Black Star Co-op is a revolutionary new Austin brewpub. So when I was told to review their food and beer, I solemnly bowed my head to the orders of Austinot Eric.
What can I say, we all must sacrifice occasionally. Neither stout nor IPA nor pilsner nor gloom of porters will stay this blogger from the swift completion of his appointed rounds.
Since its opening in 2010, Black Star Co-op has built its reputation around mixing the novel and traditional.
First, the business is a co-operative. All of its members, from top to bottom, own part of the business. All decisions are made through a democratically-controlled voting system. The first community-owned brewpub in America, one of Black Star’s tenets is to pay each employees a living wage, so they will respectfully decline if you try to tip them.
And you can become a shareholding member of Black Star as well! A hundred and fifty bucks gets you a membership. That means voting power, patronage refunds, the occasional free beer and more (as if democracy and free beer aren’t enough).
Which is pretty cool in my book. When Black Star isn’t actively promoting equality, it’s churning out new delicious beers from its on-site brewery. Their recipes are classified as either “rational” or “irrational” – the former recipes being simpler while the latter are more complex. The brewery boasts an impressive range stylistically. Every recipe is unique, representing many different types of beer.
Following Black Star’s theme of democracy, I deem their range of draft beers, “Fermentation with representation.”
Personally, I am a hop head. When I told this to the bartender, he stopped me mid-sentence. He took a sample cup from the shelf and poured me a bit of beer from an unmarked wooden tap. “It’s named Vulcan. It’s a rational, and it’s pretty big,” he said, handing me the glass.
And big it was. Vulcan’s explosive hops and citrus finish is mouth-watering. It may be the best beer I’ve had in Austin yet, though my position is contestable by anybody willing to challenge the Vulcan.
Black Star Co-op is more than happy to let you try whatever beer they have on tap. You can also find other Austin beer companies like Jester King, 512 and Independence on tap too.
Black Star’s food is just as excellent as its beer. The whole menu is drop-dead and spine-tinglingly good. They served me a bar steak with some fries and a side of garlic butter that stopped my world for fifteen minutes. Great food and beer – a match made in Heaven.
Black Star Co-op is known for hosting many events like the nationwide pub game “Geeks Who Drink.” Those who love trivia and beer meet on Sundays at 7:00 p.m. to guess showtunes and whatnot over some pints.
If trivia isn’t your thing, but you love good brews all the same, rest easy. Black Star frequently holds events for Texas breweries – whether its just a new batch or a new company entirely.
In fact, I was there to witness the Austin-based Rogness Brewing Company tap their first public kegs at Black Star Co-op. One was a rich porter and the other a Belgian-esque Golden Ale. Both were fine beers. The warmth of both Black Star and Rogness made the event a celebration worth remembering!
My experience at the brewpub showed me how a co-op can respond to the desires of its community. Hundreds of people arrived, mingled, laughed and left happy.
Austinites value community appreciation and local businesses very highly. Luckily for us, both these things can be found just off of North Lamar at Black Star Co-op, at 7020 Easy Wind Drive, Suite 100.
Austinot Dusty asks:
What do you order at Black Star Co-op?
(Photos courtesy of Matthew C. Wright, Todd Dwyer and Dustin Vegas, respectively.)