The ABGB (Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.) at 1305 W. Oltorf opened last fall on two acres beside the railroad tracks. Praise for Brian “Swifty” Peters and Amos Lowe’s beer was instant. ABGB has a huge parking and a beer garden with brightly colored lawn chairs. Inside, huge tables host pizza and brew. It’s also a music venue.
In fact, ABGB is finally becoming the live music host third partner Mark Jensen always dreamed about. Capacity weighs in at 299, and bands happen Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Jensen spoke to us just prior to his wife having twins on Friday.
Austin Chronicle: Music vision of ABGB?
Mark Jensen: We don’t want to lock onto a particular genre. We’re a beer garden and we have different types of beer on tap. We like to have different types of music on tap as well. We want to have all kinds of music and become a home base for local music. There are so many different scenes of Austin music and I want our reputation to be based on having all those different scenes here.
AC: Life before ABGB?
MJ: I worked in advertising as a copywriter. Back in the late Eighties, I spent a lot of time seeing [local] bands like the True Believers. We recently had the Wild Seeds in here and that was one of my favorite bands. I was back behind the bar with one of our bartenders here who’s only 22. I was singing along and she asked, “How do you know all the words?” I said, “This was my band.” She said, “When did you leave it?” And I said, “I was never in the band – I was just a big fan.”
AC: Evolution of ABGB?
MJ: I was off living in New York, but my heart was here in Austin. I would come back for South by Southwest and ACL. One of my partners, brewer Amos Lowe, and I went to high school together. Lowe was a home brewer and it was a dream to build on crafted beer and music.
AC: Sound engineer at ABGB?
MJ: Paul Minor is running sound. Minor worked at the Hole in the Wall for years. He has a good understanding of bands here and he’s also helping with some of the booking.
AC: How is ABGB different?
MJ: There’s a unique backdrop of brew tanks, which at first we had some concerns about having metal behind the stage, but the round shapes allow the sound to come through. We want to have a party in here all the time. Any venue can say that, but we’re not dependent on a cover. The idea is to get a full house and have people drinking a lot of beer. We are not beholden to sponsors. What we want is for the ABGB to be the place where you drink good beer and listen to good music.
AC: Plans for SXSW?
MJ: We’re having lots of day parties. A few labels are having their showcases here. We’re also going to have a metal showcase that we’re doing with Real Ale. We collaborated with two other breweries from Chicago and Minnesota to make a SXSW specialty.
AC: Brewer Amos Lowe plays too?
MJ: Lowe plays steel pedal and is in our house band called Little Mikey & the Soda Jerks. They’re a honky-tonk band. Lowe brews all day and then he will put his pedal steel out and play happy hour. Now he gets to do both his dream jobs in the same day. And in the mornings here we listen to KEXP out of Seattle. Our dream is booking their playlist and those are indie rock bands that are breaking.
WHAT MUSICIANS ARE SAYING
Michael Slattery (Shoulders) The ABGB is a dream come true for south Austin: a spacious room, a big stage, a splendid sound system and, of course, lots of beer. Drunks and music lovers rejoice! The ABGB just feels like home for Shoulders. In fact, I asked if we could be the house band.
Patryce King The ABGB is well equipped to become the next greatest South Austin music venue in town. You can’t find a better batch of humans! ABGB has it all, y’all.
Nathan Hamilton The sound was good. The overall vibe was killer. It kind of felt like being on tour playing there with the exception being that the room was full of familiar faces.
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