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SOB Stories

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.

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April 17, 2013

After something happens, people have a tendency to lose their imagination. The only outcome possible was the one that transpired. This is a delusion. Things could have been very different. I, for one, could very well be standing in front of a room full of teenagers right now instead of a brew kettle.

In my past life, I was a high school history teacher. I often asked my students, “How do you know what you know?” We would talk about this at length. It’s a tricky question, and troubling for a lot of fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds. They just want to say, “I know because I know.”
April 15, 2013

I think we can all agree that the best way to accurately convey the flavor profiles of craft beers is to compare them to Alice in Chains albums.

For example, the hard rock, early grunge sound of Facelift is comparable to a traditional American IPA like Kidnapped by Vikings and beers with cattier hop profiles and more hop/malt contrast like Grumpess and E-Ville are closer to Dirt. It's obvious where I'm going with this, right? Oxford Comma is our Jar of Flies. No face-melting guitar or assaulting vocals.  The flavor profile is far more mellow and balanced than our other seasonal offerings have been thus far.  Our goal was a truly unique beer with a harmonious blend of flavors and no single ingredient dominating the others. Ginger and lemon peel add a tartness to enliven the floral bouquet of lavender, rosehips and green coriander. The light, crisp sweetness of Pilsner malt is balanced by a minimal earthy hop character and delicate Belgian yeast esters.
April 3, 2013

Last week, America's small brewers descended on Washington DC for our yearly industry meeting. It was five days of learning, connecting, and, of course, sampling, set against the backdrop of our nation's institutions and history.

This was no free-for-all of bearded dudes shouting, "Well this is how we do it at MY brewery." We started, 6,500 of us, with the double-digit growth we've generated year over year, the progress we've made chipping away at your pappy's adjunct light lager and your mom's chardonnay. From there, each SOB on the trip had a somewhat different experience, each marked by the wisdom of seasoned veterans and the experience of new beers in new settings. In a way, our gathering was something of a peaceful rebellion against the status quo, a mile-marker on the path to more democratic beer. It wasn't lost on anyone that, mere blocks from the conference, a hearty demonstration on the steps of the Supreme Court reflected the vigorous arguments within, the fates of millions hanging in the balance. Our purpose there was serious, but, at the end of the day, it's just beer.

April 1, 2013

If you want to build your own business, if you really think you're up for it, there is only one approach: be as inevitable as the tide.

When I began this project,  I had an idea but no vision. I rode solo on a plane heading back from California in August of 2010 dreaming about beer. It was an industry I was only connected to as a consumer. It felt foreign to me, but I knew it was what I wanted to do; I knew that I would figure out how. With nothing more than that idea, I began to immerse myself in anything I could get my hands on that could help me learn about building a brewery. Books, magazines, and blogs helped me begin to understand the things I didn't, but I couldn't stop there.
March 27, 2013
Belly up to the bar at the Port Brewing Co./The Lost Abbey taproom on any given day and you will find yourself surrounded by fermenters, wood barrels, and taps galore. Sound familiar? If you are lucky, Jason, their taproom manager, will help make your decision on what to drink easier, and he will definitely encourage you to taste some of the best damn beers you can get your dirty little hands on. Feeling something West Coast? Belgian? Sour?  You came to the right place.
March 25, 2013

Believe or not, that tall, lanky, shoulder-length blonde man from the taproom--the one who likes to break out the Destiny’s Child at the end of the night--is not spoken for. Yes, it’s shocking he hasn’t been snatched up yet, but Lou really is single.

One night, as we were closing down the taproom, I asked Lou a simple and direct question, “What are you looking for in a soulmate, Lou?”

March 24, 2013

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.
March 20, 2013

This our heat exchanger. He is the troll that lives under our brew deck. He exacts the toll of thermal energy from passing wort. He protects the yeast in our fermenters from death by scalding.

When we’re done boiling wort in the brew kettle, we have to get it to the fermenter. This is called ‘knockout’ and it has to happen at the proper temperature. If it doesn’t, we could shock or even kill our yeast. We knock out ales at sixty-eight to seventy-two degrees, and lagers around fifty.

March 13, 2013

If you had told me five years ago I would be managing a taproom at a brewery, I would have laughed in your face. I just graduated high school and had begun my first year at Columbia College in Chicago, majoring in fashion design. When I turned twenty-one, my beer of choice was Coors Light. What can I say? I was a sucker for the blue mountains.

Luckily, I had older friends with more sophisticated palates. They shared different beers with me. It didn’t take long before I fell head over heels for some  hoppy brews. I tried every type of beer I could get my hands on. Sometimes dinner would consist of a rather pricey beer alongside some ramen. I spent my money wisely.