CLIFTON PARK, NEW YORK
Residing at a fairly inconspicuous gray aluminum warehouse with a large grain silo in the rural Industrial town of Clifton Park (ten minutes north of Albany), SHMALTZ BREWING COMPANY has a long history that goes back to the Nineties – before the brewpub craze hit full stride. Led by adventurously nomadic gypsy brewer, Jeremy Cowan, an entrepreneurial San Francisco resident with bi-coastal interests, Shmaltz found a cool niche crafting unorthodox malt-dominant beers celebrating his Judaic heritage.
In 2013, marketing and sales braniac, Cowan, opened this spacious 50 barrel brewhouse. Though most of the site is taken up by gigantic backroom brew tanks, the quaint serving station area looks more like a no-nonsense beer store with its bottles and cans spread all across the smallish venue. A fire-pitted smokers lounge patio leads customers into the wood-furnished pub.
On this rainy Friday evening in early December 2018, I get to quaff a few tap-only delights while buying a few bottles of previously untried fare.
Part of Shmaltz’s Star Trek beer series, Profit Motive Hopped-Up Golden Ale utilized IPA-like yellow grapefruit and orange rind bittering as well as piney hop astringency to balance its grain-toasted pale malt sweetness.
Caramelized plum invigorates 838 Plump Monk, a nifty Belgian Dark Ale with candied prune-raisin-fig sentiments and lilting port-burgundy wining drifting into dried cocoa malts.
Fruitful double dry-hopped enticement, 838 DDHMAO New England-styled IPA brought juicy orange-peeled grapefruit tanginess to the fore as ancillary peach-mango-pineapple tropicalia gained luster over its creamy vanilla-sweet pale malt base.
Honeyed apple cider and spritzy lemon snips engaged light-bodied Apples & Honey Imperial Lager, though its lager base seems nebulous and its delicate setting seemed out of place amongst the maltier fare.
For chestnut-hued strong ale, Chanukah In Kentucky, Jim Beam bourbon whiskey subtly soaks seamlessly into vanilla-beaned chocolate, coffee, cola and hazelnut pleasantries as well as dark cherry niceties above its oats-sugared caramel malt base.
Finally, 2008′s Rejuvenator (aged 10 years) celebrated the year of the fig in easygoing fashion. Brown-sugared prune, raisin and cherry sweetness reached its chewy chocolate center while dewy chestnut tones and wispy molasses, pecan, toffee and grape reminders added further subtle complexities.