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Must Have: He’Brew, The Chosen Beer

“What do you think of the beer?” I asked my friend after he had taken his first few sips. “Shofar, so good,” he replied. This delightful pun was made possible courtesy of Shmaltz Brewing Company and He’Brew, its line of … Read More

By / July 25, 2008

“What do you think of the beer?” I asked my friend after he had taken his first few sips.

“Shofar, so good,” he replied.

This delightful pun was made possible courtesy of Shmaltz Brewing Company and He’Brew, its line of Jewish novelty beer. (And the number 18. Har.)

As all the Jewcers who came out to our home turf event this week now know, He’Brew is the perfect beverage to spice up an evening. Everyone looked pretty happy sipping on their Messiah Bold (“It’s the beer you’ve been waiting for!”) and Genesis Ale (“Chutzpah never tasted so good!”). I think they can all agree that He’Brew lives up to its title of “The Chosen Beer.”

In speaking with Jewcy about how he came to be a Jewish beer maverick, Shmaltz Brewing founder Jeremy Cowan said, "Back in 1996, I had the idea of brewing a batch of craft beer for Chanukah, just as an experiment. I produced 100 cases and hand delivered it to San Francisco Bay Area stores using my grandmother’s Volvo, and it all sold out. I felt the community reacted really well to the product, so in 1997 I made a distribution deal with Anderson Valley Brewing Company, and here we are 11 years later having sold over 3 million beers.”

Jeremy still attributes He’Brew’s tremendous success in part to this initial grassroots support. “The company has had very steady growth with a ton of exposure via
word-of-mouth, top press outlets praising the brand, and for many years now, we’ve been winning awards at the finest craft beer festivals across the country. In the last 4 years, Shmaltz has grown 550% and Shmaltz now employs 5 full-time employees, and we have interns in several cities. We have always been dedicated to brewing delicious and quality craft beer that ranks amongst the top beers in the country, and participating within the community with outrageous events over the years. I’m proud that we’ve developed quite the cult following.”

It’s no wonder why He’Brew has gained cult status, what with its humorously kitschy brand names and impressive taste, not to mention the incredible pun-creating opportunities it provides. Jeremy admits that Shmaltz has a comedic side. “We obviously like to have fun with each beer we produce," Jeremy says. "For example, we recently launched a new line called ‘The Shmaltz Tribute to Jewish Stars’ with our first offering being a tribute to legendary satirist Lenny Bruce. Its called Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.”

But there is also a nobility to He’Brew. Shmaltz takes its brewing seriously, and it also tries to maintain a direct connection to Judaism. Jeremy continues, “We are interested in having a direct tie to Jewish culture and the community and we find fun, creative ways to make that connection. Our latest creation is Rejewvenator. It’s a fig-infused, harvest to harvest, half doppleboch, half Belgian-inspired dubbel hybird lager/ale. It’s the newest addition to our sacred fruit line-up. Rejewvenator is an annual release spanning from the first month of the Jewish Calendar in the Spring (historically coming after the barley harvest) to the High Holidays in the Fall (marking the creation of the world, and the second fig harvest of the year). Last year, we released Origin Pomegranate Strong Ale as pomegranates are also a sacred fruit. Origin is a renewal of our original HE’BREW covenant, brewed once again after 10 years with the juice of over 10,000 luscious pomegranates. 2008 marks our fifth year producing our Chanukah seasonal, Jewbelation. We sell it out every winter, and we’re proud to say its the ‘most extreme Chanukah beer’ ever created. Last year, we put out Jewbelation Eleven. It was brewed with 11 malts, 11 hops, and soaring to 11% alcohol. Its a big, delicious beer! This year, we’ll turn everything up a notch with Jewbelation Twelve.”

One of Shmaltz’s newest pursuits is its commitment to the arts, albeit an offbeat one. Shmaltz recently launched a “new line of five sideshow-inspired Coney Island Craft Lagers.” Those getting ready to mourn the impending demise of Astroland Amusement Park will be glad to know that part of the proceeds from the Coney Island Craft Lagers go towards Coney Island USA, whose purpose, as Jeremy describes it, is “to defend the honor of lost forms of American popular arts and culture in Brooklyn’s historic Coney Island neighborhood.”

Jeremy walks us though the Coney Island Lager line: “Our new line-up features three year-round attractions including Coney Island Lager(TM) (5.8% alc), Albino Python(TM) (White Lager, 6% alc) and Sword Swallower(TM) (Steel Hop Lager, 6.8% alc), and two seasonal curiosities Human Blockhead(TM) (Tough-As-Nails Strong Lager, 8.8% alc, summer 2008) and Freaktoberfest(TM) (Blood Red Lager, 6.66% alc, Halloween 2008.)”

What else is going on at Shmaltz these days? Jeremy tells us, “This summer is all about Rejewvenator. We are using over 500 gallons of Fig juice, and its just a delicious beer.”

Other than that, Jeremy reminds us that Shmaltz remains “The smallest, the biggest, the best, and still the only Jewish celebration beer in the country!”

Anyone else craving some Jewish ale? Find He’Brew in your neighborhood!

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