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Shmaltz Brewing Company
Shmaltz logo.jpg
Handcrafters of HE'BREW Beer and Coney Island Lagers
Location Saratoga Springs, New York
United States
Owner(s) Jeremy Cowan
Year opened 1996
Annual production 5,000 barrels (587,000 liters)
Genesis Ale Pale ale
Messiah Bold Brown ale
Origin Amber ale/Fruit beer
Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. Double India Pale Ale
Rejewvenator Doppelbock/Dubbel/Fruit beer
Jewbelation Strong Ale
Coney Island Lagers
Coney Island Lager Euro-American Lager
Sword Swallower India Pale Lager
Albino Python White Lager
Freaktoberfest Blood Lager
Human Blockhead Strong Amber Lager

Shmaltz Brewing Company is an American brewing company based in San Francisco, California that owns HE'BREW Beer and Coney Island Lagers. Founded as “a celebration craft beer for Jews” by proprietor Jeremy Cowan, the company’s beers now are distributed in over thirty-one U.S. states, Canada, and England. Shmaltz is known for blurring beer styles and using puns, art, history, and pop culture in every aspect of their products.

JF shmaltz bottles.jpg



HE'BREW Beer began as a Chanukah experiment in 1996 when founder and proprietor Jeremy Cowan and friends squeezed pomegranates to produce juice for the first HE'BREW beer.[1] Early distribution for this beer was done by Cowan himself out of the trunk of his grandmother’s car in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1997, Anderson Valley Brewing Company began brewing HE'BREW Beer and its distribution expanded to small craft beer wholesalers in California, Chicago and New York.[2] 2003 marked the year Shmaltz began packaging Genesis Ale and Messiah Bold in six-packs and moved production to Mendocino Brewing Company's facility in Saratoga Springs, NY. Six beers currently make up the HE'BREW Beer line: Genesis Ale, Messiah Bold, Origin Pomegranate String Ale, Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., Rejewvenator, and Jewbelation. All HE'BREW Beers are certified Kosher by the Kosher Supervision of America.


HE'BREW Beer is widely recognized for its playful yet earnest study of Jewish, world, and pop cultural histories. Each label of HE'BREW Beer lists facts and quotations related to the beer’s inspiration and its ingredients. For example, Origin, an imperial amber pomegranate ale, pays tribute to the original 1996 HE'BREW beer made with pomegranates, and its label contains facts, ancient mythology, and pop cultural references to pomegranates. Another component of HE'BREW’s marketing is its “shtick,” which incorporates Jewish religious references into the beers’ names and slogans. Genesis Ale is aptly named because it was the first HE'BREW creation, and the tagline to Messiah Bold is “the beer you’ve been waiting for,” which alludes to the Jewish belief that the promised savior of the world has yet to come.

Messiah Bold


In 2006 HE'BREW debuted Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., a rye double IPA dedicated to the late Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce. This beer is brewed with an "obscene" amount of malt and hops, including three kinds of rye malt and seven different hop varieties. Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. is the first in a series of “Tributes to Jewish Stars” and is available year-round.

Shmaltz offers the Rejewvenator and Jewbelation series as limited seasonal releases. Rejewvenator is a half-doppelbock, half-Belgian-style dubbel that takes inspiration from the German custom of brewing strong, dark lagers (bocks) for springtime release and adding the suffix “-ator” to the beer’s name. Rejewvenator's spring-to-fall availability coincides with the barley harvest in the spring and the hop harvest in the fall, as well as with the spring and fall new years in Jewish tradition. As a lager-ale hybrid, Rejewvenator is fermented by lager yeast and Trappist and abbey ale yeasts, and each year a different sacred species fruit is added to the fermenting wort. The 2008 Rejewvenator, for example, featured fig juice, while the 2009 Rejewvenator is made with California date juice.

Inaugurated as an eighth-anniversary ale called Jewbelation 8, Shmaltz commemorates their anniversary with each subsequent edition of Jewbelation by using the same number of malts, hops, and alcohol-by-volume value as the number of years they have been brewing. Numerology is integral to the Hebrew alphabet and Judaism, and in recognition of this aspect of its Jewish heritage, Shmaltz features religious, scientific, and cultural facts and quotations involving the special anniversary number on the Jewbelation label. This extreme beer is released in the fall, and Chanukah 2009 will mark the 13th anniversary of Shmaltz and the release of Jewbelation 13. In keeping with the Jewbelation tradition, this beer will contain 13 malts, 13 hops, and 13% ABV. Jewbelation 13 also will be known as Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah because in Judaism adulthood is celebrated at age thirteen with a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

Both Jewbelation and Lenny's RIPA have inspired national benefit events and annual traditions. Following the release of Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., Shmaltz sponsored an "Homage to Lenny Bruce & Free Speech," a fundraising event that featured Sarah Silverman and Lewis Black. In connection with each Chanukah season, Shmaltz hosts an annual beer challenge “Chanukah vs. Christmas: The Battle Royale of Beers” in national markets including NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore and others.

Coney Island Lagers

Summer 2008 marked the official national launch of Shmaltz's Coney Island Craft Lagers line. This brand was released in collaboration with the arts organization Coney Island USA, a 501(c)3 Non-Profit, and a portion of the proceeds from Coney Island Lagers directly benefits Coney Island USA. The line includes the flagship amber lager, Coney Island Lager, and four experimental lager styles: Sword Swallower, Albino Python, Human Blockhead (February - June 2009) and Freaktoberfest (Halloween 2009).

Human Blockhead


Shmaltz gained permission from Coney Island USA to use the Coney Island name for its line. Three Coney Island Craft Lagers feature performers from the Coney Island Circus Sideshow on the label. The striking artwork for Coney Island Lagers is the creation of Shmaltz’s art director Matt Polacheck and Brooklyn-based tattoo artist Dave C. Wallin, whose original illustrations spotlight Heather Holliday (Sword Swallower) and the MC of the sideshow, Donny Vomit (Human Blockhead).

Coney Island Craft Lagers is the exclusive beer at the MoMA’s Sculpture Garden in New York City. Its signature “Beer Freak” logo also inspired Roger Mallette, founder of the cycling jersey company Retro Image Apparel, to create Micro Beer Jerseys, a spin-off venture that features jerseys with craft brewery artwork[3]. The launch of Freaktoberfest, a seasonal blood-red lager, was celebrated in October 2008 with Shmaltz’s First Annual Coney Island "Freaktoberfest" Boutique Craft Beer and Music Festival in Coney Island. The 2009 festival will be held in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


  1. ^ "He'Brew". Shmaltz Brewing Company. Retrieved 2009-09-21.  
  2. ^ Brand, William (2005). "He’brew - The Chosen Beer: How It All Began". Northwest Brewing News. Retrieved 2009-09-21.  
  3. ^ Laura Oppenheimer, “Cycling Jerseys Show Off Retro Flair,” The Oregonian, March 17, 2009.

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