San Jose beer lovers are trying to open California's first member-owned brewery and gastro-pub. KQED's Katrina Schwartz dropped in on their first effort to recruit members and found people eager to support the venture, even though the beer won't be flowing any time soon.
On a sunny day in East San Jose, some 150 people crowded inside a dark restaurant in a strip mall. Why? Because they love beer, and they're interested in learning more about the San Jose Co-op Brew Pub. Many are home brewers, eager to learn about possibilities of collaborating with a professional brewmaster. Others, like teacher and beer lover Julia Taylor, are excited to be part owners of a business owned by members of the community.
"A place where, when I walk in the door they call my name," said Taylor, who before learning about the co-op had looked into owning her own pub. "It was just so expensive. I thought, yeah this is never going to happen in a million years," she said. "So when the brew pub co-op idea came along, I thought, this is my ticket. I'm in."
It might seem a little premature to invest in a project that's still in its infancy, but people lined up to fill out applications and hand over the $150 membership fee, even though many details have yet to be hammered out. The founders don't yet know where the pub will be or who will run it, preferring to decide those details when they have more members.
"When you see something like this, you don't necessarily need to know all the details," said Peter Smith, one of the lead organizers. "If it feels right, if it feels like community, people are going to respond to that. And of course beer helps too."
San Jose is a town accustomed to startups with good ideas but limited resources, and many of these beer lovers seem content to support this one and see where it goes.