Matt and Mike Casarez have their hands full running Crook's Palace, the historic Black Hawk restaurant they opened in 2008 with a board of burgers and beer -- and a commitment to making what they could in house. "I have a passion for food and so does my brother," says Matt. "When we started our restaurant, we wanted to do everything homemade -- bacon, corned beef, bread. We followed suit with ice cream."
The brothers started crafting uniquely flavored frozen desserts -- things like popcorn and ghost raspberry, a raspberry base infused with ghost chiles -- that gained popularity with their patrons. And as their repertoire of flavors grew, the brothers took on a new challenge: Under Migg and Mutts Craft Creamery, Matt and Mike decided to try to break the Guinness world record for the most flavors of ice cream on display at one time.
"Once we realized we could make any flavor we wanted successfully, my brother had the idea to break the record because we knew we could do it," Matt explains. "We found that there were 521 flavors is the current record, and Mike said, 'Let's double it.' But the ice cream has to be good; you have to want to eat it. So we're making 1,000 good flavors of ice cream."
The brothers started making their flavor list in 2010, stretching their creativity when they ran out of "normal" flavors after about 300 or 400 combinations. They hit 900 around January and started churning six flavors a day, one quart at a time, in a two-quart ice cream maker in the back of Crook's Palace. They store each quart in the walk-in freezer at the restaurant, which is gradually taking over all the space.
"We're at about 930 flavors now," says Matt. "But obviously, we'll keep making them for the next few weeks."
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The official count will take place on July 17 when the brothers host Migg and Mutt's Ultimate Ice Cream Social at Crook's Palace, allowing the public to taste all 1,000 flavors with just a $2 donation that will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
After securing the record, though, the brothers don't plan to pack up the ice cream maker and call it a day. "Our ice cream is different," insists Matt. "We have unique flavors that no one else has, and we're not making ice cream with mix-ins." He cites flavors like Day at the Ballpark, which tastes like caramel popcorn, sunflower seeds and peanuts. They've already started taking some of their favorites and manufacturing with Boulder Ice Cream, and after the event, they'll amp up production.
"We got into Sushi Den," says Matt. "We'll try to expand our wholesale first, and then we're looking at doing a line of pints to sell retail." And they'll still make small batches in their restaurant, too.