As the Conquest release nears, we thought it was time to fill you in on our collaboration with Patrick Rue of The Bruery and the beer itself.
When Solemn Oath was still in planning, we read Patrick Rue’s blog about his efforts to open The Bruery, learning some important lessons through his experience. Since then, we’ve enjoyed many of his beers as much as watching The Bruery’s rise as an important American brewery known for one-of-a-kind beers with delicate, complex flavor profiles rooted in the Belgian tradition. To collaborate with Patrick on a beer is an important moment for Solemn Oath, one that we’d like to take in for a moment with you.
Here’s a Q&A with Patrick and our Head Brewer Tim Marshall. Details on release day are coming shortly, so check back soon.
Tell us about this collaboration–how and why it went down, and how it’s been working together.
Patrick Rue: I’ve known Joe Barley for some time before Solemn Oath opened, and have been following what they’ve been doing. It’s an exciting, quality focused brewery that has some similar elements to The Bruery, namely a strong focus on Belgian-style beers. It was a lot of fun brewing with the Solemn Oath crew!
Tim Marshall: Collaborating with Patrick on this beer has been a great experience. Conquest is definitely equal parts SOB and Bruery, and I really feel like there are aspects of both brewing styles that are apparent in the finished product, which is always one of the challenges of collaboration.
How do you see your brewery’s and its beers’ place in American beer?
Tim Marshall: I think we’re closer to answering this question now that we have ever been. In brewing, and to a lesser extent life, it can take some time to find your identity and place in the market. I think we have earned a reputation for clean, consistent beers with unique, dynamic flavor profiles that people can go to again and again. The last thing we want is for someone to love our beer the first time they try it and be underwhelmed by the same beer the next time. It also seems like our lighter, more thirst-quenching seasonal offerings have gained more footing this summer as well as our core brands, so that’s good.
Patrick Rue: The Bruery / Bruery Terreux is a niche brewery in the American beer scene, with a significant focus on barrel aging, Belgian-influenced beers, and experimental beers (i.e. there isn’t yet a category for them). We use beer as a medium to express intense flavor and creativity. If a beer style is ubiquitous, we don’t see the point of adding our version of it to the conversation (i.e. we don’t make an IPA). We aren’t trying to be your everyday beer experience. We want you to share our beers with friends and family on a special occasion, we want you to have fond memories of when and where you were when you tried a special beer with special people. Our large bottle format (750 mL), large variety of styles that are great food pairings, and wide distribution make our beer accessible for these special occasions.
Patrick, what was it like having that approach in Southern California, where IPA is pretty ubiquitous?
Patrick Rue: At first, it was a struggle. People didn’t necessarily see the value in our beers if they weren’t going to be hoppy. In the first 12 months of operations, we spread our beers to many states to make sure we could sell enough to make ends meet. As time goes on, the palate of our average customer is increasing—they want flavors they’ve never experienced before. Hoppy beers are still most desired, but there’s other places for our customers to get great, hoppy beers locally. Sour beers are very desirable right now, it’s hard for us to make enough. At this point, I believe the types of beers we make set us apart from the many breweries. It’s hard to brew an IPA that can stand out from the crowd these days— the bar is set very high.
OK, now for what everyone’s here to find out. Describe Conquest for us–what’s the concept, how did you execute it, and what can we expect to taste?
Tim Marshall: We started with a simple, traditional Belgian Tripel recipe, 100% Pils malt and our house Belgian yeast. Patrick had the great idea to spice it with cocoa nibs, toasted coconut and just a skoshe of vanilla and cinnamon. We opted for a hop bill consisting of Amarillo and Galaxy, lending just a bit of tropical fruit balance and some additional wackiness. The target was a clean, drinkable golden ale with the spicing used more as a supporting character than a feature. We really want you to taste and smell the blend of flavors rather than having one particular ingredient at the forefront. Hopefully we nailed it.
Patrick Rue: Being both heavily influenced by the beers of Belgium, a Belgian-style seemed most appropriate. The most important part of the Belgian beer tradition is expressive yeast. Second is the openness to ingredients that aren’t traditionally a component in beer. We came up with a Tripel with toasted coconut, with a big tangerine, pineapple hop note, and a touch of spice in the finish (with a modest addition of vanilla and cinnamon). The yeast will keep this beer very dry and digestible (i.e. a great hangover beer), while providing some light banana skin and pear-like fruitiness. One thing I love about Belgian-style beers is they are light on the palate yet complex in flavor. The esters provide a sense of sweetness, but the beer is actually quite dry, which can make them potent and refreshing, two things that don’t typically go hand in hand. I’m excited for this one!
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.