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.
This year we decided to mix things up a bit and gave attendees an “Anonymous & Unofficial SOB Survey” card to fill out and drop off in a box at our booth. There were eight different questions and they were randomly dispersed amongst the crowd. Here are some of our favorite responses.
Since then Matt and I have spoken often of the polarizing issue of aesthetics in beer. After brewery safety, the quality of what is actually in the glass will always be what’s most important, but not far behind is the environment that beer is in. Illustration and design have been and will always be a massive part of our culture here at SOB. From the simplicity of our taproom to the passion through creativity you see in our bottle labels and murals, art is how we tell our story.
A few weeks back, Oath Day Three happened, our annual celebration of all things SOB. For those of you who are not familiar with Oath Day, let me give you a quick tutorial. Oath Day is the birthday of Solemn Oath Brewery. It’s where we invite all the SOBs of the world to come party with us in true SOB fashion, at our brewery, and celebrate another year of good beers and good friends. A thank you of sorts.
At that time, Good Beer Hunting existed as a tumblr page with just a small and primarily local following. GBH’s captivating aesthetics through Michael’s photography and a poetic approach to storytelling drew me in as a reader. Michael’s written word has always had the ability to establish an emotional connection between me and the people and places that he visits. In short, Michael has made me give a shit about things I didn’t even know. Over the years we have become great friends and watching him grow the GBH brand and develop his own personal skill sets has been incredible to watch.
It actually sounds cooler than it is. Really, we were just bored. History was boring. Extremely boring. Who knew? Not these two time-traveling mavericks. Why do you think Paul quit teaching it? You have to be a god-damned illusionist to try and get kids to pay attention to all the boring shit. Yeah, we know, Cromwell, Hammurabi, Tesla, blah blah blah. 332, 1280, 1668, 1776. Yes, there were some interesting people and times in our world history, but they’re only a minuscule part of the vast void of history.
When we hit year one, we decided to inaugurate our own holiday of sorts: Oath Day. Only this holiday doesn’t mean you have to shoot the shit with your sister’s new ego-maniac boy toy in your parents' backyard, or pretend to be ecstatic when you open up a pair of lacy underpants from Grams. Hell, you don’t even have to exchange gifts. This holiday is about drinking beer with friends and strangers in our brewery, sharing stories, maybe playing some dodgeball or hopping on a mechanical bull. It’s a celebration of all things Oath. And that includes all of you SOBs.
The most microbiologically sensitive part of the brewing process is between the heat exchanger, where we cool the boiled wort, and the completion of primary fermentation. Wort in the kettle is hot enough to prevent microorganisms from establishing residence, but once it’s cooled it’s basically bacteria and fungus heaven—lots of sugar, full of nutrients, and moderate in temperature. The way it’s supposed to go is we pitch a carefully selected and cared-for yeast strain into the wort, which ferments wort into beer. When fermentation is complete, the depleted reserves of sugar, low pH, and alcohol content mitigate the chance and severity of infection. Knockout—pumping the wort from the kettle through the heat exchanger to the fermenter—is, therefore, a critical quality checkpoint to make sure that the yeast strain we select takes hold and prevent foreign organisms from doing the same. Any process equipment that touches cooled wort has to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, so when preparing to harvest yeast, we start by soaking all our yeast brink parts in caustic, rinsing them, and finally soaking them in a no-rinse sanitizing solution.