Exodus 2021: A Farewell to Shmaltz Brewing Company

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Oct 6, 2021.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,506) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    Shmaltz recently announced that after 25 years, this will be its final year and they're going out with a bang; including some final beer releases and events. Here's the recent newsletter and press release:


    Hi Tribe - BIG NEWS!

    In addition to celebrating 25 Years of Shmaltz Brewing, please see the press release below about our FINAL SEASON of Shmaltz Brewing. Also a fantastic article from Brewbound on our "sunsetting" - very sweet coverage.

    Farewell, adios, adieu, sayonara, shalom - Shmaltz is going out with a bang!

    One last season through the end of 2021 of spectacular beers and, I would suggest, superb shtick. Oh and a righteous Farewell Tour! (I’m actually sticking around my beloved beer biz but with different priorities and projects for 2022 - more on that below.)

    SHMALTZ BEERS for the Grand Finale:

    —Bittersweet Lenny’s RIPA in 16oz cans and draft.
    —Hop Manna in 16oz cans.
    —Limited supply of Vintage kegs of the extreme stuff: High ABV, barrel aged, sours. 22ounce bottles you know it!
    —Exodus 2021 - Barleywine brewed with pomegranates, grapes, figs, and dates. 16oz cans and draft.

    Parties have officially kicked off with the Denver CBC ProBrewer Class of '96 bash and then our hometown blowout in Troy NY for Troy Night Out - bands, booze, arts and celebrations!

    New beers will all be ready to ship this month and hitting shelves throughout the fall and into the Holidays.

    OK there's LOTS more to reflect on - but for now - THANK YOU ALL for bringing Shmaltz and me personally to this incredible milestone. I could never have done this without you! Can’t wait to see what the future has in store - new life chapters to write, new adventures to explore.

    More soon - L’Chaim for now,

    Jeremy, Alex, Jesse, Beth, Devin, Bob and the whole Shmaltz Posse



    Jeremy Cowan (Owner & Founder) of Shmaltz Brewing Company Wrapping Up 25 Years of Quality, Community and Shtick!

    New 25th Anniversary Sacred Species Barleywine Release and a Farewell Tour to Celebrate in Classic Shmaltz Brewing Style

    Farewell but not Goodbye: Cowan to focus on Alphabet City Brewing Company, the 518 Craft Tasting Room in Upstate NY, and Expanding Consulting Projects

    Troy, NY -- Wednesday, September 22, 2021 -- 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. 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 quips, "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," writes 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 -- 25th Anniversary Events:
    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, 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.

    Up next are Upstate New York events including a "25th Anniversary Extravaganza" at Troy Night Out on Friday, September 24 (6pm - 11pm) at their tasting room 518 Craft in downtown Troy, NY (200 Broadway) with Super 400, JB & The Funky Nuggets, DJ Nate Da Great, "Fall Forward" art show with Thom Williams, craft vendor faire by Make It Upstate and Nadine Medina Design, food by Chewish, and artisanal chocolates by Primo Botanica.

    On Saturday, September 25, Cowan hosts a very special Invite-only 25th Anniversary Reception at Yankee Distillers (5 Fairchild Square, Clifton Park, NY, 4pm-6pm) to sample Batch One of Shmaltz Liquor (multiple years of Jewbelation Anniversary Ales distilled and aged 9 years in Buffalo Trace and Pappy Van Winkle Barrels), and the debut tasting of Exodus 2021 Sacred Fruit Barleywine.

    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, San Francisco, Philly, DC, Tampa, and more throughout the remainder of 2021, which will be listed on facebook.com/ShmaltzBrewing.



  2. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,506) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    Also from the most recent newsletter:

    Jeremy Cowan Discusses Sunsetting the Brand after 25 Years and His Next Steps with Brewbound's Jessica Infante

    After a quarter-century as the nation’s first and only Jewish craft beer brand, Shmaltz Brewing will sunset its operations following a farewell tour this fall.

    “We’ve accomplished so much more than I ever imagined with He’brew and Shmaltz Brewing that why not be really proud and excited to put a bow on it on Year 25?” founder Jeremy Cowan told Brewbound.

    Cowan started Shmaltz in San Francisco in 1996, delivering the first 100 cases of its He’Brew brand family — beers with names and ingredients inspired by Jewish culture — to Bay Area accounts in his grandmother’s Volvo.

    “Who would have ever guessed, certainly not me, that in 1996, having a dancing green rabbi looming over the stones of Jerusalem and the Golden Gate Bridge, with a punchline like ‘Don’t pass out, Passover,’ who would have guessed that was turned into a real company, a real project?” Cowan said.

    In 2020, Shmaltz’s production volume was flat year-over-year at an estimated 2,500 barrels, according to data from the Brewers Association’s May/June issue of the New Brewer. Volume was down from the estimated 5,500 barrels in 2018.

    Shmaltz Brewing is far from Cowan’s only endeavor in the beer industry. He founded Coney Island Brewing in 2007 and sold it to the Boston Beer Company in 2013. Shmaltz opened a brewery in Clifton Park, New York, and built a 30,000-barrel contract brewing business before selling the facility to Queens-based SingleCut Beersmiths in 2018. Cowan opened the 518 Craft tasting room in Troy, New York, in 2018.

    With the discontinuation of Shmaltz, Cowan plans to devote his time to his consulting practice, the 518 Craft tasting room, and the Alphabet City Brewing Company brand, which Cowan acquired in 2016 from Manhattan-based friends who built it from their homebrewing hobby.

    For its final act, Shmaltz has brewed Exodus 2021 Barleywine Ale, an 8.8% ABV beer brewed with fig, pomegranate and grape. The beer will be available at a series of farewell events that began during the Class of ‘96 Celebration during Craft Brewers Conference in Denver earlier this month.

    As for Shmaltz’s future, Cowan said he’s “open to a lot of creative directions,” should a potential buyer emerge for the brand’s rights.

    Cowan discussed highlights of Shmaltz’s 25 years and offered thoughts on the craft beer industry’s evolution with Brewbound. The transcript of this conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

    On Shmaltz’s genesis: “I thought I was starting a Jewish nonprofit. I thought I was starting an organization that would do arts and crafts and culture and food and literature and music, all through the lens of beer. … I had a zillion events with Jewish newspapers, Jewish magazines and Jewish community organizations and on-campus organizations and holidays and festivals. But that actually didn’t end up being what the business was.”

    On Shmaltz’s first chapter: “Twenty-five years — sometimes you just look at it as one big chunk, but for Shmaltz it really hasn’t been one big chunk. … It was really only four years in San Francisco in the very beginning that I was self-distributing. I had jumped into a few new wholesalers, but even at the time I got so much wonderful PR and media coverage, and people were just so tickled.”

    On the Bay Area mid-1990s craft scene: “Around me were already the whole generation of obviously Sierra Nevada, but Anderson Valley, North Coast, Lost Coast and Bear Republic started the same year I did. I was down the street from Anchor Brewing, where I had my very first official beer tasting education class with Dr. Joe Owades, one of the iconic Jews in beer, who for better or for worse, invented light beer, but also worked with Jim Koch at Boston Beer on their original lager recipes. That was the pool I was swimming in, and I was so lucky to have that around me at the time.”

    On adapting a nomadic lifestyle in 2003 for Shmaltz’s second chapter: “I literally just drove around the country. I didn’t even have an apartment, I would crash with friends or sublet once in a while, or stay at my mom’s friends’ timeshares in Boca Raton. Those five years were incredible. That was seeing the country in such a unique way. That’s when I really made a bunch of great beer friends from everywhere, and we’d have events and parties. During those years I was lucky enough to sit in on panel discussions or beer tastings or beer dinners with people like Rob Tod at Allagash or Sam [Calagione] from Dogfish [Head] or Tomme [Arthur] from Lost Abbey. It’s so cool to be able to have participated — I was in my mid 30s so I was still pretty young, and those guys are my heroes.

    "I moved back to San Francisco for a few months in 2008. We had just started Coney Island in New York with one beer, a lager. And that was when all of a sudden I realized, I’ve got to move back to New York. So, I had gotten off the road for the first time and then I basically was back and forth between San Francisco and New York for five more years. That was when I was really able to expand the Shmaltz Brewing beer lineup. We came out with all of those extreme beers and went to all the Beer Advocate fests. I got to speak at Craft Brewers Conference, and tasted for GABF [Great American Beer Festival], had an amazing Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah during GABF. That was just so much fun. That year we also published a small business memoir, Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah. That was incredibly meaningful.”

    On running a 30,000-barrel brewery in Shmaltz’s third chapter … and selling it: “At the time I had been on the road doing sales and marketing for basically 17 years, and then all of a sudden I moved up to Troy, New York, and I was driving to the brewery every day running a factory. I did that for six years and was able to get it to a place where I realized I liked focusing on sales and marketing. I’m not the expert, and it’s not my passion to run a factory.”

    On being the only Jewish craft beer brand: “I kept waiting for the shelf that wouldn’t say ‘Michigan’ and it wouldn't say ‘IPA,’ it would say, ‘Jewish beers.’ It never happened. It’s so funny. I don’t know what the moral of the story is. Either nobody needs Jewish beer, or we did a good enough job that nobody could possibly try to David and Goliath us in the Jewish beer category.”

    On craft beer today vs. craft beer in 1996: “In the mid ’90s, it was when I started, there were only 700 breweries total. … I wasn’t even experienced or sophisticated enough to realize that in 1996, there was a massive crash going on. It was Pete’s Wicked Ale and Sam Adams and Sierra and you saw them everywhere. But then realizing like brands that had been around and you never saw it again, like Catamount. …There were a lot of the same beers being made and a lot of companies that just weren’t ready to go to the next step.

    “Today, there’s tons more demand. Craft beer has completely become part of the fabric of American food, popular culture and the economy. So, completely different situation, the foundation is literally 10-plus times bigger than it was, even if it’s still really hard to grow.”

    The missing piece: “It’s really hard to innovate in a market that has unlimited innovation. What’s more the problem is we really slowed down our ability to do the education, with sales reps and marketing. They got us each of those incremental steps in the first place. That’s how we got from 4% to 6% to 8% to 10%. There was a Dogfish rep or a Lagunitas rep or a Brooklyn Brewery rep that was literally teaching everybody on the staff, customers, kitchen people. Unfortunately, just the economy of the business model for the market has made it harder and harder to do that.

    “I do see a lot of writing and reflection on the fact that there’s so many double dry hopped double IPAs, so many kettle sours and so many pastry stouts, but we just have to remember that almost nobody outside of our little bubble has any idea what those are. We had to tell everybody what an IPA was many years ago. We’ve got to get back to telling people what a hazy IPA is, we’ve got to get back to telling people who love wine why they’re gonna love sour beers, or people who love chocolate and coffee and dessert why they’re gonna love rich complex stouts.”

    On September 24th we celebrated 25 years of Shmaltz Brewing Company at 518 craft in Troy, NY! This kick-off extravaganza included the launch of extra-special anniversary beer Exodus 2021, plus music from Capital Region legends Super 400, our in-house 518 masters JB and the Funky Nuggets, renown DJ Nate Da Great, plus delicious chow from our friends at Chewish, and artisanal chocolates from Primo Botanica, among others.

    Stay tuned for more anniversary/farewell extravaganzas from Shmaltz in NYC, Philly, Florida, Washington DC, and San Francisco in the coming months!

    Tucquan, JrGtr, Rug and 1 other person like this.
  3. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,624) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    That's an impressive exit.
    rgordon, muchloveforhops3 and Rug like this.
  4. Rug

    Rug Meyvn (1,297) Aug 20, 2018 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    Quite ashamed to say I've never had a beer from Shmaltz. Really enjoyed reading about their history here
    Squire likes this.
  5. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,624) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    Neither have I and probably never will but I enjoyed reading their story.
    Rug likes this.
  6. joedodger

    joedodger Initiate (41) May 6, 2008 Michigan

    Wait. I just did my (second ever) review, and it was of Jewbelation 14 just last week. Sad to see it go away. But thankful for the memories it has brought us! Congratulations, and THANK YOU, one and all. Now get off my lawn!

    Drink what you like.
    Squire, Tucquan and Rug like this.