The jazz district of Kansas City will soon have Missouri’s first Black-owned brewery

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  • Published on May 8, 2023
  • Last Updated June 8, 2023
  • In Places

Customers are swarming to Vine Street Brewing, which is a tribute to the Black community's important but underappreciated cultural contributions.

Like Vermont and Maine, which have the highest concentration ofbreweries per population, some people tend to dominate the craft beer market.The Brewers Association, which represents small and independent craft brewers in the U.S., performed a poll in 2021 that revealed that 93.5 percent of craft brewery owners were white, and 75.6 percent were men.

Given this blatant disparity, it’s hardly surprising that the opening ofVine Street Brewing in Kansas City, MO, has generated so much buzz. It will be the firstBlack-owned brewery in the state and one of fewer than one percent of breweries in the United States when it opens later this month.

“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 a co-owner along with Woodie Bonds Jr. and Elliott Ivory, explained to 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 people behind Vine Street Brewing want to make sure it doesn’t feel like any other brewery out there. Two of them have musical backgrounds, which they have incorporated into this establishment, to make it as dope and authentic as possible.

The brewhouse is situated in the 18th and Vine district ofKansas City, which has long been regarded as thehome of jazz music on a global scale. A beer garden and surrounding open space will feature listening parties, beat battles, and live music to pay homage to the building’s musical roots and the heritage of the neighborhood. The music scene of the area and the proprietors’ personal tastes will influence every aspect of the beer.

“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 elaborated.

Vine Street brewed its first batch, a black lager called Jazzman, before opening its doors to the public. “It’s ironic that a black lager is our debut in the Kansas City beer scene,” Coleman said. “But we didn’t plan that.” Many people in Kansas and Missouri seem to enjoy the beer so far, and sales have been strong.

A 150-year-old building that served as the city’s first public works facility is currently home to the brewery. Thegraffiti-covered limestone building had been abandoned for many years, but the brewery owners decided to preserve it because it stood for the building’s legacy. Almost two acres of green space surrounds the brewery, which features two taprooms bathed in natural light from the old arched windows.

The renovated property is home to several businesses, including The Spot, a cafe and grocery store owned bychef Shanita McAfee-Bryant, even though the brewery won’t be selling food just yet.

You can count on the Vine Street staff to always uphold this one principle in all they do.

“Our brewery is designed to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Kansas City and uplift the voices of our community,” Coleman noted. “Our space is designed to bring together people from different backgrounds and experiences, fostering a sense of community and belonging.”

Evie Blanco is a journalist with nearly a decade of experience who was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Queens, New York. She is extremely well-versed in hip-hop music and culture and is always aware of any developments within it. Whether it’s the latest in pop culture, a fascinating foreign destination, a truly amazing new restaurant, or breaking news, she loves to write about it all.

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