The biggest, the smallest, most award-winning, and still the only Jewish beer company in America, Shmaltz Brewing Company announces its farewell season after 25 years in the beer business with the first and final release of Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA in 16oz cans, vintage gems from the Shmaltz beer vault, and a fitting tribute, Exodus 2021 Barleywine Ale (8.8% ABV) brewed with Date, Fig, Pomegranate, and Grape. Shmaltz goes out with a bang with a nationwide “Farewell to Shmaltz Tour” a.k.a. the Class of ’96 Celebration a.k.a. Let My People Brew a.k.a. The No Shmucks Tour, which kicked off at the Craft Brewers Conference 2021 (Denver, CO) with a dozen Class of ’96 breweries plus industry sponsors all presented by ProBrewer with more than 400 enthusiastic craft beer fans.
Leading up to Hanukkah 2021, Shmaltz hosts a slew of craft beer events in markets nationwide. The first round of events kick-off on Thurs., Nov. 18 at Barcade – Philadelphia (1114 Frankford Ave, 4pm – 6pm) and Standard Tap (901 N 2nd Street, Philly, 6pm – 9pm) with Jeremy Cowan (Owner & Founder, Shmaltz Brewing), Bill Covaleski (Co-Founder & Brewmaster, Victory Brewing), Mark Edelson (Founder, Iron Hill Brewery), and Brian O’Reilly (Brewmaster, Mainstay Brewing) showcasing their latest winter seasonals. Shmaltz then pours at the New York State Craft Brewers Festival (Landmark Theatre, Syracuse, NY) on Sat., Nov. 20 (4pm – 8pm). Shmaltz’s 518 Craft tasting room (Troy, NY) hosts a “Donut and Beer Extravaganza” on the first night of Hanukkah (Sun., Nov. 28, 1pm – 4pm).
On Saturday, Dec. 4 at Barcade – NYC (148 W. 24th Street, 4pm – 7pm) and Spuyten Duyvil (359 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, 2pm – 4pm), Shmaltz hosts the holiday favorite, “Hanukkah vs. Christmas: The Battle Royale of Beers.” At The Independent (5016 N. Florida Ave, Tampa, FL, 4pm – 8pm), Shmaltz joins Original Sin and Dunedin Brewing for an epic “Class of ’96” beer bash with live music and food pairings on Sunday, December 12.
Select events will feature Shmaltz Liquor – Small Batch Whiskey. Distilled from multiple years of Jewbelation Anniversary Ales and aged 9 years in Buffalo Trace and Pappy Van Winkle Barrels, Shmaltz Liquor was distilled at St. George Spirits (Alameda, Calif.) for SF Beer Week 2010. After aging for 9 years to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of Shmaltz, Cowan will have Shmaltz Liquor – Small Batch Whiskey available in NYC, Philly, and Tampa, and will be sold nationwide during the holiday season.
HE’BREW Beer Is Born And Becomes A Craft Beer Phenomenon
Evolving from a quirky holiday experiment to an innovative advocate for the beer industry, Shmaltz has been known for its creative brand building, as a champion of contract brewing (both brewer and brewee), for completing multiple complex business deals, and as relentless punsters. Founder and owner, Jeremy Cowan quipped, “Was it Mark Twain or Groucho Marx who said, ‘You can’t start a new chapter without putting a period on the last one. Otherwise it’s just a typo.‘”
When Shmaltz Brewing began in 1996 hand-delivering 100 cases of its beloved “HE’BREW – The Chosen Beer” out of owner/founder Jeremy Cowan’s grandmother’s Volvo, 700 small independent craft breweries represented only 2% of the beer market. Along with other “Class of ’96” breweries (Stone, Firestone Walker, Victory, Three Floyds, Two Brothers, Original Sin, Iron Hill, Coronado and many others), Shmaltz put roots down for an industry that has since created and sustained a transformative movement, growing to nearly 10,000 craft brewers and over 20% of the overall beer market by revenue. Shmaltz stood out as one of the most idiosyncratic brands of its day; one that cooked along for an initial 10 years and in the mid-2000s became a pop-cultural phenomenon with a dedicated global cult following.
From the label of Exodus 2021: “25 years – A life in so many chapters,” wrote Jeremy Cowan (Owner/Founder). “The sacred species, bountiful throughout: ‘Of wheat and barley, grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, olive trees & date honey (Deut 8.8).’ Tolstoy: ‘One must have the prospect of a Promised Land to have the strength to move.’ Bart and Lisa: ‘Are we there yet, are we there yet, are we there yet…’ Let us rise above plagues and false idols to fare thee well, let your life proceed by its own design, and sing sweet songs to rock our souls. THANK YOU, TRIBE!! L’Chaim – To Life!”
Highlights of 25 Years of Shmaltz Brewing Company
From the early years of self-distributing to growing to four then 45 wholesalers nationally, Shmaltz served as an unusual example and vocal advocate for contract brewing before opening its own 50-barrel 40,000 square feet production brewery in Upstate New York. Shmaltz expanded production volumes by 400% to over 30,000 barrels by then contracting for other renowned national and regional beer brands in addition to brewing their award-winning Shmaltz portfolio.
Shmaltz was ranked one of the “Top 100 Brewers in the World” by RateBeer.com (2013); a recipient of the “Distinguished Business Award” by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; included in the “Top 50 Fastest Growing Bay Area Companies” by San Francisco Business Times; and given the “Achievers Award” by the Albany Business Review. The brewery amassed more than 50 medals at the leading craft beer festivals, including the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Championships, US Beer Tasting Championships, and others.
Proudly participating across the spectrum of the Jewish community with non-profits, arts groups, and service organizations, “HE’BREW Beer” made it to the White House for “Jewish Heritage Night” and served during multiple presidencies (Bush, Clinton, Obama), as well as multiple eras of New York City Mayors. A bottle remains in the permanent collection at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco), and Cowan’s book Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah: How It Took 13 Years, Extreme Jewish Brewing, and Circus Sideshow Freaks to Make Shmaltz Brewing an International Success is now an offering at the Jewish Center for the Blind. Cowan’s national book tour hit influential indie book stores such as The Strand (NYC) and Kepler’s Books (Palo Alto, CA) as well as events at Craft Brewers Conference, BrewBound Talks, SF Beer Week, NYC Beer Week, and a plethora of beer bars nationally.
Shmaltz operated the “World’s Smallest Commercial Brewery” in Coney Island, Brooklyn, which spearheaded the creation of Coney Island Craft Lagers (sold to Alchemy & Science, a division of Boston Beer Company). “HE’BREW Beer” further found its way into fanatical TV shows and motion pictures such as Friends, Garden State, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, CNN Headline News, The Today Show, and many others. It secured the only license from CBS Consumer Products to brew two critically acclaimed Star Trek Golden Anniversary Ales to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the iconic franchise, Star Trek. Shmaltz later released a Collector’s Edition beer commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Cowan and his team were also invited to brew George Washington’s “Small Beer” recipe in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the New York Public Library.
From comedy and music events with the likes of Sarah Silverman, Lewis Black, Judy Gold, and Matisyahu, to epic holiday parties Chanukah vs. Christmas: The Battle Royale of Beers, Shmaltz Brewing always served up the perfect punchlines (“Don’t Pass Out, Pass Over”). However, when it came to brewing world-class beer, quality and innovation was no joke. Inspired by Jewish tradition or mystical connections between Moses and Mel Brooks, Cowan and his brewing teams designed unique and compelling experiments — over 150 beers across 4 brand lines — often with high ABVs, hybrid styles, and barrel aged blending that could stand arm-in-arm with the best of the best.
Shmaltz Brewing is a testament to a company that stayed true to its founding values while keeping innovation at the heart of its efforts. Come toast 25 years of Quality, Community, and Shtick along with Cowan and his fantastic sales, marketing and bar staff in Troy and at one of the national events in NYC, Philly, Tampa, and more throughout the remainder of 2021, which will be listed on facebook.com/ShmaltzBrewing.
While it’s a Farewell to Shmaltz, it is not a goodbye for Cowan as he focuses on Alphabet City Brewing Company (with distribution throughout the New York metro area), his 518 Craft tasting room in Troy, NY, and a burgeoning consulting practice.