Last year, Atlanta’s Frozen Pints hit the market with craft beer ice cream. Now, Roswell’s Happy Hour Confections is infusing sweet and savory baked goods with craft beer.
During a recent conversation at Five Seasons North in Alpharetta, owner Holly Pezzano sipped a pint of Dark Star stout and explained how she made the move from home baker to entrepreneur.
“Actually, my husband started all this as a kind of challenge,” Pezzano said. “He made a chili recipe with beer and was so thrilled with the result he said, ‘What else can we try?’ So we started marinating and cooking all sorts of things with beer. Then I tried baking with beer.”
As Pezzano got more serious, she began dreaming up more recipes and testing them over several months, often taking samples by her favorite beer shop, Ale Yeah! in Roswell, for feedback.
“At one point, she would come up here at least twice a week,” said Ale Yeah! owner Eddie Holley. “We said, ‘Why don’t you just go ahead and turn this into a business?’ And that was the genesis. We’re sort of joined now.”
Pezzano favorite beer styles are dark and barrel-aged ales and she’s particularly fond of Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout. But she uses a wide variety of styles in her baking.
“I usually start with the beer itself and try to develop a product around the characteristics and flavors,” she said. “There are other bakeries that put beer in cupcakes. What I want to do is offer more variety.”
Most popular so far is Salted Triple Porter, a vanilla porter cupcake filled with porter caramel and topped with chocolate porter frosting and sea salt. Also popular: a lemon cupcake made with German wheat beer and a dark chocolate brownie made with smoked porter and topped with chocolate ganache and sea salt.
Pezzano’s other offerings include honey walnut pale ale muffins, hard cider glazed doughnut holes, red ale pretzels and English muffins made with English ale. For Valentine’s Day, she’s making beer truffles with porter and chocolate ganache.
Right now, Happy Hour products can be ordered online at happyhourconfections.com and are available at Ale Yeah! in Decatur and Roswell.
Pezzano said she hopes to expand her business to other retail stores, restaurants and catering companies, as well as work on developing products with local breweries. And Happy Hour will be at several upcoming festivals, including Beer, Bourbon and BBQ on March 2 at Atlantic Station.
“That will give me a good opportunity to be in front of a lot of people and see how they react,” Pezzano said. “But it’s already gotten a lot bigger a lot faster than I expected.”
On Feb. 15, Pezzano will be be joining Holley for a winter beer tasting at Roswell’s historic Barrington Hall, where she’ll be providing the pairing treats.
“We’ll have five different beers and she’s going to be using each beer to create a different dessert,” Holley said. “It’s just another step in the natural evolution of beer. Beer is just so versatile and I think that’s what she’s discovered.”
Winter Beer Tasting at Barrington Hall, 7-9 p.m. Friday [Feb. 15]. $20, includes pint glass and five beer samples with five pairings from Happy Hour Confections. 535 Barrington Drive, Roswell, 770-640-3855, barringtonhall-roswell.com.
— Bob Townsend, AJC Drink Blog