In 2015, Rusty Nickel Brewing Company opened its West Seneca doors and instantly became a Southtowns hit with its craft beer, mixed drinks, friendly service, relaxed atmosphere and open-air beer garden.
Just over four years later, the brewery is opening a second location in downtown Buffalo with a bigger space and grander mission.
In a recent phone conversation with us, co-owner Jason Havens made sure to credit the success of Rusty Nickel’s original location to its friendly, knowledgeable staff.
“We have highly-trained staff that have a deep appreciation for beer and the beer industry,” Havens said. “They all have the ability to speak about the products, various styles, ingredients and flavor profiles of each product.
“People came to know us as a brewery with a local focus. We do things by hand as much as possible. It’s been very hands-on brewing, both when we opened and still today.”
On our recent visit, we tried a lot of different beers, from the downtown location’s signature brown ale to a more exotic barrel-aged beer. We found the brewery’s ability to pull off a wide range of styles to be pretty impressive. Local craft beer fans may know Rusty Nickel as a brewery that made a name for itself with traditional darker beers, but Havens said his brewery continues to push forward and recognize the latest beer trends.
“We’re seeing that this generation of consumer wants variety in flavor profiling, and I do think that it’s important to pay attention to that,” he said. “It’s important to bring some new styles into your portfolio, but also stay true to your brand, to what got you where you are. Let’s face it, businesses need to be dynamic if they want to be competitive.”
He added, that quality, not styles or trends, is ultimately what’s important when it comes to craft beer.
“There is no excuse for low quality anymore,” Havens said. “You couldn’t put out a bad product before, but nowadays, every beer has to be top-notch, across the board, and it should be. That is something the industry has demanded and required as it has grown into itself.”
The original Rusty Nickel location was just a modest taproom, with basic bar snacks as the only food option. With the new location, the brewery is able to leverage a full kitchen. If you want comfort food, there’s chicken-n-waffles ($7.50), beef on weck sliders ($11.25) and mac-n-cheese ($9). If you want lighter fare, there are salads ($9-12.50), chicken wraps ($8.50-10) and veggie wraps ($7.50).
For those who might feel limited by the house-brewed range of beers, there are other options. Rusty Nickel prides itself on being a New York farm-based brewery and that means ciders, meads, wines and beers from other breweries around the state are available. There’s also a full bar, so you can get Rusty Nickel’s award-winning Bloody Mary, which is firey and packed with toppings.
Located in the heart of downtown, being open for lunch hours and with a full menu, the new Rusty Nickel is well-positioned to serve the business crowd. Havens said the dining area will have table service, in addition to full service at the bar. Also, downtown workers should be able to order delivery through their favorite food delivery app.
There are plans for Sunday brunch and regular beer pairing events, so watch social media for announcements on those. Also, you can book one of four murder mystery experiences for your group, inlcuding saloon, 80s prom, circus and masquerade themes.
The friendly service has been a highlight at the West Seneca location, and we found the service on our visit to be smart and exceptional.
“We really pride ourselves on customer service, from the time they walk in the door to the time that they leave,” Havens said. “That goes for everybody in a group; whether that’s a small child, someone with a beer geek mentality or somebody that’s new to craft beer. We can provide something for everybody in your group, so they can have a pleasant experience.”
36 Broadway Ave., Buffalo, NY, 14203
Initial Hours (subject to change): Monday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.,Saturday 2 p.m. – 10p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (brunch)