If you’re ready to explore Kansas-based wineries, breweries and distilleries, we’ve got a handful in and around the Wichita area and a local community supporting the development of even more. Here’s your guide for a wine, beer and spirits tour full of flavor, history and unique experiences.
In a matter of only a couple of years, the city has grown from two breweries to seven. All of the breweries in the city participate in Wichita’s Wicked Brew Tour, which has been wildly popular with locals as well as visitors to Wichita. And every May, the Midwest Beerfest is held in Wichita, providing attendees a chance to sample from more than 400 craft beers, ales, lagers and more from around the United States.
When River City Brewing Co. opened its doors in 1993 in one of Old Town’s historic buildings, it was the first brewpub in Wichita and only the third brewery to open in Kansas in well over half a century. For more than 20 years now, the establishment has been serving hand-crafted ales and a food menu reflecting Kansas' beef heritage. River City continually offers six different styles of microbrews and has 16 beers on tap, including an ever-changing seasonal beer that celebrates the diversity of beer from all around the world.
Next to join Wichita’s beer scene is Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria. They opened six years ago and have east and west brewpubs with on-site brewing and also has a warehouse where it operates its 15-barrel brewhouse and 60-barrel fermenters. Their brewpubs offer a full menu of pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and salads, along with as many as 17 of their own brews – from Angry Udders Milk Stout to Game Day Wheat to Valleyview Vanilla Porter to Seal Team 6, aged in fresh Leopold Bros. whiskey barrels for more than three months.
Centrally located in the Douglas Design District, Central Standard Brewing opened its brewery and taproom in 2015 to produce a wide range of styles including seasonal, Belgian, IPA, Barrel Aged, Sour and Wild/Brett beers. With a variety of styles on tap with names like Wizard of Hops, Shaky Knees and Standard Issue and a relaxed atmosphere, Central Standard Brewing is a comfortable spot to hang out with friends and enjoy a few drinks in a retro chair or on the patio. In October 2016, the brewery earned a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival, placing in the “Other Belgian style ale” category for its Standard Issue, a sour ale that’s widely considered the brewery’s flagship beer.
Sharing the Douglas Design District neighborhood with Central Standard Brewing is Hopping Gnome Brewing, a taproom that opened in 2015 with an ICT IPA, Douglas Ave. Pale Ale, Sepia Amber Ale, Frank’s Oatmeal Stout and The Earl of ESB.
Third Place Brewing is located in downtown Wichita and gets its name from the idea that first place is home, second place is work, and third place is a spot to hang out or commune, generally without societal distinctions. They features five or six hand-crafted beers on a regular basis plus seasonal brews.
Aero Plains Brewing opened a little more than a year ago and celebrates the rich history of Wichita Kansas: brewed at the cross-roads of history and innovation, where the Chisholm Trail meets the runways of the Air Capital of the World. The tap room doubles as an art gallery, and they also have food truck options on a regular basis, indoor and outdoor games, and feature local artists and entertainment. They have 13 craft beers and two of them, Dove Runner Red Wheat and Bingo’s IPA, are bottled and distributed to liquor stores in Wichita and surrounding areas, and they are currently working on a third.
The newest brewery, Limestone Beer Co., inside Sweet Allie B’s restaurant, focuses on German and Belgium-style beers like the Lights On Helles, a German-style Helles dry hopped with Saphir hops or the Linny The Wise, a refreshing Berliner Weisse with raspberries.
Grace Hill Winery and Vineyards uses grapes grown on its 8-acre vineyard, located about 25 minutes northeast of Wichita, to make both dry and sweet wines, red, white and rose'. The winery is open for free tastings on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Noon to 5 p.m. with no appointment necessary for groups less than eight. Free tours are available at 1, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. during open hours as well. Tours and free tastings in their tasting room are available Monday through Thursday by appointment.
Wyldewood Cellars opened to the public in 1994 with its elderberry wine, made from wild elderberries growing on the family’s farm. Now with several locations in Kansas, it’s still family owned and operated with its main operation south of Wichita, just west of Exit 33-Mulvane on I-35. They offer free tastings of their 32 varieties of fruit, berry and grape wines, pure elderberry juice concentrate, as well as homemade gourmet jellies, syrup and fudge. Wyldewood is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday Noon to 5 p.m.
Wheat State Distilling, Wichita’s first legal distillery since prohibition, opened in December 2013 in north Wichita. As an artisan distillery, Wheat State Distilling uses local quality grains to produce premium spirits including vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon and rum. Owned and operated by Wichita natives, the distillery offers tastings and tours to show how Kansas wheat is turned into a bottle of vodka or whiskey.