FARGO-The city's first cidery opened to big crowds Saturday, Dec. 2, despite a lack of promotion from the young couple that owns the business.
Wild Terra Cider & Brewing, 6 12th St. N., has a couple things in its favor that tend to draw people to check it out, according to Ethan Hennings. Its status as the first urban cidery here, with 18 hard apple ciders on tap and a dozen or so more available in cans and bottles, was part of it, he said.
Its location in a more than century-old horse stable probably helped ramp up curiosity, too, he said.
"The building was a complete disaster when we started," he said. "We had to do a total renovation pretty much of everything."
He said the extent of work, which he and his wife, Breezee Hennings, did almost entirely by themselves since March, more or less required them to remove everything under the roof and rebuild or replace it. That included new concrete on the main floor, new siding, adding in windows again to the old structure and even putting a thick layer of insulation and new roof on top of the old roof.
Breezee Hennings said there were moments in the process that made her wonder what they had taken on, like the two or so months she spent sanding and pulling old nails out of wood the couple took out of the structure as they rebuilt it piece by piece.
"I hated it. But now that I see it up there, it's just really beautiful to see that wood preserved," she said, gesturing toward reclaimed wood that now adorns interior walls.
Dream to reality
The property was dubbed the Stable Building by the Kilbourne Group when the development company bought it in 2015 along with the former Mathison's building, 1213 NP Ave., just to the west that's now home to Prairie Roots Food Co-op.
Ethan Hennings said despite its rundown condition earlier this year, the history throughout the space made it the best place to open.
"We knew right away that this was the spot," he said.
Breezee Hennings said it was a unique opportunity for the business. While most tenants take over a space after preliminary work is done, occupying a "shell" where they have to try to incorporate their own style, the couple got to design every inch of Wild Terra.
That included selecting the placement of each window, deciding to remove some of the original second floor to create a more airy taproom up front and even opting to reuse the original stair tread from the exterior that now leads up to an upper floor inside.
She said she was most proud to be able to make Wild Terra warm and comfortable, a contrast to many breweries where everything tends to be hard surfaces and chairs are made of metal or wood. The chairs and barstools here have cushions, while the upper seating area is full of couches that come in handy Wednesday nights when they will play movies on an upstairs projector.
There's plenty of character here, whether it's exposed original ceilings, refinished wood flooring on the second level or a 200-year-old white oak tree in Minnesota that was cut into a heavy bar and corner table in the taproom.
One thing that's missing at the moment is hard cider made in-house by Ethan Hennings. He said he expects to start brewing soon, and his take on ciders could be ready to serve in early January.
Around the same time, when Wild Terra plans to throw its grand opening celebration, Breezee Hennings said she could have her first batch of the fermented beverage kombucha ready to pour.
The business already has several ciders made by other brewers on tap and in cans or bottles, as well as a couple taps of beer and a full selection of wine and mead. Cider cocktails will be added to the menu soon, and Breezee Hennings said Wild Terra started serving food this week like paninis, sandwiches, salads, hummus platters and gluten-free and vegan options.
She said she hopes the business can expose more locals to the possibilities of hard cider in a fun new downtown hangout.
"I'm really proud of all the work that we did," she said. "We worked really, really hard for a long time, not knowing what it was going to all manifest into because all this was just in our heads for such a long time."
What: Wild Terra Cider & Brewing
Where: 6 12th St. N., Fargo
Hours: 2 to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 2 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
Phone: (701) 639-6273