You already know Jews are the chosen people (intelligence, devilish good looks, easy choice I think!), but did you know we have our own chosen beer? Well now Jew do! Shmaltz Brewing and their line of HE’BREW beers is the only Jewish heritage celebration beer out there. Proprietor Jeremy Cowan first thought of the idea in high school. He and his buddies joked about how funny it would to have a kosher beer and call it HE’BREW- The Chosen Beer. (Bwahaha- you all know how big a fan of puns I am!) But then he actually did it. We win!
Cowan started the company in 1996 (or 5757 for those following a Hebrew calendar) with Genesis- their flagship beer. Initially he worked with local Jewish groups, synagogues and Jewish festivals. But as the craft beer community grew, he started gearing his beer for these enthusiasts. These days, according to Rate Beer, it’s one of the top 50 brewers in the world. Not too shabby! I had the pleasure of chatting with Zak Davis, a National Sales Manager at Shmaltz Brewing to learn more about the Bubbe approved brew. Davis says they don’t sacrifice quality beer for a humorous product: “We take elements of Jewish tradition and shtick and infuse them into a product that still stands alone as quality craft beer.”
So the beer is certified kosher, of course, and it’s got shtick, but what else makes it Jewish? HE’BREW bases their beers on the Seven Species mentioned in the bible- figs, dates, barley, wheat, pomegranate, grapes and olives. Okay olive is the only one they haven’t mastered- yet that is. Davis says that Cowan is the visionary for the company. He is always coming up with new ideas for their company (finger’s crossed for a kosher for Passover beer!) He aims to be edgy and interesting, but also genuine and educational. I can relate to this sentiment. Whereas HE’BREW can attempt to educate young Jews who haven’t been to temple in forever, maybe my food can do the same. What it means to be Jewish is changing. It doesn’t mean have to be keeping kosher and going to synagogue every Friday night, but perhaps it can be proudly sharing a few HE’BREW beers over some homemade bagels and lox? Now that’s a Shabbat dinner right up my alley!
What’s next for Shmaltz? They recently launched Reunion Ale ’12- a dark imperial ale brewed in cocoa nibs, cinnamon and vanilla- in conjunction with Terrapin Beer Co. Not only does this beer sound delicious, but it benefits the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research. Why not commit a mitzvah while imbibing?
It’s not too early to start working on your Hanukkah list! Shmaltz’s 3rd Annual HE’BREW Holiday Gift Pack® (and the only Hanukkah Beer Gift Pack in the world!) features eight unique 12 oz. bottles of beers, custom glass, Chanukah candles and instructions on “How To Build Your Own Beer Menorah”! (Hint, hint Hanukkah Harry- I want one!)
And there’s more! Every year HE’BREW come out with an anniversary beer- Jewbelation. This year is their Sweet 16th anniversary (mazel!), so Jewbelation has 16 malts, 16 hops and (wait for it) is 16 percent alcohol. That is not a misprint. It is 22 ounces of glory, with a mirrored and hot pink label covered in cupcakes and unicorns. Get out of my head, Shmaltz! It’s like this beer was handcrafted just for me.
Jewbelation won’t be out until the end of October, but I got to try one immediately after writing the rest of this blog post (I have learned my lesson not to drink and blog!) The beer is super dark and super flavorful. I tasted vanilla, chocolate, nuttiness, a little coconut, and not as much bitterness as I expected. Delicious! One sip of the 16 percent ale and I had enough energy to frolic all around ACL. Jewbelation had me quoting one of the HE-BREW shirts- “Christ, that’s good beer.”
For my Texas friends, HE’BREW is new to our fine state. After receiving more emails to bring their beer to Texas than any other state, they launched in Austin, Dallas and Houston just this past April during SXSW (see you can make a difference!) And we are already their number three market! Boo yeah! Now you are probably thinking, WHERE CAN I GET THE BEER? Great question! HE’BREW can be found in H-E-B, Spec’s, Whole Foods, Central Market in addition to bars all over including Hopfields, Whip In, and more. L’chaim!
All photos courtasy of Shmaltz Brewing except that last one.