From public health to the public house: How a young couple created Philadelphia’s newest cidery
If you haven’t yet heard of Philadelphia-based Cider Belly, you’re not alone. But given that the husband and wife–operated cidery has only been in existence for a mere six months, you’d be forgiven. Still, this relatively nascent cidery is moving quickly in the greater Philadelphia area and is poised to do big things.
Matthew Vendeville, along with his wife Kimberly, are the co-founders of Cider Belly. The two met at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and still hold down full-time jobs outside the cidery. They’ve since moved to eastern Pennsylvania, in large part to build the Cidery Belly brand. We sat down with Matthew to better understand the couple’s journey as cider lovers who would ultimately become cidermakers.
Editor’s note: As part of a collaboration with Seattle-based Cidercraft, this interview is organized in two parts. One half is published below. The other half is posted at Cidercraft – simply click the link at the bottom of this page. And once you’ve finished this Q&A with the founders of Cider Belly, make sure to explore Cidercraft for more great information about cider and cidermakers.
Cidercraft/CiderScene: You and your wife were both cider drinkers and cider lovers. But that’s a far cry from actually making cider. What first brought you to the drink — and how did you start making it?
Matthew Vendeville: While we both were consumers of cider for a number of years, Kim and I gained a greater appreciation of craft cider while living in Pittsburgh and frequenting an awesome spot, Arsenal Cider House. I immersed myself in the cider culture by reading any material I could find, speaking with leaders in the cider community, and attending CiderCon. Research and passion led to producing the first batches of cider in our garage using carboys. After receiving positive feedback from friends and family, we realized we could turn this into something more.
While exploring the cider industry, I found that the cider community was different from others in that people were willing to share experience and knowledge. The more conversations I had, the more I felt that the cider world was filled with great people working together to produce an awesome product that brings people together. It simply felt right to pursue being part of the cider community.
To bring the business to life, we knew we’d have to be creative and willing to take chances in a new area that we were both unfamiliar with. After reaching out to multiple businesses around Philadelphia, Cardinal Hollow Winery owner, Chris Boyd, responded to our inquiry to lease a small footprint of space to begin production. Along with finding a space for production, we were lucky enough to find a great person willing to coach and mentor us in the early stages. We will forever be grateful for our relationship.
Cidercraft/CiderScene: As someone who has taken the leap from enjoying cider to making it on a professional level, can you tell us a cider-related story, or perhaps one related to your first cider experience?
MV: It’s interesting when you look back on your life and begin connecting the dots. In 2018, before we had begun ideating on a cider business, Kam and I traveled to Angry Orchard Headquarters in Walden, NY, before jumping on a flight to Ireland to scout potential wedding venues. We spent our days exploring castles in the countryside and our nights at pubs with Bulmers Irish Cider. Needless to say, we ended up getting married in Pittsburgh, down the road from Arsenal Cider, where we toasted to the future with local wine and cider in our glasses.
Cidercraft/CiderScene: OK, let’s get down to the good stuff. Where can people purchase and drink Cider Belly?
MV: Our current model is to partner with select Pennsylvania businesses to offer our products on draft or in cans to go. We are excited to continue our established partnerships and look forward to expanding our reach. For 2022, you will be able to periodically find us around the greater Philadelphia area serving drafts, flights and 4-packs to go at Maple Acres Farm in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and on tap at Chestnut Hill Brewing Company in Chestnut Hill, Pa. .
We have partnered with Maple Acres Farm and Chestnut Hill Brewing because they deliver top notch products along with a great experience. If you’re looking for delicious, locally grown produce and fresh cut flowers, Maple Acres is the spot. If you want a pint of beer and pizza with a side of live music, Chestnut Hill Brewing is the perfect choice.
It makes us so happy to think about the collaboration we have with Maple Acres Farm and Chestnut Hill Brewing. We are forever indebted to them as providing us the opportunity to deliver our first batches of cider into the hands of those in our communities.
Cidercraft/CiderScene: Cider Belly is an unusual name. Where did you come up with it?
MV: We always wanted a name that would stand out and that people would remember. Cider Belly fit the build. After our wedding, we were lucky to travel to Italy where we indulged in all of the delicious Italian foods while enjoying great conversation and taking in the beautiful sights. We’d often joke that our bellies are full with whatever we had consumed earlier that day. When we came back home and began producing cider, it was a natural transition to say “Cider Belly.” For us, Cider Belly is an ode to an important memory as well as a celebration of all of our journeys with food and drink at the core.
Click here to continue the interview with Matthew Vendeville of Cider Belly on the pages of Cidercraft.
Find out where you can find Cider Belly by following them on Facebook and Instagram @ciderbellyhardcider.