The owners of the ABGB — short for the Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., but no one ever calls it that — feel pretty good as they approach the third anniversary of the brewpub. (The party for it, as always, is on Labor Day.)
So far, it’s become exactly what they hoped it would be: a place that attracts all walks of life, whether they’re looking to dance to the live music, chow down on a 16-inch pizza pie or gulp down a mug of house-made beer while hanging out with friends. It’s an art gallery displaying some of the works of a friend of theirs, and it’s often the site of potential pet adoptions when Austin Pets Alive, a frequent collaborator, brings shelter dogs to ABGB events.
Two of the owners, Brian Peters and Amos Lowe, double as the head brewers who have turned the ABGB into one of the best places to grab a beer in Austin, but they like that the beers are just one part of the overall experience the ABGB provides.
“If you just obsess over the beverage, you miss the point,” Lowe says.
That’s not to say he and his good friend Peters — who has been involved in Austin’s brewing scene for almost as long as there’s been one — don’t care about the beer, of course. They are among the most precise of scientists when it comes to the beer they make. They have to be: Lowe and Peters both love lagers, which are some of the trickiest beers to brew and hide no mistakes when finished.
Despite their difficulty, the ABGB currently has five lagers available on the menu divided into nine “always” and “sometimes” beers.
The Hell Yes Helles, easily the most ordered beer, is always on tap, along with the Industry Pilsner and the Rocket 100, another pilsner that has so far won two big beer awards. The ABGB also has the Negra Royale Dunkel and the New Style American Girlfriend (yes, a name from the Molly Ringwald-helmed “Sixteen Candles” movie), which is an international-style lager, on tap currently.
The lager-heavy list is unusual for a brewery even now as beer makers across the country become more experimental.
“Now we have three lagers on full-time, making life harder for ourselves,” Peters says. “Having three on all the time is really tough, but it’s also really awesome. We’re lager brewers.”
For the longest time, he says, people turned their noses up at lagers because those were the beers of Budweiser and Miller, and the smaller upstart breweries of the craft beer movement wanted to distance themselves from the lighter-flavored macro options. As a result, there are some misconceptions about what lagers are and what they should taste like.
“People bash lagers because they’re so subtle in flavor. Like the helles we have,” Peters says. “They bash the beers because they can’t taste the flavors. But lagers are so precise and so clean.”
You’ll be able to try the ABGB’s solid examples of the lager on Labor Day, when the brewpub is throwing its third anniversary party. The bash will run from noon to 9 p.m. and have all the things that have made the South Austin hangout so great: beers, live music and a few surprises.
As our music writer Peter Blackstock has noted in this Austin music round-up about the Labor Day party, you’ll want “to come early for brewery tours, or arrive at 4 p.m. to see exactly what Leslie Sisson’s Olivia Newton John Project is all about. (If it’s the Moving Panoramas leader singing the likes of ‘Xanadu’ and ‘Have You Never Been Mellow,’ we’re intrigued.) Hear more covers from the Motts (playing Willie Nelson), Draft Punk and We Are Not Men.”
The ABGB is located at 1305 W. Oltorf St., and though the brewpub has lots of parking, the popularity of the party will make another good argument for showing up early. For more information, visit theabgb.com.