Since opening in May 2012, Solemn Oath Brewery has been distributing its beers to restaurants and bars throughout the Chicago area. But if you want to get the brews straight from the source, you should head to their taproom -- at 1661 Quincy Ave. in Naperville -- where you can enjoy some suds within sight of where they were made.
Motif: The taproom's extremely simple décor is limited to a bar set with just a few chairs where you can sit, drink and scope out the steel tanks the beer is made in. One wall hosts a blackboard detailing upcoming food truck visits and other events that Solemn Oath will be participating in. Two more blackboards are devoted to the "Beer for Friends" list, where customers can buy a beer or even a growler for a friend in absentia, which they can redeem the next time they come in. The feature's proven so popular that they had to wipe names off the board after 60 days, though procrastinating drinkers will still have their gifted drinks recorded in a Book of Shame so they can redeem them when they do visit.
Solemn Oath Brewery1661 Quincy Ave., Naperville, (630) 995-3062, solemnoathbrewery.com
Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 7 p.m. Sunday
Food: There's no kitchen here, but you're welcome to bring in leftovers, order food or take advantage of the food trucks from the city and suburbs that park outside on Friday nights.
Liquid consumption: The brewery only serves Solemn Oath beers, but you'll find roughly 10 of them on tap at any given time. Brews are constantly rotating since Solemn Oath doesn't make anything year round. Most are served for a few months, but some small-batch runs are only on tap for a day. No matter what you like in a beer, you can find something to enjoy here, whether it's the light Belgian-style Oubliette, the hoppy Skinny Jeans or Ridiculous pale ale, their mild Oktoberface marzen or the mellow but flavorful Man vs. Internet. If you're looking to explore their offerings, order a flight of four beers, which are nicely presented in short wineglasses tucked into a wood and metal case. Find a favorite and you can get a growler to take home, an especially good deal on Sundays where fills are $5 off.
Crowd: The taproom only holds 80 people, so you can find lines out the door on Friday night. The space is often standing room only, drawing in a mix of serious beer enthusiasts and novices interested in learning more about craft brewing. Ages span from late 20s through 60s, and with the early close you'll find the place is often still bustling right up until last call.
Service: When I asked for recommendations, the very friendly bartender offered to put together a flight for me and said she'd replace any brews I didn't like. That wasn't a problem, but she still checked in to chat and find out what our favorites were. It was especially nice to get that sort of personal attention even though the place was packed.
Parking: There are plenty of spots in the free lot, though the space is tucked in a warehouse park making it hard to find.
Overall: Craft beer doesn't get fresher than this.