From latkes and hamentaschen to bagels and gefilte fish, Jewish food has become an iconic part of American culture. Jewish booze, on the other hand, has mostly been relegated to punchlines about syrupy Manischewitz. Jeremy Cowan has helped to change all that. His Shmaltz Brewing Company, founded in SF in 1996, started with only 100 cases of hand-labeled He'Brew Beer. Fifteen years later, Shmaltz sells over 100,000 cases of its kosher craft beers per year, and has supplemented He'Brew with a second line of beers, Coney Island Craft Lagers.
The story of Shmaltz is documented by Cowan in his new book Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah, co-written with James Sullivan. Though Shmaltz's beer is now brewed in Saratoga Springs, NY, the company still maintains an SF office and does plenty of business in local bars. In recent years, they've introduced some popular extreme and barrel-aged beers, including the annual Jewbelation release and the R.I.P.A. on Rye, aged in Sazerac Rye barrels.
To celebrate, Cowan is making two appearances in SF. At each event, he'll read from the book, then guide a tasting of Shmaltz's offerings under both the He'brew and Coney Island labels. On Friday, May 13, from 12:30-1:30 pm, Cowan will be at Alexander's Books (50 2nd St., SOMA). Two days later, he'll read at Dog Eared Books (900 Valencia St., Mission) from 7-8 pm. Both readings, and the subsequent tastings, are free.