Tastebud-tingling Damascus gose tapped

Photo: Neill Pieper

Photo: Neill Pieper

From Intrepid Sojourner to Next Stop Brewing, international flavors are still targeted

By Steve Graham

Every trip to Intrepid Sojourner Brewing Co. is an educational experience, and not just a vocabulary lesson with the five-dollar words found in the brewery name.

For example, you can enjoy a gose while picking up some botany and geography facts.

Andrew Moore, head of brewery operations, recently tapped his first gose with a tastebud-tingling mix of plums, spearmint, rosemary, anise, coriander, Hawaiian red gold sea salt, alderwood-smoked sea salt and lavender.

“We’re interested in creating culinary beers that have unique and interesting flavors,” Moore said.

He said he wanted to make a winter-style gose to upend the light, summery stereotype of the German style. To that end, he wanted to evoke the flavor of smoked plums without actually smoking the plums, so he added smoked salt, as well as the Hawaiian salt.

He also wanted something herbal to pair with the smoked plum flavor.

“A lot of our recipes start in the culinary world, and one plant that kept coming up in our research was hyssop,” he said.

The aromatic shrub is used in cooking and herbal medicine, but even his well-sourced connections at the Savory Spice Company couldn’t get him hyssop in brewing quantities, so they came up with a blend of spearmint, anise and lavender to mimic the hyssop essence.

He sours the beer with acidulated malt, then leaves it twice as long in the mash stage.

“It’s not nearly as tart as some of the beers, it has a nice subtle acidity,” Moore said.

He also included plums in several steps.

“We add the fruit in at different points in time,” Moore said. “Layering the fruit in different points in the process gives it a deeper, more complex flavor.”

The gose is called the Damascus, after the damascene plum variety in the beer. Most Intrepid Sojourner beers have a specific geographic tie, and the taproom is full of travel books and travelers, even if only in their minds.

But plan to visit soon. The Damascus gose could be one of the last beers brewed for the taproom and sold under the Intrepid Sojourner name.

The brewery plans to sell its brewing equipment and change its name to Next Stop Brewing. The owners will no longer lease the space at 925 W. 8th Ave., where they’ve brewed for two years. Once a buyer is found for the seven-barrel turnkey operation, they plan to focus on production and canning. They recently emerged on liquor store shelves and on tap handles as Next Stop Brewing. The new branding kicked off with cans of Next Stop Bangkok, a lemongrass and ginger kolsch. Moore tentatively plans to follow up with the ever-popular Istanbul coffee stout.

Moore said the new name is simpler and more memorable than Intrepid Sojourner, but still conveys the creative and international idea behind his brewery.

“We could create a package at Next Stop that would get all that across more efficiently,” Moore said.

The brewery opened in May 2017, and Moore said the goal was always to spread the Intrepid beers far beyond the 8th Avenue taproom in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe.

“We always wanted to distribute, that was always our goal,” he said. “It slowly became apparent that it was taking too many resources to get the taproom where it needed to be.”

He said the focus will be on production for a while, but he hopes to open a Next Stop taproom.

“We will be doing events, we will be out there in the community,” Moore said. “The goal is to get back to the place where we can be doing both.”

He said he appreciates the immediate feedback from customers in a taproom, but also looks forward to wider distribution.

“It gives us a chance to get feedback from a broader market,” Moore said. “Colorado is wonderful but I feel like we tend to get some beer blinders on in Colorado.”

Steve Graham is a freelance writer and former newspaper editor who likes taking his two young boys biking, hiking and brewery-hopping in northern Colorado.