Two local businesses teamed up recently to create a pastry-inspired drink that combines the best of both worlds.

“If nothing else, it shows people what you can do when you work together,” Becky Gacono, owner of the Whirling Dervish Bakery and Coffee Shop in Annville, said. “It brought a lot of people together for two different businesses. With things the way they are in the world, that really helps.”

Her collaborator was Michael Rotunda, co-owner of the Rotunda Restaurant & Brewery in Annville and the Rotunda Brew Pub in Hershey.

Read More: Irv’s Pub to be rebranded as Rotunda Brew Pub with event this weekend

He recently contacted Gacono with the idea of creating a “pastry ale” series that borrows from the taste of some of her popular desserts.

“I’m trying to do some local collaborations,” Rotunda told LebTown. “We already have a ‘SWheat Tart’ series — that’s like a candy beer. […] We’re able to flavor beer with flavors that aren’t very typical of beer, so we tried mimicking some of the flavors of her desserts.”

The Carrot Cake Pastry Ale and Cranberry Happiness Bar Pastry Ale, as unveiled in a Rotunda Restaurant & Brewery Facebook post.

The project produced two ales, one based on Gacono’s carrot cake, the other on her cranberry happiness bar, which features cheesecake, granola and white chocolate.

“You’d be surprised, you can be pretty creative with beer,” Rotunda said.
The beers were tapped for the first time last Saturday at both brew-pub locations, where Gacono also had her pastries for sale.

“I love the ales. I think they did a great job,” she said. “We sold some baked goods. It went over really well.

“All around, it was such a good thing. We definitely appreciate being invited to participate.”

Read More: The many hats of Becky Gacono

Rotunda said they started by sitting down with Gacono and sampling some of her desserts.

“She brought 10 different pasties,” he said. “We sat there and ate them all, and tried to decide which we could mimic the best.”

Becky Gacono of the Whirling Dervish Bakery and Coffee Shop. (Jeff Falk)

After choosing the carrot cake and cranberry treats, Rotunda and his team worked out the best way to infuse the flavors into the ales.

“Our brewer is great, he figures out that stuff pretty quickly,” Rotunda said.

“We used some of the actual ingredients and some natural flavorings,” he explained. “We used some actual baked goods. So you’re going to get some carrot in the carrot cake ale, along with notes of cinnamon. In the cranberry, you’re going to get hints of white chocolate, cheesecake, some pie crust.”

“They really worked at getting the flavors of what I bake into the ales,” Gacono enthused. “There’s definitely a hint of my desserts in both of them.”
The beers took two weeks to produce and is available on tap at both Rotunda locations as well as in cans elsewhere. Rotunda said he expects the beers to sell out within three weeks, so anyone curious to try them shouldn’t delay too long.

“It’s exactly like the description,” he said. “I’m happy with how it came out, honestly. It’s been selling well.”

Gacono said she loved the idea, and she likes to see community businesses partner on fresh ideas.

“It was a fun collaboration,” she said.

A cocktail infusion at the Rotunda Brewing Company in Annville. (Rotunda Brewing Company)

If they do it again, she said, she’d like to try her lemon blueberry or key lime desserts — or maybe her chocolate chip cookies and chocolate-covered peanut butter balls.

“I love the Annville community,” she said. “We really try to reach out and help each other. COVID has definitely put us through the wringer.”

Last week, Rotunda announced another partnership — this time with the Swatara Coffee Co. in Annville and Jonestown.

Read More: Swatara Coffee opens Annville location

“We’re going to the age the beer on their coffee beans for several days,” Rotunda said. “It’s going to be a stout aged on marshmallow mocha coffee beans, and the other will be conditioned on snickerdoodle coffee beans.”

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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.


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