Do you have a vested interest in beer? Are you involved with beer? Is your ego connected to beer, like it is a part of who you are? Is beer important to your life? Do you have a favorite style or brand? You might be a beer geek or even a beer aficionado, but until you have skin in the game, you don’t really have a vested interest.
The folks over at Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery have a vested interest. This isn’t an average brew pub. No siree. This co-operative was started when Steven Yarak had an idea to start a neighborhood brew pub owned by the neighborhood. He gathered like-minded individuals with the panache and know-how to brew beer and operate a business. Members ponied up the money and started brewing the beer that they wanted to drink. With an idea for ownership and operation by people who love beer, Black Star was born in April 2006. Happy Anniversary!
My friend Jennie Chen, the genius behind the celebrated culinary blog MisoHungry, invited me to join her for a few pints at Black Star on a Friday evening. The place was packed inside and outside on the porch. There were two order lines stretching from the bar to the front door. Apparently neighborhood brew pubs that are owned by the neighbors are popular. The line was actually a good thing. It gave me time to read the fantastic beer selection of 20-some craft brews and their own beers.
Black Star brew master, Jeff Young, makes eight beers that are divided into two categories: Rational and Irrational. The Rational Beers are brewed with simple ingredients and the Irrational Beers employ additional complexity. This kind of selection can make a beer lover salivate and then freeze in indecision. I ordered a pint of Vulcan, an IPA made with rye and a healthy dose of hops. This is what it’s like:
|Look||Hazy, orangey amber with a slight head and little bit of lacing.|
|Smell||This beer has typical IPA scents with plenty of fruity hops and the rye gives it a French bread scent to make it a bit unique.|
|Taste||Hops and yeast define the taste with pine sap bitterness, citrus and biscuits. Its smooth and easy drinking, but not the finest beer they have on tap.|
I knew I couldn’t drink a full pint of all eight beers on tap, so next I chose a beer flight. Black Star offers a selection of four pours to let you taste your way through the menu. I had the High Esteem (Rational), crisp pale ale with a bit of rye and honey, Recalcitrant Dockhand (Rational), roasted malty porter, House Brown, robust brown ale and Moontower (Irrational), black malty stout with a big kick of alcohol. I could have had a few more Moontowers to light my way into the night.
You don’t have to have a vested interest in beer to go to Black Star. You don’t even have to be a beer geek or a beer aficionado. The place was filled with people from the neighborhood, parents and kids eating fat hand-cut French fries, downtown business people jumping off the train at the Crestview Metro Station, hipsters and dorks alike. It’s a casual setting furnished a step up from a fast food place with an Ikea-like feel. They had food on the menu, but that’s not why I went.
If you want to be truly vested in beer, you can buy in. If you just want to drink with people that care enough to start a co-op, try Black Star.