Solemn Oath

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Solemn Oath was born high above the great expanse of the American West.

John Barley sketched out a plan on a return flight from visiting his brother Joe in San Diego. On that trip, the Barley brothers hosted a craft beer tasting party for a couple dozen of their friends. It was on. John put together a full business plan after soliciting examples from breweries he admired across the country and started interviewing brewers. It took one meeting with Tim Marshall, then of Rock Bottom – Lombard, 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 craft 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 classification 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.

Over the first half of 2012, the team built out the space and in April installed a fifteen-barrel Premier Stainless three-vessel system along with 105 barrels of fermentation, affording Solemn Oath a production capacity of about 2,000 barrels per year. (A barrel is thirty-one gallons.) Before our first brew day on April twenty-first, we signed on with craft pioneers Windy City Distribution and launched with three beers during Chicago Craft Beer Week 2012, including the opening of our Naperville taproom. Our first expansion was completed in January 2013, adding sixty additional barrels of fermentation capacity, bringing our annual volume capacity to about 3,200 barrels.

Along the way we’ve made great friends, like Jourdon Gullett, a trained muralist who does all of our illustration work. A mutant baby? Monsters mid-ticklefight? A bad garage-punk band? He’s got a vision for it. And Michael Kiser, a professional photographer in Chicago who tells stories about the world of beer and the beer of the world on his blog, Good Beer Hunting. Without his photographs, this website wouldn’t be half as sexy as it is. Speaking of this website, how about the talented and creative people at Nelson Cash? Killed it. We have other friends we would name, but we wouldn’t want to stroke Greta de Parry’s ego.

Of course, we couldn’t do any of this without our distributor and the sales reps who ruin any chance of us getting any work done on Friday afternoons. 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.

For more information on Solemn Oath visit their website at www.solemnoathbrewery.com

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