When it came time for Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing to select a new head brewer to replace the departing Jimmy Walsh, they looked within and chose on of their own in former brewing intern Paul Alessi.

After Walsh accepted a brewing position at Goochland, Virginia’s Lickinghole Creek Brewery, Five & 20 had a pretty sizable hole to fill and chose a familiar face in Alessi to do, someone who was already familiar with the brewery itself.

Alessi started out as an intern with Five & 20, where he worked under Walsh (aka ‘The Great Jimmy Walsh’ as Alessi himself puts it). He studied Brewing Science at Erie Community College and was a founding member of the Stumblin’ Falls Homebrew Club. On top of his experience, Alessi is also currently studying to be a Cicerone. So, after Walsh returned to his home state of Virginia, Alessi was invited to step up to the position of Head Brewer.

“Paul has a passion for beer and brewing, specifically in the WNY region,” Five & 20 says of Alessi. “He is a proud member of the first Brewing Science graduating class at ECC and a founding and active member of the Stumblin’ Falls Homebrew Club in WNY (for almost 20 years.) He has traveled to various parts of the world, tasting great beer and visiting different breweries, and is currently studying to become a certified Cicerone. Paul is proud to work for an independent WNY craft brewery and is excited to continue to collaborate with local farmers to create great locally crafted beers.”

Alessi candidly admits that the promotion to the lead brewing role came as a bit of surprise. He also says that very familiar (and much missed) person turned him onto Five & 20 in the first place.

“The promotion was definitely unexpected, and has been quite the challenge,” Alessi says. “However, I’m certainly up for it. Five & 20 has a great support system in place for me, as I am able to reach out to our distillers and winemakers for any questions I might have. I’ve had several great teachers throughout the past couple years. They include former professors at the ECC Brewing Science program, our former head brewer Jimmy Walsh, and other local brewers. I realize I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance from all of those great teachers. When I was looking for a place to intern, it was my late microbiology professor Kevin Wise, who told me about Five & 20. His excitement for me to be working at a brewery/distillery/winery, [one] that did so many unique projects, was enough for me…and the rest is history.”

So, now onto the important things – the beer. Five & 20 has released the second vintage of Rhiskey Business, their Rye Pale Ale aged approximately 7 months in freshly dumped rye whiskey barrels. Alessi says that the brewery is also currently exploring aging their Barleywine in either Sherry or Port barrels.

“Congratulations on stepping up, Paul, and best of luck to Jimmy in his new brewing venture at Lickinghole Creek,” Five & 20 says.

Check out www.fiveand20.com for more information.

Brian Campbell is a co-founder/Brand Manager of the BNBA’s enthusiast arm, Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at buffalobeerleague@aol.com, on Twitter at @buffbeerleague, on Instagram at @buffalobeerleague and on Facebook at @thebuffalobeerleague.