Photo by Kiki Vassilakis
“Take a look around and pick out something you like,” says August Rosa with a grin, “There’s over 100 different kinds to choose from.”
It’s a Friday evening at Pint Sized and the small bar and craft beer shop on Broadway in Saratoga Springs is bustling. An after work crew is settled around the bar–loose ties and all–and couples crowd the scattered tables. A woman gets up to peruse a table stacked with board games and settles on a deck of cards. The latest from Courtney Barnett is blasting from the speakers and everyone looks utterly relieved to be done with their week. Rosa is grinning from ear to ear.
A little over a year ago, this Saratoga Springs location hadn’t even been dreamt into existence.
“We’re lucky,” Rosa says of the shop’s arrival last summer. “We got here right as the track season was getting here and we were really well received and we were able to develop a pretty good following in all the craziness. It’s a busy town and there’s a lot of foot traffic.”
With the steady following, Pint Sized has been able to better establish itself as a neighborhood hotspot. People don’t just stop in, they stick around for the long haul. “We’ve got kind of a Cheers vibe,” he jokes. “Cheers meets Mork and Mindy.”
With the Saratoga location, Rosa has implemented programs like the mug club. Branded mugs, with designated names scrawled across the bottom, give members access to more fluid ounces than the standard 10-ounce pour–up to 16 ounces. Fifty people signed up within two weeks of the program announcement and now there’s a waiting list of 30 people and counting.
“There are definitely members who got their money back from the membership within the first month, easily,” he says. “That’s the excitement of craft beer, you can explore it at your own pace and see what you like. There’s a very wide flavor profile.”
Bottles and cans, decorated with bright graphics and patterns, line almost every surface of the Saratoga space. They’re in bookshelves and coolers in a rainbow of colors. In addition, the bar features 12 draft lines with one or two regulars like the familiar Jack’s Abby lager and a cycle of guest brews waiting to fill a growler, glass or mug. There are rare selections that Rosa has acquired on what he calls ‘Pint Sized Pickups’, traveling to New York State brewers that self-distribute their products but don’t make it as far as the Capital Region. It’s a one-of-a-kind location and experience that’s almost overwhelming.
“People always come in and they’re like, ‘What can I do here?’ and I’m like, ‘You can do whatever you want. However you want to purchase your beer, you can do that here,” he says. “It seems like every week here keeps getting better and better, that’s why we’re doing our thing in Albany.”
Pint Sized was born in a small basement shop at 209 Lark Street in Albany back in 2014 but closed the doors this past winter and moved down the street to 250 Lark, where in a few weeks it will be reborn–a fraternal twin of the Saratoga bar and craft beer shop hybrid–with some Center Square style, like a chalk wall for visitors to get creative about their love of beer.
“Both spaces share sort of an artsy vision because I want the spaces to be unique. I don’t want to open up just a bar. It’s really important to me that the vibe is different than everybody else,” Rosa says.
The Albany move is especially important to Rosa because his business is both symbolically and literally growing up–out of the basement and into a street level bar with large windows and open area for a community to have room to build.
“The other shop was excellent, it’s where I learned, but I outgrew the space and it’s time to move forward and learn how to grow the business,” he says.