Kekionga Cider Company is booming in its first year
Nov24

Kekionga Cider Company is booming in its first year

Logan Barger and Tyler Butcher stumbled into something wonderful one Saturday afternoon three years ago, which ultimately led to the creation of the Kekiogna Cider Company, which has been producing hard cider on Fort Wayne’s northeast side since earlier this year. “Tyler called me up and asked if I wanted to make some cider,” said Barger. “His cousin had an old basket press – my brother had an apple tree – so we just decided to go for it.” It was a learning experience at first for the pair. “Our first batch was very vinegar-like…we didn’t wash the apples, we used every worm apple…it was pretty bad,” he laughed. “We didn’t even know the type of apples we were working with, but we kept tweaking things from there.” At first, Barger and Butcher enjoyed making cider, because it was a chance to get together and have fun. But then they got to a point where they wanted to make good cider. Barger says, “I did a lot of reading, checked out YouTube videos, just did a bunch of research. The goal was to keep learning more and getting better.” In the beginning, Tyler’s “Busch Light fan” father acted as a sort of tongue-in-cheek cider sommelier. “We gave it to him and he was surprised! He said, ‘I can drink this!’” said Barger. “We gave it to more and more people, and they liked it, too. We realized maybe we were actually making something people will enjoy and we can market.” Barger has been in alcohol distribution since the age of 21. With cider making, he’s enjoyed the opportunity to transition to the supplier side of the industry. Kekionga’s building, the Goeglein Mill, is owned by the Goeglein family, and it was originally an apple mill. When Barger and Butcher heard that Don and Greg Goeglein were thinking of making a hard cider, they jumped at the chance to become business partners instead of competitors. “Fort Wayne is really growing, and it supports multiple breweries now. We weren’t sure about multiple cideries, and it made sense to work together,” said Barger. As the only cidery in town, Kekionga’s business is booming. They started with one fermentation tank at the end of June and by October they upgraded to three. Demand is high and they plan to add more tanks in the near future. “People have been really receptive! More and more newbie’s show up, and we’ve got a die-hard loyal fan base already, too. It’s exciting!” said Barger. What makes Kekionga’s cider unique? “Kekionga” (meaning “blackberry patch”) was the name of the Miami tribe settlement located in what is now Fort...

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