When we opened in 2012, Naperville was no Beer City, USA. Our proximity to Chicago allowed us to grow our business while curious locals navigated their way to our well-hidden industrial park. We weren't naïve; this was wine, cocktails, and buckets-of-beer territory and we knew that. Fast forward to today, and, well, it's a different world out here. Our taproom is open seven days a week, often at capacity. You can't throw a rock in or around Naperville without hitting a Solemn Oath tap handle. We're making more beer in more packages than ever before, and we're poised to keep growing. The story of our success is just the flipside of your own story of hearing about Solemn Oath, visiting our taproom, and seeking out our beer around town. How about we pause here for a moment and just shake our heads a little bit at how dope it is that we've built this thing together.
Solemn Oath was born high above the great expanse of the American West.
John Barley sketched out a concept for a brewery on a return flight from visiting his brother Joe in San Diego. On that trip, the Barley brothers had hosted a beer tasting party for a couple dozen of their friends. The excitement, the community, the passion, and the discipline around making and drinking beer had hit a nerve that was pulsing too hard to ignore. It was on.
John put together a business plan and started interviewing brewers. It took one meeting with Tim Marshall, then of Rock Bottom, to know he would man the brewhouse. His experience with Belgian-style beers and barrel-aging made him the perfect fit for Solemn Oath. Together, Tim and John scouted locations in Chicagoland. They were looking for a space in the middle of a large population with an underdeveloped local beer supply. Naperville was the perfect location. Solemn Oath leased space in one of the city’s only light industrial parks and worked with the city council to craft a new liquor license that would allow Solemn Oath to operate as a production brewery with an on-site taproom.
As he placed tank orders and Tim signed hop contracts, John convinced Joe to move back to Chicago to be part of the team and manage sales. Over the first half of 2012, we built out the space and fired up the brewhouse. In May, the taproom opened and we sent our first beers into the market during Chicago Craft Beer Week. It was an exceptionally rad week to share our beer for the first time alongside breweries that inspired us.
Since opening, little has stayed the same. It’s a constant cycle of experimenting with new beers, hiring staff, growing volume, upgrading equipment, putting beer in new packages, filling more barrels, and dialing in every side of our company to make this thing the best damn brewery it can possibly be. What is constant, however, is our commitment to making beer of consistently high quality with clarity of flavor. That’s the organizing principle around which the whole universe of Solemn Oath spins.
Of course, we couldn’t do any of this without Windy City Distributing and the sales reps who are out there everyday making the case for Solemn Oath and getting it into your hands through your favorite places to drink. Or the beer buyers, managers, and owners at the most badass bars and restaurants in Chicagoland. And you. That’s right, you, the person who just read 493 words to this point because you want to find out what we’re all about. Thank you. You’re kind of our story, too. We’ll be damned if we know how it all turns out.
The Great American Beer Festival
2016 – Bronze Medal in the German-Style Koelsch category for Lü
Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer
2012 – Bronze Medal in the Fruit Beer category for Radth
2012 – Silver Medal in the Strong/Imperial Pale Beer category for ultramegahighfrequency
2015 – Bronze Medal in the Specialty/Experimental Beer category for Limousine of the Damned
Our People (SOBs)
Founder & CEO
Director of Hospitality
Director of Beer Ops
Artist & Designer
JP Vander Veen
Area Sales Manager
Writes better than you
Makes killer tiki drinks
Makes good food
One tech savvy dude
Good with a guitar
Bruises like a peach
Will clean your teeth
The Can Man
The answer to your inquiry is probably “snitches get stitches.” If you believe you received this message in error, you can email John. All caps please. Our photos are sexy. You want to use them. That’s great. Before you do, please ask us for permission before doing so. Did we say ‘before’ twice? Nope. Three times now. For illustrations, that’s a John thing again.