Missouri's First Black-owned Brewery Is Opening in Kansas City's Jazz Neighborhood — Just in Time for Summer

Vine Street Brewing will join the less than 1 percent of Black-owned breweries in the U.S.

Exterior of Vine Street Brewing Co.'s building in Missouri

Courtesy of Vine Street Brewing Co.

Just as certain states dominate the craft beer industry — think Vermont and Maine, which have the most breweries per capita — so do certain people. According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Brewers Association, which represents small and independent craft brewers in the U.S., 93.5 percent of the craft brewery owners surveyed were white and 75.6 percent were male. 

With this obvious imbalance in the beer industry, it's no surprise that the opening of Vine Street Brewing in Kansas City, Missouri, is making such a splash. The new brewery, which aims to open this month, is the state’s first Black-owned brewery and will join the less than 1 percent of Black-owned breweries in the U.S.

“Beer is an African invention, so when we begin to peel back the layers of what we all thought we knew about beer, we're left with an amazing space to share its diverse history and create new memories," Kemet Coleman, who is opening the brewery with co-owners Woodie Bonds Jr. and Elliott Ivory, told Travel + Leisure. "We believe that being Black-owned expands the culture of beer by offering a fresh perspective and experience that is often underrepresented in the beer industry. We hope our brewery can inspire other Black-owned businesses and encourage the beer industry to embrace diversity and inclusivity.”

The team behind Vine Street Brewing, three Black men

Courtesy of Kansas City Area Development Council

The Vine Street Brewing owners are determined to create a vibe that’s unlike what you’d find at a typical brewery. The brewhouse is located in Kansas City’s 18th and Vine neighborhood, which has been internationally recognized as the center of jazz music for decades. To honor the history of their location, the owners (two of whom have musical backgrounds) will make music a main focus — with listening parties, beat battles, and live music in their outdoor beer garden and adjoining green space. 

Even the beer will be inspired by the musical history of the owners and the neighborhood. “Our mission is to craft ales and lagers fermented in the spirit of jazz and hip-hop, so rhythm and improvisation are core values of our brewing and brand identity,” Coleman said.

While waiting to open its doors, Vine Street released its debut brew: a black lager called Jazzman. Coleman said, “It's ironic that a black lager is our debut in the Kansas City beer scene, but we didn't plan that.” So far, fans are on board and the beer has seen a lot of demand in both Kansas and Missouri.

The brewery is housed in a 150-year-old structure that was the city’s first public works building. The limestone structure had been neglected for decades and was covered in graffiti — a piece of the building’s history that the brewery owners opted to keep. The original arched windows let plenty of light into the brewery’s two taprooms and an outdoor beer garden offers outdoor seating that runs adjacent to almost two acres of green space. 

Although the brewery will not be serving food — at least not yet — the refurbished building has other tenants, including The Spot, a cafe and grocery store run by chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant.

In everything they do, there’s one constant you can expect from the team at Vine Street: “Our brewery is designed to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Kansas City and uplift the voices of our community," Coleman said. "Our space is designed to bring together people of different backgrounds and experiences, fostering a sense of community and belonging.”

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