Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat's the co-op all about?
Just click on any of the questions below to see the answer.
What is a co-op?
Co-ops operate under the principles supported by the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA). These principles include the following:
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Members’ Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Cooperation among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
More information about the principles of co-ops can be found at the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International.
How much is a membership?
Lifetime membership in our co-op is $150. The $150 membership can be for an individual or for a couple. If you are a couple and live together (at the same home address), you can both join together for the single fee.
Each membership includes all the benefits of membership, but the membership has only 1 vote (regardless of the number of individuals included in the membership).
What are the benefits of being a member-owner?
As a member-owner, you will have a voice in selecting the benefits of membership. Here are a few benefits that other co-op brewpubs have offered and that we are considering:
- Wholesale pricing on our beer
- Special events, including keg-tappings and barbecues
- Discounts on merchandise (T-shirts, pint glasses, keychains, etc.)
- A whole bunch of stuff we haven’t even thought of yet
- And perhaps most importantly, bragging rights about owning a brewery
Currently, our co-op organizes or sponsors various events and get-togethers in the bay area (including keg-tappings, cider-tastings, pub crawls, etc.), and our members frequently receive free or discounted admission or purchases.
Members will be eligible for distribution of “patronage refunds” (when profits are earned).
Each member receives one equal vote in determining the course and future of this endeavor. Further, all members have the opportunity to express their opinions at the monthly board meetings and/or at any of the subcommittee meetings.
Each member has the opportunity to run for a seat on the board of directors or participate in a subcommittee.
For more information about member benefits and participation, visit the Membership page.
When will the brewpub open?
This is a question that depends on many variables, the first of which is reaching a critical mass of members. Our Site Selection Subcommittee is continually exploring various options for locations and is working with the Business Subcommittee to evaluate different business plans (to determine the viability of the different options and the capital and number of members needed for each option).
Once we select a location, finalize a business plan, and reach the critical mass of members, we will get started on opening the doors.
Join today to bring us one member closer to that starting date!
Where will the brewpub be located?
This is one of the key goals that we are working toward as you read this. We have a few places in mind and have been talking to the owners. If you join today, one of the perks of membership is helping us select our location.
Every day we get closer to signing a lease and opening the doors. Get involved today and help us decide where.
How many members are there currently?
As of June 2019, we have about 600 members. Some of these memberships are couples. Most are individual. We’re growing all the time, so this number will change frequently.
Add yourself to our ranks — and encourage a friend to join as well. We’d love to have you join our community.
What will I have to do as a member-owner?
While we encourage everyone to be as involved as they possibly can, your responsibility depends solely on you. You can be as active or inactive as you want to be.
One of the core principles of a co-op is voluntary membership. This means in part that you choose how involved you want to be. If you’d like to join a subcommittee, we’d love to have you. If you’d like to run for the board, get in there and do it. If you’d like to just buy your membership and wait for the doors to open so you can enjoy some outstanding food a drink, be our guest for that as well.
It’s totally up to you how involved you want to be, but get involved today!
Has this ever been done before?
In fact, it has! Black Star Co-op Brewpub in Austin, Texas was the first to make this happen. After a few years and some hard work, they have opened their second location and are working with local distributors to have their beers sold in stores and restaurants.
We’ll be the first in California, joining an excellent group of other co-op brewpubs across the country.
What happens when the co-op begins to earn profits?
There are three ways that profits can be allocated:
- Pay off debts
- Reinvest in the business (buying new equipment, remodeling, etc.)
- Distribute “patronage refunds” to member-owners
If any portion of profits is redistributed to member-owners as patronage refunds, these funds will be disbursed proportionally based on each membership’s patronage of the brewpub. This means that the more you spend at the brew pub, the larger the share of the profits that you’ll get back from the distribution!
What is the liability for member-owners?
In a co-op, membership liability is limited to the amount of your membership. What this means is that the most you can lose is the money you paid for your membership share ($150). Much like shareholders in a corporation, our members are insulated from any liabilities that the co-op may incur.
Can I buy more than one share for myself?
No. One of the basic tenets of a co-op is that no one person owns more shares or has more votes than any other member-owner. Because of the democratic process of the co-op, each member-owner is limited to one membership, with one share and one vote.
Gift memberships are available, however, if you’d like to purchase them for friends and family.
How do I purchase a gift membership?
A membership in our co-op makes an awesome gifts! Where else can you give someone ownership of a brewery?
Simply fill out the recipient’s information in the Membership Application form and submit. And let your friends know that their memberships have been purchased, so they won’t be surprised when they receive their email confirmation.
Once open, do you have to be a member to come to the co-op brewpub?
No, you do not! The brewpub will be open to the public, and anyone will be welcome. Part of the success of this business venture will be patronage from the general public, in addition to patronage from our members, their friends, and families.
Will my membership expire?
No. Every membership is a lifetime membership that will never expire.
Who will brew the beer?
The Beer Subcommittee has been working with the Business & Finance Subcommittee to examine various scenarios. We have several options: opening our doors selling beer from other breweries, selling our own beer, contract brewing until we get our own equipment, or waiting until we have enough capital to invest in our own brewing equipment.
In short, there are many avenues to success. Here is a rough outline of the general approach that we have been pursuing:
- Sell our beer to local businesses (while brewing our recipes at a contract brewer)
- Open a tap room
- Open a full brewpub, with brewing and food service capabilities
This is something that we are still working out, and if you become a member now you can help us decide.
Our ultimate goal is to brew our own beers in-house, regardless of how we start. Once we are brewing our own beers, we will select a master brewer and staff to handle the brewing process. Members will have input into what types of beers we want to brew and what types of food we want to offer.
When will we start brewing our own beer?
We have already started. We released our very first beer in the summer of 2015: Hismen Sii Pale Ale. Since then, we have released several new beers, which have been very well received by our members and by the general public. You can view our current line-up on our Beer page.
We are also very happy that our beers are available at a growing number of local establishments. Here is a list of our current customers.
The Beer Subcommittee is looking at plans to increase our production and add new recipes to our product line.
How do I get more involved?
It’s as easy as showing up to one of our many meetings or events! Check our events calendar to find out which subcommittees are meeting and when. All of our board meetings are open to all members and to the public, and they’re generally held on the fourth Saturday of every month.
If meetings aren’t your thing, we also have a number of fun-filled activities in which you can participate, including keg-tappings, pub crawls, and tasting events. There is also a semi-official trivia team, made up of members and non-members, which competes every Monday night in downtown San Jose. It’s a great opportunity to meet other members.
Of course, perhaps the best way to get involved is to become a member, so go ahead and join today. (You know you want to.)