category Beer

Well Shot

Late last month we surprisingly released a pretty cool beer called Well Shot. This beer went under the radar and we felt obliged to give a quick spiel about why we think this beer deserves some hype. Well Shot was created on a whim to try to produce the beer equivalent of a shot at a bar. We started by building a base wheat wine recipe that was packed with Blacklands Malt Red Winter Wheat and then boiled extensively to impart some slight caramelization flavors on the wort. The base was then fermented with high gravity/high alcohol tolerant yeast to yield a 12% ABV beer that was then moved into the Stranahan’s Whiskey barrels, previously housed by Moebius (our imperial stout). 
Months passed after filling the barrels. We tasted the progress, and… it was pretty lame. Although the first round of beer aged in these had less character than we expected, we did not imagine we would get nothing from a second aging. Well, the barrels were already full and we did not need to free up the space, so we decided to just sit on them for a while and see what happens.
Months go by again. Another sample was taken, and… it was dope! All of the caramel and wheat from the base beer melded with the char and vanilla from the oak barrels and created a beautifully whiskey like beer that hit on the notes that we were originally trying to capture when this project was conceived. 
Aged for 7 months in whiskey barrels and served still (no carbonation), Well Shot is pretty damn close to what we intended it to be. We will be serving this beer in 5 oz tasters for $4/each to emulate the feel of a shot of whiskey. Because of the high alcohol content, 5 ounces of this beer contains almost the same amount of alcohol as there is in an actual shot of whiskey. I recommend letting this beer warm slightly as the nuance of the barrel really starts to come out at higher temperatures. 
Weather you sip it or shoot it, I hope you get a chance to try Well Shot before it is gone!

Black Star Untappd

Hey folks! If you are a craft beer drinker (I presume you are??!!) and do not know about Untappd, let me give you a quick run down of this super cool beer drinking app. Untappd lets you find and rate beers that you may be drinking at a bar, brewery, or even at home. You can earn “Badges” for many different accomplishments such as visiting a certain number of locations or having sampled over 300 hazy IPAs! All in all it’s a pretty cool way to track the beers you’ve had and have a record of what you thought about them. This platform is also quite useful for breweries/retailers as it offers insight into which beers consumers are drinking and liking/disliking. This month we opted in to Untappd’s “Verified Venue” plan which allows us to control and update the Black Star Co-op Venue page. With this subscription we are able to add and subtract beers from our menus in real time while directly notifying those who subscribe to our venue. This is where you come in. If you currently use Untappd, please follow/subscribe to our page and select the option (if this interests you) to see notifications from us. With this function you will be updated directly on your phone every time we make a change to our beer menu, letting you know exactly when we put something new on draft. If you do not currently use Untappd, I highly recommend checking it out, even if you choose not to subscribe to our notifications. Seeing what our customers like and dislike based on their feedback is a large driver in what we brew in the future, so weather it is on the app or just in an email, we love hearing from y’all about what we could do better for you. I hope this is helpful for some of you beer nerds out there!

Blue Index Update

On Wednesday, February 20th we will be hosting a fun meeting here at the Co-op with our friends from Blue Index. Kevin will be out to chat about the project and his findings as well as have some interesting water BINGO to play for folks who want to hang out and learn more about this awesome project. On top of that, we will be briefly talking about our collaboration “Cause Beer” with Blue Index where we intend to brew a batch with 100% water pulled from Jacobs Well in Wimberly, TX. 

For those who are not familiar with Blue Index, here is an overview:

Blue Index Description 

Come on out and learn a bit about water, drink some beer, and chat with some friendly folks!

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!

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.

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.

Inside GABF

As some of you know, most every year Black Star sends a group of employees up to The Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO. We will be doing this again in September and I figured I would detail a bit of the experience in case anyone is interested.
On September 19th at 5am we will be loading up a Dodge Grand Caravan rental with 6 Black Star employees and their luggage. We then drive 15 hours, through mostly unscenic West Texas, and arrive at our AirBnB with enough time to drink a couple of beers and pass out in a somewhat tolerable sleeping configuration. The first session of the festival starts at 5pm so the early part of the day consists of checking in, grabbing badges/swag and setting up our booth to pour beer. When the session begins we have most of the crew at the booth to get a feel of how the pouring works. Luckily we are staffed with a couple of volunteers in case we want to roam around the festival ourselves and check out some of the 4000+ craft beers from around the country. After the first session is completed we go out and attend some of the industry parties (usually sponsored by different grain/hop/ingredient suppliers). Friday consists of two sessions; one at 12-4pm and one at 5:30-10pm where we pour and talk with people about our beers, rotating folks out periodically to keep things fresh. Saturday is the big day at the festival. While GABF is the largest beer festival in the country, it is also the largest and most prestigious beer competition and Saturday morning is when the awards ceremony is held. Imagine thousands of hungover brewers in an auditorium at 10am sitting down for 2 hours. To say the least, it’s rough.
Once the awards are given, all the brewers rush out to their respective booths to pour for the first of 2 Saturday sessions. The first session is by far the most exciting session of the festival, especially if you just won an award in the ceremony. Speaking of awards, we are entering 4 beers this year that we feel very confident about and are excited to see what the judges think. Our line up is Recalcitrant Dockhand, Island Baby, Roze Sap, and Waterloo. We put a lot of thought into these entries and think they fit into their respective categories pretty well. I digress. The last session of the festival starts at 5:30pm on Saturday and is usually one that is filled with last minute ticket buyers who want to drink as much beer as possible. Needless to say, we are usually pretty burnt out at this point. Once the session is over we pack up our booth and head back to the house to get ready to wake up refreshed and drive home in the morning, and definitely do not regretfully go out and party into the wee hours of the morning.
Sunday morning we wake up, load the van once again and head out on our 15 hour descent into Austin which is exponentially less fun and exciting than the drive up. We usually arrive around 3am, unload the van, go home, sleep for a few hours and go to work. Whew. Just typing that gives me anxiety but I wouldn’t want it any other way. This trip is usually a highlight of the year and is a lasting experience for everyone who has been. Stories of years past are brought up every month or so and we intend on adding to the repertoar this year.
I hope that gives some sort of insight into the madness of the GABF experience.  We will be sure to give an update once we get back if it doesn’t make me twitch recalling it so soon.

Pride Month at Black Star Co-op

In celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month, we’re hosting a fundraising tap takeover with Hops & Grain in support of Out Youth, with $1 being donated for every House Rational and Hops & Grain beer sold. We chose Austin based Out Youth because everyone deserves a place to feel at home. Out Youth provides a safe haven for LGBTQ youth to meet new friends and be part of community where everyone is treated like family. They offer several services to young Austin adults including counseling, youth prom, and more. Out Youth works with the KIND Clinic to help provide resources for counseling, free HIV/STI testing, and gender affirming care for all.

Our friends at Hops & Grain were a clear choice for a tap takeover because of their work in the LGBTQ community. In April Hops & Grain brewed a beer named Chingona. The American lager is a  collaboration with Hustle for a Cause, an Austin based social impact production firm that highlights and promotes LGBTQ women of color. As a socially conscious cooperative ourselves,  we greatly  admire, and continue to be inspired by Hops & Grain’s commitment to and involvement in the LGBTQ community. We will be tapping their Maibock, Porter Culture and Dispensary Pale Ale.

There will be other opportunities to support these great organizations here at Black Star throughout the month, so be on the lookout!

-By Roger Corrales

Blacklands Malt: OG Texas Maltsters & Longtime Friends

Black Star Co-op has had a long relationship with our friends over at Blacklands Malt in Leander, TX, using several of their malts in a number of beers over the past few years. Maybe you have seen it noted on our beer board or listed in a description on a Facebook event: “Texas grown and malted”. But what does that really mean? Well, it may surprise you to know that Blacklands was the first craft malthouse in Texas. It may also surprise you to know that prior to 2012 malting quality barley was not grown in Texas. Like, ever. It may also, also surprise you to know that this small company, in a industry of enormous scale and automation, back-breakingly produce tons of malt with one very driven owner and a small crew. This story is one we don’t share nearly as often as we should, so we decided to do something about it. On June 27th we will be hosting a Blacklands Malt Tap Take over here at the pub and would love to share this story with as many folks as possible. Along with 6 of our own house beers, we will be showcasing several other local guest beers that share our love of Texas made, Blacklands malt. Join us for a beer or two as well as a Q&A session with the folks from Blacklands and find out what supporting a local craft malthouse truly means.

-It may surprise you that this was written by Andy Martinec