Run for the Board!

Take your love of Black Star Co-op to the next level by running for the Board! Every fall Black Star Co-op Member-Owners vote for at least three Board of Director positions. Directors review and craft policies and principles, represent the interests of all Member-Owners, and collaborate with the Workersʼ Assembly. To run for the Board, you must:

 Be a fully invested Member-Owner;
 Attend at least one Black Star Board Meeting within the last year;
 Attend a Candidate Orientation Session at Black Star; and,
 Submit your Declaration of Candidacy form.

Interested? Now’s the time to attend a Board Meeting—the next one will be March 29 th at 9:30am at Wheastville Coop on Guadalupe. Contact the Leadership Development Committee so we know you’re planning on coming:

Shine On June Crazy Kombucha

Howdy y’all, Ish, your Black Star beer buyer here. Hope you have been enjoying both our house & guest beers. If you missed the Special Tap Saturday featuring Jester King’s Rare Corals (Batch 2), there is still some left, so hurry on over to grab the last dew pours. This coming Saturday, 1 February, we will hosting our local JuneShine rep. Besides JuneShine’s Blood Orange Mint Hard Kombucha on draft and in cans, there will also be some free glassware and great company — but if you can’t wait to try some, come on over as we just added it on the tap wall.

After that, our next Special Tap Saturday will be on 22 February featuring a rare gem from Cascade Brewing — the 2015 version of Figaro, their Chardonnay barrel-aged sour golden ale with dried white figs, lemon peel, and orange peel.
Of course, our tap wall presents the craft beer enthusiast a range of choices that currently includes: Roughhouse Brewing’s Little Reward (Festbier w/ Pretzels), Rahr & Sons’ Midnight Cab (Cabernet Barrel-Aged Dark Saison) and Middleton’s Third Coast IPA. On deck, we have some gems like new Houston cidery City Orchard’s Cherry Red, Vista Brewing’s Lady Bird Texas Wit with Native Herbs, San Gabriel River Brewery’s Wee Heavy, Buffalo Bayou’s Figaro FigaroFigaro Figaroooo Belgian Quadrupel with Figs, and many other Texas brews.
Hope to see you sometime soon this leap year. Cheers!

2020 Mindset

Did you know that the Black Star Board of Directors has two, all-day retreats a year (in addition to monthly board meetings)? The board retreats are a vehicle for taking time to solve problems, lay the foundation for future work, and to generally spend blocks of time to flush out ideas and next steps. The board retreats are a critical component of the board’s work, and this January retreat was no different.
We started the day with hot coffee and breakfast tacos, and quickly moved into a fun and engaging teaming exercise. Every year, as some board members rotate off the board and are then replaced with new team members, it’s important to establish commonality and a sense of connection, as we collectively prepare to embark on the shared experience that is better known as “THE Black Star Co-Op.” The teaming exercise was simple, fun, and got everyone moving and talking. The first part involved identifying and drawing four pictures that represent ourselves. With only a few minutes to draw our pictures, you had to be spontaneous and quick. Suffice it to say, there were also a lot of shared jokes about NOT being the next Picasso. From there, each team member had only three minutes to share his or her pictures with the group, and explain why the picture was drawn, what it represents, and why it’s important. To conclude the exercise, we had to, as a group, decide on six different categories of pictures, group them together, and label them. This exercise was a fantastic way to find
commonality, connection, and to better understand our group. Picasso or not, this exercise was a great success.
From there we moved into a series of training sessions. First there was an introduction to the board tool framework, building the pyramid of work structure that starts with the bylaws, and ends with the foundational tools used. Then we moved into policy governance training: what it is, why it’s important, how it’s used, etc. Using the Decision Tree for Acting on Internal Monitoring Reports, we stepped through an example of policy monitoring from a recent board meeting. We also had working conversations surrounding situational reviews: if this, then that. These conversations
help establish our expectations for the year, as well as set the tone for how specific situations will be addressed.
After a quick walk to lunch, we spent the lunch hour collaborating on various blog content ideas. Everyone (literally) came to the table, completed homework in hands, and we brainstormed ideas surrounding engaging content to communicate with our loved ones, YOU, the member/owners. The ideas ranged from historical context, to member spotlights, to supply chain, to beer. These ideas will ultimately translate into monthly articles from your board.
The afternoon session centered around board committee work. Heading into 2020, the board has three chartered committees: Membership Development, Leadership Development, and the Finance Review & Report committee. We broke into our various committee groups, edited and updated the committee charters, and then also updated each committee’s ROA document. The ROA document (Result, Objectives, and Activities) is a new tool that was introduced at he summer retreat last year. This tool will be used to shape each committee’s work for the year, as well as establish
metrics for performance. Performance will be tracked so that we can evaluate, objectively, our progress over the year. Each committee chair then had ten to fifteen minutes to present the committee charter to the group, followed by a detailed review of the ROA.
Whew. What a day! On the whole, it was a fantastic retreat. In addition to establishing cohesive team bonds, we all contributed to the 2020 board plan; we know what to do, when, and by whom. Ultimately, we welcome this year’s new board members into the fold:

  • James Farris, three-year term
  • Gabe Prado, three-year term
  • Ryan Vanstone, one-year appointed term

We have a lot of work in front of us because 2020 is shaping up to be a big and exciting year for the co-op; I’m happy to
be a small part of it.

Dacia Schoofield


Happy New Year from the Board Member Dev Committee

January is traditionally a time for new years resolutions, but as these often involve cutting out garlic chips and reducing beer intake, lets skip this and instead look at what opportunities 2020 will bring. Lions fans may be getting used to a rebuild year (every year*) but we at BlackStar Co-Op aren’t willing to settle for that**. Here is how will we ensure a winning record this coming season…

·        Membership Events: Look out for an increased schedule of membership events in 2020 with the goal of continuing the community aspect of membership

·        Pub Facility Investment: If you have been to recent membership meetings you will be aware, we have been polling for ideas on how to physically improve our space. In 2020 we have an opportunity to put this into action and we may be enlisting your help in elements of this to ensure the result meets your needs.

·        10 years of Black Star: It’s party time all the time in 2020 as Black Start celebrates it’s a decade of great beer, food and people. Look out for the special events and activities on the calendar, if ever there was a time to go over the top…. this is it!

Fresh Ideas on the Board: In December we confirmed James Farris and Gabe Prado onto the board of directors. If you haven’t said hello yet please do they are nice guys! The Board calendar kicks off at the January offsite in a few weeks so look out for an update soon with our action plan for the year

·        Co-Op Message: The Black Star Co-Op is special in that we run our business differently, we treat people differently, and we provide a different service to the community than your run-of-the-mill beer bar. In 2020 if Black Star is to thrive, this story needs to be told more loudly, more widely and more clearly, and for this we need your help. As a member owner we shall be looking to work with you to champion our Co-Op and ensure its long-term success in Austin. More to come on this subject…

·        New Beers and Menus: Have you tried the latest Dockhand variant yet? When was the last time you tried the cask ale special that is often at the bottom of the black board***? How many flavors of homemade bread pudding can you say you have tried? With the Beer and Kitchen teams constantly updating the menu why not try something new in 2020 and surprise yourself?

Once again, Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing you for a pint soon

Board Member Development Committee Chair

*This burn is for you Ozz (Black Star Member-Owner from Michigan)
** Especially as we already have the dream team on staff so a favorable draft pick isn’t really an advantage
***Did you know cask beer is considered a rational pint and so member discount applies?

Allow Me to Ishtroduce Myself

Hello everyone, my name is Ish Archbold and I have been the new commercial beer buyer for a few months now. Been filling some big shoes, so I hope you have been enjoying our guest beer selection. My goal is to feature more Texas beers than ever and have a monthly special featured brew, all the while complimenting our house beers. For y’all and your friends who are into hard seltzers, we will continue to offer White Claw but plan to switch to something more in the craft brewing vein; we will also start carrying JuneShine Hard Kombucha soon, so keep an eye out for that.
The special monthly tappings will be happening on the 4th Saturdays of each month; the first two kegs we have on deck for these are Jester King’s Rare Corals (Batch #2) and Cascade Brewing’s Figaro Sour Blonde Ale (2015). Stay tuned here to keep up with other offerings down the line. In the meantime, please enjoy our offerings which, at the moment, include perennial favorite Circle Doppel Blur Imperial Hefeweizen, the latest interation of 4th Tap Kung Fu Double Dragon DDH IPA, Bitter Sisters Cranberry Family Trip Belgian Tripel, Blue Owl Professor Black Sour Cherry Stout as well as some solid TX selections on deck like Middleton Third Coast American IPA, Fairweather Smell The Van Dry Cider with Gin Botanicals and Community Brewing Yessir! Pale Ale.
Have any requests for Texas beers? Please feel free to fill out a comment card or email me at Happy New Year!

Host Your Holiday Party at Black Star!

December is officially here, and we all know what that means… It’s officially holiday season! So throw a yule log on the fire, queue up the Mariah Carey Christmas album on your Spotify playlist, and start thinking about holiday festivities. Don’t forget, there are many benefits to having your holiday party right here at Black Star Co-op. First, there are no reservation fees, and no tipping! This is pretty much unheard of in the restaurant industry, so take advantage before we decide that this was a terrible idea. Second, you OWN this place! If you’ve been assigned the task of organizing your company’s holiday party, why not show off your member-owner privilege and suggest YOUR brewpub for a festive location. Finally, we’re super casual and easy to work with. Whether you have a group of 10 or 60, we can move our space around exactly to your liking. Have questions? Just ask! We’d be happy to chat and discuss all of your holiday party needs. And remember, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is giving the gift of Black Star beer.

Of the Vine : November, 2019

It’s that time of year again, the bustling months known in the wine industry as “O.N.D.”, descriptive of the last three months of the year. For those of us that are buyers, this is the most wonderful time, tasting the fullest-bodied reds, and the finest grower champagnes. We get to have all the fun, choosing the lushest of juices to satiate and coat the palate. This November I have some especially fun wines coming in, that will pair well with our upcoming menu. There will be a rotating rich red selection, and some nerdy one-offs, but I’m particularly excited about introducing our first natural wine onto the list: Broadside Chardonnay. Cellared and bottled out of Santa Rosa, California, this winery harvests organic grapes at their lowest sugars, uses no new oak, and minimally interferes with the wine-making process at all levels. Natural wines essentially finish as “living,” made without adding or removing anything in the cellar, and using no fining or tight filtration. To put it in beer-thinking terms, natural wines are like unfiltered farmhouse ales, free to mature and ferment how they see fit. Ripe pear and caramel on the nose, this chardonnay drinks silky and warming, with a rich, toasted grain finish. I recommend pairing it with the tikka masala or the scallop dish. Keep an eye out for the holiday favorite Beaujolais Nouveau at the end of the month, also maybe some Cabernet Franc, maybe some Primitivo out of Italy, or some dry, full Dolcetto. So bring your family, your friends, and your coworkers to revel in the comfort of our end-of-the-year offerings.

It’s the Most Wunderbar Time of the Year

As we beer barrel into festival season this year, we wanted all of our Member-Owners and friends to be privy to the events we will be participating in and hosting this Oktober. We’re fresh off of the Texas Craft Brewers Festival that took place at Fiesta Gardens in Austin this past weekend, but there is no time for rest. The cooperative way is to persevere through even the headiest of beer struggles. Today, we’re packing up a super chic rented minivan, loading up a select crew of tenured Black Star workers, and heading up to Denver to participate in the 2019 Great American Beer Festival. As you may know, both Recalcitrant Dockhand and Elba are past medal winners, and this year we are incredibly excited about our eclectic submissions. Wish You Were Queer, Waterloo, Recalcitrant, Hop Ons, and Roze Sap are all in it to win it this year, so fingers crossed that we take home more than just some good ol’ Rocky Mountain High memories. 

Hopefully you were able to attend our (very last minute!) Oktoberfest Kellerbier tapping this past Sunday. These pourings are really unique to Black Star, and it’s fun to see how serious our guests are about their favorite steinware (you know who you are). If you were unable to attend, you’re in luck! We’re hosting our official Oktoberfest Beer Release and Party next Saturday, October 12th. We’ll be slinging a bunch of traditional German foods, special guest pours, exceptional German wines, and limited edition branded glass boots to boot! You really don’t want to miss it, and trust, we’ll know if you did. 

You may have noticed that we’ve been teasing the specials board with housemade bratwursts these past couple of weeks, but did you know we’re also hosting a VEGAN Oktoberfest?! That’s right, y’all. In collaboration with ATX Vegans, this month’s PLANTED event is honoring favorite traditional German dishes, veganized! If you’re vegan or vegan-curious, you won’t want to miss it. We’re kind of becoming pros at the whole vegan game, and it’s awesome. 

And there you have it. It’s festivus for the best of us, and YOU’RE a PUB OWNER. Come on out and feel the gemütlichkeit at your favorite neighborhood brewpub; where everybody knows your name, or at least your drink. 😉

Black Star Co-op Board of Director Elections

As the weather turns cooler in Austin, Member-Owners execute their right to vote for open positions on the Black Star Co-op board. The Board of Directors provide leadership and guidance that supports the Co-op’s mission, vision, and goals on behalf of the Member-Owners through personal responsibility and effective governance through well-written policies. Learn more about the candidates through their answers to the “Questions for the Candidate” section in their submitted candidacy application or by attending the Member’s Assembly on Sunday, October 27th from 12-2pm. Electronic vote casting begins October 1 and ends October 31 with in-person ballots available at the Member’s Assembly.  

Questions for the Candidate

Greg Cumpton

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

The fiscal position of Black Star dimmed suddenly in first month of my joining the Board just under three years ago (I’m sure this was correlation and not causation).  Members arrived in droves to support the Co-op.  Without their support, Black Star would not be here.  It’s time for Black Star Co-op to put members first.  I look forward to representing them on the Board.

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

In the short term I would like to see improved efforts to engage current members and expansive efforts to increase the number of new members. I want to attend a Member’s Assembly meeting where there are no empty seats!  In five years, I’d like all the facilities issues completely resolved.

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

I am just finishing my first term on the Board which went from fiscal crisis to stability.  I hope to apply the skills I’ve learned to another three years on the Board.

  • 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 Co-op already stands out from other local brewpubs.  Other breweries and brewpubs have fans; Black Star has member-owners.  Other brewpubs pay their staff the federal tipped minimum wage; Black Star pays a living wage.  Other brewpubs and breweries join and support people and organizations that promote local beer (that’s good, yes); Black Star does that AND advocates for policies ensuring a quality workplace locally and nationally.  Let’s be honest, we can drink award winning beer all over Austin, but no award winning beer tastes as righteous as Black Star’s.    

  • What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Democratic member control.  Members have a voice at Black Star.  I want to hear those voices more clearly and more often over the next three years.

James Farris

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

I believe strongly in the mission and vision for Black Star Co-op.  I have been a longtime patron of the Co-op and a member since 1997, when I attended my first members assembly.  I love the sense of community, both among members and staff and the way the Black Star acts on the seven co-op principles to be a positive part of the larger community.  I believe Black Star is something special in the Austin brewpub scene and would like to take a more active role in supporting and strengthening it.

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

I would like to see Black Star strengthen its financial position, while growing the awareness among existing and potential patrons of the unique qualities and features that set it apart within the brewpub scene in Austin.  I would like to see it continue to make strides in building a community around the co-op mission as well as high quality beer and food offerings that incorporate member input in the development and selection.

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

Passion for this place (I’m literally filling this application out while I sit at the bar).  I also have a broad set of skills and experience gained from my degrees in Math and Public Affairs and working in jobs doing data analysis, program evaluation, performance improvement, and policy development in state government. 

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

Community and customer involvement.  I think the key ingredient in what makes Black Star special to me is the spirit of involvement and cooperation that underpin its founding and business model.  I love to tell people about the living wage paid to staff, the way the folks who work here have direct input into how things are run, how members are more than just customers – they’re owners, and how all these things come together into celebration of work, quality, integrity, and beer.

  • What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Democratic member control.  This principle, where members and staff have a stake in establishing the community and priorities is a key to what Black Star offers.  These days when you can go online and order anything from anywhere, or drop-in on snapshots of life from friends or celebrities and click to show your feels, this principle says you’re not just buying a commodity when you become a member or patronize the co-op, you’re participating in a community.  When you come to events or talk to staff you’re not emoting into the ether, you have voice in shaping this community.

Gabriel Prado

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

As a true Austinite (born and raised), I’m very passionate about local businesses and the unique impression they leave on our beautiful, ever changing city.  The Black Star principles and symbiotic relationship with the local community are a great embodiment of what I believe Austin to be and should have more of.  I’ve been looking for an opportunity to join the board of a local business and pledge to use my time and background to further the mission and set Black Star as the shining example of the co-op model.

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

Short-term in the next year I’d like to see Black Star expand engagement with its local member owner community and start to execute on innovative new ideas to drive traffic and renewed interest in the Black Star mission.  In five years, I’d like to see Black Star expand its footprint with new strategic partnerships that generate value for all stakeholders and help carry the Black Star name like other well-known Austin breweries.

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

I’ve been curating a very diverse set of business skills over my career including sales, product management, pricing, and product marketing.  While those skills have been honed in the tech space, I am ready to apply the same critical thinking and strategy to a much more personal type of business.  Personally, I tend to take a lot of ownership in success and love to coach the others around me with best practices and lessons learned.

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

I think there is a huge opportunity to make Black Star the “third place” for those who drink beer-just how coffee shops have become a third place for many.  I think this requires developing an understanding of what people need in that “third place” and what Black Star can do to facilitate and encourage it.  I see it as a third place for many, but it’s still subject to a lot of competition in the surrounding area.  Let’s understand our members and further develop that vision of the third-place.

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

Democratic member control.  I believe this to be incredibly important as an exchange of diverse backgrounds and ideas that can all play on a level playing field.  I think the means to be able to have a voice is much more valuable than being able to pay more for a louder voice.  I also appreciate this principle because it isn’t always easy.  Members need to be engaged, informed, and have a personal interest in the voting outcomes-all of which are very hard to measure, making it a particularly interesting challenge!

Cast Your Vote HERE

Members’ Assembly and Voting Sunday, October 27th – Exercise Your Democratic Right!

Black Star Co-Op is not like other pubs in town. Firstly, its beer is better, but also it is a member-owned democratically run organization. This October, as a Member-Owner you have two important voting decisions to make.

  1. Election of the Board of Directors of the Co-op. These folk meet to make decisions on your behalf, they represent the Members of the Co-op, legally are accountable for the business, and hold the workers assembly to account through a series of governance policies. We have a few positions on the board up for election and some great candidates standing. You can vote either at the Members’ Assembly or online in the email that will be sent out in a similar time frame.
  2. Referendum to change one of our Bylaws. This doesn’t happen often, but some decisions are so important that we look for the Member-Owners to get involved rather than the Board making a
    decision on their behalf. This is your opportunity to have a direct say in how the Co-op operates. You can again vote either at the Members’ Assembly or in the email that will be sent out at a similar time. Details of the bylaw change are included below for you to read. Please feel free to speak to or email the board if you have questions around this or would like to discuss it at
    I look forward to seeing you on the 27th of October for a cold beer, some hot topics of conversation, and a warm reception for the new Board Member candidates. All that’s left for me to say is…

(News Team / Black Star Members – both good looking, both spend time in pubs – same thing right?)
Graham (Member Development Board Committee Chair)

Living Wage Bylaw Change Proposal

Reason for Proposed Change

The board is recommending a change to one of the Co-Op bylaws. To do this we legally require a vote from the member/owners.

The language currently used in this bylaw regards the payment of workers assembly (WA) members. We propose a change as the current language for two reasons

  1. It is restrictive in that it stipulates specific calculators that have debatable relevance to the Austin employment market.
  2. It is also financially unsustainable in its expectation that “any employee” will receive this. The spirit of the statement is good, but the reality is that it is unobtainable, and so does not encourage the Co-Op to strive towards this goal but focus efforts elsewhere.

The proposed change will give the WA flexibility in worker renumeration while increasing oversite from the board to ensure that we continue to challenge ourselves towards achieving the Co-Op principles. We believe that this change will have a positive effect on worker pay.

The Co-Op Board of directors, and the WA, recommend that members vote to accept this change.

Changes in detail

  1. Change in the bylaw to allow the WA to propose the most appropriate living wage calculator
  2. Change to the language of the bylaw to remove the “any employee” language
  3. Addition to board D.3 policy for all voting body WA members are paid a living wage (there is a tenure and commitment requirement to become a WA voting body member – so this will likely exclude transitional staff)
  4. Addition to board D.3 policy for over 60% of staff receive a living wage (and by proxy – become voting members of the WA). This promotes the spirit of “we pay a living wage” and encourages tenure and commitment from the WA. Hitting 60% will be aspirational in the near future, but we believe this is an obtainable goal in the Austin market and so encourages us all to strive for policy compliance rather than give up as lost.
  5. Addition to board D.3 policy for oversite from the board on the living wage calculator chosen to ensure fair remuneration for years to come.
  6. Please note other elements of the existing D3 policy regarding discrimination, salary ratios and gratuity have not been changed.

Exact wording for your study

Old Language

Living Wage Bylaw:

When financially able, the Co-op shall pay no less than a living wage (determined by the formula of the Universal Living Wage Campaign) to any of its employees.

D.3 Policy:

  • D.3.0 With respect to employment, compensation, and benefits to employees, consultants, contract workers, and volunteers. The Workers’ Assembly shall not cause or allow jeopardy to financial integrity or public image, or discrimination based on race, sex, age, creed, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, color or disability.
  • D.3.1 The Workers’ Assembly will not allow disparity between the remuneration of any two workers to exceed a ratio of 4:1.
  • D.3.2 The Workers’ Assembly will not accept gratuities to supplement wages paid by the Co-op.

Proposed New Language

Living Wage Bylaw:

When financially able the Co-op shall pay an objectively calculated living wage determined by the formula of an appropriate living wage calculator recommended by the workers assembly

D.3 Policy:

  • D.3.0 With respect to employment, compensation, and benefits to employees, consultants, contract workers, and volunteers. The Workers’ Assembly shall not cause or allow jeopardy to financial integrity or public image, or discrimination based on race, sex, age, creed, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, color or disability.
  • D.3.1 The Workers’ Assembly will not allow disparity between the remuneration of any two workers to exceed a ratio of 4:1.
  • D.3.2 The Workers’ Assembly will not accept gratuities to supplement wages paid by the Co-op.
  • D.3.3 The Co-Op shall not pay less than a sustainable living wage to all WA members who are members of the voting body.
  • D.3.4 The Co-op will not pay less than a sustainable living wage to more than 40% of the workers assembly.
  • D.3.5 The WA will not go more than 12 months without getting agreement from the board on the living wage calculator that is used.