Brütal Brëws: Taking a Solemn Oath
Ah, beer. Engine of civilization! Scourge of
Matt Pike prohibition! Lifeblood of metal! There are few entities more perfectly suited to mutual descriptions than beer and metal. If you’re a beer aficionado, or even if you’re not, you can’t help but draw parallels between the sludgy, murky dirges of a doom band and the rich, layered tastes found in a dark porter. Both are more complex than their initial impressions suggest, and repeated enjoyment of either leads to more nuanced appreciation of their efforts, i.e., more bottles opened and higher volume headbanging.
Beer and music were meant for each other. They go together like Iommi and his SG; Wylde and pinch harmonics; Hetfield and tables. If you find yourself in the Chicago area anytime soon, here’s one brewery not to miss.
Situated in a tucked-away corner of the west suburbs, Solemn Oath opened its doors in 2012 and has quickly become a local favorite and staple of Chicago-area craft beer purveyors. Their sole taproom location is refreshingly minimal in both design and execution, stripped of all excess elements which can clutter the experience. There are no tours, no food, no waiters, no dining area and, most notably, no cash or tipping. Instead, patrons are encouraged to pick up a shirt, buy a beer for their server(s) or buy a beer for a friend, the results of which are tracked on two massive chalkboard charts. This straightforward approach helps to keep the focus on the most important element:
the ambiance the bike rack outside the beer.
One unique addition that has helped to set SO apart is its supremely badass in-house artist who designs all of their artwork. Black and silver beer labels look like album covers. T-shirts adorned with skulls and gauntlets look like tour shirts. The fonts on their beer list look like a schedule of bands appearing at Wacken. It’s tricky to say whether this artist is a fan of the same bands we all know and love, or if they just happen to have a style particularly suited to catching the average metalhead’s eye, but with beer names like Kidnapped By Vikings and None More Black, there’s at least a small degree of conscious acknowledgement.
This isn’t to say that SO specifically courts metal fans; you won’t find any beat-up Warlocks hanging on the wall or cheesy metallic foil murals of Dio behind the bar (although one time they did play a full Pelican album thru the stereo). Like any good business, or any good band, they know how to target and cater to their core audience while still keeping things appealing enough to newcomers. Still, it’s not hard to imagine seeing that art style on the poster above on the next Trap Them album.
On to the beer! Here are some not-at-all-helpful descriptions of what was available on tap that day.
Punk Rock for Rich Kids
A light-tasting beer the color of an old blonde telecaster; hoppy & citrusy with a light melon/Belgian finish. Very drinkable and damn good. Tastes like it would be best enjoyed on a nice, hot day with just the right amount of cool breeze, if the hot day is your mouth, and the cool breeze is this beer.
Slightly more bitter than PRfRK, this beer has a hoppier aroma and a sweeter, slightly more pronounced Belgian finish. Like being punched in the tongue by a pissed off mosh pitter whose girlfriend’s boobs you accidentally brushed against, only his fist is made of this beer. Tastes like it would be best enjoyed at a particularly drunk and intense Skeletonwitch concert.
Amber-colored with bitter caramel and dark fruit flavors; reminiscent of a sweet, drunken jack-o-lantern (on fire). If this beer were a time and place, it would be an acoustic Moonsorrow concert in the woods at sunset on a mid-autumn evening.
A clean-tasting black Kolsch with a strong coffee flavor and nutty finish; instantly makes you want more. Tastes the way Rammstein covering Satyricon at an abandoned coffee mill would sound.
Grassy, hoppy and earthy, resembles the smell of a dank basement (in the best possible way) with delicious hops basting in the sunlight. If a horde of forest creatures could drink and wrote a song about drinking and then had Battlecross sing that song about drinking, it would be this beer. Does that make sense? No.
A solid, hoppy IPA body with subtle pineapple/mango/grapefruit flavors. Feels like being on tour and stopping at a dive bar expecting a crappy house beer but getting this pint glass of golden perfection instead. This is the one time where having a snaggletooth is definitely a good thing.
What have you been drinking lately? What’s your favorite local spot? Discuss in the comments below. Stay tuned for next time when we visit the mighty Three Floyds.
(Header image via)