November 11, 2023
Missouri’s first Black-owned brewery Vine Street Brewing Co. has won a $25,000 grant to help its expansion efforts, train employees, and craft more beer.
Missouri’s first Black-owned brewery, Vine Street Brewing Co., has won a $25,000 grant to help its expansion efforts, train employees, and craft more beer.
According to KC Today, the Kansas City G.I.F.T. (Generating Income For Tomorrow) program awarded the brewery the funds on Nov. 3. The brewery announced that they had been awarded the funds via a blog post on its website and outlined the major contributions that the money would make to improve their operation.
The brewery, which was founded by three friends, Kemet Coleman, Woodie Bonds Jr., and Elliott Ivory, opened in June 2023 after the trio brought on Annie McGinnis to lead the company as its director of operations. Even though the brewery has not been around for long, it has already secured a ringing endorsement from Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who thanked the brewery upon its opening. According to Fox 4, Lucas said at the grand opening for the brewery, “I just want to say on behalf of everybody in Kansas City, on behalf of our community and on behalf of this Black kid who grew up in Kansas City, thank y’all for building this opportunity for all of us.”
According to their website, the brewery intends to produce more beer via the purchase and installation of a 15 BBL fermenter machine, which, according to Yo Long Brew Tech, allows microbreweries or craft brewers to either scale up their production or create a mid-scale brewing operation. It also allows for a more cost-effective operation compared to larger systems, which means that the company can upscale without sacrificing profitability, which is important for a newer brewing company.
Vine Street Brewing will also be constructing a “state of the art cold room” which, as the name suggests, is a room that stores finished brews at the proper temperature for refrigeration. This enhances their operation by providing more space, which means they can keep more product on hand to send to stores carrying their brews. The cold room keeps their brewed beers fresh, so that once the beer is shipped out, it remains at peak freshness so that both stores and consumers receive a quality product.
The brewery also announced that it would be setting aside a portion of its $25,000 award to better train and develop its staff, a goal the brewery says will not only benefit its operation, but is a positive contribution to the total health of the brewery scene across the city.
Kansas City G.I.F.T. is a movement that was founded in 2020 out of the George Floyd protests that swept the country following his murder at the hands of Minneapolis police. The website says that the group wanted to be a source of action after the protests had concluded. Their mission, as spelled out on their website, is to assist in ensuring that Black businesses in Kansas City have access to the capital they have long been denied by traditional methods. Their stated goals are to close the racial wealth gap, reduce poverty related crime, and to reverse the effects of systemic racism in Kansas City. Their methodology to help achieve these goals is to provide Black owned businesses operating in zip codes in Kansas City which have been historically neglected, or economically disadvantaged by the local power structure with funds they need to continue operating profitably. To date, they have given over $1,000,000 to 68 Black-owned businesses in the Kansas City area.