Weekly Feature

2016-09-22 / Local News

OP natives spark rebirth with Lakeward Spirits

by CHRIS GRAHAM
Editor


Chris Sasiadek, left, along with Steve and Adam Bystran, are three of the parties involved with restoring the Barrel Factory and converting it to the craft distillery Lakeward Spirits. 
Photo by Jennifer WatersPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Chris Sasiadek, left, along with Steve and Adam Bystran, are three of the parties involved with restoring the Barrel Factory and converting it to the craft distillery Lakeward Spirits. Photo by Jennifer WatersPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Four individuals who have their roots in Orchard Park have stayed close to home to open a craft distillery in the City of Buffalo and offer the building that houses it a resurgence.

Steve, Andrea and Adam Bystran and Chris Sasiadek presented a soft opening of Lakeward Spirits, located within the historic 113-year-old, 43,000-square-foot Barrel Factory on 65 Vandalia St., on Sept. 1. The distillery makes all-grain vodka using barley, wheat and rye.

Steve and Andrea Bystran co-own the venture, with their son, Adam, serving as head distiller. Their son-in-law, Sasiadek, is the vice president of regulatory compliance.

“We’d been talking about doing a distillery for about five years,” said Steve Bystran. “I happened to be at Gene’s [Old First Ward bar Gene McCarthy’s] with a friend having a pint, and I looked out the front window and saw this big red building.”

The building was purchased in 2013 and shares the space with other tenants: Elevator Alley Kayak and Snowy Owl Kombucha. Sasiadek said making sure the facility used reclaimed materials was important.

He added that some of the railings, staircases, posts and parts of the bar are made from 200-year-old American Chestnut timbers that came from a barn in Hamburg that collapsed during the November storm in 2014.

The facility contains a distillery, barrel room, a distillery event center and a bar. The distillery, barrel room and bar are on the first floor. The event center, which can be rented out for weddings and tastings, is on the second floor.

The name Lakeward Spirits came from Adam Bystran. He said numerous names were discussed.

“The reason I thought Lakeward was the strongest was it didn’t talk about something in our past, it talked about a resource that has always been there,” Adam Bystran said. “To me, it embodies the way we want to think about water and material use here. Lakeward is a way of thinking about — you take something in, how are we putting it back into the system?”

The company aims to reuse heat and take finished grains to the Urban Farmer Pirates, a composting group on the East Side of Buffalo.

He added that the original idea was to do a whiskey distillery, but he said a business can’t open with a 3-year-old whiskey. He said the distillery had to open with something else until it had the time to age the whiskey to where it should be. The company is making vodka, gin and rum in the three-year period. Bystran said there is a plan to have whiskey products eventually. The company’s current available offering is Grain Canyon vodka.

Bystran said the vodka has the aroma that some people associate with a whiskey.

“Vodka has to be made to 95 percent purity before we can sell it legally as vodka, but that 5 percent that we have left is all aroma of this local grain,” he said.

The product having local roots is key, according to Sasiadek.

“When you’re drinking Grain Canyon vodka, not only is it a very good product, it’s locally made, by local labor using local grains,” Sasiadek said. “It’s your neighbors you’re supporting.”

The company will hold a grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 8. While the space is still under construction, tours are being given of the distillery. Tours are at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 1 and 3 p.m. Sundays. The regular business hours are noon to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

For more information on Lakeward Spirits, visit www.Lakeward Spirits.com.

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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