Shmaltz Brewing Graduates to the Hard Stuff

Future home of Shmaltz Liquor.jpg
Jason Henry
A Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel, future home of a distillate made from blends of Jewbelation beer.
Shmaltz Brewing was born in a San Francisco apartment in 1996; fourteen years later, San Francisco Business Times included Shmaltz in its "Top 20 Fastest Growing Bay Area Companies." How does something launched as a Hanukkah experiment become an award-winning bicoastal brewery? Chutzpah maybe, though Shmaltz has certainly done a fine job of adapting to trends in craft brewing. Its annual Jewbelation brew has long been a mainstay for fans of strong ales, and the brewery's recent barrel-aging projects have met with acclaim, including a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for Lenny's R.I.P.A. on Rye.

Now, Shmaltz founder Jeremy Cowan is hoping he's found a way to distill the brewery's success ― literally. Brace yourself for Shmaltz Liquor, entering the Bay Area spirits market as soon as the barrels say they're ready.

Jason Henry
Jeremy Cowan, right, leads a tasting at St. George Spirits in Alameda.
​Shmaltz has paired up with Alameda's St. George Spirits to create products distilled from the brewery's beers. The partnership is a logical match, since ― generally speaking ― whiskey is a sort of distilled beer. While whiskey is generally born from a hop-less "wash," these spirits will benefit from a bold base of Shmaltz brew, hops and all. As distillation itself is the concentration of a base product, it stands to reason that the better the beer, the better the distillate.

At this stage, three liquors are in development. A blend of beers from the Jewbelation series has been distilled and will soon find its home in a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel. Lenny's R.I.P.A. is becoming an un-aged (aka white dog) whiskey with possible additional hopping, and a Human Blockhead Lager distillate is destined for newer, lightly charred barrels.

SFoodie has had the pleasure of tasting initial batches of these spirits, which hadn't yet been diluted down to the appropriate proof for sale. These early previews clocked in around 80 percent ABV (file under: things that make you go "oy!") and featured a graham-cracker aroma with flavors of roasty malt, floral hops, and burnt wood. After dilution, barrel time, and finishing touches, this "chosen" liquor shows signs of pleasing aficionados of beer and spirits alike. Now if only Manischewitz would enter the brandy market...

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Hey All -A spectacular day and what should evolve into incredible new delicacies from Shmaltz Brewing through our friends at St. George's. Stay in touch and thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this project possible. L'Chaim!Jeremy Cowan, proprietor

Craft Beers 'n Brews
Craft Beers 'n Brews

I have to take exception to the title term "graduates". Clearly, the concept of graduation, implies a move from an immature to a mature position. Yet, this is hardly the case.

Here you have an independent, True Craft brewer, who started, as the article states, out of an apartment, has won medals at GABF, and was recognized as one of the "Top 20 Fastest Growing Bay Area Companies."

To say they they have "graduated" into the liquor business, implies that their Craft Beer efforts, were.. immature, at best.

I think, the term "Expands" would have been a wiser choice.

This is a company who seems to be exploring the Craft BREWING industry. They're not limiting themselves to beer. They're now venturing into Craft Liquors, which.. again.. are born from their bold ventures into the Craft Beer industry.

There's no "graduation" here. There's an expansion of interests, based on established and continued success.


I'm not a huge whiskey fan but I'd be willing to check these out considering my love for ​Shmaltz/He'brew beers. Thanks for sharing!

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