The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. (The ABGB) doesn’t exactly make you feel like you’re at a beer garden in Munich—it makes you feel like you’re in Austin, Texas. There are eclectic lawn chairs surrounding wooden spool tables throughout the massive outdoor space that’s adorned with trough bed planters. Inside there are retro bar stools at the bar that serves pizza instead of pretzels underneath a large marquee “BEER” sign. And there is a multi-colored, fluorescently lit concert stage that reflects purple and green tones on the row of fermentation tanks behind it. You’ll be quickly transported to Germany, however, upon ordering a Hell Yes Helles or an Industry Pilsner.
“We really love making lagers, and it shows in our medals from the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup,” says Co-owner Mark Jensen, who launched The ABGB in 2013 with Brewers Amos Lowe and Brian Peters, and Jill and Curt Knobloch. Jensen, Lowe, and Curt Knobloch all went to high school in Texas together, and later in life they reunited in Austin for the South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits (ACL) music festivals. “Amos was homebrewing at the time,” says Jensen, “so a lot of times we would sneak his homebrew into ACL… back when you could do that. We were drinking craft beer at music festivals, and we decided we wanted to do that for the rest of our lives.”
Jensen, a former freelance writer, always wanted to open up his own music venue. “Music is my part of The ABGB equation,” he says of the brewpub’s live music offerings. “Back in the mid-1980s in Austin, some of the clubs would have punk shows one night and bluegrass the next; and that just felt right. We like to have a widespread spectrum of all kinds of music here. We like to sound like Austin sounds.”