June 12, 2009
The Foaming Head Recently Interviewed Jeremy Cowan, Owner of Shmaltz Brewing Company.
The Foaming Head: You guys have an interesting bi-coastal business that seems to work well for you guys. Can you explain a little bit as to exactly what goes on in San Francisco and what goes on in New York?
Jeremy: I grew up in the Bay Area and started Shmaltz Brewing Company in the Mission District of San Francisco in 1996. I’m still living in SF, so Shmaltz’s headquarters are based out of here. We have several employees working out of SF as well. There’s a lot of opportunity for craft beer on the West Coast. We have easy access to many of the big craft beer cities like Portland, Eugene, Seattle and Denver… and we can easily visit with wholesalers all along the coast. Our PR firm is based here, so a lot of brainstorming and projects are launched from the Bay Area.
On the flip-side, and most importantly, we’ve moved the production and brewing of all our beers East to Mendocino Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, NY. I spend roughly a quarter of my time in Brooklyn, NY. When we launched our new line of Coney Island Craft Lagers™ in 2007, I felt it was really essential to spend solid time in NYC to launch the brand straight out of Brooklyn. Our Art Director and 2nd in command at Shmaltz, Matt Polacheck, is based in Brooklyn and handles our key East Coast accounts. All the graphic work and our collaboration with tattoo artist Dave C. Wallin (designed all the Coney Island Craft Lagers™ beer labels) comes out of New York City.
TFH: Most of your beers come in 22 oz. bombers. Is there a reason for the larger packaging?
Jeremy: Recently more innovative high quality and even experimental recipes get packaged into 22 oz bottles for beer people to sample with friends or on their own. It’s a great package for special beers that can have more limited distribution and lower packaging costs than six packs. And, the big bottles are really fun to drink out of.
TFH: One of the bigger debates is on the aging of beer. The criteria are usually a bigger beer with a higher ABV. Since you produce several robust beers with higher ABVs, where do you stand on the aging debate? Which of your beers do you think are best for aging?
Jeremy: Generally we don’t produce beers specially intended to age, however styles like Jewbelation, Rejewvenator, and Human Blockhead certainly have enough horsepower to last several years. The change in flavors over time add to the enjoyment of complex beers. It’s a fun adventure to see the change in flavor over a period of time.
TFH: In an interview early last month with the guys at Monday Night Brewery, you mentioned that “We are considering opening a retail space and/or bar in NYC”. Can you elaborate a bit more on that? Is anything definite?
Jeremy: We have been open to the idea and exploring creating homes for Shmaltz Brewing Co. in NYC and SF, however for the moment we are excited to focus on our national wholesale distribution. Stay tuned!!!
TFH: What is your favorite New York craft beer aside from any of your own?
Jeremy: Captain Lawrence and Ithaca are a special treat when you can find them. Six Point and of course Brooklyn Brewery are stand buys in a lot of the accounts in NYC.