The Inaugural Naperville Ale Fest is only a month a way. We look forward to celebrating and exposing new people to craft beer in our hometown. We’ve known about this project for a year as Josh Seago and his team have been hell-bent on designing a festival of national caliber.
In its first year they’ve been able to draw 75+ breweries who are coming on board to pour over 180 beers. General admission tickets are a reasonable $45 and the VIP offerings are already sold out. Back in March, Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting sat down with Josh to gain some insights into his passion and drive to bring this project to light.
I want to explore two ideas with you, and then mash them together. No, not like a Girl Talk mashup. You see, this is where the problem starts…
First, let’s talk about indie music song titles. They’re in the same grave as Family Guy’s non-sequitur gags. Dead. Let’s put them to rest.
I know you’re a pro, indie music guy. Pro enough to drive around the country through the night for months on end in an Econoline with six other dudes who haven’t showered all week, rationing out your McDonald’s money and scheming to steal their share of the merch sales. No, you’re right man, you need seven musicians for all that texture. But with such business acumen how can you be so blasé about the names of the products you’re putting out in the world? It all starts with identity. The chain is only as strong as its identity; you shouldn’t throw bricks if your identity sucks; a bird in hand is worth your identity, etc. Simple marketing, people. Read up.
Since I set out on this project nearly three years ago, I’ve tried to approach each challenge by finding solutions that were two things: different and simple. The beer industry is small and collaborative, but still competitive. Separating yourself is a constant challenge. For me, my biggest challenge was also pretty simple: in this industry, I was green.
The first batch of beer I was ever a part of making was the first-ever beer we brewed at Solemn Oath back in April of 2012. I had never homebrewed. I had no experience selling beer. How do you get taken seriously and build a team when you’re trying to dive into a new industry? There’s always more than one way, but this is how I did it.
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.
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.
The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild (ICGB) is proposing two changes to the Illinois Liquor Code. These changes would allow for the continued growth of an industry that is adding jobs and bringing small businesses to cities and towns across the state. In the past three years, roughly 40 breweries and brewpubs have opened their doors. The craft beer industry in Illinois currently employs approximately 2,500 people.
Read about what’s going on here.
A brewer can receive three different types of licenses:
- Brewer’s license – allows for the manufacturing of beer and the sale of that beer to distributors.
- Brewpub license – considered a specialty retail license, allows the licensee to manufacture beer on premise and sell for on-site and off-site consumption at a limited volume. Also allows the licensee to sell to independent distributors. A brewpub is typically a restaurant that serves food and liquor in addition to their manufactured beer.
- Craft brewer license – a licensed brewer who can manufacture up to 15,000 barrels (465,000 gallons) and self-distribute up to 7,500 barrels (232,500 gallons).
Each day we head to Naperville to keep our brewery in operation but, like many people, our hearts are spread around. We all have our families, our hometowns, and friends that we miss–places we love where we like to think a piece of us always is.
This is true for the heart of this brewery as well. There are a ton of places we love in Chicagoland, but fewer are the places we think of as our home. About a month after we opened our doors and began to flood this region with beer, we had the privilege to grace the lines of Bangers & Lace. Like lifelong friends, our relationship with B&L has continued to flourish. Their support has been unwavering and continues to grow. When we set out to arrange the places we were going to celebrate our first anniversary, there was no doubt where our city party needed to be.
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.
UPDATED – May 22, 2013
As if you needed a reason to celebrate, May 16-26 will be this year’s rendition of Chicago Craft Beer Week (CCBW). Dozens of craft-focused events will be going down every day throughout the Chicagoland area so you need to plan your calendar accordingly. If CCBW isn’t enough to get you anxious, please keep in mind that we will also be celebrating our first anniversary.
Download the APP.
Disclaimer: Please do not make any attempt to determine how much money you have spent in the past year at the Solemn Oath Brewery taproom or on our beer in the wild. This information will do nothing for you. The only type of measurement you should be making is in joy, and we’re guessing that’s pretty high.
OK. Chicago Craft Beer Week, eleven days of pure madness. Here is our schedule (for now):