CHAPTER 11

From Brown Rice to Biofuels

Co-ops on the Cutting Edge

The opening of a microbrewery in indie-minded Austin, Texas, is always cause for celebration. But there was an added dimension to the revelry at the grand opening of the Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery. On a mild December evening in 2010, local bands performed on an outdoor stage as attendees munched on Texas pub fare and sampled Black Star’s handiwork. Although the pub had quietly opened several weeks earlier, this was the first tap of Black Star’s very own brews, an eclectic lineup that includes High Esteem, a pale ale with a touch of rye and local honey, and Double Dee, a malty British-style bitter brewed with brown sugar. The pub’s 20 taps also feature offerings from Austin’s growing craft beer scene. Anyone bellying up to the locally sourced pecan wood bar that evening could not miss the sign hanging on the bright red wall above the taps: Welcome to Your Brewpub.

This is more than a bar where everybody knows your name. Many of the people knocking back Double Dees and bopping to the music were in fact owners of the pub. More than 2,000 people had paid $100 (or made a downpayment) to become lifetime members of Black Star. Two hundred people went even further, investing an average of $3,000 apiece to raise the $600,000 needed to build the brewpub. Blackstar has so many proud owners, that when they assembled for a group portrait on the grand opening weekend, the photographer had to climb a 15-foot ladder and use ...

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