On a cold, snowy day in late January, I opened the car door and was immediately met with a smack of bitter upstate New York wind that shot needles through my spine. The temperature gauge on my car read four degrees but the real feel temp was well below zero. I hardly noticed, as a rush of excitement pulsed through me. When my feet hit the ground, it was the first time they had touched land outside of my home state of Massachusetts in nearly two years. I carefully dashed over the snow piled knee high on the sidewalk, mindful to find those sweet spots where others had tread before.
The sandwich board on the sidewalk confirmed my hopes that on this bitterly cold late morning, that my intended destination was indeed open and operating. From the exterior, the Delaware Supply Company is pretty spare. Located just outside downtown Albany, a short drive from the state capitol in a quiet neighborhood, an unassuming store front houses the good beer haven known as DelSup, which is wedged between a small, independent movie theater and a holistic healer shop. It’s easy to miss from the street, the simple sign emphasizes the word supply but largely obscures the true purpose of the establishment, a friendly and contemplative neighborhood bar that almost seems designed for solo sojourners such as myself.
After kicking the snow off my boots, I slipped through the doors and was immediately met with that oh so rare feeling of welcomeness and a true sense of place. The barebones staff of two were still getting set up for the day as the bar had just opened. They met my look with a nod and went back to their tasks as I looked around the space. The first thing you notice about DelSup is the black chalkboard beer list with hand drawn entries. Offering 12 draft beers and a sidepour option, with multiple sized pours available, the wall of taps, anchored by the side pour Lukr faucet, pops against the Instagram worthy background of white subway tile.
Filled with a handful of mismatched wooden tables of various sizes, plastic chairs, and standard stackable metal bar stools, different spaces and nooks abound for groups or individuals to settle, including an outdoor bar rail wedged into a little alcove next to the building. Shaggy, vibrant ferns and ivies spring from the walls, obscuring the hanging art and giving a slight tropical feel to the otherwise austere and modern space. The three sided window seats, jutting out from the building, are the best perches in the house.
Craft beer once celebrated the bounty of the multi-tap, mammoth operations serving hundreds of beers on draft. The initial impression at such places was of wonder followed inevitably by some measure of disappointment. The beers rarely moved as quickly as they should, a raspberry beer previously poured on a line might pollute the gentle kolsch that poured next. Staff could rarely tell customers about all the different beers. And it took forever to study the encyclopedic beer menus.
A modern version of the beer bar focuses instead on a tightly curated list of truly outstanding beers and maybe a smartly done cheese board or a few killer sandwiches. It doesn’t try to be all things to all people, in the process pleasing few. One of my favorites in this style was The Diamond, a charming and sadly now closed Brooklyn beer bar that offered a scant six beers and a few meats and cheeses. While looking at that short beer list, I almost always wanted to try the lot of them.
Delaware Supply Co. fits into this engaging model. Here, the list is smart, engaging, but also accessible to drinkers of any stripe. I quickly settled on a short pour of the Threes Brewing Yore on the side pull as I perused the rest of the list, which offered powerhouses such as Rothaus Pils, Dupont Bon Voeux, and a lovely saison from Suarez Family that served as my second glass. In terms of range, DelSup has it. You can transition from a 15-percent ABV barrel aged barleywine banger from Omnipollo to a three buck can of local stalwart Genny Cream. Or choose a deeper cut with the De La Senne Stouterik.
The love and passion behind the place is palpable and its voice is strong. Opened in late 2017 by Colin Pratt and Lauren Slezak, DelSup quietly focuses on its vision of being a small, quality-focused craft beer bar with the objective of serving its surrounding neighborhood and to attract the greater beer-centric clientele. The pair, both Albany natives, worked together at Westmere Beverage before deciding to open their own spot. They love lager and saison, as well as more traditional styles, and emphasize the importance of proper glassware and service. But they’re also not going to turn down a High Life.
DelSup offers four well-priced and delightful sandwiches and a few small snacks of bread and cheese or olives. The Salami Cotto sandwich I had was fresh, clean, and flavorful, a perfect accompaniment to the spice and sleekness of the Suarez saison.
First and foremost a community space, DelSup is a sanctuary where you can join friends in conversation, laughs, and round after round of world class beers, or sit by yourself, undisturbed, on a quiet and cold January morning in one of the window booths staring out into the snow banks, lost in the peace and tranquil vibe of the chill spot.