced around, finding perfect matches between some of their best works and cupcakes was the opposite of hard or tedious. Plus there is the added joy of introducing coworkers and friends to amazing local beer while sating their need for sweet treats.
My tribute to Scotland, in cupcake form. The ingredients used aren’t particularly Scottish per se, but I did the best I could. Featuring a gingerbread base, to represent the earthy and rustic qualities of its people; nuts to call to mind the rugged mountain-ish terrain; raisins to symbolize the sweet and juicy tradition of world renowned Scottish higher education. And obviously, Great Divide’s Claymore Scotch Ale. The sweetness and subtle chocolate tones of the Scotch Ale really cut the ginger and allspice twang from the cake, while adding to the earthiness. Now, I cannot imagine gingerbread without Scotch Ale used in the batter. And the sweetness in the raisins really elevates the beery tones, without clouding out the spice in the gingerbread.
You know what most Belgian ales are known for? Spiciness and fruitiness. And Great Divide Hades Belgian Ale has these in spades. So I decided to put some in a cinnamon swirl cupcake, to play off the earthy/sweet notes of cinnamon and add a nice floral yeastiness to the cake. Lacking any other creative idea for an appropriate icing, I went for some apple pie filling. Totally not normal for a cupcake, but the cinnamon and candy-sweet apple glaze really popped out the fruity tones in the beer-infused cake, while adding a sweet balance to the earthy cinnamon notes within.
Hell Raisin Sumbitch
The perfect title considering one of the main ingredients (raisins) and the beer used, Great Divide Old Ruffian Barleywine. Using raisins in a barleywine based beer batter just makes perfect sense considering the flavor profile of the style, but soaking the raisins in the beer for an hour? Smart. Besides soaking in some of the barley-rific bitterness, it accentuates some dark fruit tones and earthiness, which was also slightly apparent in the batter, but subdued by some sweetness. Some of that citrus and earthiness was apparent in my icing, too, which was just plain store-bought cream chess icing and a splash of beer. Almonds? Purely aesthetic.
Waited a while before doing a chocolate cupcake, because I knew these would be complicated. Using Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout in the batter, the icing, and for my first time, the filling, this cupcake featured a lot of chocolate and some mild oak tones, mainly in the filling. I think the filling was better than the cake itself. And some of that roasted barley heaviness that Yetis have really popped out the chocolate in the cake, but since it was the seasonal chocolate version, I can’t tell if it was the beer or chocolate. But I wouldn’t change a single thing. I should try the same recipe with normal Yeti. But in the meantime, this cupcake rocks my socks and remains my favorite.
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