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Hard cider pressing to find a place with Virginia's wine lovers

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As proof of hard cider making a come-back, Blue Bee Cider's tasting room was featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Thursday. The Blue Bee is located in the Aragon Coffee Building on West Sixth Street in old Manchester and is one of only eight cideries in the state.

Blue Bee is the only cidery found in an urban setting. It makes six different hard ciders, all but one being a blend. Each blend uses a different cider-making apple, like Albemarle Pippin, York, Stayman, Winesap, Pink Lady, Arkansas Black and Bittersweet cider apples.

Most of the apples Blue Bee uses come from Nelson County. Other apples come from Amherst, Rockingham and Frederick counties. Blue Bee also has a small orchard. The Blue Bee opened in July of 2013, and is located at 212 W. Sixth St., in Richmond.

Hard cider has a long history in Virginia and has been a favorite beverage since colonial times in our apple-rich state. Now, the alcoholic drink is trying to make inroads with wine-drinkers and craft-beer drinkers.

Hard cider has many nuances and flavors, the same as wine, and can be served in much the same way. Some ciders can be appreciated much like champagne. For those wanting a more robust cider that would go with salty, smoked or wild foods, a sharp cider is available. There is also Harvest Ration, a dessert cider that can also be consumed all by itself, later by the fire.

Blue Bee has two sizes of bottled cider that can be purchased on site. They come in 500 ml and 750 ml bottles. The testing room is open from Noon to 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday. The testing fee is: Five ciders, $7; two ciders, $1.99. For more information on Blue Bee, call (804) 231-0280; or go to their website: www.bluebeecider.com.

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