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Woodlore Cider opens its taproom after months of delays

After months of unexpected delays, Woodlore Cider has finally opened its doors to the Brainerd lakes area over Labor Day weekend.

Co-owner of Woodlore Cider, stand behind the bar in the newly opened taproom.
Josh Gazelka, co-owner of Woodlore Cider, stand behind the bar in the newly opened taproom, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Woodlore Cider opened over Labor Day weekend and is currently serving six different flavors of hard cider.
Sara Guymon / Brainered Dispatch
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BAXTER — After months of unexpected delays, Woodland Cider opened its doors to the Brainerd lakes area over Labor Day weekend.

Josh and Cami Gazelka have been working on opening a business for two years and have uniquely combined their own preferences into curating Woodlore Cider. The husband and wife business partners moved around a lot before settling down where they both grew up. They wanted to create a space for people to gather, connect and make new friends.

Woodlore Cider was meant to open in May but didn’t actually have a soft opening until Aug. 15 due to delays in construction and shipping for equipment. Things that would normally take two weeks to order were taking more like two months, Josh Gazelka said.

Despite these delays and a few months of paying for unexpected bills with no revenue, the cidery had a three day grand opening with live music, yoga, food trucks and baby goats.

The bar area in newly opened Woodlore Cider.
After months of unexpected delays, Woodland Cider opened its doors to the Brainerd lakes area over Labor Day weekend, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch

“We decided, ‘Let's open a cidery,’” Josh Gazelka said. “If it was just me starting a business by myself, it'd be a whiskey distillery or a cigar lounge. If it was just my wife, it would be a yoga studio or probably like a co-op or something. This is just kind of one of the things that we both crossed over into, just a mutual love and interest in creating craft cider.”

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The location is off Highway 371 north of Baxter. After their sign and billboard went up, website engagement skyrocketed, Josh Gazelka said, with about 2,000 visits within the first weekend. They also had about 100 new people like their Facebook page.

Woodlore Cider currently offers six different flavors of cider: cranberry, dry, hopped, original, pear and pineapple.

There are some key differences to note when comparing ciders to the other craft alcohol brewed in the area. The biggest difference is that cider making is more similar to wine making. Instead of fermenting grape juices, the maker is fermenting apple juices.

Outdoor seating area at Woodlore Cider.
Out behind Woodlore Cider there is a small seating area for customers to enjoy a drink at, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch

“Cider making is different from beer making in that beer, you as the brewer would have the final product in your mind and you know exactly what you want to make and you're going to put so many of your characteristics into it,” said Josh Gazelka. “Cider, if I'm a very good cider maker, what you're tasting is not all the things that I put into it and made it look really interesting, what you're tasting is the fruit shining through.”

Josh Gazelka first got into making cider during the pandemic. Cami was pregnant with their now 2-year-old daughter and he had a lot of free time on his hands. With that time, he began to make cider in their basement.

“And I spent a lot of time (making cider) and realized this is kind of circling back to what we want to start,” said Josh Gazelka. “This is one of the things that I love to be able to do commercially.”

Homemade table made by Josh Gazelka line the taproom dining space at Woodlore Cider.
Homemade table made by Josh Gazelka line the taproom dining space at Woodlore Cider, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch

The Gazelkas didn’t let the unexpected delays stop them from making their hard cider available. The unexpected bills caused anxiety and frustration, but everything has been smooth sailing since opening.

“I went into starting this expecting everything to go wrong,” Josh Gazelka. “I expected all of our glasses to break. I expected utter chaos. We are a month and a half in at this point and one glass total was broken and things have been so shockingly smooth. I want to be prepared for things to go bad so I can adapt but it’s been all good feedback across the board. We're getting good reviews on Google on Facebook and good feedback on our drinks and it's almost weirding me out because I'm like I'm ready for a fight. I'm ready for a struggle, but it's been really fun so far.”

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One of the things that Cami Gazelka is passionate about is yoga. She teaches yoga and Woodlore Cider will combine Josh’s love for alcohol with her love for yoga. They offer classes at their location on Sundays and hope to continue adding unique events in the future.

A fireplace seating area in the Woodlore Cider taproom.
A fireplace seating area in the Woodlore Cider taproom, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch

The Gazelkas are also trying to incorporate kid friendly events into their hard cider business. They are bringing back the baby goats every other Saturday for as long as the weather permits. They offer apple juice for children and sold out of it the last time the goats made an appearance.

There is also trivia at 7 p.m. every Monday.

On top of opening this location, the cidery is working on preparing their hard cider for distribution. They are starting their distribution in October and will be able to serve all across central Minnesota and up to Duluth to begin with.

More information about events and updates can be found on their website and facebook page .

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SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch, staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5851 or sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com

Related Topics: LOCAL BUSINESSBAXTER
Sara Guymon recently joined the Brainerd Dispatch as a staff writer.
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