It took two years after business partners Kemet Coleman, Woodie Bonds Jr. and Elliot Ivory announced their intentions, but finally the brewery is open to the public, complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Quinton Lucas and other local representatives in attendance. 

Along the way, the group experienced a number of delays with licensing and building renovations, but they kept busy, developing and marketing their brews through a series of collaborations with other breweries and having their beer featured in the new Kansas City airport terminal. 

“It’s hard to start a brewery,” says Coleman. “Upfront capital is a barrier, but also, when we started thinking about this, I noticed that there weren’t a lot of African Americans in the craft beer space.”

Nationwide, only 1% of breweries are Black-owned.  

The Location

The brewery is located in the 150-year-old former public works building at 2000 Vine St. The building had been vacant since the late 1970s, and when the team began the building renovation, it had no roof or windows, a massive hole in the floor and a 20-foot tree growing inside the space. 

The limestone building was also covered in graffiti tags, a feature that the 2000 Vine owners decided to keep.

“It looked like ancient ruins,” says Coleman. “This project is absolutely bringing a building back from the dead.” 

The renovated facility has two levels, with a tap room overlooking the lower-level brewing space. 

The upper taproom can hold up to 75 people, another taproom downstairs can accommodate another 75 people, and more seating is available in the walkout, lower-level outdoor beer garden. There’s also a “Groove Room” for open mics and panel discussions.  

The Groove Room and the Groove room bar are available for event rental.  

The brewery’s founders wanted to create an inviting and authentic space where people feel welcome, regardless of race or ethnicity.

“We want to set a standard for what development can look like in the Jazz District,” says Coleman.  

Sitting just south of the historic Jazz District’s main 18th Street corridor, Coleman and his team are cognizant of the neighborhood’s history, its recent growth and its potentially bright future.   

The renovated building that houses Vine Street Brewing also hosts The Prospect Urban Eatery and The Spot, a social enterprise cafe and grocer. In the renovated north building, artist Warren ‘Stylez’ Harvey has his gallery and the building also includes rentable event space.  

“It’s part of our mission to be catalysts for 18th and Vine,” says Coleman. “We think it’s a really important neighborhood in American History, and it’s an honor to be here. It’s like how Black Wall Street in Tulsa has finally gotten recognition as a hotspot for Black innovation; we think that Vine Street shares a history alongside that, so we want to make sure we are good stewards of that history.” 

The Beer

The brewery’s beers range from “The Life of the Party,” a tart and fruity sour beer, to something more traditional like “Jazzman,” a dark lager.

Co-founders Bonds and Ivory are the Vine Street Brewers. Bonds prefers the experimental, while Ivory leans more toward traditional styles, which allows Vine Street to create a wide variety of brews. 

The duo say Vine Street Brewing will likely have a set of flagship beers available year-round, supplemented by seasonal offerings. Still, Coleman says they’ll ultimately see how beer drinkers react to the offerings before setting a brewing schedule. 

Their beer is served in glasses featuring the brewery’s logo, an image they’ve deemed Maris, the beer goddess. The logo depicts the head of a Black woman, with her full lips, broad nose, large hoop earrings and kick-ass afro. 

If you look closely, you’ll see her face and neck are the shape of a beer chalice. In addition to their beer glasses, the brightly colored logo can be found among the creative designs on Vine Street Brewing merchandise, available for purchase at the brewery.   

Vine Street Brewing

2000 Vine Street, KCMO

Taproom Hours 

3 to 9 p.m. Thu. through Sat.