The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. (The ABGB) opens to the public Friday, August 30, just in time for Labor Day weekend. But the idea has been in development since 2004. The brew pub — a collaboration between a group of five friends, all beer and music enthusiasts — serves craft brews and food in an impressively large space in South Austin with ample parking and seating.
The ABGB will have 10 beers available at all times. “Our goal is to have five mainstays and five specials,” explains co-owner Mark Jensen, who says their overall style is “really hoppy, dry beers.” Husband-and-wife team Curt and Jill Knoblach are also on board.
“Lagers are one of my favorite things to make,” says brewer Brian “Swifty” Peters. “Craft brewing and lagers should go together.”
The brew pub distinguishes itself by offering a handful of lager beers in addition to ales. Requiring colder temperatures and longer fermentation periods, lagers are typically overlooked at most other craft breweries. “Lagers are one of my favorite things to make,” Peters says. “Craft brewing and lagers should go together.”
He recommends new customers start with Helles, a lager he believes is similar to what the Germans made when they first moved to the area. “It’s perfect for Texas, because it’s so thirst-quenching," he says. “It’s an everyday beer in Munich, and we wish it was in America too.”
Other beers worth trying are the subtly sweet Hop Dead Gorgeous cascadian dark ale, an example of a new genre rooted in the Northwest. The rich beer has a hint of cocoa flavor from the roasted malt. And don’t even think of coming to the ABGB and ordering another wheat beer.
“We’ve made a decision not to use wheat in this brewery,” Peters says. “It just seems too easy to make a wheat beer and sell it at this point.”
While attending events like ACL and SXSW together, the group had originally conceived of a “brew pub that is sort of like a music festival,” says Jensen. The stage, with a backdrop of shiny brewing tanks behind it, isn’t complete yet, and Jensen refuses to book musicians until the sound system is perfect. “We want it to be badass,” he states unequivocally.
The group did most of the renovations on the former Austin World of Rentals space themselves. “The idea of how we wanted it to look and feel was all us,” Jensen says. “We wanted an aesthetic that seemed like Austin in 1972.” Co-owner Jill Knoblach used her design expertise to create the logo and branding.
The outdoor space is still a work in progress, but the shaded area with lovely old oak and elm trees looks promising for Austin’s cooler months. Tim Stevens has developed a menu of crispy pizzas, sandwiches and salads to complement the beer.
The ABGB opens every day at 11 am and offers happy hour Tuesday through Friday, 3-7 pm, with specials on pizza slices, pies and pints.