Firefly Hollow Choconaut Porter brownies, Brewport Seventh Inning SIPA BBQ-glazed potato chips, Thimble Island Ruby blondies. If you didn’t pick up on it, there’s a theme here, Connecticut local beer and baked goods. That’s cool, but The Drunk Alpaca is much more than just booze baked cakes and chips.
The Drunk Alpaca was created by friends Stephania Halverson and Jessica Oen, who met when they worked together at Whole Foods in Darien, where Halverson was the bakery manager, and Oen was a kitchen supervisor and head cake decorator. The duo clicked during their time at the grocery store and wanted to do their own thing. Baking was the obvious, logical business to get into.
So, what’s a drunk alpaca anyway? “We were out having margaritas one night and we talked about our backgrounds and what we grew up with. Jessica grew up on an alpaca farm so we jokingly called it The Drunk Alpaca,” Halverson said. “We thought it was this funny, quirky name, then we started working with beer and it made sense.”
When the business started in August 2016, they baked out of a commercial kitchen, and didn’t really start using beer in their baking methods right away. “The only thing we made with beer to start was our original brownie, made with Guinness,” Oen said. “So, we figured, why not make it with local beer?”
Being fans of craft beer, and the local beer scene, it made perfect sense to combine brews and baking, so Halverson and Oen started to experiment and develop recipes. They pair appropriate brews with what they bake, so you’ll see coffee and chocolate notes from a stout or porter used in brownies, potato chips or mixed nuts glazed with a hoppy pale ale or IPA reduction (made with beer, honey, and butter, then re-baked and seasoned with their own spice blends), and blondies made with lighter varieties of beer like a fruity witbier or fragrant blonde ale. And if you’re wondering, beer does lend itself to, and does effect baking. “Carbonation leavens (the baked goods), gives it a good texture, “said Halverson. “Beer gets baked into our batter as is. More carbonated beers make a cakier product, less carbonation makes it fudgier and richer.”
They had the name, they had the baking with beer idea, and they were present at local farmers markets and fairs, and were sold at Veracious Brewing Company and Brewport, whose beer they used in the making or baking of certain items.
Their original plan was to raise funds via Kickstarter for a VW bus to drive to festivals, breweries, and farmers markets to sling their goods out of. Although that’s still a goal, and despite raising almost $8,000 through Kickstarter, a brick-and-mortar storefront in Shelton became available, and it made sense. They ditched the commercial kitchen for one of their own, and a retail shop that opened on July 1.
At their shop, The Drunk Alpaca sells a variety of goods, including all the aforementioned stuff, but they make non-beery confections too, like whoopie pies, whole cakes, cupcakes, pies, sweet and savory loaf cakes, and cookies (seriously, try the peanut butter cup cookie). They’ve also expanded the reach of their products to more Connecticut breweries like NEBCO, Half Full, Fairfield Craft Ales, Two Roads, Bad Sons, Hog River, and you can still nosh on their snacks at Veracious and Brewport.
If you can’t make it to their Howe Avenue shop, rest assured that they will likely be at a Connecticut event or beer festival near you, and you can stay in the loop by following them on Facebook and Instagram.
The Drunk Alpaca
350 Howe Avenue, Shelton
(203) 922-0552; http://www.thedrunkalpaca.com/