If you’re thinking of starting a brewpub, the cooperative business model might be the way to go. Chris Hamje has been at Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery, in Austin, Texas, since shortly after they opened. He explains how the cooperative model plays out for their operation.
“There’s a lot of precedence for a worker-owned factory model,” explains Chris. “When you look at beer, this is a very high-tech fabrication plant. The model works very well, the precedence is there historically, for this exact operational process. When you take the people who are moving parts of this factory, giving the most creative input in what the product is like, you suddenly have something really special. And that works really well in the craft beer movement.”
There are many ways to organize a brewery co-op. Black Star has 2 member bases.
There are about 3,000 “patrons” worldwide, who pay $150 for a lifetime membership, and gain the right to elect a 9-seat board of directors.
The “workers assembly” has great autonomy as they follow the board policies on a day-to-day basis. Employees must work at the co-op for one year before going before an election to gain a place on the workers assembly. The workers assembly has one meeting each month, and votes on day-to-day operations.
Other podcasts about breweries as co-ops:
Chris is currently preparing to start a production, package brewery, 4th Tap Brewing Co-op, in Austin that will also be a co-op. He has lots of advice, including:
- Look at how your state’s laws treat a co-op.
- Choose a location with high visibility.
- Take a class in organic chemistry.
- Hire an extra staff member.
Last week we talked with Sustainable Economies Law Center to get an overview of the cooperative business model and how it might apply to a brewery. Next week we’ll hear from San Jose Co-op Brew Pub about their plans to start California’s first co-op brewery.
Kettle size: 10 BBL.
Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 10-BBL.
Size and quantity of bright tanks: 5, 10-BBL.
Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: A little over 700 BBL.
Square footage: Around 900 sq. ft., including a mezzanine.
Years in operation: 4 years (opened 2010).
“Always have that little bit of fear that drives you to learn more.” [Tweet This]
From Zack Chance: Where do you recommend buying ingredients on the West Coast? How do estimate the number of customers in a year?
- Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter.
- Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation (Brewing Elements) by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff.
Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.
An upcoming beer style:
- Cooperation Texas, crating dignified jobs for the planet, for the people.
- The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy, Michael Porter, Harvard Business Review, January 2008.
- The Country Malt Group, your complete brewing solution.
- Brewers Supply Group, Inc. (BSG Craft Brewing).
- 4th Tap Brewing Co-op, Austin, Texas.
You can reach Chris Hamje and Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery at:
“Be co-owner in California’s first co-op brewpub.”
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