[Editor’s Note: After an unanticipated delay, Angry Inch Brewing held its grand opening on Friday, July 29 and is now open for business]
It’s been an unexpected journey for Jon Erickson and Josh Hebzynski from homebrewing in their garage to claiming a spot on Holyoke Avenue in downtown Lakeville, Minnesota. After years of planning, refinancing, and building their brewery, Angry Inch Brewing is set to open later this month.
Their journey began when Hebzynski spotted a homebrew kit gathering dust in Erickson’s garage while they were playing darts and drinking beer. “What the hell are we doing? Why aren’t we brewing?” Hebzynski remembers asking. So, they brewed.
Angry Inch owners Josh Hebzynski (left) and Jon Erickson // Photos by Aaron Davidson
The kit spawned an over-carbonated Belgian abbey that the pair would like to forget. But while their first effort was a disappointment, it pushed their interest in beer from consuming to producing. Hebzynski and Erickson continued brewing in the garage, eventually sharing their creations with friends at their homemade tasting bar, decorated with bottle caps in the shape of the Wild and North Star logos, and winning homebrew awards.
As their hobby grew, the city of Lakeville took notice and invited them to share their beer at a local fundraiser. From that invite to courting them to build their brewery in the city, “Lakeville kind of picked us,” Erickson says.
Angry Inch is located inside a former Ace Hardware store. The space has been completely retooled, and now features a large sidewalk-facing window, a back parking lot (which they will soon share with the in-progress Lakeville Brewing), and a 25-foot bar that spans the length of the taproom. An exposed brewhouse takes up the back of the building, creating an open and friendly environment defined by community tables, TVs, ample board games, and a planned mural based on historic revenue beer stamps.
Hebzynski and Erickson plan to continue building a relationship with Lakeville, hosting regular events like video game tournaments and board game nights. In fact, it was during a game, Time’s Up, that Erickson first uttered the phrase “Angry Inch,” a name inspired by the Broadway musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Liking the sound of it, and seeing it as a perfect fit for his and Hebzynski’s motto (“angry beer for happy people”), they chose it as their brand.
Angry Inch will feature 12 taps, two reserved for cold press coffee and ginger ale, and the rest set aside for a rotating selection of beer. “We’ve talked about having six standard taps and four rotating, but that’s not concrete,” Hebzynski says, stressing that they embrace variety in a brewery’s lineup. “We don’t want to be a brewery that sticks to four, six beers all year round. We’ll try to give the public something different.”
Both Erickson’s and Hebzynski’s personal tastes for beer lean toward the bigger, heavier varieties, and are reflected in Angry Inch’s offerings. The 8.6% ABV saison, Daddy’s Honey Pot, will be a flagship; their Czech pilsener clocks in at 6.5%. “There’s definitely a delicate balance between going too far and balancing everything,” Erickson says. “But I’ve found that the majority of our beers tend to push the limits and go higher gravity.”
Even as Erickson chooses to use additives like honey and coconut in his beers, he says his ultimate goal is balance rather than novelty. “For the most part, our beers are traditional in ingredients,” he says. “It’s more playing with the ingredients and the amount we use to get something a little different.”
As for getting their beer to the public, Erickson and Hebzynski’s plan is to start slowly, serving only in the taproom at first, and planning for limited keg distribution to follow. Down the road, they’d like to expand and potentially package, but for now, Erickson and Hebzynski are just excited to pour their drafts in a real taproom and share their beers with the community as a whole, instead of as many friends as they could squeeze into a garage.
Brewers: Jon Erickson (head brewer), Josh Hebzynski (brewer/taproom manager)
Beer: Daddy’s Honey Pot (French saison), Samoan Kisses (coconut chocolate milk stout), Angry Inch Pale Ale (American pale ale), Four Horseman IPA (American IPA), Easy Amber (Irish red), 42 Short & Portly (porter)
Visit: 20841 Holyoke Ave, Lakeville, Minnesota (map)
Hours: Wed–Thurs 12–10pm; Fri–Sat 12pm–12am; Sun 10am–6pm