Q&A with Kekionga Craft Company: Fort Wayne’s first cidery

If you're looking for a fun and unique place to take friends and family this holiday season, try Kekionga Craft Company (@kekiongacraftcompany). Established in 2016, they are Fort Wayne’s first cidery in the historic Goeglein apple mill on the Northeast side of town on Maysville Road. They serve handcrafted cider, wine, and mead all made locally.

Kekionga craft company is located at 7328 Maysville Rd.

For an extra special experience, visit them during apple season from mid-Sept to the end of October, and catch one of their live apple pressings, after which you can purchase the fresh-pressed cider. 

Co-founder, Tyler Butcher, took us on a tour of the facility where you can sample their ciders, rent spaces for private events, or enjoy two outdoor dining areas in warmer months. You can also find their products at many local bars and restaurants in Northeast Indiana and at most major liquor stores.

Tyler Butcher

IFW: How did you come up with the name Kekionga Craft Company?

TB: Kekionga is the native name of the area where the Saint Joseph and St Marys rivers meet. My business partner (Logan Barger) and I are always interested in history, especially the history of our local areas. We thought this would be a great name to reference the history of the area.

An outdoor dining space at Kekionga Craft Company.

IFW: Do you source any of your apples locally?

TB: In-season, we get apples from Steve and Frank Hartman. They own an apple orchard off of Flutter Road. We use these for tasting room exclusive ciders. Most of our apples come from Michigan and New York, which are readily available year-round.

The tap room at Kekionga Craft Company.

IFW: Are there certain types of apples that make better ciders?

TB: Yes, there are apples that are specifically used for cider making. (Johnny Appleseed actually planted “cider” apples. Hard Cider was America’s original drink of choice!) Most of them are called Heirloom Apples. We use a lot of the Northern Spy apple. Otherwise, we have a proprietary blend of various dessert apples.

The apple press at Kekionga Craft Company.

IFW: One of your most recent commercials features your beautiful old apple press. Do you use any of our local composting services to dispose of your apple pulp?

TB: We give the apple pulp to Dick’s Organics, owned by Rick Ritter. He has an organic farm that raises food to be donated to local food banks. He also has rescue animals on his farm. 

The apple press at Kekionga Craft Company.

IFW: What’s your go-to cider recommendation for newbies?

TB: We typically recommend our Crisp. This is a simple sweet hard cider. I also recommend a few of our fruited ciders, Watermelon Gumballs & Basic Peach, for those who like other fruits. And for those, who have a dryer palate, we usually keep 1 or 2 ciders on tap that are fermented all the way dry. We have 12 taps of hard cider usually, so the best way to sample our styles is to get a flight, which has four 5 oz. pours.

You can find Kekionga Craft's products at many local bars and restaurants in Northeast Indiana and at most major liquor stores.