G2KYCM continues with Courtney Mailey, cider maker and owner of Blue Bee Cider. Blue Bee is still in the coming soon column, but when Courtney’s ready, it’ll be an urban cidery in Richmond. Got you curious? I thought so!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in an Army family. We moved every three years until my dad retired from Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va.
How long have you lived in Virginia?
I have lived in Virginia for a total of 30 years.
What brought you to cider?
I was thinking of possible careers in agriculture and my uncle is vintner in Washington State. Because Virginia is an apple growing state, I thought about cider which was a category with growth potential.
How long have you been making cider?
Since late 2010. I am definitely a new kid.
Where else (besides your current cidery) have you made cider?
I apprenticed ay Albemarle CiderWorks in 2011 under Chuck Shelton. The Shelton’s are a great family and I felt like a I was grafted in for a year. A great experience.
What characteristics do you enjoy in cider?
I enjoy lots of different kinds of ciders. Southern ciders tend to have higher acid and sugar/alcohol content and lower tannins than in the North. So my preferences have been shaped by our region. I enjoy sparkling ciders and still dessert ciders. I also like a clean, long finish and deeper golden color. The range of flavors/notes that I like is pretty varied: raisin, vanilla, tropical, bruised apple, charcoal, grass, citrus, etc.
Since many in VA are new to tasting ciders, what should they be looking for when trying your cider for the first time?
Blue Bee Cider will make dry to off-dry sparkling ciders starting in Spring 2013. We will add a dessert cider in fall 2013. My goal for the first sparkling cider is for it to be more like an old-fashioned Virginia cider, dry, earthy, tannic and tart. My goal for the second sparking cider is to be more fruit forward, lighter, a touch sweeter and with a clean finish.
If you could visit with any cider maker in the world, who/where would it be?
I have lots of cider-related travel in my future! Right now, I am most interested in learning about cidermaking in the Virginia Tidewater – so this requires time travel at the Library of Virginia. I am looking for the cidermaker who cultivated and made cider with the Royal Pearmain, Richmond’s extinct cider apple. Any leads would be much appreciated.
What is your favorite food and cider pairing?
This depends on the cider, of course. I love a nice ham steak with sweet potatoes and greens for dinner. Which could pair nicely with a drier cider with raisin and bruised apple notes.
Who is your favorite cartoon character?
What is one thing we haven’t asked you that you want Virginia cider fans to know about you or your cidery?
Blue Bee Cider is located in downtown Richmond and the tasting room will be open starting in spring 2013. We are in a great neighborhood of artisans along the white water zone of the James River. It will be a different sort of day trip to visit to our urban cidery but no less of a journey. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates as Blue Bee Cider gears up for its debut in 2013!
If you could buy any one item from SkyMall, what would it be?
The Get to Know Your Cider Maker – Courtney Mailey by Swirl, Sip, Snark, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.