For Jeremy Cowan, founder of He’Brew, shtick is all part of the package. Armed with taglines including, “Don’t pass out…Passover,” and “Perfect for Bar Mitzvahs, weddings and circumcisions,” he has crafted his brewery’s entire identity around the name He’Brew. In a flash of signature witty irreverence, Cowan came up with his future brewery’s moniker in high school, joking around with some friends, ten years before it became a reality. “Among my friends, three of us were Jewish and we thought that you hadn’t made it in America until you had your own beer.” He envisioned a Jewish celebration beer that would straddle the fine line between wry satire and earnest religious values.
Not just He’Brew, but Shmaltz Brewing Company, to be exact. Cowan explains the name’s logic: “I wanted a name that would invoke that humor and irreverence. ‘Schmaltz’ is the Yiddish word for ‘chicken fat,’ and is used in old school Jewish comfort food, but also means a kitschy sense of humor. It also has ‘malt’ in the word, the backbone of any good beer.”
In 1996, with 100 cases to sell in time for Hannukah, He’Brew’s first bottled beer creation was aptly named Genesis Ale, followed by an ambitiously titled Messiah Bold. However, shtick alone isn’t enough to keep beer lovers coming back for more. He touts the use of bold ingredients such as pomegranate juice, rye and extreme combinations of hops to create big beers that are garnering a lot of interest from beer aficionados. Now celebrating its eleventh year, He’Brew has a
following all its own. Cowan quips, “Anheuser-Busch had the tagline, ‘the King of Beers’ and Coors, ‘the Banquet Beer,’ so it had to be ‘the Chosen Beer.’” L’chaim! –Sally Semegen