Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, February 28, 2011

Shmaltz Brewing Graduates to the Hard Stuff

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 1:49 PM

click to enlarge A Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel, future home of a distillate made from blends of Jewbelation beer. - JASON HENRY
  • 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.

click to enlarge Jeremy Cowan, right, leads a tasting at St. George Spirits in Alameda. - JASON HENRY
  • 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...

Follow Jason Henry on Twitter @ JasonHenrySF . Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,

About The Author

Jason Henry


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • Jack White at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
    Jack White and his band performed at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday and Saturday nights in front of sold out audiences. Jack entertained his fans with music that included songs from his days with The White Stripes, and The Raconteurs, as well as hits from his solo albums; Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. Photography by Sugarwolf.
  • San Francisco Street Food Festival 2014
    The San Francisco Street Food Festival was another success this year. Dozens of vendors with original, unheard-of creations, such as deep fried mac and cheese on a stick, black pea paste pancakes, and Korean quesadillas. Then there was the comfort foods we've grown accustomed to, like creme bruleé, shrimp rolls, and pound cake. Photographs by Mabel Jimenez.