Vice District Brewing reveals its Bear loyalty
By Dan Patton | Managing Editor
The Vice District Brewing Company definitely understands the needs of Bears fans. On game days, two large paintings are removed from the walls to make way for the high-definition flat screens behind them. A selection of salads, wraps and sandwiches from one of the 63 (and counting) local restaurants that deliver to the establishment is put out for everyone to enjoy, and The Usual Suspects, a 7.4% lager-style steam-brewed copper ale made especially for the Bears season, flows like a scoring drive.
Sounds like the kind of place designed exclusively for Bears fans, but according to co-founder Quintin Cole, “We’re not a sports bar.”
“After the broadcast, we want people to go back to really conversing again.”
This is what happens when a lawyer and a physical therapist open a bar. Cole, the attorney, and Curtis J Tarver II, the health professional, grew their basement beer brewing hobby into what is perhaps the world’s first “internet lounge.” They were encouraged by friends who would come by and drink with them until the wee hours of the morning and prompted by spouses who told them, “you guys aren’t running a speakeasy out of our basements,” recalls Cole.
The venue that they opened South Michigan Avenue last September is “very reminiscent of our basement when we were home-brewing,” says Tarver. 18-foot ceilings, subtle grey walls and chrome brewing tanks give the room an upscale, industrial coziness. According to Tarver II, it’s a “good feel for friends and family to come in and have a good time.”
The brewers craft more than a dozen beers onsite, most of them named in tribute to the area’s former reputation as a notorious vice district. Three favorites — Everly, Habitual and Pleasure Trip — were perfected in the basement and approved by guests at a Super Bowl party before the partners opened the bar to sell them.
But when the Bears are done, so are the TVs. That makes it better for the growing number of people who “come in with their laptops kinda spread out on tables” says Tarver II. It also stimulates the kind of conversation exclusively reserved for cool bars.
“That’s what we did in our basement,” explains Cole. “We solved all kinds of world problems over beers.”
1454 S Michigan Ave · www.vicedistrictbrewing.com · (312) 291-9022