Beer Cupcakes: The Perfect Valentine's Day Gift

Food Features Beer Cupcakes
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Beer Cupcakes: The Perfect Valentine's Day Gift

Every Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what to do for my husband Nick. This year, I decided to appeal to his taste buds. He’s not much of a chocolate person, but he does like a good dessert with fruits, and he loves beer. One of his favorite local breweries is Deschutes, in Bend, Oregon. I came across this recipe on their site, and knew it had a good chance of being his new favorite dessert.

The recipe uses Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, which is described as “having a juicy citrus and grapefruit profile.” You can use either lemon or oranges (or both!) for the fresh juice and zest. I chose to use lemons because the tanginess combined with the hoppy beer appealed to me. I just needed one bottle of beer to make the recipe, and that allowed me a few swallows for fortification as well.

deschutes fresh squeezed ipa.png Photo by Sarah Weaver

I want to warn you at this point to read the whole recipe before you begin. Don’t be like me! I set my butter out to soften, and two hours later, apron donned, hair pinned up, and Joni Mitchell blasting, I began—only to come to a quick stop when I saw that my eggs also needed to be room temperature. So! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I really wanted this recipe to come out well, so I set my eggs out and waited longer. For a less important recipe I would have just used my cold-ass eggs. I even bought a flour sifter for these cupcakes, even though I’ve blithely ignored that instruction in every recipe for baked goods since 1999 (when I began cooking). I still don’t understand the purpose of the sifter, but my flour, salt, and baking soda looked silky smooth after sifting it, which pleased me. I have a thing for smooth textures.

The mixing up of everything went pretty smoothly. But when I tasted my batter (don’t mention salmonella, I don’t have time for your negativity), I kind of cringed because it was SO beer-y. But I soldiered on, figuring it would calm down in baking, or that the frosting would tame the extreme beeriness. I trekked down to the basement where Nick was playing videogames, and stuck a spoon with batter on it in his face without saying anything about it. He obediently tried it, and his eyes widened and he almost died in his game because it distracted him so much with its yumminess.


You see the amount of batter here? Plus, I topped it off a bit more after taking this picture. Don’t be like me. Bigger is not better when it comes to unbaked cupcakes. My first cupcakes came out looking like alien cleavage. They were really hard to get out, too. Thankfully, I hadn’t filled my other pan yet so I could remedy that in the next batch.

This juice and zest is for the frosting. This frosting is THE BOMB, y’all. My 14-year-old daughter, who’d hated the beer-y batter, begged me to let her eat some with a spoon. I said no, because I am mean. It was really because I didn’t have extra to spare. But I am a little mean.

brush them cupcakes.png Photo by Sarah Weaver

After a toothpick comes out clean, poke the cupcakes with a fork and brush on more beer while they’re still warm. I was hesitant to make them even more beer-y, so I broke a piece off one to try it first. It was soooooo delicious! It had a yummy and light flavor of hops now. So, I wasn’t hesitant to brush more beer onto the tops.

Here’s another warning for you, though: just brush on a little. I kind of started thinking I was Picasso or something and made some of them too soggy. Then they fell apart, all crumbly, when I tried to frost them after cooling. So I had to eat them. It was an Unfortunate Event (for my pants size, not my mouth). I also gave a crumbly one to my daughter who’d hated the batter, and she said, “Delicious, 10 out of 10, I don’t care how much beer is in this, I can eat it all day!” which was very disturbing to hear, and I did not let her have a second one, although she called me mean (I already knew that).

I was happy with the finished product. I carried one down to Nick, who had moved on to watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Reader, he devoured it. Then he devoured a second one. His official review: “Moist and yum! They have a hoppy taste but not an overwhelming beer flavor.”

I got 18 cupcakes from the recipe, and should’ve gotten 20, but I overfilled some. The recipe says it serves 4-6, but that might be too much sugar, even for V-Day.

deschutes cupcakes.png Photo by Sarah Weaver

Citrus Beer Cupcakes

(recipe from Deschutes Brewery)
Serves 4-6

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temp
1 cup (plus more for brushing cupcakes and for drinking, of course) Fresh Squeezed IPA
1/2 tsp orange or lemon zest
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Citrus Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp orange or lemon zest
1½ tsp vanilla extract
4-6 Tbs orange or lemon juice


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two muffin pans or line with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Mix in vanilla and zest of your choosing.

In a medium size bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. In a small bowl, whisk 1 cup Fresh Squeezed with the milk.

Combine the flour mixture and beer mixture alternatively with the butter, on low speed, beginning and ending with the flour.

Bake cupcakes for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

While cupcakes are still warm, use a fork to poke holes in each cupcake and brush Fresh Squeezed over the top. Let cakes cool completely before frosting.


In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add sugar, zest and vanilla. Add citrus juice, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.