This Doylestown, Ohio, cidery grows a variety of heirloom apples at its neighboring orchard and crafts a tasty variety of hard ciders.
The red hue of Bent Ladder Cider and Wine’s tasting room catches the eye of those driving through this stretch of rural northeast Ohio. Surrounding the spot is a pond, outdoor seating and views of the family orchard below that inspired Matt Vodraska to open his cider- and wine-making operation in 2015.
The roots of Bent Ladder stretch back to the 1920s and the creation of the neighboring Rittman Orchards, which Vodraska’s parents bought in 2005. Vodraska grows multiple heirloom apple varieties that make for unique cider offerings as well as the grapes that go into his wines. The wines now span a dozen varieties, with the chardonel and rose among his customers’ favorites.
Vodraska’s passion for apples and cider-making came from growing up in the family business and learning that apples were an important part of American history. The federal government once required settlers to plant apple trees so their fruit could be made into hard ciders, an easy-to-preserve drink that also had nutritional value. The rise of Prohibition spelled the end of hard cider’s popularity, but it began making a comeback in the Midwest in the early 2000s, around the same time that craft beer became popular across the region.
Most of Vodraska’s focus goes toward the cultivation of heirloom apple varieties with names like Kingston Black, Redfield and Gold Russet. Vodraska likes them for their complex flavors, which translate better to the production of hard ciders. The tasting room has eight varieties on tap that rotate throughout the year. (Bent Ladder also offers some in cans to take home.) The original and hopped ciders are favorites, while Home Slice (an apple-pie-flavored cider with a hint of vanilla) and Cranberry Mulled are among the taproom offerings during fall and winter.
13550 Mount Eaton Rd. N., Doylestown, Ohio, 330/485-1089, bentladder.com
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