Member-Owner Beer Survey

In years past, we have held surveys and in-person sensory analysis to develop beers like Elba and Ceres with our Member-Owners.  This year we have decided to take a step back and get a general feel for what our Members like to drink, straight from their mouths (or keyboards), to hopefully give us better insight into what we are lacking/doing right in the brewery. Linked below is a 5 question Survey Monkey that is very straight forward. You tell us what you like, we read what you say, we brew beers that you say you like. This is a super short survey, so I am hoping to get quite a bit of feedback on this one. Please feel free to let us know any and all of your drinking desires and we will try to make 2019 the best beer lineup we have ever made. Cheers!

Introducing: Good Work Austin

Born through shared values discovered during the fight to pass the Paid Sick Ordinance, Good Work Austin is a group of local business owners and managers dedicated to creating a better work environment for all. With the support of Council Member Greg Casar and Mayor Adler, representatives from L’oca D’oro, Brew & Brew, Sweet Ritual, The Purple Fig, and Black Star Co-op among others have decided that now is the time to level the playing field for all Austin businesses.  As a group, we are dedicated to creating good jobs for all workers, ensuring a quality workplace, and supporting and amplifying the voices of like-minded businesses. We value cooperation, inclusion, shared opportunity, equality, and fairness in the operation of our businesses.

After a very successful launch party last week at The Vortex, we look forward to introducing ourselves to representatives at the December State Legislative Briefing in Austin, and learning more about how we can advocate for policies that raise workplace standards here in Texas. We are excited to continue creating a supportive environment for employers who want to do the right thing for their workers, the economy, and the environment.

Be on the lookout for more from Good Work Austin in 2019!

Wine Down Wednesday featuring Chef Chad 11/28/2018

Q: What’s your earliest food memory?

CC: My parents’ and grandparents’ kitchens. My Papa had a lake that had lots of catfish where we’d go fishing and cook it southern style after. 

Q: Who has influenced your cooking the most?

CC: My dad and grandmother. 

Q: What’s your favorite go-to ingredient?

CC: Potatoes. I can do anything with potatoes.

Q: What are some of your signature dishes?

CC: Good colcannon, enchiladas, and gourmet burgers.

Q: What did you choose to make for Wine Down Wednesday?

CC: Chicken Fried Steak, mash, and veggies paired with Prince de Lise, Blanc de Blancs Brut, champagne.

Q: What was the inspiration for the dish?

CC: It got me into eating meat again. I had been a vegetarian since I was 23 and Chicken Fried Steak got me. 

Q: If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be?

CC: My mom.

Q: Dumbest thing you’ve ever done with food or in a kitchen?

CC: Mac & Cheese with sour cream, and an onion glaze. It wasn’t edible. I’d advise to not try it. 

Q: What would we find in your kitchen at home?

CC: Pork loin and potatoes for sure. Carrots, celery, and a handful of spices.

Q: Most memorable meal? 

CC: With my mom and dad at a steakhouse by the woods. I love their Chicken Fried Steak.

Q: What food is your guilty pleasure?

CC: Burgers, not good for you. But I love ‘em.

Q: What’s your last meal on earth, if you had the chance to choose?

CC: Chicken Fried Steak breakfast would be a good comforting meal. 

Wine Down Wednesday featuring Chef Jim

Q: What’s your earliest food memory?

CJ: Young and microwaving pizza.

Q: Who has influenced your cooking the most?

CJ: The internet and travel channel. I enjoyed watching Andrew Zimmern on Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations.

Q: What’s your favorite go-to ingredient?

CJ: Chicken thighs

Q: What are some of your signature dishes?

CJ: Cajun chicken, coleslaw, collards,  Guinness beef stew and green curry.

Q: What did you choose to make for Wine Down Wednesday?

CJ: Peruvian tamarind citrus chicken over amaranth with tres leches for dessert.

Q: What was the inspiration for the dish?

CJ: Gas station chicken place that does Peruvian chicken off St. Johns.

Q: If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be?

CJ: Chris Farley, he would be a fun guy to eat a ton of food with.

Q: Dumbest thing you’ve ever done with food or in a kitchen?

CJ: When I was sixteen working in a pizza shop. My coworkers made garlic and cinnamon sticks. We also made garlic chicken wings and thought it was a great idea to make cinnawings and dip it in frosting. It sounds worse than you think.

Q: What would we find in your kitchen at home?

CJ: Lots of hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, and grape seed oil.

Q: Most memorable meal?

CJ: First time I had tacos in Austin.

Q: What food is your guilty pleasure?

CJ: Ketchup and Mayo too much. Also, meat sticks, gas station meat sticks.

Q: What’s your last meal on earth, if you had the chance to choose?

CJ: Gyro, fries and General Tso’s chicken.

Fall Members’ Assembly Meeting Recap

 

THANK YOU to the quorum of Black Star Member-Owners who gathered at the Co-op for the Fall 2018 Member-Owner Meeting last Sunday, October 21st.
After some rousing Co-op trivia, we kicked off the meeting with introductions from the current directors and with speeches from the four candidates running for the board: Beth Beutel, Roger Corrales, Graham Green, and Marcus Wilson.  They represent a fantastic mix of experience and fresh perspectives.  To summarize their stump speeches, Beth loves co-ops, Roger loves/lives worker self-management, Graham loves beer, and Marcus is lovable.  Read their candidate questionnaires on the blog (you’ll need to scroll down) and VOTE for your favorites here!
From there Beth Beutel, Black Star Co-op Board President, reviewed the priorities and accomplishments of the board so far in 2018.  She highlighted an increased focus on board training, the implementation of a more rigorous policy review process, and improved Worker Assembly (WA) solidarity.  Chris Byram, Black Star Co-op Board Staff Liaison, provided a retrospective as the most tenured member of the WA and described 2018 as a “breath of fresh air” compared to the financial struggles of early 2017.  He thanked everyone for their continued patronage and reminded them that the Co-op exists to support the Member-Owners.
                     
Given that the Co-op finances have improved in 2018, the WA asked Member-Owners for input into where the Co-op should focus in 2019 for growth.  Everyone has a favorite idea (“Year-Round Chili!”), so second-year board member, Kyle Voosen, led us in a business strategy activity that encouraged Member-Owners to prioritize their 2019 areas of focus.  This input process was similar to the August 2018 board retreat exercise.  Of the 16 different proposed strategies for 2019, the Member-Owners selected the following three as their top priorities:
1) Expand revenue from existing Member-Owners through enhanced and better promoted membership benefits
2) Improve dining experience and better communicate brand through updated facilities
3) Build demand through official partnerships/special benefits with customer organizations
We wrapped up the Member-Owner meeting with a Q&A session that covered topics including Member-Owner outreach, the upcoming lease renewal, the improved parking situation, and yes, when chili would be back on the menu.  Thank you again to the Member-Owners who took the time to support their Co-op and join us for a beer or three in the sun last Sunday!

Black Star & Blue Index

In late 2017, Black Star was asked to donate a keg to an event on the UT campus called “Sustainability on Tap” where grad students would have 3 minutes to present information about the sustainability research projects they were working on. We were immediately intrigued since this seemed to fall right in line with our values at the Co-op, so we agreed to participate.
The first event was a blast, we even got an opportunity to speak about our own sustainable efforts at Black Star as the 1/4 barrel keg of Vulcan ran dry within the first 45 minutes.
The second event went even better than the first. This time it was hosted in a suite within Darrell K Royal football stadium, and we came better prepared with 2 kegs of beer. After all of the presentations were completed we were approached by one of the students about their project, Blue Index. If you like water, you will love this program. Kevin Jeffery, the creator, has set up 30 stations at different bodies of water across Austin. Each station has a metal stand to place your cell phone in to take a picture of the area. You then rate your feelings at the waterscape (serene, calm, excited, etc.). The data collected will then be analyzed and presented to the City of Austin in an effort to suggest areas of improvement, as well as provide information on its successes.
After giving us a run down of his intentions with this program, Kevin asked if we would be interested in partnering up to brew a water “cause beer” later on down the road. Of course we were stoked to do this so we planned a meeting to spitball about potential ways to make this happen.
A couple of months after our initial meeting, Kevin invited us to join him out at Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, TX. We discussed the potential cause beer with the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association
about starting another water conservation/preservation organization (all the ‘ations) called Texas Brew Shed. Needless to say, it was pretty cool. We are now in the process of setting up several events leading up to a beer release including a few watershed focused events held here at the Co-op.
As I write this we are 3 days into the Austin Water boil notice with no real timeline of when it will end, we are boiling water and giving it to businesses/families that do not have the capacity to do so, and rain continues fall. All of these things make our involvement in this cause extremely important and I am very honored that were asked to participate in such a cool idea.
I urge everyone to check out Blue Index online and even go out to a few of the stations to leave your impressions. Kevin is looking to get 2,500 or more participants by mid-December,  so go explore the city and experience some water that you may never would have gone to otherwise.

The Board’s Annual Retreat: Fun, Work, and Teaming!

By Beth Beutel, Board President

 

On Sunday August 19th, your Black Star Board of Directors took our annual pause from the monthly routine of Board work to focus on projects that require larger spans of time. This year, the Board has had a number of objectives: to ensure that every director was well trained for their role, to build alignment with the WA around our values and our processes, and to build a better team within the board itself. In case you haven’t been to a board meeting or checked out the meeting minutes, you should know that most Board meetings are primarily taken up with routine business, leaving previous little time for working towards these large goals. So our twice annual retreats in January and August are where most of the learning and teaming take place.

 

Throughout the year, the Team Leader Council (TLC) has asked the Board for better and more timely feedback about the direction the business is headed. As lay-people, not professional restaraunteurs or brewers, we were unsure what type of feedback would be best, and our bylaws and policies indicate clear delinations between board and staff work.. But at the TLC’s request, and after learning of a collaborative board and management planning process at the consumer co-op conference this year, I worked in collaboration with Kyle, a director on the Leadership Development Committee, and Chris Byram, our Board-Staff Liason, to develop a retreat plan that would provide timely and appropriate director input prior to the begining of the budget and planning process. And, we wanted it to be fun.

 

We organized the Retreat agenda to ensure we had a clear understanding of some key components of our business before we launched into planning activities. First, Greg Cumpton, Leadership Development Committee Chair, reviewed our Memeber-Investor Share Offering. Then Chris B, Andy, Jodi, Will, and Brian from the WA arrived as scheduled to see competitive reconnaissance reports from the Board. Our directors, and volunteer facilitator Kenley Maddux, presented on our homework assignment of going to one of six breweries around town to take photos, order food, note menu pricing, sample the beers, etc, and report back to the Board. We probably could have just looked at yelp reviews, but that wouldn’t have been as fun.

 

Then, Chris Byram educated us all about living wage. He covered everything from several available models, the basis of their calculations, cost of living estimate sources, and the specific calculations for the Austin area. The Board and WA then discussed Black Star’s history with the living wage model and the values that guided us to chose the Universal Living Wage to list in our bylaws and the values that are now compelling us to examine possibilities for change.

 

Dacia gave the Board a primer on how to have an excellent brainstorming session where we support each other and stoke each others creativity. Kyle then led us through a SWOT analysis of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunites, and threats, with workers participating. The workers then left, as some agenda items had run over time and several of the workers had other commitments. Directors soldiered on to grouping the post-it notes covering the walls; we recorded them and began noting affinities – areas where one point matched with another and made a clear inclination of a plan, and assigned Kyle to continue to find more.

 

Later in the month, Dacia sent a survey where directors and workers were to rank “affinities” or general courses of action from 1-5; 1 meant not very interested in seeing that action taken, and 5 meant very interested that action. Results were submitted to the September meeting and discussed by the Board. We intended to chose three courses of action, but two of them had exactly even scores, and we agreed four was also a reasonable number. The board concurred that Chris Byram, as our Board-Staff Liaison should take the top four items to present to the Workers Assembly for consideration as they make their business plan, which will be submitted to the Board at our next meeting.

 

We hope you’ll join us at our bi-annual Members Assembly meeting on October 21st from noon-2pm at Black Star to hear a little more about what the board is working on and participate in a fun activity to give your feedback about the future direction of the co-op!

 

If this process sounds interesting to you, we’d like for you to know that there are open seats on the Board of Directors, and you are more than welcome to attend our next meeting on Sunday October 28th from 10am-1pm, and/or email the Leadership Development Committee at ldc@blackstar.coop for more information about being appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board.

Chef Tilly’s Wine Down Inspirations

Q. What’s your earliest food memory?

CT: Eating pickles at the bar of my grandparent’s restaurant.

Q. Who has influenced your cooking the most?

CT: Both of my grandmothers.

Q. What’s your favorite go-to ingredient?

CT: Mushrooms

Q. What did you choose to make for Wine Down Wednesday?

CT: Black Drum fillet over a bed of garlic, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach. It will come with a surprise appetizer 🙂

Q. What was the inspiration for the dish?

CT: The colors of Autumn. Plus, these are some of my favorite ingredients.

Q. If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be?

CT: I would cook for my grandmas as a thank you for cooking for me all those years.

Q. Dumbest thing you’ve ever done with food or in a kitchen?

CT: While I was making cookies I forgot to put baking soda in the recipe. They ended up being sweet crackers instead…

Q. What would we find in your kitchen at home?

CT: Lots of fresh herbs, spices, mushrooms and pickles.

Q. Most memorable meal?

CT: A Giant Bloody Mary. It came with onion rings, celery, olives, peppers and it was about the size of me.

Q. What food is your guilty pleasure?

CT: Pickles…all the pickles.

Q. What’s your last meal on earth, if you had the chance to choose?

CT: My leg.

GABF Recap

For those of you who read our last article on our GABF trip, I will pick up where I left of and try to recall a handful of details.
We set out on this year’s festival adventure with high hopes and optimism when we entered our 4 beers into the largest beer competition in the United States. Unfortunately, competition was stiff with over 8,000 beer entries, and we did not have the privilege of earning a medal in this year’s awards ceremony. We did, however, manage to have a great time chatting with folks and pouring our beers at the festival. We arrived at our aforementioned undersized AirBnb on Wednesday night and began to unpack and get settled in. Thursday morning, we headed to the Colorado Convention Center to pick up our badges and set up our booth for the festival. At 5:30pm the first session started and we were immediately overjoyed by the attention we had been getting for Island Baby from surrounding brewers/volunteers who had tried it. Within the first 30 minutes we had several people who had been specifically pointed in our direction to try the beer as well as a few repeat tasters.
On Friday morning, we headed out to Boulder, CO to check out some OG craft breweries, Avery and Left Hand. Our solo kitchen team worker, Kyle, just happens to be the biggest Left Hand fan there is so needless to say he left with a mountain of merch and a belly full of stouts. We then headed back to town and went to grab some lunch. I would not feel right if I didn’t give a plug here to a little place called Bourbon Grill, located on Colfax road in Denver. This spot is one of my favorite places ever, serving up bourbon chicken, nuclear orange mac and cheese about the slowest service imaginable. If you are ever in town, do yourself a favor and check it out, you might regret it.
Where was I? Ah. That evening we headed back to the festival and poured at the evening session until 10pm. Saturday morning ended up being a little hectic since our Uber driver decided to sit downtown for 10 minutes before heading our way, which lead me to just cancelling the ride, driving us downtown and paying $30 for parking across the street. We ended up making it inside on time and got situated for the 2 hour+ awards ceremony. Once we finished up in there, we headed again out to the festival floor and poured at our booth.
At the end of the day Saturday, we were beat. We headed out for some drinks and food but ultimately headed back to the house fairly early to get some rest in preparation for the 16 hour drive home.
Sunday morning we packed, cleaned and busted out of Denver around 9am. Fast forward to 2am Monday morning and we all made it back to Black Star safe and sound. We all lived happily ever after. The end.

Wine Down Wednesday: Chef Kyle talks Japanese Curry

Q.What’s your earliest food memory?

CK: Learning how to make eggs with my mom.

Q. What’s your favorite go-to ingredient?

CK: GARLIC!

Q. What are some of your signature dishes?

CK: Japanese Curry and breakfast heart attacks.

Q. What did you choose to make for Wine Down Wednesday?

CK: Japanese Curry with chicken, carrots, potatoes, apples and rice.

Q. What was the inspiration for the dish?

CK: I enjoy exploring different styles of curry.

Q. Dumbest thing you’ve ever done with food or in a kitchen?

CK: So I was putting away some sheet trays on the speed rack. While doing so, I push out a  different tray of hot chicken that took three days to prepare. I thought I was going to lose my job. Somehow I’m still here.

Q. Is there an ingredient you use a lot that would surprise people?

CK: Chicken fat. There is SO MUCH flavor in chicken fat.

Q. Most memorable meal?

CK: Irish coffee milkshake…stupid delicious.

Q. What food is your guilty pleasure?

CK: DiGiorno Pizza

Q. What’s your last meal on earth, if you had the chance to choose?

CK: Pizza or Bavette. Let’s see what’s available.

Check out Chef Kyle’s Japanese Curry for Wine Down Wednesday on October 3rd!

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