They’re known for their barbecue chicken, brisket, and ribs, but do you know what they’re also known for? Their ice cream. And rightfully so.
Brushfire BBQ’s main courses are tasty and award-winning, but in my book, so is the ice cream.
Co-owner Ben Rine says he always wanted to open an ice cream shop.
“When I was a senior in high school, one of our projects was to come up with a business model,” he says. “And who doesn’t want to own an ice cream shop?”
When Brushfire moved into the large space on 22nd Street near Kolb, Rine and co-owner Jared Wren knew they didn’t want the whole thing to be just the restaurant.
“So, we decided to make an ice cream shop,” Rine says. “Once it was said out loud, there wasn’t anyone who didn’t want to do it. It’s always amazed us how in Tucson, where it’s so hot, there were ice creameries, but they were few and far between.”
Rine says the ice cream business strictly came out of passion.
“If there’s something you’re passionate about, you should find success in it,” he says. “Plus, we’re fat kids at heart.”
From there, Rine and Wren bought an Emery Thompson ice cream machine and started to make ice cream from scratch. It took nearly eight months of trial and error, but their recipes were finally perfected.
If you’ve ever had Brushfire’s ice cream, you know it’s a lot thicker and creamier than other ice creams. That’s because it’s high in butter fat content, which gives a rich, thick consistency.
Brushfire offers 24 flavors at the 22nd Street location and 12 at the Campbell location. The flavors are switched out on a monthly basis.
Of course, Brushfire offers staple flavors such as chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and cookies and cream.
“There are the flavors you have to have,” he says. “And then there’s stuff like pecan pie.” For the Pecan Pie flavor, pecan pies are baked fresh and blended into the ice cream. All of the ice cream at Brushfire is made from scratch, as are the caramel, fudge, waffle cones, and cookies.
“The flavors come from stuff that we love,” Rine says. “But it comes from our staff too.”
Brushfire experiences a lot of staff involvement. One of the employees came up with a Cheese Ritz Bits flavor. While Rine admits that it tasted exactly like Cheese Ritz Bits, he wasn’t a fan of the popular snack in ice cream form. However, one of Brushfire’s employees pitched an Orange Habanero flavor, which Rine quickly became a fan of.
Other uncommon flavors include Pineapple-Coconut, Candied Pork Belly, and American, which is a blend of vanilla, strawberry, and blueberry.
Rine says his all-time favorite flavor is El Toro, which is an orange ice cream filled with crushed Mexican candies.
One thing that separates Brushfire from other ice creameries is the booze.
Since Brushfire’s full-service restaurant is attached to the ice cream shop, alcohol isn’t far away. The ice creamery offers shakes and malts, which can be made with an alcohol of choice, though people usually opt for Baileys or Kahlua. Brushfire also offers one or two adult-only ice cream flavors.
And because Brushfire offers a variety of different root beers, the root beer floats are also a popular choice.
Brushfire Ice Creamery
7080 E. 22nd St.
Tucson, AZ 85710
2745 N. Campbell Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85719
Dessert in the Desert is a series highlighting desserts in Tucson. The main courses at restaurants get all the rage, as they should, but what about desserts? They deserve a spotlight, too.