Blue Bee Cider wins national award

Blue Bee Cidery (PHOTO: Double Image)

RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond’s craft beverage scene continues to generate buzz, this time with an award going to Blue Bee Cider, Virginia’s first urban cidery.

Blue Bee recently received a 2017 Good Food Award for its Harvest Ration reserve dessert cider. The win is also a nod to the Commonwealth’s agricultural offerings.

The Good Food Awards is a national competition which recognizes production and flavor creates “truly good food” – the kind that helps build strong community.

The awards are open to American producers who are focused on responsible practices, high-quality products, and outstanding taste.

From 2,059 entries, Blue Bee Cider was chosen as one of 200 winners across 38 states in 14 categories.

Blue Bee Cider’s owner Courtney Mailey said they share the honors with their Virginia partners, Silver Creek Orchards, Seaman’s Orchards, Henley’s Orchard, Coote’s Store Farms, and distilling partner Catoctin Creek Distilling Company.

Harvest Ration won a national award for its flavor and sustainable practices that make it stand out among national peers

Harvest Ration won a national award for its flavor and sustainable practices that make it stand out among national peers

Blue Bee Cider first opened in Manchester in 2013, and in 2016, moved into a renovated, historic spot in Scott’s Addition. The larger 9,000-square-foot footprint (on a third of an acre) and new equipment have allowed the business to significantly increase its cider-making capacity.

“I drew on my previous career in economic development to make a viable urban farm cidery, one where the apple country and the city could win together by creating jobs and high-quality cider that would highlight the best of both worlds,” Mailey said.

Mailey said that has part of the production, Blue Bee Cider works with growers to revive prized heirloom-variety apples that have been out of use for generations — but are well-acclimated to Virginia.

Harvest Ration is a port made in collaboration with Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, a family distillery located in Purcellville.

Blue Bee sends a custom blend of cider to Catoctin Creek to be distilled into an eau de vie that Blue Bee then ages in five-gallon new American white oak barrels.

After about six months in the barrels, the brandy is blended into an early-stage ferment comprised primarily of Winesap apples.

The result, Harvest Ration, Mailey said, is a fortified cider with “a strong spirituous aroma and layers of honeysuckle, butterscotch, and spice with rich, sweet apple notes in the finish.”

Blue Bee’s Harvest Ration is named after the tradition in Virginia of apple harvest workers receiving a daily ration of cider and brandy. Each bottle holds roughly the equivalent of one day’s ration of both cider and brandy, blended together.

The special reserve cider is sold directly to consumers through the Blue Bee tasting room in Scott’s Addition, or can be bought online.

Blue Bee is located at 1320 Summit Avenue. The hours are Sunday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday they are open from 1 p.m. to 9 in the evening.