Several weeks ago, Dave Bardallis wrote in a post that our local home brew shop, Adventures in Homebrewing, was opening up a location in Ann Arbor. Naturally, this sparked a conversation between me and Tim. He mentioned that it would be awesome if it was both a home brew shop and a brew pub.
We then started getting into how awesome it would be if the guys from Adventures teamed up with the amazing and capable Ann Arbor Brewers Guild and operated some sort of community brewery. Home brewing and even craft beer is such a communal movement, that it only seems natural to harness some of that community energy to make great beer.
This idea seemed to cool to be completely original, so I started poking around the Internet to try to find any community breweries, which led to research on co-op breweries. I was actually a little surprised to find how rare they were. As far as I could find, there is only one operating co-op brewery, Black Star in Austin, TX. Flying Bike Brewery in Seattle is still in the formative stage, but has a definite form and is moving forward.
Wanting to learn more about the co-op brewing concept and, even more interesting, the process of implementing and executing that concept, we reached out to both Black Star and Flying Bike. We were lucky enough to be able to ask the founders, Steven Yarak and Jeff Hicks respectively, some questions about the co-op brewery concept, and how the process their going through or went through to make it a reality.
Over this week, we’ll be exploring different aspects of the co-op brewery model from challenges presented by the unique organizational model to its feasibility in other cities. I think Steven and Jeff both provided some interesting insights into the world of co-op brewing, and at the end of the week, we’ll post lightly edited transcripts of the interviews.
Have any of you been to Black Star down in Austin? Is there an awesome co-op brewery that I completely missed in my searching? Let us know in the comments. Also, as Steven and Jeff both encouraged us to send any follow up questions, so at any point during the week, if you have a question let us know in the comments or on Twitter.