Angry Hog just wants to serve you a good beer
Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a new section of Austin Living magazine called Raise a Glass, where we visit microbreweries, distilleries and wineries in our area and talk about the drinks they create. Pick up a copy of the January-February edition for the whole story.
It’s around 9:30 a.m. on a Friday and co-owner Kevin Jones is jostling around the brewing area of Angry Hog Brewery & Taproom. It’s already been a busy morning, but the cleanup is largely over and allows Jones and co-owner Joe Bower to brew the next batch of beer.
While the Angry Hog wouldn’t open until 4 p.m. that afternoon, the daily menu hangs above the property’s bar at 500 23rd Avenue NW here in Austin.
Shut Up, Kevin !, Giggling Piglet read alongside Muddy Snout, three of Angry Hog’s bestsellers.
As Jones finishes the morning cleanup, Bower shows a prominent sign for visitors coming to the brewery.
“Thanks to the craft brewers for making my drinking problem an interesting hobby,” Bower read.
If Angry Hog is defined by anything, it would boil down to two themes: the passion and the drive to create great tasting beer.
“We just wanted to make sure it was a decent tasting beer of a good enough quality that people would want to come back and drink it,” Bower said.
Like many craft brewers, it shouldn’t be too surprising to know that Angry Hog was born out of the kitchens of the two men, just in different veins of brewing.
Bower was a beer maker while Jones created wines.
Both men, however, enjoyed visiting craft breweries and micro-breweries, and as they continued to brew, discussions about opening their own establishment began to gain momentum.
“We made the decision to do it in 2016,” Bower said. “At that point, we started to look for our space, to put the licenses in order. “
Bower’s own passion for the pursuit of crafts began small with a kit that came with everything you’d need, including wort extract, water, and a three-gallon jar.
“It was terrible,” Bower recalls, but the spark had been lit and before he knew it he was working with partial grain mash followed by whole grain mash.
Jones’ winemaking was done the same way, but their interests merged to form the foundation of Hog.
“I was basically just wine, Joe made more beer and then we kind of mixed it with the knowledge part and we went from there,” Jones said.
From the start, he was under no illusions about the scale of the operation. Its small maneuverability worked with the duo’s modest goals. There were no large-scale start-ups with plans to instantly make waves.
“We didn’t have a huge budget, and we didn’t want to go out and break the bank either because we knew, in all honesty, it was a calculated risk,” Bower said. “We wanted to put some good beer in the garden.
However, with that risk came an option to grow if they wanted them to choose to go further.
Much of the driveway, located in front of the garage doors, has been occupied by outdoor seating during the warmer months and extends to a grassy area under a tree in front of the main door.
Likewise, there is plenty of room to expand their operation indoors, both in terms of reception hall and brewing area.
Capacity has already been increased from an initial 15 gallon brewing capacity to a 30 gallon operation. Looking at the large brewing area, it’s easy to see how a seven-barrel system could be used down the line, but their goals remain modest.
“We would like to fall into a three-barrel [system] and that would support all of our goals, ”Bower said. “Keep the valve room in stock and we now have a distribution license, so we want to get out of the four walls. “
Admittedly, the cast is a little frustrating at the moment. Jones and Bower were hoping to get cans in stores at this point, but ironically, a good summer in the auction room resulted in inventory issues, delaying distribution until a later date.
“This is where a bigger system would be nice,” Bower said.
But it remains a very achievable goal.
“My goal, I guess, I would just love to see my beer in the stores,” Jones said. “Make a beer, go to a store and see it on the shelves. For me, it’s a victory.
So the big question is: what are you going to find when you visit the Angry Hog?
You’re in luck, because that’s a bit of everything. Ales and stouts of all kinds adorn the Hog menu.
And they certainly aren’t afraid to experiment to find a unique tasting beer to add to the menu. Changes to grains and fruits led to all kinds of unique drinks, including acids that brought the two men’s beer and wine making experiences together.
“You’re always trying to change it,” Jones said. “You want something fresh, something new. Just throw some fruits together, add them with another and see what you get.
You can always tell the level of passion for something by chess. After three years, it’s still disappointing for Bower and Jones when a beer doesn’t come out well or deteriorates during fermentation.
“Creating is a lot of fun,” Bower admitted. “When we have an idea it’s scary because you have no idea what it tastes like, but when you do that first draw it’s super exciting. When we have our struggles and you work hard and you sit here and have a beer gone bad in this fermenter, it deflates.
Bower and Jones will admit that Angry Hog has been and continues to be a learning experience. Mistakes are made, disappointments are made, but there are also triumphs.
The oatmeal stout on the Angry Hog’s permanent menu was a hit straight away. Creamy and easy to drink, the stout has an earthy coffee flavor with a smooth feel on the tongue.
“Our oatmeal stout has been good from day one,” Bower said. “The Muddy Snout, of course we still have that one.”
Ultimately, it’s the customer, as Bower and Jones sometimes have to put their pallets on the back burner.
But hearing customer reviews always means everything.
“One of my favorite things is we get a ton of traffic out of town on Saturdays,” Bower said. “When you come out of town and they tell you all these breweries where they’ve been… I can’t explain how that feels.
Angry Hog Brewery & Taproom is open 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Discover them on www.angryhogbrewery.com.