When our head brewer Tim Marshall and I began working full-time on Solemn Oath in August, 2011, we had no space and no equipment, but a vision and a plan to bring it to life. We would focus exclusively on draft out of the gates and eventually add packaged beer. That allowed us to offer an intimate introduction to our beer at the Solemn Oath taproom and at our favorite bars and restaurants around Chicago, where we think beer is best had and where we like to drink it. As our production increased, we rolled packaged product out in the form of twenty-two ounce bombers, making our beer available to take home for the right occasion and company, apt for sharing alongside beers from our peers whose company-in-beer we enjoy. But before we had even released our first bottle, we began actively working on our next expansion. This will all be done before the end of 2014 and we're ready to announce it.
Whether you're a weekday regular in the taproom, the occasional growler-nabber, or patron of the better drinking establishments around town, none of this is possible without your damn fine taste.As many of you know, back in May we took over an additional seven-thousand square feet of space here at the brewery, which makes all of these plans possible. This brings the total square footage of SOB up to 16,800 with plans already in place for more when we need it. The new space is divided nearly equally in two: one will become a packaging room with brite tanks and filling equipment; the other will house a nearly nineteen-thousand cubic foot cooler. The remainder of the space--well, give a brewer a little empty space and watch how long it stays that way.
Since opening, we have been making our beer on a two-vessel, fifteen-barrel system. Several months back we began working with Metalcraft Fabrication out of Portland, Oregon, to manufacture an American-made brewhouse designed to our specifications. I'm no brewery engineer, but from what I understand it's a Fender pre-CBS corporate buy-out three-vessel thirty-barrel system with triple single-coil pickups and a whammy bar. The new brewhouse, along with the four sixty-barrel fermenters and sixty-barrel brite tank coming with it, is the infrastructure we need to make enough beer to ease our current and expected demand in existing markets for the next several years, as well as roll out--well, we're just about to get to that. The new tanks give us an overall capacity expansion of just over 94%. Math! Along with the greater degree of process control the new brewhouse will offer, we will be able to make serious strides in ensuring quality and consistency through investments in laboratory and packaging improvements.
This winter, we're rolling out .003-bbl Legless Portable Handheld Serving Vessels with Manual Single-Use Manways. Cans, that is. By the end of the year, Solemn Oath will be available in six-packs of twelve-ounce cans. Why cans? It's simple. Laid-back, practical, and good for a few hours of working hard while hardly working, they are the casual Friday of beer packages. We will start with one beer and soon after add a second, both new to the Solemn Oath ranks. Unlike our ever-changing draft and bomber offerings, our goal is to make the supply of both canned beers steady and dependable. These are our nominations for your "Never a Bad Idea to Keep a Few of These Cold" award.
Before we had even released our first bottle, we began actively working on our next expansion.I have to say, it's a really awesome feeling to announce the good news. It's been a great ride so far, and we're excited to be a part of building this amazing, swelling culture around beer in Chicagoland. We are not doing this in a vacuum, and we're awed, humbled, surprised, and delighted over and over again by the hard work, passion, and relentlessness of our brewery peers, the bars and restaurants that believe in us, and our distribution companies, Windy City Distributing in Illinois and Wirtz Beverage in Wisconsin. Most of all, though, we're warm-and-fuzzy because of all you SOBs. Whether you're a weekday regular in the taproom, the occasional growler-nabber, or patron of the better drinking establishments around town, none of this is possible without your damn fine taste. Cheers, friends.
As we round out the completion of this expansion phase, we know that we are not anywhere close to being done. We're learning more and more that the stars do not need to align; you can assemble your own and get after it.
The goal we have at Solemn Oath is simple. And maybe someday you will figure out what that goal really is. We’re going to change the world, probably. Enjoy.
This expansion brought to you by a bull-riding Phil Kuhl. Image from Oath Day Two provided by Michael Kiser of www.GoodBeerHunting.com.