Jeremy Cowan, founder and president of the Clifton Park-based craft brewer, said his brewery and three others have been collaborating each year since 2010 in what they call the Reunion project. The Shmaltz entry is once again a joint effort with Terrapin Beer in Athens, Georgia. Their version of Reunion 2017 is a tart brown ale with a light body and hint of cherry.
Shmaltz will often go bold and different on the Reunion project. “This year we stripped it down,” Cowan said.
The brew will debut at the festival, Thursday through Saturday in Denver, Colorado, then be available for retail sale in 22-ounce bottles and kegs. The other two breweries in the collaboration, 8th Wonder Brewery in Houston and Renegade Brewing in Denver, are contributing brown ales of their own.
Money raised through the sales of the limited-edition beers will aid the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research.
The assistance to cancer research is inspired by a friend of the Reunion project founders who lost her own battle with the disease. The hurricane assistance is inspired by recent events, and also by Shmaltz’s own storm history. Its own microbrewery — a nanobrewery, really, totaling about 150 square feet — was destroyed in Coney Island by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“Over the years we’re had lots of interns at Shmaltz Brewing,” Cowan said. “Two of them started their own breweries.”
They would be Ryan Soroka of 8th Wonder and Brian O’Connell of Renegade.
“The sad irony is Ryan was an intern when we had the world’s smallest brewery in Coney Island,” Cowan said.
Five years after Sandy, Soroka’s 8th Wonder Brewery helped evacuate survivors with its beer truck when Harvey inundated Houston.
The three-tier, one-gallon brewing system was rescued from the ruins of the Coney Island nanobrewery and is now on display at the Shmaltz Brewing tasting room in Clifton Park. Even when it was working, it was a novelty more than a serious commercial endeavour. That came a year after Sandy hit, when Shmaltz built its own brewery in Clifton Park and started making its own beers, rather than contracting the process out.
Cowan will reunite with O’Connell and Soroka in Denver this week to roll out the 2017 Reunion beers.
“We try to go every year,” Cowan said. “It’s the biggest beer festival in the country.”