249 member to open brewery in KC Jazz District

By Chrissy Kline

A historic event is on the horizon as Vine Street Brewing begins preparations to open in 2022. It will be the first Black-owned brewery in Kansas City, with a focus on bringing craft beer to many communities. Local musician and beer enthusiast Kemet Coleman dreamed of opening a brewery in Kansas City but had had little success up until now. That is where Woodie Bonds, member of UAW Local 249 and creator of the Hip Hop Hooray beer festival comes in.

Coleman came across a building in the historic Jazz district and felt like he was finally close to achieving the brewery he had dreamed of. He then contacted one of the most serious craft brewers he knew, Woodie Bonds, to propose a business partnership. Bonds said “Kemet called and said he had an opportunity he wanted to run by me and after thinking about it I told him I was in as long as I could bring Elliot Ivory in with me.”

Ivory is another local home brewer that Bonds claims helps balance him out, referring to him jokingly as his “brew-mother.” “He doesn’t tell me no when I start to go off the rails on my creative side but he does offer suggestions on what might work better and helps balance me,” Bonds stated. Ivory’s analytical side blended with Bonds creativity is sure to produce some amazing results.

Bonds said of his brewing passion that “This was not the plan. I used to tell people that I would never brew beer. That wasn’t my thing.” It was through the Missouri Mashers Brewing Club that he was convinced to give it a try. “There was this recipe and I said, ‘Why don’t we try this?’ and they said, ‘You can’t do that!’ so I had to do it for myself and see. That started it all.”

Bonds has a love of trying unique and interesting combinations to make crazy flavors in his brews, wanting to specialize in the scientific and more curious side of brewing he is always up for a challenge. When asked what one of his favorite crazy combinations was, Bonds decided on a cream ale that he used lactose sugar, strawberries, and a bottle of margaritas in his process. He also mentioned trying port wine in brewing beer and has had success in making a Neapolitan stout.

The brewing community is very tight knit, working together to always find new ways of improving our craft and working together to bring the community together. “Really, I just want to be a part of the community. There are so many doing great things we want to be a part of,” Bonds shared. “They have all really welcomed me in and I look forward to working with Kemet and Ivory to bring more craft beer drinking to the city and educating people on brewing and craft beer.”

The location is perfect for the trio to achieve their goals with the building boasting enough space for a taproom and possible outdoor area for a patio or beer garden. While the community eagerly awaits the grand opening, Bonds is already thinking ahead to the future of possible beer competitions in-house with his fellow brewer Ivory, of continuing with his beer festivals and finding ways to draw in more local and home brewers as well as incorporating his union brothers and sisters along the way.

“It would be awesome to incorporate my love for my union and for the beer I brew into festivals. After discussing it with Kemet and Ivory, we are planning a discount of some kind for UAW and retiree members,” Bonds shared. The support for this up-and-coming business from all the communities has been incredible to see and we couldn’t be more proud of our union brother for chasing his dreams and pursuing his passions. Looking forward to walking through the doors of Vine Street Brewing in 2022.