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Rusty Nickel's brewtenders match the beer to the customer

You won’t find a bartender in Rusty Nickel Brewing Company.

But you will find “brewtenders,” called this because every person who serves beer at Rusty Nickel has a hand in brewing it. Each brewtender also is required to go through the first level of Cicerone training - think beer sommelier - to become a certified beer server.

This training covers every aspect of serving beer from pouring technique and temperature, to which shape of glass will best accentuate the flavors of each style of beer. The servers pair this with their knowledge of Rusty Nickel’s own beers to make recommendations. Brewtenders ask which styles or flavors customers like and even take into account outside factors like the weather before offering a sample.

When asking for a recommendation on a chilly day, I told co-owner Jason Havens that I usually drink red ales and stouts.

“Do you like coffee?” he asked me, “because we have a great coffee stout.”

I did, but I wanted to know what else they had.

“Well, if you want a dark beer, we have a great London brown porter. It has a little caramel, it’s malty and has chocolate notes. If you don’t like that, we have a traditional Irish red,” he explained and poured a couple of samples.

The Irish red had a lighter taste than other red ales I’ve had before, and was easy to drink. But while it was good, the sweetness of the malt in the London brown porter was the flavor I wanted on that crisp day.

The company’s acronym RNBC and slogan “brewed just a little different” are shellacked onto the bar in nickels. A list of drinks hangs on the wall in colorful chalk. The brewery focuses on local products and uses local ingredients in its beer. The wine and spirits it sells, like Midguard and 21 Brix wine and 1812 vodka and gin, are also made in the area.

Inspiration for the brews can be found anywhere, from the season to particularly interesting ingredients. The Melon Hop IPA, for example, was inspired by the melon hop it’s brewed with, which has a fruity, melon aroma. The result is an IPA that tastes more like honeydew than hops, avoiding much of the bitterness traditionally associated with this style.

For those who don’t like beer - or at least say they don’t like beer - the bar offers “mixologies.” These are cocktails made of at least 50 percent beer. While the bar has a written list of mixologies - like a Beermosa made with Slice O’ Havens cream ale and San Pellegrino citrus wine, or a Lazy Shandy also made with Slice O’ Havens, but mixed with lemon cider - Havens said that the brewtenders often make drinks based on the customer’s tastes.

“It’s something we can do to get them to try a beer or style they never would have otherwise,” Havens said. “We build a bridge to craft beer.”

So before you sit down at a high-top table to watch the game on one of the five televisions bordering the room, talk to a brewtender to find a drink that you’ll enjoy.

Rusty Nickel Brewing Company

4350 Seneca St., West Seneca

Hours: 5 to 10:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 5 to 11:30 p.m. Friday; noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Price of a pint: $5 - $6

Go paperless: Pay with cash or card and have your receipt emailed or texted to you.

Beers on tap: 12

Roll the dice: Try a mixology for $6.

Don’t like sports? Jenga towers and board games are scattered throughout the room.

Dog friendly: The back patio has water bowls and dog treats.

Hungry? Finger foods from tater tots to locally made Ru’s pierogi are priced from $2.50 to $8.

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