The folks at Shmaltz Brewing Company really like tradition; particularly, they like Jewish tradition. After all, founder Jeremy Cowan has had great success with his line of Jewish-inspired beers, HE’BREW — The Chosen Beers, which he first started producing in San Francisco in 1996. With names like Genesis (for a “Dry-hopped Session Ale”) and St. Lenny’s (a Belgian-style double Rye IPA), Cowan’s Kosher beers are known for their kitsch factor as well as their high quality.
But Cowan loves to turn tradition on its head, too. After 17 years of being an outspoken advocate for contract brewing (meaning he did not have his own production facility, but would take his recipes to various other facilities to be made), Cowan moved his entire operation to Clifton Park, 10 minutes north of Albany, and opened a 20,000-square-foot brewery in mid-2013. The company that made the beer menorah famous will now produce all their brews — including this year’s limited-edition Funky Jewbelation, a blend of seven ales aged in bourbon and rye whiskey barrels — at the new site.
Cowan’s fun-loving company has also broken another tradition: They’ve created a beer that combines a Belgian ale with a European lager. “We are the only people in the world to do this,” says Shmaltz rep Jesse Cutler. Adds brewmaster Paul McErlean: “This ale-lager hybrid showcases qualities of two of our favorite traditional styles in the most untraditional way.”
The Rejewvenator 2014 is the fourth beer in the Rejewvenator series. The 2009 and 2010 versions took home consecutive Gold Medals at the 2009/2010 World Beer Championships. This year’s version, which combines a Belgian Style Dubbel Ale and a Doppelbock European Lager, adds in California Merlot grapes and New York Concord grapes. “This brings Shmaltz’s bi-coastal roots full circle, and contributes a luscious complexity of vibrant flavors,” say Cutler. Shmaltz is selling the limited-edition brew in both 22-ounce bottles and on tap at select bars (see below) — but only through the end of June.
Of course, Shmaltz is not the only brewery to be experimenting with the beer-wine hybrid. Delaware-based Dogfish Head Ales has been a leader in this trend. Locally, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Elmsford has been brewing both with wine grapes, and in wine barrels, since it opened in 2006; while the Newburgh Brewing Company’s Magnanini Niagara Tripel uses grapes from a family-owned winery down the road.
Rejewvenator 2014 is available at select retailers, including Half Time (in Poughkeepsie and Mamaroneck) and the Green Growler Grocery (in Croton-on-Hudson), as well as on tap at Schatzi’s Pub & Bier Garden in Poughkeepsie.
For more information, visit www.shmaltzbrewing.com.