SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY — Sometimes it really IS about right place right time. After a chance encounter between Shmaltz Brewing Company owner Jeremy Cowan and The Comedy Works Comedy Club owner Tommy Nicchi, The Shmaltz Tasting Room has found a new home that will keep them in Saratoga County.
In May of 2018 Cowan’s Shmaltz Brewing Company, brewers of the Shmaltz, He’brew, Alphabet City and 518/838 brands, sold their 30,000 barrel Clifton Park NY facility in order to focus on brand building. While contract brewing arrangements were made ensuring the award-winning beers would continue to be produced and distributed without interruption, the future of the brewerys tasting room was left in question.
In July of 2018 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 a/k/a R.I.P.A), popped into the Comedy Works thinking the beer would make a good fit as an offering to comedy fans. Cowan and Nicchi had never met each other, nor were they aware of each others situation. By the end of that day though, the framework was created for the Shmaltz Tasting Room in Saratoga Springs.
“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 stated. “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 the wildly successful Newberry Dance Club (located below the Pig & Whistle Restaurant, next to Boca Burger Bar, and across the street from Druther’s Brewing Company). “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 4 years,” Nicchi said.
The new Shmaltz Tasting Room, scheduled to open in late January, will be a partnership between the two organizations as well as longtime Saratoga Springs bartender Larry St. Pierre who spent many years in the original Newberry Dance Club that occupied the facility. “This really is exciting for me,” said St. Pierre. “Things have come full circle. I already know a lot of friends and former customers who came here in their 20s and are loving the idea of a more ‘grown up’ space now that we are all a bit more ‘grown up.'”
Shmaltz, whose business model has changed to focus on contract brewing with supporting tasting rooms, including their recently opened space at 200 Broadway in Downtown 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 during December and January, much of the space is already built including a 50′ long bar, built in sound and light systems capable of accommodating national touring music acts, a 14′ television screen and Downtown Saratoga Springs’ largest 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 that their Clifton Park location did not offer.
Many of the successful events Shmaltz hosts in Clifton Park will come to the Tasting Room in Saratoga Springs including their weekly runners club and their beer festivals. The popular Latin dance nights, already a weekly happening at the Saratoga location, will also continue. New programming will include live music, fundraising events, storytelling 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.
About Shmaltz Brewing Company
Founder and owner Jeremy 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.
RateBeer.com ranked Shmaltz as one of the “Top 100 Brewers in the World” in 2013, and the brewery recently brought home 1 platinum, 10 gold and 6 silver medals from the World Beer Championships.
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
About The Comedy Works
Originally founded as a comedy, magic & variety club in the basement of Tom Nicchi’s “Deli Works” restaurant in Albany in 1981, The Comedy Works has become one of the longest continuously running comedy clubs in America.
Over the past 38 years, The Comedy Works has presented 64 of the “Top 100” Stand-Up Comedians of All-Time (as ranked by Comedy Central) including Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart.
In 2014 The Comedy Works, now operated by the next generation of Nicchis, relocated from Albany to Saratoga Springs and built an intimate cabaret-style showroom that currently hosts over 300 shows annually.
For more information, please visit: www.thecomedyworks.com