Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing is New York State’s first alcohol beverage triple threat, making beer, wine and distilled spirits under one roof. The complex is located in picturesque countryside an hour’s drive south of Buffalo, named after its location, between Route 5 and Route 20 in Westfield.
It’s run by the Mazza family, who established a market foothold along the Pennsylvania/Western New York border with Mazza Vineyard and Mazza Winery in the early 1970s. The new Westfield operation came about in part from a need for more space after Mazza Chautauqua Cellars, founded in 2005, outgrew its Mayville headquarters.
Addition of a distillery and brewhouse to the new space in July of 2015 has provided Five & 20 Spirits the flexibility to produce wine, beer and spirits all under one roof.
Three employees in particular have allowed Five & 20 to produce a range of spirit and beer options. All contribute expertise from various backgrounds. Head Distiller Joe Nelson has over 10 years of distillery experience. Virginia transplant Head Brewer Jimmie Walsh has been working as Head Brewer at Five & 20 for just a couple of months, but boasts previous experience from Southern Tier Brewing Company and O’Connor Brewing in Norfolk.
Tasting Room Manager Steve Armstrong, employed by the Mazzas since 2007 at other locations, lends his passion in culinary arts and recipe creation, and assists in all areas of the operation.
Two stills can be viewed through large glass panes in the front of the building. A 10-year-old 105 gallon (400 liter) still imported from German maker Christian Carl still was relocated from Mayville to Westfield. A recently acquired 660 gallon (2500 liter) still was added from Vendome Copper and Brass Works in Louisville, Kentucky.
A new Criveller brewhouse, made in Ontario, was installed at the Westfield location with compatibility in mind. The Criveller brewhouse was specifically designed and sized to support beer mashes as well as whiskey and other spirit mashes.
Five & 20 occupies 80 acres of farmland and abides by the “grain-to-glass” model; various plants used in production are sown about the property. Five & 20 is classified as a Farm Brewery under the farm Brewing Law, a law designed to increase demand for locally grown products.
This law dictates that at least 20 percent of the hops and 20 percent of all other ingredients must be grown in New York State. Five & 20 has obtained ingredients from local malt and hop growers such as Flower City Malt Lab in Rochester and Niagara Malt in Lockport.
As demand and production increases, Five & 20 plans to collaborate with additional growers to obtain ingredients. Five & 20 has grown its own rye grains as well, but had to cut the six-foot plus tall plants as they were blocking the view of the building from approaching visitors.
Two un-aged whiskeys are being produced: a corn whiskey (currently sold out) and a white rye whiskey made with 60 percent malted rye. Two aged whiskeys are bring produced: a rye whiskey aged 18 months in charred American Oak barrels, and a corn, rye and barley bourbon (currently sold out) aged a full two years in charred white oak. Un-aged whiskeys are available in the tasting room at $29.95 a bottle, and aged whiskeys can be purchased for $49.95.
In addition to whiskey, Five & 20 produces many other types of spirits. A grape vodka with a touch of blueberry flavor was designed from scratch upon customer request. Fruit brandies, called “Eau De Vie” meaning “water of life”, come in apple, plum, cherry, and pear flavors. Bottles of the traditional Italian spirit grappa, the lemon liqueur limoncello ($19.95/bottle), and a beer-based Afterburner Bierschnapps ($24.95/bottle) are available for purchase in the tasting room as well.
Beers are sold in a three tier system. Only tier one is currently available for purchase, and tier three is scheduled for release soon. Higher tiers correspond to either higher alcohol content or specialty barrel aging. There are currently four tier one beers available for purchase: a pale ale (5.4 percent ABV), a rye pale ale (6.2 percent ABV), a seasonal brown ale (5.1 percent ABV) and a stout (6.5 percent ABV).
Tier one beers cost $4.50 a pint in the tasting room, and growler fills are available at $7 for 32 ounces and $12 for 64 ounces. Five & 20 has commenced bottling operations, and plan to have bottles of tier one beers available for sale within a week or two.
Another room in the warehouse contains barrels obtained from around the world. Rum barrels procured from Saint Lucia currently house stout beer. Some of the barrels contain Brettanomyces, a yeast species that imparts a “funky” or “farmhouse” flavor to beers. These barrels add an additional level of flavor complexity to beer, but must be aged for months or years before being ready for consumption.
Five & 20 has limited distribution outside of the tasting room. Beer is currently available at Lockhouse Distillery in downtown Buffalo [read more about what's happening at Lockhouse]. Wines can be purchased at Premier Wine, Liquor & Spirits.
As the brewery and distillery increase production, the business expects to optimize distribution accordingly. For now, Five & 20 invites patrons to visit its new Westfield location for their wine, beer, and spirit needs.
Info: Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing, 8398 W. Main Road, 793-9463, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.