Renovations began last week at Blue Bee Cider's building.
(Photo courtesy Blue Bee Cider)
Date posted: 6/7/12 12:57 PM
The local craft beverage industry continues to grow, with construction under way on the new Blue Bee Cider
in South Richmond's Manchester District.
Blue Bee founder Courtney Mailey signed a lease in April for the building at Perry and West Sixth streets, right next door to Legend Brewing Co. She hopes to transform it into a full-fledged urban cidery, complete with a tasting room.
“We have a big mess now,” says Mailey, who began renovations on the building last week. “We’ll continue to work through the summer and we hope to be done by the fall crush.”
If all goes according to plan, when apples harvested from orchards all over Virginia start rolling in during September, Mailey wants to be ready to create and sell fresh apple juice with no preservatives and no pasteurization. Fermented cider from that crop would become available in the late winter and early spring of 2013.
Mailey says that the artisanal market in Richmond is currently underserved, and that there is a lot of growth potential.
“People are responding to the fact that we are an apple-growing state,” she says. Mailey points to an explosion in the industry around the state to show that Richmonders aren’t the only ones who are craving fresh, local cider. (To read a column by Brandon Fox on Virginia cider makers, click here.)
“Last year there were three cideries in Virginia. By this time next year, there will be eight to 10,” says Mailey, who apprenticed last year at Albemarle CiderWorks in Charlottesville.
She says that working under mentor Chuck Shelton at Albemarle inspired her to begin her own business. When it opens, Blue Bee Cider will be the only cidery in Richmond.
But Mailey still has a long way to go. She says that her venture is about 60 days away from completing construction, which will leave the space segmented into a large production room, a cold room for fermentation and a tasting room that has a sweeping view of the James River and the Richmond skyline after the demolition of a nearby aluminum foil factory.
In the future, Mailey has plans for an “urban orchard,” but for now is focused on getting the cidery up and running before the fall.