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.
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.
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 more than 20 years of combined brewing experience, their brewers call themselves “freaks” when it comes to making the perfect beer. 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. They also encourage you to ask questions and get a tour.
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.
Since coming onto the Wichita restaurant scene in 2014, The Hungry Heart Gastro Pub and Brewery has quickly gathered an artisan clientele of foodies and craft beer lovers. Housed in a renovated warehouse space just outside the north entrance of INTRUST Bank Arena, Hungry Heart has a front-porch smoker to create upscale pub menu items that are inspired fusions of flavors from the Midwest, Hawaii, China and California and an on-site brewery that eventually will brew 6-8 of its own. Of the pub’s 16 taps of craft beer at least two are currently their own and their brews continue to expand.
Wichita Brewing Company has 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.
If you want to try something from south of the border, head to the east or west location of Bricktown Brewery. Here you’ll find seven beers brewed in downtown Oklahoma City and delivered fresh to six satellite locations. The original micro-brewery restaurant opened in 1992 in OKC’s old Bricktown candy factory and remains the base of brewing operations.
For non-breweries but great places to find a strong menu of craft beers – including several from Wichita and across the state – try Public at the Brickyard, The Hill Bar & Grill, The Monarch, The Anchor, Granite City and Old Chicago.
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.