Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery
Active Beers: 39
Beer Ratings: 194
Beer Avg: 3.92
Taps: 26 / Bottles: 30
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 43 | Reviews: 18 | Display Reviews Only:
4.83/5 rDev +15%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$
These guys are awesome, my girlfriend and I absolutely love this place. After having some bad experiences at Draught House (they have good beer sometimes but their staff are very unpleasant) we have decided to make Black Star our new go-to bar.
The location is not the best, but the building is new and the atmosphere is clean and roomy. They seem to have gotten some flak in the past for their decor, but I think it's perfectly fine and the layout is really well thought out--I like the end-to-end bar, the dart board area, the outdoor tables, the comfy chairs in the corner.
The beers they brew are decent. I must admit that I'm not a fan of a lot of them, but I think the brewer might still be learning and figuring out where he wants to go with their offerings. I've ordered their most recent beer, Epsilon which is a Scottish Red aged in peat barrels, a couple of times now, it's a great beer and I think it marks a turning point for their beers. I'm excited to see where they go next.
The service is just awesome. I think they have one of the best wait staffs out there and they don't accept tips. On the surface this may seem peculiar and downright insulting to their employees, but they say that it is because all employees are paid a "living wage." I'm not sure what this entails but I do know that every person who works there is incredibly friendly and helpful and they all seem to enjoy their jobs.
As a consumer I couldn't be happier about this arrangement, it's genius. One of the biggest drawbacks for me with bars is that you have to tip after every beer served, regardless of the friendliness of the bartender or the amount of effort it took (objectively it's just not that hard to pour a beer, certainly not as hard as carrying plates of food to and from people in a busy restaurant). Since they have done away with this, I am more than happy to pay more, but from what I can tell it seems that this hasn't really impacted price. Not sure how they do this magic but I love it. If I ran a bar, I would steal this idea, it's just such a good policy.
The non-Black Star beer selection is pretty good, I can usually count on them to get what little rare stuff there is in TX and because this place is less popular than Draught House or Whip-In, they almost always have the special on for more than a day. I sampled Pumpkinator on three different days before they ran out of it, so great.
Then there's the food. The food is some of the best in town. I've never had a bad meal there--ever. I've tried pretty much everything on their menu and everything, from appetizers and snacks to main course and dessert are fantastic. They have a very talented chef back there and it's always exciting to see what their special is. I almost never order off the menu anymore, the specials are that good. And they make some of the best ice cream in Austin, often out of the beers they have on tap (like a New Belgium Kick sorbet, awesome). The best flavor I've had by them was a honey ice cream with Stilton cheese chunks, so f-ing good.
Anyway you just can't beat the value of this place, great beer, great food, great service and I've never walked out of there having spent more than $40 for dinner for two, multiple beers and dessert. That it's a bargain is just an added bonus though, because everything about the experience is great, we've started going here once a week, we're hoping we get on a first name basis with everyone there, it could become our Cheers!
11-11-2011 15:45:00 | More by nickhiller
4.7/5 rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $
I’ve managed to visit Black Star almost every time I’ve been to Austin in the past year. Which is: not often, but enough times to get a good feel for the place. On my first time I was one of just a handful of folks in the place on a mid-week evening. The last visit happened to coincide (happy coincidence!) with their one-year anniversary and the place was completely packed.
Across the board this place is great. They have a no-tipping policy only because, as they are eager to inform, they are paid a living wage and benefits. How many places can boast of that? I’m not sure if this explains why all the worker-owners are amazingly friendly but I’ve yet to visit where I’ve had anything but incredible, welcoming service.
The beers I’ve had have all been interesting. Some worked, some didn’t, and a few really knocked it out of the park in my opinion. I’m glad to see them try some interesting and different things with their brews—like a hoppy dark ryePA or a California common (in Texas!).
Finally, while I tend to be critical of pub grub and brewery food for a number of reasons it’s primarily because if I’m drinking world-class beer I want food to match, especially for the (oftentimes) inflated prices I’m being charged. I’ve had dishes at beer destinations that were fantastic, and I’ve had meals that would have been sent back at the greasiest of greasy spoons. Black Star Co-Op falls firmly into the former, not the latter. On my last visit I had a grilled vegetable sandwich that has, upon reflection and about a month’s passage of time, entered the Parthenon of good food experiences. The bread was grilled and charred with just the right balance between toasty crunch and smoky burn, topped with a series of veggies equally flavorful and filling. I have been to few vegetarian-friendly places that get their grilled veggies this good, and the last time I was at a burger joint/bbq place that had something comparable was almost a decade ago. So my praise is not given lightly.
Thank you, Black Star. Here’s to many more years of welcoming service, fantastic food, and great beer!
12-28-2011 04:54:13 | More by elNopalero
4.6/5 rDev +9.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75 | $$
We have shot a few episode of Locapour at Black Star. If you would like to see what it is like to get your beer on there you can check out http://locapour.tv/austin/blackstarcoopvulcan or http://locapour.tv/austin/blackstarcoopelba
Black Star Co-op is a leader in the Austin craft beer scene. The cooperative ownership means that the members and patrons really care a lot about the quality of the beer brewed at "their pub."
I love the fact that the people who work at Black Star are so passionate about the beer and being a part of something special to the Austin beer community. It really comes across in their service.
Workers are paid well and there is NO TIPPING so reviewers should consider that when evaluating the price/value score.
There's no table service, you order at the counter. When you get there it might be best to order a pitcher or two beers to make sure you minimize time spent standing in line.
07-05-2013 21:50:27 | More by Locapour
Black Star Co-op Pub & Brewery in Austin, TX
93 out of 100 based on 43 ratings.