They’re at it again.
Bethel Bakery and Spoonwood Brewing Co. have teamed up for a second time to turn one of the bake shop’s favorite fall cookies into a beer you can cheer with.
The Pumpkin Drop Porter, a dark ale mixed with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, also features 50 pounds of the bakery’s pumpkin spice cookies that were mixed into the kettle before fermentation. The beer debuted at the brewery on Oct. 4.
“Early in the brew, we added pumpkin puree, just to make it legitimate. When it comes to beer, really, it’s all about the spices that you put into it that give it that pumpkin spice flavor, but we do like to brew with the actual pumpkin as well,” said Steve Ilnicki, brewer and part-owner of Spoonwood, of the idea of adding cake or cookies to beer.
But the addition of the cookies, he notes, is what makes this different.
“People put all kinds of crazy things into brews these days, like breakfast cereal and marshmallow fluff and anything you can think of. So it’s not totally innovative or unheard of, but it’s kind of silly,” he said.
The idea for the collaboration came from Bethel Bakery pastry chef Kayla Milliron, who herself enjoys visiting breweries with her family. This year, the owner of Bethel Bakery wants to focus his efforts on the South Hills, she said.
With the bakery and brewery being located within Bethel Park, the collaboration between the two made sense, Milliron said.
“We were definitely honored that they came to us and said that they had an interest in doing it,” Ilnicki said. “We are the new kids on the block in terms of Bethel Park businesses. They have a well-established thing going.”
The two teamed up in May for their first release: the Retort Chocolate Raspberry Cake Stout, which combined Spoonwood’s traditional stout with Bethel Bakery’s chocolate cake.
The brew sold fast, Milliron said.
People commented: “I love when local places do this. I think it’s great when they work together,” she said.
And she agrees. “I just think it’s really great for the South Hills to be doing this. You don’t really see that around here much.”
The two have branded their collaboration: “Have your cake and drink it too!”
After the success of the first collaboration, the two knew they had to work together again.
Milliron’s favorite fall dessert at Bethel Bakery is the pumpkin drop cookie, and she understands the want people have for pumpkin beer.
Spoonwood’s traditional pumpkin spice amber ale, Cinnamon Ghoul, has been on tap at the brewery for about three weeks and is about to sell out.
That made this the perfect time to add a second pumpkin beer, which has coffee and caramel flavors mixed with pumpkin spice. This batch was around 29 kegs.
It will be sold in 5-ounce sample gasses and pints at the brewery. A few of the 32-ounce collaboration sample growlers are available for purchase, along with 64-ounce growlers.
Bethel Bakery will carry the pumpkin drop cookies through Thanksgiving. However, Spoonwood also will have them on hand for the opening weekend of the new brew.
“It all kind of comes together to make it a dessert kind of thing with all the spices and the malt,” Ilnicki said.