Blue Bee Cider

16 Dec

Blue Bee Cider

The Farm Table had the opportunity last year to meet Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider, at the 2012 Richmond Earth Day Festival. We’ve enjoyed following the progress of this local business ever since.

Courtney, author of the Cider Apprentice Blog, started blogging about her experiences as an apprentice cidermaker at Albemarle CiderWorks in 2011. Since then, she has started her own urban cidery housed in Richmond’s Old Manchester District.

Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider

This Brite Tank was made in Oregon and shipped to RVA

The Brite Tank was built in Oregon and shipped to RVA

Expelling the juice from the apples

Pressing the apples

I had the pleasure of joining Courtney and her in December during a pressing, and came away from the visit appreciating the making of Blue Bee Cider even more. Courtney’s father, Mel, a sweet and gracious man, who is clearly committed to the success of Blue Bee Cider, gave me a tour and run down on the process of making cider

Blue Bee Cider

Apples just waiting for the magic to happen

Apples just waiting for the magic to happen

Courtney, who was in constant motion during my visit, displayed an impressive combination of dedicated work ethic, good humor, and expertise. Her staff were at ease, and fully engaged in the process of making cider — they all seemed to be having fun, despite a few setbacks when the equipment jammed, or hoses came lose. Courtney, who kept her cool, got everything back on track with a quick sleight of hand.

Courtney Mailey Blue Bee Cider

I lingered a little longer than I intended to — it was satisfying to watch someone in the process of their craft, and Courtney, a true artisan, practices her craft with a relaxed confidence that is exciting to watch.

Courtney, in the process of training staff on identifying the parts of the apple that should be cut out, was giving a tutorial on "stink bugs" and the markings they leave on apples.

Courtney, in the process of training staff on identifying the parts of the apple that should be cut out, was giving a tutorial on the markings left by “stink bugs”.

Courtney with her father, Mel, and staff, tightening a hose that transfers expressed juice into a highly sterile and sealed off bag that is "boxed" for a few weeks before filtering it.

Courtney with her father, Mel, and staff, tightening a hose that pumps extracted juice into a highly sterile and impermeable plastic bag where the juice is “boxed” prior to fermenting it.

Blue Bee Cider

Every part of the apple is used. What's left of the apple goes back to the farmer to feed the goats.

Blue Bee puts every part of the apple to good use. Russell Bell of Ringer Farms shovels what’s left of the apple into a trailer, which goes back to the farm to feed the goats.

The name, Blue Bee Cider came from Courtney’s appreciation for the Blue Orchard Bee, native to Virginia. Blue Orchard Bees are not very social, and do not make honey, but are extremely efficient pollinators of apple blossoms.  Courtney, who noted how hardworking and solitary this type of bee was, decided to brand her budding business after them.

Courtney, whose work is not solitary, but certainly determined, is bottling up her sense of good humor, and the delicious bounty of Virginia for the rest of us to enjoy.

We can certainly raise a glass to that!

IMG_4178

Courtney and her staff  have planted an urban orchard outside her urban cidery, with hopes that it may produce fruit for a future batch of cider.

You can follow Blue Bee Cider on Facebook and Twitter, where Courtney has chronicled the process of opening her cidery. She and her staff have started pressing, and selling the raw juice at her tasting room at 212 W. 6th Street, behind Scoot Richmond. The first two hard ciders will be available in the Spring of 2013, and a third in the Fall of 2013.

We hope to see you there this spring when Blue Bee Cider opens for hard cider tastings and tours.

One Response to “Blue Bee Cider”

  1. The Farm Table June 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Reblogged this on Follow The Tractor and commented:

    We hope you will join us at our Pop-up Market at Blue Bee Cider in the Manchester District tomorrow, June 8 from 12:00-4:00pm. We will have fresh local produce, Harvest Hill Farms meats, Quail Cove Cheese, freshly baked goodies from Flour Garden Bakery, and Polyface chickens! Blue Bee Cider will be open for your tasting pleasure from 12-6.

    Until then, enjoy this piece we did on Blue Bee Cider back in December and then come taste the real deal with us tomorrow!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: