Kemet Coleman has envisioned opening a brewery since 2015.
“I tried to go down the path a few different times with a few different people,” says Coleman, a local emcee and entrepreneur. But those plans never came to fruition. “I just kind of said, ‘forget it, this isn’t going to happen.’”
In November 2020, Coleman decided to call Woodie Bonds Jr. on a whim. Bonds is a brewer and the creator of the craft beer festival Hip Hops Hooray. The pair had known each other since 2013, when they both worked at Boulevard Brewing.
The next day, Bonds called Coleman. Coleman was in with one condition: brewer Elliott Ivory had to be included, too. “We haven’t looked back,” Coleman says.
Now, Coleman, Bonds and Ivory are the founders of Vine Street Brewing Co., Missouri’s first Black-owned brewery. But from day one, Vine Street, located in the historic Jazz District, will be about more than beer.
“Music is embedded into the DNA of the brand,” Coleman says. “We want to be a platform for artists to showcase their creativity and original music.”
From modern jazz to hip hop, Vine Street Brewing plans to host live music twice a week initially—a combination of quarterly residencies and rotating artists—expanding onto the beer garden as the weather gets warmer.
Artists will include top names in the KC scene: Eddie Moore, Kadesh Flow, Amber Underwood Flutienastiness, Julia Haile, DJ Skeme and Coleman’s own band, The Phantastics.
“We want to show how dynamic and broad jazz––the music that calls this neighborhood home––can be,” Coleman says.
In addition to live music, the taproom will feature artwork from Warren Harvey and Jessie Green, along with brewery tours led by Coleman that highlight the Jazz District’s history and legacy.
Vine Street Brewing is located in the south building of 2000 Vine, KC’s first public works building that was abandoned for decades. It’s part of a larger development that also houses the Warren Harvey Art Gallery and office and venue spaces. The taproom boasts two bars on each level, with large windows facing out onto the beer garden and the original stonework on full display.
Their signature beer, the Jazz Man black lager, can already be found in several restaurants and self-pour stations at the new KCI terminal.
“When I think about what Vine Street Brewing means to the Jazz District, I think about opportunity,” Coleman says. “We have an awesome opportunity to leverage all of the amazing talent we have in Kansas City.”