Farmers' Markets

Farmers' Market Finds: Pint’s Peak Ice Cream Is Anything but Vanilla

Caitlin Howington (right) started Pint’s Peak after more than fifteen years in the food and beverage industry.
Caitlin Howington (right) started Pint’s Peak after more than fifteen years in the food and beverage industry. Ashlee Redger
It's peak season for farmers’ markets. No matter your neighborhood, you can find local produce and handcrafted goodies near you. In Farmer's Market Finds, recipe developer and freelance writer Ashlee Redger highlights some stand-out local farmers' market vendors and dishes up a recipe using their goods.

Vendor:
Pints Peak Ice Cream

Where to find it: The Saturday Boulder Farmers Market and South Pearl Street Farmers Market on Sundays

For more info: Visit pintspeakicecream.com
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Caitlin Howington uses her background as a pastry chef to create innovative ice cream flavors.
Pint’s Peak/Instagram
About the business: Pint’s Peak Ice Cream founder and former pastry chef Caitlin Howington has been involved in the food and beverage industry for over fifteen years. She got her start on the East Coast and, after getting a pastry arts degree from Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, worked in various restaurants (including a stint with Iron Chef Jose Garces).

Eventually, she broke out of the restaurant industry, opting for positions in hospitality sales, operations and marketing as well as event management. After moving to Denver in August 2019, she joined the sales team at a high-end catering company.

But as she found her place in Colorado, Howington had artisan ice cream on the brain. When she was laid off from her job in April 2020, it almost seemed like kismet. “It had been bubbling on the back of my mind for a few years at this point, and my background is pastry,” Howingtown remembers. “When COVID happened, the universe just gave me all this time, so I was like, 'I’ll just go for it.'” She created Pint’s Peak, and it took off immediately.

In the beginning, she sold containers of her creations exclusively through delivery and pop-ups around the city. As the business has grown, Howington has found places where ice cream fans can come to her; along with the markets, you can now find Pint's Peak at such businesses as Leevers Locavore, Pine Melon and Boulder-based Lolita’s Market & Deli.

While the flavors you’ll find weekly at farmers’ markets are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them rotational, the innovative options Howington creates are delightfully memorable. One of the most crowd-pleasing and established flavors is the Honeycomb Vanilla, which is perfumed with Madagascar vanilla and intermingled with bits of honeycomb candy. Honeycomb is a golden caramelized sugar confection that has been aerated with baking soda to create a light and crisp toffee-like crunch. It’s a beloved ice cream flavor in New Zealand, but has been underappreciated (until now) in the United States. It combines the textures of crunchy candy along with pockets where the honeycomb has melted and swirled into a sweet caramel sauce.
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Pint’s Peak ice cream is available by the pint, bowl, or in scratch-made brown sugar vanilla waffle cones.
Pint’s Peak/Instagram
You can also catch flavors like Smoked S’mores, which is a chocolate base with smoked chocolate fudge, graham cracker and marshmallow, and Cuban Coffee, swirled with dulce de leche.

Howington will also often create even more limited runs of special flavors for local festivals and events, like Mazel Toffee, which was created for the Boulder Jewish Festival and included flavors of orange blossom and chunks of salted pistachio toffee. For FAN EXPO earlier this month, Pint’s Peak scooped flavors inspired by Lord of the Rings, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones and Jay and Silent Bob.

As Pint’s Peak's popularity grows, Howington says that one of the biggest barriers to success is funding. “[It] is a huge challenge for startups, and people don’t necessarily talk about it," she explains. "They don’t tell you that you don't actually qualify for small-business loans or a traditional bank loan until you’ve been in business for at least two or three years."

In recent months, Pint’s Peak has had to move out of its previous commissary kitchen after outgrowing the space — and its ice cream maker, which took half an hour to churn six quarts of ice cream base (a rate that left Howington feeling “always behind"). She had a new machine in mind, one that could churn four times as much ice cream and works in eight-minute bursts…but the price tag hit hard at $32,000.

Pint’s Peak has had help from a variety of sources in its fundraising efforts, including the Colorado Enterprise Fund, which offers loans to businesses that don’t qualify for traditional small-business loans yet. It's also received grants, particularly through organizations that focus on women-owned startups, like WomensNet and HerHeadquarters.

Most notably, Howington launched a crowdfunded loan through Kiva.org in April of this year. Kiva is well-known for its reputation in facilitating funding to women- and POC-owned small businesses across the world. The loan hit its $15,000 goal within a few weeks with the help of just over 300 lenders. Barring any (more) supply chain delays, Pint’s Peak will be churning out more ice cream than ever by the end of July.

With the new ice cream maker on the way, Howington already has big plans for the future. Once the farmers’ market season comes to a close, she’s planning to build out a mobile ice cream truck for next year. Along with ice cream by the scoop, it will also dish out more elaborate goodies like ice cream sandwiches, sundaes and floats.
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Make a boozy Pint’s Peak float at home with any sorbet, your choice of liqueur and/or liqueur and sparkling water or soda.
Ashlee Redger
How to use it: The Pint’s Peak team currently serves up floats at its market stands, so once you've tried (and become obsessed with) those, try making your own at home. Use two scoops of your favorite sorbet or ice cream and top with 4 to 6 fluid ounces of your choice of drink (like local Oliko Ginger Beer, fancy soda or even a fruity sour beer to pair with sorbets).

To make it boozy, add 1 ½ fluid ounces of liquor and/or liqueur. Since the ice cream flavors rotate often, you can experiment with new flavor combinations each week. Here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Any berry sorbet + ½ fluid ounce limoncello or elderflower liqueur + 1 fluid ounce vodka + seltzer
  • Peach Smash sorbet + bourbon or spiced rum + ginger beer
  • Smoked S’mores ice cream + nitro cold brew coffee or vanilla porter
  • Coconut Lemongrass ice cream + light rum + lemon, lime or grapefruit soda
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Pint's Peak's new sundae: the Bee’s Knees, with honeycomb vanilla ice cream, bee pollen, real honeycomb and Hatch chile cornbread.
Pint's Peak/Instagram
Bonus farmers' market finds: Ice cream is an all-year treat, but be sure to catch these seasonal items this month:
  • Cherries will be here and gone by the end of July, so stock up while they're sweet!
  • Grab some fresh asparagus before it falls out of peak season.
  • Clear out your produce drawers for carrots and strawberries.
  • Heartier cooking greens like chard, kale and collards are here. Throw them into pasta with a big squeeze of lemon juice, or season generously and stew for a barbecue side.
  • Salad greens like arugula, lettuce and spinach are also fresh and ready to spin up all season long.
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Ashlee is a recipe developer and food geek with strong Midwestern roots. When she’s not cooking & baking, you can find her obsessing about podcasts, acting busy in coffee shops and searching for fancy cocktails around town.
Contact: Ashlee Redger