‘Rough, loud and a little angry’: Austin brothers set to open Angry Hog Brewery and Taproom mid-summer

Published 10:19 am Saturday, June 23, 2018

Austin residents will have something to squeal about this summer, as two Austin brothers are preparing to open the city’s first microbrewery near the end of July.

After several setbacks, the Angry Hog Brewery and Taproom finally passed its final state inspection, and are in the final stages of preparing their facilities for an opening with an anticipated grand opening date for July 28, according to Joe Bower and Kevin Jones, owners of the Angry Hog.

What grew as a simple hobby, turned into a dream come true for the brothers. Bower, 46, and Jones, 45, grew up in Austin and had developed a love of craft beers through mutual curiosity. Three years ago, the brothers sat at home with their brews and toyed with the idea of opening their own brewery and selling their own creations.

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They entertained this thought, and eventually, grew serious about two years ago. The duo found a property in Austin’s former Jimmy’s Fish and Seafood and Fine Meats storefront at 500 23rd Avenue NW, which has since been under construction and renovated to be turned into a full-scale project.

At the moment of opening Angry Hog will have four beers on tap with more expected. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“It was really kind of a curiosity,” Bower said. “Kevin and his wife, Jill, had a store with home brew supplies, and out of curiosity, we decided to make some home brews that way and it was kind of fun. We gave it to our friends and they’d drink it. We started talking about what you can do for the brews, what goes into making it … we just started to do it.”

So far, the construction on the roughly 850 square-foot tap room and similar sized brew house, are nearing completion. Jones and Bower held a soft opening on Friday night for friends and family in order to gauge what people liked, or didn’t like.

There aren’t any set operating hours yet, but Bower imagines The Angry Hog to be open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays.

Until their grand opening, the brothers will be building their inventory in order to make sure they have enough to serve to patrons from their inventory of  IPAs, ales, oatmeal stouts and some non-alcoholic options like root beer, one specialty cream ale that the brothers were working on and would be dubbed “the Giggling Piglet.”

However, they planned to garner input from guests and try to cater to the specific requests and needs from the community surrounding craft beers.

Soon, Bower and Jones expect to fill a niche in the Austin area, citing that the closest breweries in the area were either in northern Iowa, or in Rochester, where the microbrewery scene was expanding rapidly.

“I’m more surprised that someone didn’t seize the opportunity,” Bower said. “There’s not a lot of places in town that offer a craft beer option  … this is a new opportunity to introduce to a town like Austin and there’s a demand for the market here. Really, when you look at the model, almost every city can support it. Small towns like Fountain and Waseca is getting two … Kevin and I grew up here, and I decided to move back here (from the metro-area) to make this dream a reality.”

The Angry Hog

Bowers and Jones felt that having a brewery open in their hometown of Austin had special significance. While they were constructing the business, the name “Angry Hog” came to be as a way to tie the business to the community, and to their native roots.

“We’ve bantered with it, and Austin’s the home of Hormel,” Bower said. “We thought, well, there are a lot of hogs that come into this town that probably wouldn’t be too happy knowing the nature of their visit. It’s a name we sat around one night, brewed a home brew and that came out. We thought ‘that’s it, that’s the one.’”

There’s currently no immediate plans to serve food, however, the brothers planned to work with local restaurants around the area where it’d be OK for guests to have things delivered, or even bring their own picnic baskets.

There were some discussions involving food trucks and businesses creating specific menus that were exclusive to The Angry Hog.

The Angry Hog features a wide open area and spacious bar for patrons. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Maximum seating so far for the site is 49, and there’s hope to eventually expand to an outdoor seating area for the warmer months. However, July’s anticipated opening is enough for the brothers to express immense excitement for bringing a craft beer scene into Austin, and maybe in the future, leave a branding of their product.

“I think with any business you have some hopes and dreams grow into something larger,” Bower admitted. “We just want to make sure we have a place to drink a quality craft beer right here in their backyard. We grew up in their backyard and we want people to come out and have fun. For the growth, we’ll let the business dictate that. There’s a further need, and we’ll grow our system. I’d love to say in 20 years and touch base on how Angry Hog started in this small building and brew system, and we’re on par with some of the larger breweries. Hopefully, we’ll walk into a liquor store and see a Giggling Piglet cream ale sitting on the shelves.”

Working with his brother on this project — Jones was working on the construction during this interview, Bower shared—was special  mostly because two siblings came together back in their hometown to create something together.

“He’s got his hands on the mechanical things, and I take care most of the business side of things,” Bower said. “As partners we compliment each other. I think anything you can do with your family is meaningful, new and exciting.”

When asked to describe The Angry Hog in a few words, Bower said:

“Rough, loud and a little bit angry,” he added.