San Francisco Chronicle

Jeremy Cowan: Shmaltz Brewing chief writes memoir

by Louis Peitzman, Special to The Chronicle

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beer and Judaism go together like – well, by all accounts they don’t. But although the Jewish religion may not have a rich history of brewing, Shmaltz Brewing founder Jeremy Cowan notes that the “Jews don’t drink beer” stereotype is way off the mark.

“As I’ve said for years, and as we know from experience,” he says, “the Jewish fraternity guys, like my father, probably drink just as much beer as the non-Jewish fraternities next door.”

With the release of his book “Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah: How It Took 13 Years, Extreme Jewish Brewing & Circus Sideshow Freaks to Make Shmaltz Brewing Co. an International Success,” Cowan tells the story of his brewing company’s humble Bay Area beginnings, and how Shmaltz Brewing grew.

Writing it all down was always part of the plan, but when Cowan founded his company in 1996, he wasn’t sure how far it would go.

“For many years when I was starting the business, and it was such a struggle to break even financially, I always thought that it would make a fantastic story,” he says, “even if it wasn’t a spectacular business.”

The impressive growth of Shmaltz Brewing – including two lines of beer, He’brew Beer and Coney Island Craft Lagers, as well as having sold more than 10 million bottles of beer to date – should serve as inspiration to anyone thinking about starting his or her own business. At the same time, “Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah” highlights the challenges Cowan and his employees have faced – not to mention the amount of work it takes to keep the company afloat.

“We really are living the dream,” Cowan says, but “we really do work incredibly hard for such small margins, no paid sick days and obsessive dreams about work.”

Although “Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah” is a memoir of sorts, it was important to Cowan that he leave the story unfinished. After all, this is far from the end of Shmaltz Brewing.

“The point of the book was to give a glimpse of a small business and an owner’s perspective while in the throes of the project,” Cowan says. “The reader at the end of the tale realizes that we are still in the middle of the story and are writing the adventure every day we stay in business.”

And while “Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah” does pair well with Shmaltz Brewing’s beers, Cowan says his book should also appeal to nondrinkers. It goes without saying, but being Jewish isn’t a requirement either.

“Anybody who has dreamt of or is obsessed by owning their own business, and anyone who gets a kick out of the challenges involved … should be able to appreciate the book,” Cowan says. “My goal from the beginning was to simply write a compelling story that would stand on its own as a meaningful work of writing.”

This article appeared on page G – 21 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Time Out New York: The Brewmaster’s Bookshelf

The Brewmaster’s Bookshelf

Boost your suds IQ with these standout tomes.
By Andrew Frisicano

For the aspiring entrepreneur…

Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah: How It Took 13 Years, Extreme Jewish Brewing, and Circus Sideshow Freaks to Make Shmaltz Brewing Company an International Success (Malt Shop, $16.99) By Jeremy Cowan with James Sullivan

Jeremy Cowan started the Shmaltz Brewing Company in 1996 with little more than the tongue-in-cheek name of his signature line, He’Brew. His story traces the evolution of Schmaltz from its humble beginnings in his San Francisco apartment to its current success with the He’Brew and Coney Island labels. It turns out to be an inspiring, if cautionary, tale, with detours into drug use, divorce and near bankruptcy. Cowan is an affable and irreverent storyteller, and while the beer knowledge dispensed is minimal, his mix of cheeky anecdotes and hard-earned business wisdom drives the narrative.
Beer wisdom:
“[Cowan’s business plan after five years:] I figured I’d get a one-way ticket to Bangkok and go at it from there.”

CBBM Named One of “The Best Jewish Food Books of 2011″ !!!

The Best Jewish Food Books of 2011
By Devra Ferst

“Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah” by Jeremy Cowan with James Sullivan
Many a passionate cook and home brewer have fantasized about starting an artisanal food company someday. Jeremy Cowan, the founder and owner of He’Brew (the only American Jewish beer company we know of) documents his company’s coming of age in the beer biz in this beer-memoir. While Cowan’s book won’t give you an exact guide for how to start your own beer company it’ll give you insight into just how far enthusiasm and a bit of shtick can take you.

Matteo’s Public in Nevada City, CA!

Hello Beer and Book Geeks! 

Sending well wishes and hopes that your 2012 is starting out as the best one yet!

If you are in the Northern California area, please join us in Nevada City for some great wit and tasty beer on January 18th. Jeremy will be doing a book reading and beer tasting at Matteo’s Pub.

You won’t want to miss this gathering if you… like beer… lit a menorah last month… or just like to laugh. I’m guessing that means all of you.
Wednesday, January 18th @ 6pm
Hosted by: Matteo’s, Harmony Books, Tom McCormick & Kim Milligan

Gift books soaked in beer: A guide to what to get your favorite craft beer lover for the holidays

By Josh Noel, Tribune Newspapers

December 21, 2011

Should you be unclear what to get your favorite craft beer lover for the holidays, I have a suggestion, and no, it’s not beer: a book about beer. An impressive number of books about the world’s most wonderful beverage have come out in recent months and would make ideal holiday gifts. Here are a few possibilities.

“Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World’s Craft Brewing Revolution,” by Joshua M. Bernstein The best-looking and most fun to read on this list, it’s a how-to guide for the beginning hipster beer nerd. Extra cool points for the book jacket, which unfolds into a beer map of sorts that shows the relationship among various styles and offers suggestions for the best of each. $24.95

“Chicago by the Pint: A Craft Beer History of the Windy City,” by Denese Neu If interested in Chicago’s beer history long before Daisy Cutter, this is the book for you. Each chapter begins with a brief synopsis of a present-day brewery, followed by a passage about our city’s brewing history — all the way down to the city’s first commercial brewery, Lill and Diversey Brewery, which opened “about 1841.” $19.99

“Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah: How it Took 13 Years, Extreme Jewish Brewing and Circus Sideshow Freaks to Make Shmaltz Brewing Company an International Success,” by Jeremy Cowan with James Sullivan Cowan, founder and owner of He’Brew and Coney Island beers, writes an interesting and breezy autobiographical account of breaking into the beer world. Heavy on both beer and Judaism, it makes for — needless to say — a killer Hanukkah present, especially when paired with a six-pack of He’Brew. $25

ATTN: New York Beer+Book Nerds!

Jeremy is making his way from California to his other home of New York this week and we have two awesome reading/signing events in Manhattan and Brooklyn !!

What: Reading, Signing and Tasting
Where: The Strand, 828 Broadway (at E. 12th St), NY, NY
When: Wednesday, December 14, 7-9pm
Event is 21+ and Shmaltz 15th Anniversary Party “Christmas vs. Chanukah” will be held after at Taproom 307 (307 3rd Ave); for more info see here!

What: Reading, Signing and Tasting
Where: The Powerhouse Arena, 37 Main Street (corner of Water & Main St.), DUMBO, Brooklyn
When: Thursday, December 15, 7-9pm
For more info see here! To RSVP please call 718.666.3049 or email

NBC Philadelphia: It’s a Beer ‘Bar Mitzvah’

Jeremy Cowan will be signing copies of his new book, “Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah” at The Foodery

By Jenise Ortiz, for NBC Philadelphia
Monday, Dec 5, 2011

It’s OK to drink and read especially if you’re reading a book about how one craft beer came to be huge success.

The 2nd and Poplar location of The Foodery will host Shmaltz Brewing Company creator Jeremy Cowan on Sunday Dec. 18 from 4 to 7 p.m. to promote his newly released book, Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah.

Don Russell a.k.a. Joe Sixpack, a known reviewer of beer will be joining Cowan during this event with beer tasting along with reading parts of his own book, What the Hell Am I Drinking?

It doesn’t stop there though. The after-party at Devil’s Den on the 1100 block of S. 11th Street will feature Shmaltz’s line up of beers (He’Brew, etc.) going head-to-head against Pennsylvania’s finest Christmas beers in The Battle Royale of Beers Showdown.

So come and find a new book to read all while drinking and learning about delicious crafted beer.

The event is 21-plus of course.