I unknowingly started my brewing career as a Classical Archaeologist. While spending the school year at Colorado University in Boulder doing graduate work, I spent my summers working abroad in Germany, Turkey, Greece, and Jordan. I was there for linguistic work & survey archaeology, but quickly developed an interest in the incredible flavors of the culinary world of the Middle East. There were new vegetables like aubergine & adana peppers, mouth-watering spice blends such as harissa & ras el hanout. The cultures were also incredibly welcoming, excited to educate, which meant lots of free samples!
In the States, some friends and I started homebrewing, for two reasons which proved ridiculous in hindsight. First, we thought we’d save money. After long days of reading too much in the graduate office, the only social avenue available to us were the local bars & microbreweries, so we thought we’d save money crafting our own homebrews. Second, it would be a distraction from the constant barrage of grad school requirements that we could put by the wayside when we went on to get Ph.D’s from distinguished institutions. We didn’t save money. Quickly we became fascinated with the experimentation homebrewing allowed. We traveled to breweries all over the state to sample their offerings. Then we laid thoughts of further school aside & began to plan a brewery.
That initial brewery plan went through several iterations, eventually morphing into the Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project with the indispensable help of Ben Gettinger. Ben & I met in 2015 at Upland Brewing in Bloomington, IN. Our mothers had been sorority sisters at Indiana University & discovered that I was living in Denver, thinking of starting a brewery, & Ben, finishing his JD/MBA, possessed an entrepreneurial disposition. We immediately began looking at real estate & focused on the Arts District on Santa Fe. We love the idea of being involved in a community full of interesting, creative people doing fascinating things. The neighborhood has a kind of energy that feeds experimentation.
We found our location in April of 2016 & began the arduous journey towards getting the doors open. It was over a year of licensing, construction, planning, fundraising, brewing, & hard work that got us to our grand opening in May of 2017. Now that we’re staring our one-year anniversary in the face, it seems like a different lifetime. The grand opening came & went, I got married in October of 2017, & before we knew it, the year was over.
What we discovered however, is that we’ve created not just a beer business, but a stronger community dedicated to exploration, education, and culinary experimentation. I’ve discovered that beer is the perfect way to express my passion for story-telling, travel, history, & culture. We’ve expanded our brewing repertoire beyond Mediterranean flavors like Turkish Coffee Stout & Apricot and Date Hefeweizen; inspired by fruit picked straight from the trees.
We also thoughtfully source spices & herbs for international flavors– from the peated malts of Scottish whiskies to Mexican chocolate & horchata; to basil varieties; to chai & chamomile; to lavender, garlic & sage; to cardamom, cubeb pepper, & blade mace; to pears, Moroccan medjool dates, & roasted Palisade peaches– enhancing flavors inherent to indigenous beer styles.
I also love regional & historical styles like the oak-smoked Polish grätzer – the “Polish Champagne” that went out of commercial production when the Communist government collapsed – the Finnish sahti, traditionally brewed with juniper for want of hops in the Nordic countries – the Australian sparkling ale, a highly carbonated pale ale made to compete with light lagers Down Under – the Slavic kvass, Mesoamerican chicha & pulque, & others.
While the Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project is a place to experiment with new styles & flavors, it’s also a place to learn the fascinating stories of world cultures & of beer – & of course, it’s a place to make your own new stories while you explore new beers with your friends. Our beers will send you on a trip down memory lane, evoking memories of your travels & giving you wanderlust for new adventures. It’s a place to share your tales with friends, hear other people’s stories, & plan your next sojourn. Drink globally locally!