Eat It, Virginia


How Courtney Mailey keeps Blue Bee buzzing in Richmond

Courtney Mailey via Sara Der.jpg
Posted at 10:44 AM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 10:44:58-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Scott's Addition is a Richmond neighborhood with a lot of buzz.

One reason for that buzz is the wide variety of breweries, distilleries, meaderies, wineries, and cideries.

Blue Bee Cider, on Summit Avenue, was one of the first cideries to open in Richmond and Courtney Mailey is the force that keeps Blue Bee buzzing.

"In 2010, I quit my day job and went to cider school," Blue Bee founder and owner Courtney Mailey said on the Eat It, Virginia podcast. "After cider school, started apprenticing Albemarle, Ciderworks in Charlottesville, and did that for a year. Then between Christmas and New Year's, I wrote a business plan."

Mailey soon opened Blue Bee in Richmond's Manchester neighborhood. She moved the business to Scott's Addition in 2015.

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Blue Bee Cider in Scott's Addition

"It's pretty much a marathon of sprints for years. Then we finally were able to move from Manchester to Scott's Addition," she said. "That was more sprints and building a team that had the maturity and the knowledge to keep it progressing and growing."

While wine was her first passion, Mailey said she quickly fell in love with apples, cider, and the people who make it all happen.

"I think that's part of the modern culture of the apple, but apples were the candy bars of their day," she said. "There were not a lot of sources of sweetness in the world, or at least in the new world for centuries. So these were the caretakers of the sweetness in life and it's just a beautiful thing. They're beautiful people very generous. No one holds back on their knowledge. They want to build and grow the industry."

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Blue Bee founder Courtney Mailey, at Blue Bee Cider in Richmond, Virginia on April 14, 2017.

While one might expect an overly sweet cider experience at Blue Bee, Mailey said cider tastings are much more nuanced.

"While we do have some semi-sweet ciders that are fruit forward, it's still not gonna be nearly as sweet or as fruity as a mass-produced cider or session cider," she said. "We have something that's sour, we have some things that are very funky and with those types of experiences, [new visitor will be like], 'Oh, this isn't what I expected.'"

Hear all about Blue Bee Cider and the passion Courtney brings to her job by listening to the Eat It, Virginia podcast.