PLANNING AHEAD: Peter Smith (right) and Nathan Johns discuss brewpub ideas.
Since this past fall, a group of volunteers has been meeting regularly at various local beer spots to help create California’s first cooperatively owned brewpub, right here in San Jose. The San Jose Cooperative Brewery and Pub (Co-op Brewpub) foresees a time when its co-op members will help elected board members make major decisions, such as where to locate the brewpub, what beers to make and what food to serve.
Hence, the main goal for the next couple of years is to grow a membership of 2,000 to 3,000 in order to raise capital. Fortunately, there are a number of working models of co-op breweries and brewpubs around the United States operating or in the planning stages, including the successful Black Star Co-op in Austin, Texas, which has more than 3,000 members.
The current San Jose Co-op Brewpub members have come together as a result of a Meetup.com page started by San Jose resident Peter Smith. While living in Austin, Smith learned about Black Star Co-op and became an invested member for $100. According to Peter, people get involved for several reasons: a love of craft beer (“About half the members so far are self-declared ‘beer geeks,’ so that’s great”); a love of locally grown, owned and managed businesses; and a love of the idea of co-ops and democratic governance of businesses.