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Community Support: Meals on Wheels Central Texas

Attention, community-minded members! Each year, our member-owners select organizations for the Co-op to support. This November, we’ll support Meals on Wheels Central Texas. Meals on Wheels Central Texas supports homebound adults and people with disabilities through programs that promote independent living. Some of these programs include meal delivery, grocery shopping assistance, in-home care, home repair, and pet care. They currently provide services to nearly 5,000 people in the Austin community. 

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Community Support: House That Beer Built

Each year, our member-owners select organizations for the Co-op to support. One of the organizations selected for support is Austin Habitat for Humanity. We’re lucky enough to participate in another House That Beer Built. In 2014, Black Star Co-op participated in fundraising and volunteering to build a house for the Huerta family. This year, the House That Beer Built will raise walls for the Kattass family. 

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Vote in the 2015 Co-op Elections!

It’s that time of the year again! Become an active member in the democratic process of your Co-op and vote in our Co-op’s elections.

The election for Black Star Co-op’s Board of Directors begins Wednesday, September 30th and continues through Friday, October 30th. Our Board elections are conducted by single transferable vote, so the ballot is extremely simple. Just rank the candidates in your order of preference. Co-op member-owners will be able to vote online, at the brewpub, or at the 5th anniversary party.

Meet the candidates online or in person at the 5th anniversary party and then cast your ballot online or in person at the brewpub.

You may rank the candidates in order of preference from 1-3, with 1 being the most preferential and 3 the least. However, you don’t have to rank them all; you can leave fields blank if you’re not comfortable ranking the candidate. The election will close, and all ballots will be counted by the end of the day Friday, October 30th and the results will be announced the following week. And don’t forget to vote for which community groups we support next year!

The following non-profits are currently on the slate for our support in 2016 based on suggestions submitted to us in the Spring Member-Owners Survey. If there’s an organization that you think deserves our Co-op’s support, there is a write-in option on the ballot. 

Community Support Organizations

Vote Online

2015 Board Candidate Statements

Hey Member-Owners, it’s Election Time! Every year you have the golden opportunity to vote on the directors who will represent your voice in the management of your Co-op. This year there are 3 open seats and 3 candidates running for the Board of Directors. Voting is one of the important ways you can participate in the democratic process. 

Below you’ll find the responses for the slate of candidates:

Elections begin September 30th and run through October 30th. You can vote on the Board of Directors and member-selected community support organizations here

Beth Beutel

1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

As an employee and owner of Wheatsville and an owner and investor shareholder of Black Star, I’ve invested my labor and money in the cooperative community, and I am seeking an even greater way to be of service to the cooperative business model. Cooperatives democratize wealth and maintain our shared values while providing us the goods and services we need, and here one is, right in front of us, calling for us to both serve and benefit. I’ve benefited so much from Black Star’s wonderful food and service, and I’m ready to serve the co-op.

2. What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year?  Five years?

The marketplace for craft beer and locally-sourced food is growing fast, and I want to see Black Star grow its market-share in order to continue the growth of cooperatives as the people’s preferred mode of doing business. It is of the utmost importance to me that Black Star thrive and return value to its members above all else, including my own desire to drink High Esteem south of the river. I’d love to see Black Star continue to find new creative ways to grow, as they have by producing beer to sell to other local pubs.

3. What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

I’m a dreamer who believes in the impossible and asks tough questions. From being employed as the Board Administrator at Wheatsville for four years, I’ve learned an incredible amount about policy governance (the model Black Star uses, along with many co-ops), refreshed my memory on reading financial statements which I originally learned as a business minor in college, and watched from a front row seat as a co-op board guided Wheatsville through an expansion. I’m excited to put all of that learning experience to the test serving the members of Black Star.

4. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

It already does: the highly visible environmentally conscious move of composting paper towels in the bathroom, asking patrons to bus their own tables, having a LEED certified building, including members in the creation of beers, having a self-managed body of workers, and paying based on the Universal Living Wage calculator in the restaurant industry. Let’s be modest here: Black Star is the best pub in town as far as standing out by living its values. Since there are many other pubs and breweries with great food, great beer and great service, Black Star should continue its emphasis on lived values.

5. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Principle 4: Autonomy and Independence is my favorite principle lately, because it guides us in how to handle the increasing complexity of a growing institution: to always make decisions that will ensure democratic member control. As co-ops grow they often get an increasing number of financial obligations to other institutions, including other co-ops, and it is always of the utmost importance to ensure that the rights of the members are protected and that their interest in their business is paramount.

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Cole Noppenberg

1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

I am interested in serving on the Board because I admire the democratic principles of this organization, our commitment to treating our employees with respect, serving quality food, and promoting responsible business practices in Austin.  I want to protect and expand these principles and commitments.

2. What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year?  Five years?

We’ve made immense progress getting our beers on tap throughout Austin. In the next year, I see us exporting in volume to other cities in Texas.  In five years, I want to see a drastic increase in production capacity to match the demand.

3. What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

I’ve served the Board for the past year, and I’m asking you to re-elect me so that I can put that experience to work. I’ve been the Vice President of a cooperative residence, and I’ve acted as an engineer for Austin’s community radio station. My father founded a food cooperative, and my experience in startups and global corporations has given me a unique business perspective that I believe will benefit Black Star long-term.

4. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

I’d like to see us continue to host charity events and offer a meeting place to new groups in Austin.  This is a way we can invest in the community with the resources we already have.  Ultimately, the more we can be a meeting place for the community, the more we can reach the folks who influence local business practice.

5. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Principle 7 is my favorite: Concern for Community.  Black Star directly benefits the community by paying a living wage to its employees and by serving the highest quality food we can.  But we also adhere to environmentally friendly practices, and we actively contribute to charities and cooperative organizations to improve the Austin community and beyond.


Marcus WIlson

1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

I love the Black Star Co-Op, what it is, and what it stands for. The Workers’ Assembly feels like family to me, and it gives me pride to know what fellow members have built here. I want to do all I can to protect and preserve what makes this place special.

2. What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year? Five years?

In the next year I’d like to increase member-owner participation by improving the consistency and quality of communication to the member-owners, and strengthening our feedback process. It’s disappointing when we almost have to start the member-owner meetings late because we couldn’t get a quorum, and I think this would help

solve the problem. In the next five years the Black Star pub will be ten years old and the Co-op will almost be old enough to drive. I would like to see the Co-op set a goal to expand distribution of kegs into the entire Austin metro area.

3. What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

I’ve been on the Annual Review Committee for the past two years. I’ve also made it a point to attend board meetings as often as I could. I enjoy learning how and why things work. I am a regular patron of the pub, and I probably eat here more often than I do at my house.

4. Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

Black Star is more than a brewery or a bar. Key to that is effectively communicating to the Austin market how Black Star contributes to the community, how a living wage, health benefits, conscious environmentalism, and community involvement make Black Star not just another place to toss back a beer – but a place to grow our community in ways that benefit us all. That is what makes Black Star unique in our community, our market. That is what I think makes Black Star special.

5. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Democratic member control is my favorite. It’s why we have elections and how we, as member-owners can direct and be involved in our cooperative.


All Good Things Come in Threes

This month’s release of house beers has me really excited, because the beers each have some really special elements that make them unique. I got to sit down with Andy to talk about the design phase, products used, and aging process defining the beers that you’ll find on tap this month. 


We brew Hubris, our wet hopped ale, every year during the hop harvest in North America. Ensuring the freshness of the hops is crucial to producing a great wet hopped ale, so the production window of this beer is carefully planned. The Beer Team decides on a variety of hops they’d like to use a month or two in advance. This year they chose Cascade hops from the Yakima Valley. When the hops are fully developed, the grower harvests, boxes, and ships the hops to us all in the same day. The grower provides the Beer Team a window for the hops to arrive so they can plan their brew schedule around the shipment. At the time I’m writing this, Andy is brewing Hubris. When the 30 lbs. of Cascade hops arrive, Andy will put them into a huge nylon bag which he’ll hang from one of the cleaned and sanitized tanks. They’ll rack the beer into this tank and steep Hubris in the fresh hops (like giant beer tea) until they’re ready to move the beer into a serving vessel. The professionals call this dry hopping; I prefer “beer tea” apparently. Hubris will be available in house (with all its beer tea glory) beginning September 14th. 


Named for the Roman goddess of agriculture and grains, Ceres is set to release later on this month. Ceres will be the Co-op’s second member-owner designed beer, the first being Elba, our spiced wheat ale that received a medal at the Great American Beer Festival. To design Ceres, the Beer Team gathered responses from an online survey to member-owners. Based on the responses, the Beer Team determined that we should make a beer with a nice malt backbone and character and chose a mixture of rye, wheat, and pilsner malts. At a design forum, member-owners participated in a guided sensory analysis to sample different hops, deciding that Hallertau hops would best complement the Ceres’s malt character. In considering what would best accentuate the malts and bring out the quality of the hops, the Beer Team decided to make Ceres the Co-op’s first lager, sourcing yeast from Live Oak Brewing. We thank the member-owners who participated in designing this beer and hope that this beer meets the tastes and preferences of the membership when it’s released later this month.

Aberrant No. 2

The Beer Team will also release the 2nd edition of its small batch barrel aged sour series in September. Originally acquired from Balcones Distillery, the barrels have been aging this current version of Aberrant since February 2014. When it comes on tap today, you should expect a nice malt character, some residual sweetness, mild tartness, and a lot of character from the barrel. Because the barrels are already inoculated with three strains of cultures, expect that future versions of the Aberrant series to be ever changing, with complexities developing from the worts used to make the beer. The Beer Team will place the 31 gallon batch on tap today and expect to have it on tap for a couple weeks. 

We’re releasing some very interesting house beers this month, and we’re very excited to share them with you. 


At Last – Patronage Tracking

The Workers’ Assembly is excited to announce the roll out of a program which will allow us to track patronage for our member-owners. If you visited the Co-op in the past few months, you’ll notice that we no longer ask for your member number. Patronage tracking is a capability gained from switching to a new point of sale (POS) system; we have been working to implement a new patronage tracking program. 

We began tracking member numbers with tabs on the old POS because we wanted our member-owners to know that their patronage is important to our business and that we’re working to eventually issue a patronage refund. However, the back end reporting that was necessary to track patronage on that old system was too burdensome for our small business. So we set a plan to invest in a new POS that would allow us to track patronage without slowing us down with tedious administrative work. 

Here’s some of the important details about patronage tracking:

You can get a new card with a magnetic swipe. Come in Tuesdays in June from 4-7pm and get your new membership card set up. Additionally, we’ll have card request forms available at the counter if you come in outside of those times.  We’ll print a card for you and let you know when you can pick it up. You can also e-mail us at with your full name and/or member number. We’ll print your card and mail it to you. 

We’ll know who you are even if you forget your membership card. The patronage system includes member lookup with your information, so just give us your name, member number, or phone number to track your patronage at the pub.

The program that we use to track your patronage will also administer membership benefits. Discounts on Member-Owner Pint Nights, your Co-op birthday, Member Appreciation Days, and holiday weekends will be automatically applied to your tab when you use your member card. 

You can track your patronage online. You can access the link to Track Patronage through the Get Involved page at You’ll be able to track how much patronage you’ve earned at the Co-op and get reminders about eligible discounts and rewards.

We are excited to roll out this new program and provide the best membership administration to you. The Workers’ Assembly looks forward to asking for your member number every time you visit the brewpub.

2014 Annual Report Available Now

The Board of Directors and Workers’ Assembly have consistently tried to improve the delivery of the annual report. Our goal is to  provide our member-owners and friends with the most accurate financial information, coverage of memorable events, and description of changes to our Co-op for the previous year.

We typically provide the annual report to member-owners who attend the Members’ Assembly Meeting (our next one is set for Sunday May 31st). However, this year we’ve made the report available in advance. The 2014 Annual Report also has a lot more meat to it. We’ve included a picture of how Black Star Co-op fits into the larger cooperative economy, a map of cooperative brewpubs and breweries modeled after us, an article about our fulfillment of the ends policies in 2014, reports on membership growth and financial condition, and an idea of what you can expect to see from Black Star Co-op in 2015. 

2014 did present a lot of challenges for us. Financially, we show a loss for the year as a result of slower sales at the end of 2014 and higher remuneration of our tenured staff. We continue to manage the Co-op to reflect the needs and desires of the membership, but we’re in a period of adjustment while we work towards making us a more profitable business. 

We hope that this annual report serves as a reminder of the membership’s values and how the Workers’ Assembly works to meet your needs. We look forward to discussing our performance at the Members’ Assembly Meeting on May 31st. 

Since posting the 2014 Annual Report in early May, the Annual Report Review Committee has completed its review of the report Their recommendations and feedback have been included in the report. They will address the membership about the report at the Spring Members’ Assembly Meeting. 

View the 2014 Annual Report here.

Join the Annual Report Review Committee

Every year, we ask member-owners like you to participate in the Annual Report Review Committee. This committee is tasked to report to the membership on the quality of the 2014 annual report which will be presented to member-owners at the Members’ Assembly Meeting on May 31, 2015. You will meet with a couple directors and other member-owners, review the 2014 annual report before it is presented to the membership, and develop a report on the degree to which the report fits the guidelines established by the State of Texas. 

If you are interested in serving your Co-op by participating in this committee, please contact Joe Silva at or Michael Handy at