As the NCAA basketball tournament approaches Albany, New York, the city is abuzz with excitement for the first and second-round games in the men’s tournament this Friday, 3/17, and Sunday, 3/19th. Whether you’re a craft beer enthusiast or simply looking for a good time, Albany has plenty of options to explore during March Madness weekend.
With a burgeoning craft beer scene that serves a community of close to 100,000 residents, the capital of New York offers everything from historic pubs with a local flair to specialized craft beer bars with a wide selection of brews within a 10-minute drive from the MVP Arena. Check out these spots perfect for getting a quality pint.
The Excelsior Pub
If you’re looking for a spot before or after the game that wears its state pride on its sleeve, The Excelsior Pub is for you. This laid-back spot pays proper tribute to the food and beverage of the Empire State. Owner Jay Bowers offers 16 taps with New York state beers and ciders, from hard-to-find brewery releases to easy-drinking Utica Club. The food menu is a map of the state featuring regional specialties that range from the familiar such as Buffalo wings or the Garbage Plate from Buffalo to lesser-known, like Spiedies (a sandwich from Binghamton) or the delightful–Mozzarella sticks with Melba sauce–an Albany-area delicacy.
The City Beer Hall
A short walk from the MVP Arena will lead you to The City Beer Hall, a towering building that once housed the former phone company of the city. With 20 rotating taps and a long can list, paired with hearty, seasonal pub food, serving dinner, a late-night menu, and Sunday Brunch. Oh, did I mention free pizza? For each drink purchased, guests get a ticket to redeem a personal-sized pie—a craft beer lover’s dream.
C.H. Evans Brewing Co. at the Albany Pump Station
The two buildings that make up C.H. Evans Brewing Company were initially the pumping station for the city’s water supply. Known today as the historic Albany Pump Station, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It features a full-service restaurant and bar & serving up a dozen beers brewed on-site, such as Boysenberry Hefeweizen, Quackenbush Kölsch, and Farmer’s Daughter Rye IPA.
Great for large groups, the industrial brewery surrounds the restaurant in the center. You can look straight up to the second floor and see firsthand what’s into their award-winning beers.
The Olde English Pub and Pantry
When you step inside The Olde English Pub and Pantry, you’re met with low ceilings, creaky floors, and the charm and stature classic British pubs are known for. Located in the heart of Albany in the second-oldest building in the city, The menu features traditional pub fare, including Bangers & Mash and Fish & Chips.
Wolff’s Biergarten is the place to go in the up-and-coming Warehouse district for those seeking Bitburger Pilsner, Franziskaner, and other traditional German beers. The establishment is designed as a classic German beer hall with a long bar and communal tables, providing guests with a cozy atmosphere to savor their brews. The menu features a combination of German pub favorites (such as bratwurst and chicken schnitzel sandwiches) and casual bar food.
Lionheart Pub and Brewery
Lionheart’s giant crest on the side of the building is a sign you’ve arrived. Lionheart Pub and Brewery has been a mainstay in the Albany craft beer scene for over 30 years. They offer a comfortable atmosphere where guests can enjoy 48 craft beers on tap, with three on draft exclusively made in their second-floor brewery. In addition, they have pool tables, 20 dart boards, a jukebox, and a perfect spot for large groups.
If you’re looking to slow down and step away for March Madness–if only for a moment–Delaware Supply is the perfect place to grab a pint. Owners Lauren Slezak and Colin Pratt offer a well-crafted tap list and a small menu with meat and cheese boards, small seasonal bites, and stuffed sandwiches. Crush an easy-drinking lager from Suarez Family Brewery or toast your favorite team with an Orval Trappist Ale, the house beer. Delaware Supply feels more like a cozy coffee shop with low-key cool energy than a traditional beer bar.
Albany Ale and Oyster
Tucked away in the city’s student-centric Pine Hills neighborhood, Albany Ale and Oyster is a brunch spot and bottle shop featuring unique cask-age beers and wild fermentation brews. The industrial-chic digs make for a relaxed and hip atmosphere, and it’s a great spot to grab a bite and a beer with a small group. Whether you prefer a crisp lager or experimental sours, they offer a range of styles to suit your taste.