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SOB Stories

Despite the title, there’s no whining here. Just a running chronicle of what makes us Solemn Oath–matters serious and funny, big and small, and so on and so on.

June 11, 2013

We are a brewery, but as a business we can do more. Since our debut in 2012 we've been striving to push the status quo, push our own creative limits, and build a culture around us that shares a similar vision. We cannot sit still. And we look to surround ourselves with artisans, supporters, and instigators that share in the comfort of this discomfort.

Our jobs are great, but, like so many of you, we still have the drive to do more. We strive to push forward and surround ourselves with inspiration and creative expression. The vision of Solemn Oath has always been built around the ideal that every idea should be challenged with a fresh voice. And if that idea continues to fight through, our end result is always stronger. Always better.

June 5, 2013

I was brought on to Solemn Oath by Tim. Tim and I go way back.

I remember playing cards with Tim at a Bangladesh whorehouse in 1976. We were both on assignment tracking down opium smugglers. Tim was with the boys from Langley and I was with the Dept of Ag(riculture). The smugglers were laundering their money through the booming new industry of role-playing games.  It was a change of pace for us in the DoA, but there was a new administration that year and we were trying new things. Anyway, we spent the summer posing as RPG creators looking for investors. The city was filthy with them.
May 28, 2013

The roots of Solemn Oath stretch down Ogden Avenue to Lisle's Bavarian Lodge. This is the place where Tim became an SOB, where Paul first gained insight into what we were doing, and probably where Erin will someday be married. When Solemn Oath was just an empty space the Bavarian Lodge crew of Alan, Tyler, and Dan came to visit. They were trying to get a feel for what we were about, to see if they should back this horse. They did.

The Bavarian Lodge was the first place to pour our beers commercially. The crew from SOB stood behind the bar a year ago in an effort to give a face to our new little brewery, show them that there was passion in each of these glasses, and make the case that our beers deserved a place alongside some of the most exquisite and rare beers available anywhere. It all began here, and that will never be forgotten.
May 20, 2013

The life of a bowhead whale can span up to two hundred years. Some bowheads caught in recent years have been found with late-nineteenth century harpoon points embedded in their blubber. Imagine going through life with a chip on your shoulder that you can't shake because it's literally a part of you. Every brewery will have one.

We don't know what our chip is yet, but we'll damn well know it when it hits us. By bowhead standards, we're not old enough to live on our own. These animals are living museums, bearing silent witness to their rapidly changing aquatic world. The oldest bowheads alive today have weathered a mini-ice age, post-industrial oceanic warming, the filling of the seas with our plastic junk and chemical waste, and the depletion of their food sources. Our environs are changing in the beer world, too, but everything is actually looking up. Here's a look back on this year from full-time SOBs.
May 8, 2013

This life, this world, is a collection of experiences. That has always been what draws me to beer. Its social element has forged friendships, connections, and memories that otherwise never would have been possible.

Beer welds; it creates a setting. An industry friend recently reminded me that all we're really doing is creating experiences for people. Even the original working job title for Erin's position was 'Experience Manager.' The importance of this has never been taken lightly with SOB, and for each of us here that memory is different. The following happens to be one of my favorites.
May 6, 2013

Last month my girlfriend and I decided a road trip was in order. Michigan seemed to fit, especially since neither of us had done any beer travel in Michigan other than visiting our friends at Greenbush. The abundance of West Coast beers in the beer closet needed some loving additions from the good old Midwest.

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.

April 29, 2013

I am a nomad. People that know me know I am not one to ever sit still. I like to travel constantly, I love change, and I push my life to the limits. I am Joe Barley and here is my story.

I don’t have a hometown. I have lived all over the country since I was born. Kansas, Boston, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Orange County, New York City, Chicago, San Diego...I am sure I am forgetting a few. But in the fall of 2011, I was home.
April 24, 2013

Taproom staff member Sarah is a charmer.

She has charmed us with her dancing skills time and time again, and her bubbly persona never fails to conjure up a smile on even the most evil of human beings’ faces. Heck, even when Sarah upchucks due to her intake of bad meatloaf, we still feel giddy just being in her vomity presence. Her quirky antics make all of us chuckle on a regular basis and they ended up landing her a job here at Solemn Oath.

April 24, 2013

So much of the brewing process happens inside stainless-steel tanks and rubber-clad hose that brewers don't usually have much visual evidence that things are going according to plan.

After the boil, we send yeast into a clean and sanitary fermenter with sugar, nutrients, and a whisper. "Come out bright and clean, baby, will you?" From that point on, everything is done sight unseen. Our fermenting beer is much like Schrodinger's cat, existing in multiple states at one time given our inability to observe it. There's no sight glass on our fermenters, no glass manway. It could be going well inside, or off the rails. Rolling bubbles in the blowoff bucket give us a sign. Temperature control gives us some options.  Our preparation for this moment gives us confidence.