Chicago Craft Beer Week. A time to celebrate, drink too many nights in a row, and spend time with all our friends and colleagues. For us here at Solemn Oath it was also a way to reflect on and celebrate (as you already know) our first anniversary with all of you. For me, it was a time to toast to our accomplishments, almost overcome a fear of mine, over-enjoy whiskey, meet supporters of our brewery that I never knew before, make sure my brewery obligations were taken care of, and still train as much as I could for a half-Ironman race.
Thursday started with a whirlwind of things to finish up for the week. An early morning swim. Making sure kegs were where they needed to be. Getting all five hundred million taphandles in the right spots around town. Briefing and mentally preparing dozens of visiting family members for what was about to happen over the next ten days–that’s ⅓ a month, not a week, by the way.
As I got to our first event at Howells and Hood, I was asked to stand up on the outdoor bar and say a little piece thanking people for joining us and toasting to American Craft Beer Week. If you know me, or have seen me at events where public speaking is involved, you know that I am a man of few words in a public setting. It stresses me out. Thirty minutes later, there I was, standing tall with Jeremy Moynier from Stone, speaking to the crowd. I have no idea what I said or if anyone was even listening, but I do remember that someone in the crowd noticed that both Jeremy and I had Vans on, and made a comment. That. for some reason, eased my tension. The night was finished with close family and friends taking the elevators up to Howells & Hood’s amazing outdoor space for a quick history lesson and tour. Unreal.
and a whiskey shot or two, which I have now learned that I love more than Malört, but not as much as tequila. Especially in the morning.
A quick brunch at Little Goat on Friday with my cousin and San Diego crew, and then we headed back to the apartment to get ready for the ChiTown Party Bus to take our group out to the brewery and to Bavarian Lodge. Upon arrival at the brewery, we gave some quick tours to everyone and then John and I were pulled into the back to be given two signs that were made by our uncles and cousins at their sign shop in Sioux Falls, SD. One is a wood-carved logo that will hang somewhere in our brewery soon. The other is an LED sign of a logo that we never used from our original design concepts. Thank you Pride Neon! We all hopped back on the bus, and took a quick trip down the street to Bavarian Lodge. As you all know, this is a place dear to our hearts, so I won’t repeat what you have heard a million times from us, but I will say one thing, if you have never been there, go. We ate, we laughed and at about 8pm, I found myself again in front of a large group of people, speaking. We presented Alan with a token of our appreciation, Paul got misty (love you Paul), and we toasted again in celebration.
I have no idea what I said or if anyone was even listening, but I do remember that someone in the crowd noticed that both Jeremy and I had Vans on, and made a comment. That. for some reason, eased my tension.
Saturday morning came too early, with my alarm buzzing for a mid-CCBW morning meeting. As I pondered how I ever allowed that on my calendar, I went to sweat some of the booze out at the gym, hydrate, and hit up some touristy spots with friends and family. As our evening at Bangers & Lace approached, the exhaustion kicked in. I was tired, but I knew that some good grub and a few beers would bring me back to life. Well, it did. If you look at some of the pictures from our Banger & Lace post you will see that we had an awesome time there as well. You will also see that I spoke in public for the third time in three days, which is like seeing a leprechaun riding a unicorn down Lake Shore Drive, handing out bags of gold. I am sure it happened once, and I know for damn sure that it probably won’t happen again. At Bangers I also got to meet a great couple from the suburbs that drove in to the city just to try every beer we had on tap that night (yes, they were being responsible and staying in the city) and they told me how they loved spreading the SOB word to all their friends. The night ended with half of our crew bailing early (rookies) and me giving out free hugs and “I love yous” to anyone that would take them. Oh, and a whiskey shot or two, which I have now learned that I love more than Malört, but not as much as tequila. Especially in the morning.
If you are still reading this and have not been bored out of your mind, Sunday was Oath Day, our one year anniversary for the taproom. The family and friends had all departed, while my week was just beginning. My voice was gone, which was a blessing in disguise, because I couldn’t speak on the tours. Oath Day went off unscathed and upon returning home that night (after more training), I realized that we only had seven more days to go in this week.
I want to say a quick thank you to you all for a great one year anniversary and I look forward to seeing you next year for the second anniversary festivities. Oh, and one last thing, you should really thank me the next time you see me, because if I had spoke in front of a crowd four days in a row, the world would have ended. So while celebrating year one, I saved the universe. You’re welcome. I will toast to that.
Sometimes at the brewery we listen to rock and sometimes we listen to rap. On occasion you might hear some jazz, pop, or a splash of early punk. The important thing to realize is that we’re always lively. Always accomplishing something. Always planning for what we hope will not be your favorite new thing, or the brewery’s favorite new thing, but our favorite thing together. Never complacent and always adapting. Changing the world, probably. These are those stories.
*Editor’s Note: The image of the outside of the brewery (black & white) and Joe speaking at Bavarian Lodge are images by Michael Kiser of www.GoodBeerHunting.com. The others are not. Obviously.