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Chicagoist "Beer of the Week:" Solemn Oats Barleywine

By Paul Schneider in Food on Mar 23, 2012 8:20PM


Soon-to-open Solemn Oath Brewery teamed up with Rock Bottom's Lombard brewpub to create Solemn Oats, a 10.5 percent ABV behemoth of an American barleywine. Our only question: Can we have it for breakfast?

The Rock Bottom brewpub in Lombard is a familiar place for Tim Marshall, where he was brewmaster before giving notice last year that he was leaving to start Solemn Oath with brothers John and Joe Barley. Rock Bottom moved Davin Bartosch, then brewmaster at the Warrenville location, over to Lombard to fill Marshall's brewing boots. The two worked together to create Solemn Oats, an encouraging first taste of what's soon to come from the ambitious Naperville-based Solemn Oath, and another reminder that Rock Bottom brewers are making exciting, well-crafted beers with the best of them.

Solemn Oats is cloudy and honey-colored with a frothy eggshell head, served in a long-stemmed chalice. The aroma is sweet and slightly grainy with more than a modest amount of west-coast hop character. The flavor is malt-forward, but nuanced by a subtle-but-sharp hop pungency and a just-there dose of boozy heat. Full-bodied and well-carbonated, this beer benefits from a not-messing-around addition of oats, making for a velvety mouthfeel that disguises its gaudy alcohol content and sets up a smooth finish that hems and haws between fruity esters and grainy malt.

When we interviewed the Solemn Oath crew last month, they excited us with their plans to release 20-25 different styles of beer in their first year of production. If Solemn Oats is any indication of the quality and creativity Marshall will bring to his brewing, we'll be sure to try them all. Solemn Oath is planning their official launch to coincide with the kick-off of Chicago Craft Beer Week on May 17. Until then, schlepping to the west burbs to grab a pint of Solemn Oats at Rock Bottom in Lombard may be your only chance to have any.