category Beer

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. 


2015 Member-Owner Designed Beer: Part II

After reviewing all of the results from the initial “Member-owner Designed Beer” survey, I feel I have a pretty strong idea of what everyone is looking for in this recipe. The majority of people had very similar ideas about what our next beer should be. Since the feedback we received was so focused, I don’t think it is necessary to release a second survey. This means the sit down sensory analysis gets to happen sooner! 

On Sunday July 19th, we will hold a gathering of Member-Owners (hopefully everyone who participated in the survey will join) at Black Star Co-op, 2pm. There will be a plethora of ingredients present based on our interpretation of everyone’s survey input. Our job will be to guide the you, the Member-Owner’s, through each potential ingredient, then decide which of them will be included in our beer. 

Once we have decided what should make it into the recipe, the Beer Team will brew this collaborative ale and serve it at the pub. 

If you’re a beer-loving member and want to be more involved, this is your chance. Come on out and help create a beer you want to drink at your Black Star Co-op. 

Design for Drinking: Brewing A New Member-Owner Envisioned Beer

Black Star Co-op just recently passed the 3300 member-owners mark (that’s amazing). We are truly fortunate to have so many people who support and care about this brewpub. Because y’all are so great, we want to do something special: let’s make another member-owner designed beer! I mean, think about how well it worked out last time (see: GABF Bronze Medal).

We’re going to manage this design session similar to how Elba was designed some years ago. To help navigate a process with so many contributing voices,  we’re going to start with a couple surveys to fill out.

We need to narrow down what “type” of beer to make. Then we can start focusing on a specific style. Majority decides the winner, so make sure you vote.

After the surveys are completed and type and style are determined, we will invite a group of member-owners to Black Star for an ingredients sensory analysis to determine what will be in the final beer. Once we have gathered as much feedback as possible from our members, we will design a recipe, share it with everyone, and brew it as soon as we can fit it into the schedule (ex: if we end up with a boozy porter, it makes sense for us to wait until the colder months to start brewing).

I am excited to see what y’all will have us cook up. Please give as much feedback as you like. We will try to guide this process so that most of you end up with the beer you’ve always dreamed of. 

Here is the link to the first survey:

You Casked for It: More Cask Releases Moving Forward

Casks! Casks! Everyone loves casks! Well, maybe not everyone… But those who do will be excited to hear that we are going to change the way we manage our cask program going forward. We currently set aside two Mondays out of the month for special cask releases that we market a week or two in advance. This schedule gave us time to build excitement and inform people about the beer that will be on the cask engine.

This has worked great so far, making our Monday nights that much more special when you come to visit! However… I want more. More casks. More hops. More fruits. More puns. More El Vulcano. More manual pulling of beer.  

My aim is to have more casks on the engine throughout the year. As of now, Black Star Co-op releases a cask on a Monday and by Wednesday, it’s often gone. That means a cask is usually only available for 3 out of every 12 days. Though the few days our casks are available may engender an air of exclusivity, which is what we were aiming for, I want to see what happens when it’s more available. Bottom-line: I want to have more delicious under-carbonated beer waiting to be tapped.

This will change the way we advertise our cask releases. Instead of having a two-week heads up for the exact day a cask will be released, we will send out information on Facebook closer to the tapping of each release. We will let you know in the monthly newsletter which house beer you can expect to find casked each month. This month, expect special casks of Pneuma, Vulcan, and Rover. 

That being said, our beer production is highly seasonal, and the warmer months (now) generally yield beers less likely to be casked up. But we’re going to try to implement this new system and pull that engine all summer long (El Vulcano, anyone?).

By doing this, the Co-op will have casks available more often–including during peak weekend hours. For all who have asked “whats on cask?” and too often received the reply “nothing!”—this change is for you. I want everyone to be able to enjoy the traditional re-fermented ale offering that is cask-conditioned ale as whenever the mood strikes.


2014 Homebrew Challenge Winners

And, the winners are…


Dan & Joelle Dewberry with “Nonaggression.” 

Seven beers were judged by the Black Star Beer Team in a double blind tasting and the Dewberrys English/German/American hybrid malt ale was a standout worthy of crown. 

Look for “Nonaggression,” perhaps under a different name (for a Nonaggression under any other name would taste as sweet), to make an appearance on our taps soon. 

The House That Beer Built: In the “Home” Stretch

Our Directors and member-owners met up on Monday September 22nd for a Member-Owner Extravaganza–a chance to sample some fine house brews, tasty snacks and to encourage further donations for the Black Star Co-Op Board of Directors-endorsed fundraising project “The House That Beer Built.”  Attendance was great, and Director Steve bought pints for those who donated $20 or more on the spot.

During the week of September 21-28, the pub and WA donated $1.00 to the project for every pint of High Esteem served, raising $519 more.  Director Scott Kelley held a fund raising beer tasting and gathered $585 more, bringing our total raised to $4,586, a fine showing versus our goal of $5,000.  

There is STILL TIME to volunteer, and to donate.  If you are interested in donating, visit the BSC Team Page at and click “Donate Now” on the right. Build volunteers can click on this link for Saturday shifts on November 2, 9, 11, and 18.

The dedication of the House That Beer Built for the Huerta family (plus 6 other families!) will take place on Saturday, November 22nd from 4-6 pm on Barteny Cove.

For more information, contact Board Member Steve Basile at

Austin Habitat For Humanity is an IRS certified 501(c)(3) organization and contributions are tax-deductible and are eligible for matching by your company. 

Austin Beer Week Calendar

Austin Beer Week, that beautiful time of year when we Austin celebrates its burgeoning craft beer scene, is nearly upon us and Black Star Co-op’s calendar is stacked.  For convenience’s sake, we’ve collected all the events we’re hosting during ABW in this here blog post: 

October 26: Black Star Co-op at Austin Homebrew Supply (offsite)
Join Black Star Co-op Brewers Chris Hamje & Andy Martinec for a meet-and-greet at Austin Homebrew. They’ll be dispensing free beer and free information at 2pm.

October 27: Independence Beer Food Pairing
We’ll be celebrating Independence Brewing Co.’s birthday with special food pairings for a couple of their milestone beers – their 9th Anniversary Black IPA and their 10th Anniversary Dry-Hopped Barleywine, as well as their solid core offerings of Power and Light Pale Ale and Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout.

October 28: Circle’s Cocktail Shindig & Old Sour Dewberry Release
Join us for a fresh take on Circle’s beers as we transform them into mojitos and punches, cheladas and fizzes.  We’re also releasing favorite house beer: Old Sour Dewberry.  OSD is tart, malty, fruity,  and sour-mashed with premium English malts & black traeacle. (The beer gets its name from member-owners Dan & Joelle Dewberry, who designed it for the benefit of all)

October 29: High Esteem Pint Night
We’ll be highlighting one of our hallmark beers to celebrate Austin Beer Week–High Esteem.  Free pilsner glasses will be awarded with a purchase of “the most confident beer on the planet.

October 30: Jester King Mystery (???) Release
Jester King is gifting us a jack-in-the-box of sorts, a mystery beer the will be unveiled to us and you in tandem on Oct. 30th. So please, come and see which of Jester King’s assorted cast of cartoonish faces make a surprise appearance. 

October 31: House Pumpkin Casks
We’ll be tapping Recalcitrant Dockhand pumpkin casks (pumpcasks) on All Hallows’ Eve. The process: hollow out pumpkins, put beer in pumpkins, serve beer from pumpkins. The result: a devil-be-damned delicious beer. 




September Member Extravaganza

One of the great things about being a Member-Owner at Black Star Co-Op is being asked your opinion on things—over a free beer!  Come join us for another Member-Owner Extravaganza on Monday, September 22nd from 6-8pm   

The Extravaganza is a casual open-house event and also gives you an opportunity to meet other Member-Owners, chat with Directors, and get some much-deserved appreciation with tasty snacks and beers.

Once again this month our Directors will be around to discuss our part in the ongoing fundraising project “The House That Beer Built.” Austin’s Habitat For Humanity will soon be building a house for a deserving family with funds we helped raise. Bonus! Make a donation at the Pub of  $20 or more and Director Basile will buy you a “House” pint.

Come throw in your two cents and meet some new friends. Gathering will be in the Dart/Barninsula area.

2014 Member-Owner Homebrew Competition

The Black Star Co-op Member-Owner Homebrew Competition is back, and we want you to design a beer for our Fall/Winter line-up. It’s been a while since we’ve reached out to Austin’s talented home-brewing community, and we are definitely past due.

The winner will brew their recipe with the Black Star Beer Team for a release sometime in November or December. We’re also giving the winner 5 gallons of the first batch–that’s about 33 pints to do with as you wish as long as the beer flows.

Now, what to brew? We’re keeping it pretty open, with just a few
criteria: we want the beer to be malty, amber or red-colored, seasonable for Fall/Winter, and above-all eminently drinkable. That’s a fairly wide net, but we feel it’s a good one. Some necessary constraints: 

1. We use a clean house strain (Dry English Ale Yeast WLP007 from White Labs) which would most likely be used for your brew.

2. No wild yeast/bacteria should be present (e.g. Brettanomyces).

3. No lagers. Sorry!

4. Up to three entries per brewer/brewing team.

The judging team will made up of a panel of Black Star Co-op Worker-Owners. 2 bottles per entry should be provided, and the below label should be affixed with a rubber band to each. Entries should be turned in at Black Star Co-op between November 10-14.

All entrants must be members of the Co-op. Join today!

Explore some interesting styles! No ABV limitations. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us through Cheers!