He'Brew broadens its market for 2 brews

One of the difficulties of discovering a fine craft beer is that too often you can't find it after sampling it at a competition or other special event.

One such is Coney Island Human Blockhead, from the whimsical and marketing-savvy folks at Shmaltz Brewing Company in New York where they turn out what they call "He'Brew, The Chosen Beer."

Human Blockhead was awarded the grand prize in the "Loose Lager" category at the U.S. Tasting Championship last July 2009, and it took second place in the "Strong Lager" category at the 2009 Manitou Springs Craft Lager Festival in Manitou Springs, CO, in August.

After that, demand grew for the beer, but supply wasn't yet there to meet it. However, it will be made available nationwide from this month through May 2010.

Schmaltz brewers use eight specialty malts of barley, wheat, rye, and oats to create Human Blockhead, along with six hop varieties from European Noble roots to American Pacific Northwest new school flavors, and a proprietary lager yeast. The finished product comes in at 10% alcohol.

Schmaltz also likes to name some of its products for prominent Jewish personalities, such as satirical comic Lenny Bruce. To commemorating the 40th anniversary of the caustic-tongued icon's death, the company is re-issuing Lenny's R.I.P.A. "brewed with an obscene amount of malts and hops." It is being offered in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles as a new year-round product beginning this month.

For those not up on their amusement park history, Coney Island has been part of Brooklyn legend as a vacation spot and then amusement center since the 1830s. One of its most enduring attractions for generations was the carnival area with its sideshows and rides.

Schmaltz Brewing uses some of the more bizarre sideshow personalities that have appeared there over the years as the title characters in its lineup of brews: Sword Swallower Steel Hop Lager, Albino Python white lager with spices, and so on.

The Human Blockhead was a performer who pounded nails into his head -- or at least appeared to do so -- to the horrified amusement of all who paid to see him. The first to have the role was magician Melvin Burkhardt, who had it for 25 years, and the act continues to this day as performed by the quaintly named Donny Vomit.

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