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What's the big idea? A tiny bar in Spa City

What's the big idea? A tiny bar in Spa City

Pint Sized will offer between 200 and 300 varieties of craft beer
What's the big idea? A tiny bar in Spa City
August Rosa, owner of Pint Sized, in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday.
Photographer: ERICA MILLER

August Rosa had just toured a 600-square-foot space on Broadway, the soon-to-be home of his second craft beer store, one that would also have a bar. 

It was smaller than he had envisioned, but the idea of a tiny bar was growing on him. From his home in Voorheesville, Rosa, 30, searched for synonyms for the word “small” before looking across the room and seeing his daughter, Ani.

One of the first results was “pint-sized.” At just 9 months, so was she. 

“I shot Amanda a text message, and she was like, ‘! — We gotta do this,’” said Rosa, referring to his wife and the mother of his now 1-year-old child. “We will definitely be having ‘Pint Sized’ onesies printed up.”

The store, called Pint Sized, will offer between 200 and 300 varieties of craft beer inside 489 Broadway when it opens in the coming weeks. There’s also a bar with 12 taps for pouring and serving on site, an option Rosa’s first store in Albany doesn’t have. He opened Brew, which he has since rebranded to Pint Sized, in an even smaller location on Lark Street in July 2014.  

“The space is tiny, but once everything’s organized in here, it’s actually quite spacious,” Rosa said Wednesday afternoon after three shipments totaling 150 cases of beer arrived in Saratoga. “It seats 23 people at a time inside.”

He added: “It’s a hybrid model. You’ll be able to drink beer on site. You’ll also be able to take beer to go.”

After months of planning and minimal renovations — like the construction of a bar and the painting of hop leaves on the walls — Rosa said he could open as early as next weekend. 

Two customers entered the shop during the interview with the reporter, hoping it was already open. 

“Every day I work here, I would say at least a dozen to two-dozen people are poking their head in to find out what’s going on,” Rosa said. “People are getting excited.”

The small-store model has worked in Albany because it’s impossible to overstock the beer, so it’s “as fresh as humanly possible,” he said. He’s bringing the same philosophy to Saratoga.

“My customers keep coming back because the product’s always fresh,” he said. “I’m rotating things, so it’s always new product in stock, and the small size of it actually lent itself to those advantages.”

PintSized_ELM04.jpg

Rosa originally looked at larger spaces in the neighborhood of 2,500 square feet, but they would’ve required larger-scale products that seemed risky, he said.

“I looked at Schenectady, I looked at Troy, I looked at Hudson, I looked at Lake George,” he said, “and to be completely honest, I didn’t think that we would end up landing in Saratoga, but we found the right place at the right time — and we just had to jump on it.”

When he toured the Broadway location in late January, he said he was drawn to its location downtown near dense residential neighborhoods and Skidmore College. 

“And obviously the track’s gonna be a great boost in the summer,” he said

The space was most recently home to a clothing boutique, but also served as a tattoo parlor and a smoke shop in recent years. It has a slightly-elevated second level in the back, making for shorter ceilings in the beer-browsing area.

“This idea really developed after looking at the space,” Rosa said. “We have this running joke that it’s kind of like ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ where the room keeps getting smaller as you go back. I feel like that’s what makes this space unique. It almost lends itself to being a beer fort.”

After committing to keeping the bar small, Rosa started researching tiny bars around the world and found them to be popular in Europe.

“Alleyway bars are very common in Belgium,” he said. “If you look at places like [Denmark-based microbrewery] Mikkeller, they have some very unique spaces that are just as small, if not smaller.”

The store’s shelves will be stocked with a variety of beers brewed locally, in New York state and across the country. Like the Albany store, Pint Sized will always have fresh local beers from small, “boutique” breweries in stock. The 12 taps at the bar will also be constantly rotating. 

“There’s a strong American craft focus,” Rosa said. “We’ll have IPAs, sours, ciders, Belgian, dark beers, barrel-aged stuff — there will be something here for everybody.”

Rosa will be splitting his time between the Albany and Broadway locations, but spending extra time in Saratoga as the new store gets established. He also hired Nico Gonzalez, a friend and classmate from the College of Saint Rose who worked for nine years at Oliver’s Beverage Center in Albany, to run the store full time. 

Rosa admitted that juggling opening a new shop with being a new dad hasn’t been easy, but said it’s “very important to me to make sure I’m not here 20 hours a day.” He also said opening Pint Sized on Broadway wouldn’t be possible without his wife's support.

“It’s very important to have the work/life separation, and I think I’ve done a good job achieving that,” he said. “You’ll have to ask Amanda.”

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