Listen up, jerk faces and parents all! It’s back to school time and that means all those smaller versions of you are heading back to the classroom to let their educations and imaginations take flight. In honor of your newfound alone time, you should take a flight of your own. No, not on a plane, moron! You think you can get on plane, fly somewhere even remotely interesting, and be back in time to pick up your kid from kindergarten?! Well, you can’t. It’s impossible. My dad tried it and he just never came back. I’ve been writing all these blog posts from the front steps of my elementary school… just waiting.

back to wormAnyway, the flight I’m yammering about is one comprised entirely of beer. Lil’ tiny 4 oz beer samples, to keep you company in the absence those lil’ tiny humans we call “children”. But I’m not just talking about any ol’ flight of beer. In keeping with this back to school theme (which might be the stupidest/only theme we’ve ever decided to run with) you need to get your flight from Black Star Co-op. Why? Because Black Star Co-op brews the smartest beer in Austin. Don’t believe me? Get a sampler of their in-house brews and you will quickly learn for yourself that genius is one of the main ingredients in their specialized suds.

Jeff Young is the brewer with the mathematical knack that created Black Star Co-op’s beer line up. It’s a line up so perfectly straight and numbery that it could be easily drawn onto graphing paper without the aid of a calculator. Young has a background in chemistry and engineering that would make even the smartest kid in class feel not as smart. It is thanks to these mad metric skillz that we are all able to enjoy Black Star Co-op’s two main types of beers: rationals and irrationals. These two categories are of course in reference to rational and irrational numbers, which I will not be taking the time to define here. Partly because this blog is not about numbers, and partly because I know that if I attempt re-educate myself on the subject, I’m going to realize I’m 82% stupider than I was in middle school when all this crap made sense. In the most basic of terms, I believe the difference between rational numbers and irrational numbers is that if you say, “You look nice,” rational numbers will respond with, “Thanks,” whereas irrational numbers will be all, “What the HELLS does that mean?! You’re an asshole.”

And so, that’s how Black Star Co-op’s beers are divided up. Rational beers are reasonable, even-tempered beers, and irrational beers may or may not call you an asshole. During my most recent visit to the Co-op, their rational beers were as follows:

Vulcan – IPA, 6.7% ABV

Cul Sec – Belgian-Style Wit, 4.5% ABV

Elba – Wheat Ale, 4.4% ABV. It comes with a cucumber! A slice, not a whole one. That would be ridiculous. Ridiculously tasty.

High Esteem – American Pale Ale, 4.6% ABV

All these beers are delicious and are pictured here from left to right (but you would drink them from right to left):



The two irrational beers they had on tap at the time were:

Suneater Texas Ale – A Gluten-Free Ale, 4.7% ABV. It was very lemony.

Dark Moor Brew – A Dark Ale, 6.1% ABV. Nice and roasty but not too dark.

These irrational beers also had great flavors and are pictured below. If you can’t tell which beer is which, then there’s no helping you. There’s no helping you in life, I mean. Because beer is life.


Okay, enough blabbering about Black Star Co-op’s amazingness, it’s time we paired these ales with something appropriate. To do this, I need to think of something that matches the science behind these brews. Something that is creatively smart and wonderfully interesting, and something that I probably understood better as a kid, but now it just makes me feel a bit dumb. With that said, it’s obvious. Black Star Co-op’s beers must be paired with Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School by Louis Sachar.

6134595248_2b4b78fca1_zThe author of this book might be best known for Sideways Stories from Wayside School and Holes, but if you were a fan of Sachar in school, then chances are you probably tried to get through at least one of his arithmetic books. (There’s also More Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School, which would be an acceptable pairing, too). In these books, you solve problems, answer true or false questions, conduct experiments, and, of course, do some of the weirdest arithmetic imaginable. For instance, ELF + ELF = FOOL and PEPPERS + PIGLIPS = IGIVEUP. After reading two chapters of these books as an adult, I did give up. Just call me “Piglips,” I guess…

So, my suggestion to you is to head to the nearest library, Half Price Books, or Scholastic Book Fair, get one of Louis Sachar’s crazy arithmetic books, and take it to Black Star Co-op so that you can parrot with any and all of their beers. Who knows, maybe the more you drink, the more it will make sense. If you’re still having trouble with the math after a few beers, request to speak with a brewer. They’ve got to be super smart if they’re brewing Black Star Co-op’s beer. If you still can’t figure it out, then just accept that you’re dumb now, and close out your tab. Don’t worry, though. Because the Co-op doesn’t charge tax or tip, doing the math on your bill will make you feel like a genius all over again! Congrats, dummy.