Jeremy Cowan, the owner of Shmaltz Brewing Company, is not known for being low key. At presentations and events he’s the loudest voice in the room, with a friendly Step Right Up carnival bark, pushing his line of HE’BREW and Coney Island Craft Lagers.
For a while now, Cowan has been talking about his desire and plans to open a brewery of his own, dropping hints about a 7-barrel brewhouse he’d like to operate in Brooklyn.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise when he announced early this morning that he has been quietly constructing a 50-barrel brewhouse in Clifton Park, New York, about 10 miles north of Albany. Since 2003 Shmaltz has been brewed at Olde Saratoga, a contract facility in nearby Saratoga, NY, but Cowan said that last year as the company grew, he saw a window of opportunity to transition into a new business model that would allow him to bring production into his own house.
The 20,000 square-foot facility will open by April, says Cowan, with the inaugural brew day to occur shortly after. Packaging will begin by late May or early June.
Cowan admits that things are moving quickly.
“The brew house is in, the filter arrived yesterday. Our bottling line is in Chicago, fermentation vessels arrive next week,” he said in a telephone interview early this morning.
The $3.25 million project boasts a custom-made, 5-vessel manual workhorse brewhouse as well as eight fermentation and two bright beer tanks manufactured in the U.S. from Oregon’s JV Northwest. The 100-bottle-per-minute packaging line comes from SBC/BC International. Cowan says that 100% of production is expected to be done in-house by mid-to-late summer 2013. This includes their 12 and 22 ounce bottled offerings, as well as draft, and their barrel aging program, which currently has an inventory of more than 300 bourbon, rye, and tequila barrels. Cowan says there are even some new beers and collaborations on the horizon for 2013.
In addition to the dozen current staff members on the Shmaltz payroll Cowan expects to add 10 more employees to work at the facility. This includes Paul McErlean, the brewer who created and perfected Shmaltz recipes while at Olde Saratoga, who will now join the company as “the consulting brew master.”
“It’s a killer opportunity for him to come on board with us,” says Cowan.
In a region that is growing and quickly embracing craft beer Cowan says that the new brewery will be a destination and attraction, with a 1,700 square-foot tasting room and 800 square-feet of office space.
According to recent data from the Brewers Association, Shmaltz is the 7th largest contract craft brewer in the country, producing approximately 12,000 barrels in 2012. Cowan said this morning that he is hopeful to grow that number to 15,000 barrels, meaning that the company would quickly gain regional brewery status.
As for that brewery in Brooklyn? Cowan says it’s still a possibility, with plans being worked out. He’s already secured equipment and hopes to make an announcement on that in due time.
Meanwhile, the official, public grand opening bash will take place on Sunday, July 7, 2013. Specific details will be announced at a later date.