Creating a Solid System for Integrating Barrels Across Multiple Beverage Brands

Innovation is always going to be what drives new consumers to your brand, it seems, and that can be a conundrum when working with barrels for brands that take time and effort.

For a “triple-threat” beverage manufacturer like Mazza — a winery that has branched out into both spirits and beer — working in new timeframes has been a significant adjustment, said VP and GM Mario Mazza.

“For spirits, it’s questions like: Okay, how did that one sell? Which one do we need to do more or less of? What’s the update?” he explained. “You’re trying to guess on some of these since it’s another three years for some. And you’re like, Well, how’s this going to turn out? It’s so different from the brewing world, and that’s been the adjustment for me. I came from the wine world, where it’s like, Okay, you gotta get everything done. And then next year, the grapes are gonna be different, but you have a year or two and you get to try again.

READ MORE: This Unique Sustainable Practice is How Five & 20 Uses Spent Grain

“Brewing, it’s like, I’ll try that again tomorrow. I mean, you don’t know how it turns out for a couple of weeks or longer with the barrel-aged beers. But that’s been a really interesting part of the experience … the ability to repeat quicker on those cycles. That kind of leads to that demand for always gonna be something new. What’s new, what’s next?”

There are several products that Mazza has now been making under its Five & 20 Brewing brand that Mazza says he thinks are cores and won’t go away now. That includes more barrel-aged products now that they have figured out a good system.

“We’re not leveraging it nearly as much as we could or should have,” Mazza said. “We have the wine, we have the spirits barrels, so we have things that are crossing over. So we have some cool products.”

One that is a house favorite is a Rye Whiskey Pale Ale called Rhiskey Business.

“We were inspired by the idea of Jameson’s Caskmates,” Mazza said​, explaining also that some of the lower ABV barrel-aged beers are still packaged in 750s while others are cork and cage bottles​. “​It was a natural extension​ for us.​ You see fewer of these, but there are a few of us that still find an affection towards this package. It was just something about that package that we like.​”​

​Added brewer Joe Nelson, who manages the beer barrel side of things, Five & 20 along with the Mazza winery and spirits are working at “doubling down” on barrel-aging as well.

​”I’m excited about that personally on several levels, but I think it speaks to what we do more​,” he said. “I think it’d be great for getting more fruit stuff. Some of it’s tricky​. Some of that works well​.

​”​It’s not contrived. It’s authentic. It’s what we do. To a degree, it’s a natural extension. It’s like, well, we have these, let’s do ​what with them. Leave them empty or make something cool​? Let’s make something cool.​”​

Photo courtesy Mazza Winery

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.