Ian Clark opened BRU Handbuilt Ales & Eats in Boulder in the summer of 2013, bringing his career as a chef and his passion for small-batch brewing together under one roof. But Clark has another passion that has threaded its way through his life in the kitchen, a passion that's about to take on a life of its own: ice cream. Clark's latest project is Heifer and the Hen, an ice cream shop he plans to open at the beginning of April next door to BRU.
Why ice cream? "It's really the end product — it's the ice cream itself, I absolutely love it," Clark explains. "I've had a minor addiction to ice cream — my wife would call it a major addiction — for most of my life."
Clark got hooked as a kid growing up in Maine and fed his obsession while at culinary school in Montpelier, Vermont, where he snacked on Ben & Jerry's flavors like Cherry Garcia and White Russian (a flavor he wishes were still available). "I started making all of my ice cream back when I was with Big Red F at Centro Latin Kitchen," he recalls. "We would do all kind of funky, fun Mexican flavors."
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He stocked the kitchen at BRU with an ice cream machine so that he could offer guests flavors like orange blossom, chamomile tea and sour-cherry, buttermilk and dark chocolate, to name just a few of the creative combos that he and his crew have concocted. But even as he was planning the restaurant, the seeds for Heifer and the Hen were being planted. "The idea was put out there three years ago when we opened BRU," Clark says. "My wife walked past and noticed the space right next door to us was vacant and said, 'This would be a great place for an ice cream shop.'"
Although a tenant quickly scooped up the location for other purposes, when it became available again last year Clark began seriously planning his expansion into the world of frozen desserts. Heifer and the Hen will feature a list of twenty year-round flavors, plus six to eight dairy-free and sorbet options. "We're doing a lot of experimentation and having fun with it," the chef says. "We'll be using what's in season, what's looking good and how we're feeling."
Creative ice cream sandwiches will also be a big part of the menu, ranging far beyond standard cookie-based constructions with versions along the lines of Belgian waffles sandwiching maple-bacon ice cream and a sweet "banh mi" made with pâte à choux dough and stuffed with burnt-honey ice cream and roasted almonds. Clark is also planning a float bar with swings for seats, where guests can hang out and enjoy scoop-and-soda pairings or a take on an affogato using cold-brew coffee poured over vanilla ice cream.
BRU has also turned out some beer-based frozen confections using stouts, IPAs and other styles, and Clark even made an ice cream with barley malt instead of sugar. With a brewery so close, we can only hope that a few sudsy ingredients make their way to Heifer and the Hen, too.