By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Aug 13, 2012 at 8:59 AM

People are pairing beer with just about everything these days, so why not cupcakes?

That's the question Angela Figueroa asked herself last fall when the concept for Brew Cakes, a beer-flavored cupcake shop, started brewing (pun intended) in her head.

A Milwaukee native, Figueroa completed her bachelor's degree in graphic design at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. But, after three years of waiting tables and being unable to find work in her field, she decided to think outside the box.

"I've always been a lover of desserts and have a severe sweet tooth," Figueroa confesses. "As a teenager I was always making and decorating cakes for family members' birthdays. I've made cakes shaped as monkeys, alligators, castles, flowers and more. It was something I enjoyed doing and found relaxing."

But, inspiration hit her hard one day while making cupcakes for a friend's birthday.

"I knew she liked Guinness, so I looked up a recipe for Guinness cupcakes. Then I thought vanilla vodka frosting sounded like a good idea and made some to top it off."

The cupcakes were a hit, and resulted in the suggestion that she start her own bakery. Figueroa blew off the idea for months. But, then she took a trip to New York City, where she visited a variety of cupcake hotspots, including the Magnolia Bakery, Baked by Melissa and Sprinkles. Returning home with a head filled with sweet inspiration, she got started on her own cupcake shop concept.

"I just kept thinking about what beers and other liquors would make great cupcake flavors," she admits, and chuckles. "Maybe it's being from Milwaukee ... we're wired to think about beer all the time."

She put her graphic design experience to work and started designing a logo. By and by, as she made it known what she was planning to do, family and friends began ordering cupcakes from Figueroa for parties and events.

"I knew I needed to start getting it out there more, so I looked up festivals and other places I could showcase my cupcakes," Figueroa recalls. "That's how I found the Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival. I emailed and asked if they had any room for me and they were excited to get me on board."

Figueroa made 1,000 cupcakes, her largest batch so far, for eager beer lovers at the festival, which she hopes will be just the launch she needs to push her business forward.

Brew Cakes currently offers cupcakes in eight flavors, including amber red velvet, chocolate stout (with or without RumChata frosting), lemon shandy, berry weiss, orange wheat and honey Weiss.

In addition, Figueroa is hard at work on recipes for other cupcake flavors including Captain and Coke, amaretto red velvet, Irish car bomb, Malibu pineapple and pumpkin lager. She's confident that the infinite number of flavor combinations available will mean she'll be able to offer weekly cupcake specials as soon as she's become more established.

As far as those future plans go, Figueroa hopes to launch a cupcake truck in Milwaukee sometime next year. In the meantime, she is currently in negotiations with MillerCoors, which has expressed an interest in carrying the cupcakes in its gift shop.

Brew Cakes sells single cupcakes for $2.50 each, and mini cupcakes for $1.50. Cupcakes are also available by the dozen at $24 for regular sized, and $18 for minis. To place an order, contact Angela Figueroa at (414) 507-2041 or by email at angiela85@gmail.com.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.