Vice District Brewing

In Chicago's South Loop, a pair of entrepreneurs have helped revitalize a once-notorious red-light district by brewing craft beer in a friendly neighborhood pub.

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At the turn of the 20th Century, it was Chicago's red-light district. Today, it's where you'll find a fun, inclusive taproom that celebrates the city's diversity.

The legend of Vice District Brewing started in Quintin Cole’s basement in Kenwood, a neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. There, he and his buddy Curtis Tarver II began experimenting with their first homebrews. Both men shared a passion for craft beer, but they mostly intended to create a space where their friends could come hang out and crack open a few cold ones in solidarity. It didn’t take long for everyone in the neighborhood to discover that the beers pouring from the kegerator were some of the best they'd ever tasted. 

As the crowds gathered—and the equipment piled up—the pair moved their craft-brewing operation into Chicago’s CHAOS homebrew club, where they continued refining their talents and expanding their repertoire. Eventually, the popularity of the duo's beers led to the grand opening of a microbrewery and taproom at 1454 S. Michigan Avenue. That address is in Chicago's South Loop, an area of the city that, in the late 1800s, was one of America's most notorious red-light districts—hence the name: Vice District Brewing.

But the atmosphere in the 2,200-square-foot taproom is anything but unsavory. Instead, it stays true to Curtis and Quintin's original vision—a social hub where every guest can feel at home, thanks to an authentic underground vibe, 70” flat-screens, and cozy seating. And, of course, delicious craft brews—including the dark-roasted, chocolatey Habitual; the toasted-malt, earth-hopped Everleigh; the light-bodied, simple-grained Pleasure Trip; and seasonal batches of experimental one-offs. 

For Vice District Brewing, the most notable difference from those early days spent gathered in Quintin’s basement is the wall of windows that looks out onto South Michigan Avenue. As Quintin said in an interview a few weeks before the brewery's opening, “We want to bring back vibrancy and energy into the South Loop, even as we encourage ‘positive vices’ like volunteerism in the community.” What began as a basement block party has grown into one of America’s most diverse and inclusive beer pubs—all thanks to the power of good beer to bring people together. Whoever said drinking had to be a vice?

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