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A few weeks back, Oath Day Three happened, our annual celebration of all things SOB. For those of you who are not familiar with Oath Day, let me give you a quick tutorial. Oath Day is the birthday of Solemn Oath Brewery. It’s where we invite all the SOBs of the world to come party with us in true SOB fashion, at our brewery, and celebrate another year of good beers and good friends. A thank you of sorts.
As we ease our way into the state, you will only be able to find Solemn Oath in a limited number of spots in Madison and in the Milwaukee area, but our footprint will grow deeper and wider in the state over the next year--as long as you come drink the stuff, that is. Think of our Wisconsin entry as a months-long series of gatherings. These are the first.
We create strategies for new and old products and communicate with our sales team. We devise a plan and get after it, knowing that we’ll need to constantly adjust to ensure that the beer that reaches you is of the highest quality and as fresh as possible. It takes an army to do this. And in Chicago, Wes Phillips devises the plan for infiltration.
When we first opened our doors in 2012, we tried to keep things as creative as possible on our end. It was hard. We wanted to get our name out there as much as we could, but we wanted to do it in true SOB style. We have done beer dinners, thrown tap takeovers, and participated in countless beer festivals. We have certainly done our share of standard beer events like these and will continue to participate in many of them.
The creation of Windy City by Jim and Jason Ebel of Two Brothers and their father in 1999 pioneered the distribution of craft beer throughout the Chicago area. When they began, it was just Two Brothers and Goose Island brewing locally and they couldn't persuade a major distributor to bring Two Brothers Brewing Co. into their portfolio. Unlike today, where the major distributors fight to get as many up-and-coming suppliers as possible into their network, nobody wanted to touch smaller brands. Windy City began as a way for Jim and Jason to sell their beer, and quickly became the go-to wholesaler in Chicago for small breweries across the country. Since then the dynamic has flipped, and the business that Jim and Jason Ebel created out of necessity, has helped pave the way for renaissance in Chicagoland beer that you are witnessing today.
Danny and Doug Marks are two fine gentleman who show love not just to Solemn Oath, but to midwestern breweries in general. Their twenty-four lines of craft beer will give you liquid courage to challenge your closest friends (or maybe Danny, but you will get crushed) to an NBA Jam tournament. Their intense whiskey list, that we sometimes like to pair with whatever beer we are drinking is so extensive you could use it to lure your father-in-law to Emporium, just so you can kick his ass in Double Dragon and show him who's really the man.
Thursday started with a whirlwind of things to finish up for the week. An early morning swim. Making sure kegs were where they needed to be. Getting all five hundred million taphandles in the right spots around town. Briefing and mentally preparing dozens of visiting family members for what was about to happen over the next ten days--that's ⅓ a month, not a week, by the way.
Being a fan of both Founders and Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids was the perfect first stop. After a little research on hotels (yes, I am what some would call a hotel snob), I found City Flats Hotel. A modern boutique, LEED-certified hotel right in the heart of town. After checking in, we wasted no time time and headed over to Founders. If you have never been there, just look for a few grain silos and construction. Lots of it. This place is growing by leaps and bounds and they should be; they make awesome beer.