Though Vice District Brewing's location above a children's playspace in the South Loop has raised a few eyebrows, that's not where co-owner and brewer Curtis J. Tarver III's head is at these days. He said the under-construction brewery and taproom at 1454 S. Michigan Ave. has received "no pushback" from the playspace's owners, and he and co-owner Quinton Cole are focused on construction and brewing.
Hoping for a mid-June opening, Vice District Brewing will be a 7-barrel capacity brewery with a taproom whose 10 draft lines will pour mostly made-on-premise beers including a black IPA, cream stout, IPA, Belgian blonde, extra special bitter, chocolate porter and an American blonde. Tarver expects to have two liquor licenses that would allow for beers to be consumed at the bar as well as purchased in growlers and bottles to-go.
The building, constructed in 1906, has landmark status due to its history as one of the earliest automobile showrooms in the city. Tarver said Vice District plans to keep the large windows that line the perimeter and to aim for a "very straightforward" space with long, communal tables that encourage conversation.
"We think the South Loop is really one of the best neighborhoods in the city for this type of adventure," Tarver, a former homebrewer, said. "We've seen far more foot traffic than we anticipated."
The brewery's name also is an nod to the neighborhood's colorful past. At the beginning of the 20th century, a portion of the South Loop was known as the "vice district" or "levee district," an area where clubs, dance halls, brothels and other sometimes-illegal activity flourished.
While Tarver is quick to point out that Vice District Brewing won't condone illicit behavior, he focuses on the part of the neighborhood's history that was full of energy and socializing.
"It was an area that people flocked to," Tarver said. "We want to make sure it stays a community."