After a chance encounter between Shmaltz Brewing Co. owner Jeremy Cowan and The Comedy Works club owner Tommy Nicchi, Shmaltz’s Tasting Room has found a new home that will keep them in Saratoga County.
In May, Cowan’s Shmaltz Brewing Co. sold its 30,000-barrel Clifton Park facility in order to focus on brand building. While contract brewing arrangements were made ensuring the beers would continue to be produced and distributed without interruption, the future of the brewery’s tasting room was left in question, according to the company.
In July, plans were made for the Newberry Music Hall, a downtown Saratoga Springs dance venue owned by, and adjacent to, Nicchi’s Comedy Works Comedy Club, to be converted into a full-service event space focused on a wider demographic beginning in early 2019.
In September of 2018 Cowan, who brews a Lenny Bruce-inspired beer (Bittersweet Lenny’s Rye Double IPA aka R.I.P.A), popped in to the Comedy Works thinking the beer would make a good fit as an offering to comedy fans. Cowan and Nicchi had never met. By the end of that day though, the framework was created for the Shmaltz Tasting Room in Saratoga Springs, the company said.
“His beer is amazing and Jeremy has such creative ideas,” Nicchi said of Cowan. “Right in front of me was a successful brewery owner, still hitting the street going bar to bar. He’s a hustler in the best sense of that word.”
“I had no idea a space like this even existed in Saratoga Springs,” Cowan said. “I’d heard of The Comedy Works and knew their reputation and once I got to talking to Tommy I knew he would have my brands best interest at heart.”
The space Cowan refers to is a 4,000-square-foot venue located at 388 Broadway which for many years operated as Newberry Dance Club.
“Originally I leased this space to build a comedy club, but the front room just didn’t lay out well so we built the showroom in the back and really have just sat on it for the past four years,” Nicchi said.
The new Shmaltz Tasting Room, scheduled to open in late January, will be a partnership between the two organizations. Larry St. Pierre who spent many years in the original Newberry Dance Club, will also be involved.
Shmaltz, whose business model has changed to focus on contract brewing with supporting tasting rooms, including their recently opened space at 200 Broadway in Troy, will oversee product, creative and marketing. The Comedy Works and St. Pierre will primarily handle the entertainment, facility and day-to-day operations.
While some renovation will take place in December and January, much of the space is already built including a 50-foot long bar, built in sound and light systems capable of accommodating national touring music acts, and a large dance floor. A full kitchen, which currently services The Comedy Works, is already on site and a 20 item menu will be available for guests of the Shmaltz tasting room, something the Clifton Park location did not offer.
The popular Latin dance nights, already a weekly happening at the Saratoga location, will also continue. New programming will include live music, fundraising events, story telling events, movie nights, sports viewing events and a Sunday brunch.
The Comedy Works Comedy Club will continue to operate in the same space and will expand programming to include Wednesday and Sunday nights. Additionally, they will exclusively offer the Shmaltz brands as the only beer offerings in their showroom.
“Having Shmaltz here now gives our guests a place to come before and after our shows without ever having to leave the building,” Nicchi added.
A late January opening date is planned in advance of both Shmaltz’s Mid-Winter Beer Festival to be held at the new location, and Saratoga Springs’ popular Chowderfest in early February.
Cowan established Shmaltz Brewing in San Francisco in 1996. The first 100 cases of He’brew Beer were hand-bottled and delivered throughout the Bay Area from the back of his Grandmother’s Volvo. Shmaltz Brewing now sells He’brew Beer across 30 states, through 40 wholesalers and in nearly 5,000 retailers.
In the past several years, Shmaltz Brewing introduced its line of upstate New York focused farm beers under the 518/838 Craft brand name, acquired and rebranded the Alphabet City Brewing beers, and signed an exclusive licensing agreement with CBS for a series of Star Trek beers distributed through its sales network.
In 2018, Shmaltz also signed a national sales and marketing partnership with Artisanal brands, who represents renowned brewers such as Bosteels (Triple Karmeliet), La Trappe, and American craft brewers Fulton (MN) and Whiner (IL).
For more information, please visit: www.shmaltzbrewing.com