The fresh new face in the RVA cider family

Buskey Cider announces its opening date, and all is right with the world.

Original — April 15, 2016

Lest you fear that two urban cideries will saturate the city of Richmond, let me assure you: Buskey Cider is a different concept from Blue Bee Cider. Both create tasty fermented apple-based drinks that can be enjoyed in a relaxing tasting room, but each has its own personality. Blue Bee is the eccentric aunt who makes every family gathering more enjoyable, while Buskey is the cool cousin who’s just started working on Wall Street. Or maybe Bourbon Street.

You’ve probably experienced the eccentric aunt at her home in Manchester (if not, you should rectify that right away), but I’m here to tell you about the cool cousin. After all, he’s a new addition to the family. (People can still be adopted when they’re adults, right?) After months of hearing that you’ll be able to meet him at the next family reunion, that date has finally arrived.

On April 23rd, Buskey Cider will open its doors to the public. Like that briefing your significant other gives you before attending family or work gatherings, I’m here to tell you what to expect.

First, know that Buskey has settled in Scott’s Addition, receiving automatic cred with that decision, in a spot near several breweries, restaurants, a meadery, and the future new location of Blue Bee.

Second, Buskey has not only retrofitted an existing warehouse for its home, using most of the building’s structure and details, but has also outfitted the tasting room with reclaimed products. Besides the typical reclaimed wood, bar and table tops have been fashioned from pool table slate–look for the cutouts for the billiard pockets–with school shop-class tables in the back production and tasting area.

Third, Buskey has a heart. Founder and owner Will Correll has been assistant coach for Sportable which provides adaptive sports and recreation opportunities, so the building’s adaptations go above and beyond required code.

Correll’s heart for local services is apparent also, including photos by Richmonder Joey Wharton and Ross Trimmer of Sure Hand Signs.

Of course, this cousin’s best contributions to the family are the products he brings to the table. Buskey Cider will open with several products, including a semi-sweet, a dry, an unfiltered and an unfermented nonalcoholic cider (perfect for kids and DDs or simply for getting the pure flavor of the fruit or a refreshing end to the evening).

To create the ciders, Correll brought in Alec Steinmetz, who studied brewing science at Siebel Institute and most recently worked as head brewer at Water Street Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Though he may miss working with the varieties of barley and hops in beer, Steinmetz enjoys the art of blending involved in cider making and the subtleties in playing with different yeast strains, achieving just the right sweetness, acidity and apple flavor, and using added ingredients to complement but not overpower the apple.

Buskey ciders are made with 100% Virginia apples, 87% of which come from Turkey Knob near Harrisonburg, where Buskey leases 50 acres of orchard space. “It’s not hard to stay local in one of the best states for apples,” Correll said.

The fruit is crushed and blended to just the right pH and sweetness at the Andros fruit processing plant in Mt. Jackson, Virginia, then shipped to Richmond, ready to be made into a quaffable cider.

Buskey’s semi-sweet cider, RVA Cider, is a blend of the dry, a sweeter hard cider, and enough of the sweet unfermented cider to balance. The nose presents with a touch of the Elixir wine yeast, with a touch of sweetness and plenty of apple flavor on the palate. It’s an easy-drinking 5.1% ABV (alcohol by volume).

The dry, 45 and Trying, is a touch more tart and comes in at about 6% ABV.

The 5.2% ABV unfiltered cider, a limited batch, is spritzier, with more detectable yeast flavors to blend with the apple.

Besides the variety of straight ciders, Steinmetz is creating small batches of ciders infused with other natural products. For the opening, he’s prepared a batch with red tart cherry and one with Citra hops (smells like an IPA, but the hops flavor doesn’t overpower the apple). Steinmetz and Correll also plan on using staves from Williamsburg Winery barrels, both red and white wine, as well as adding randall infusers to add flavors to the ciders at the tap.

When you stop by Buskey Cider, at 2910 W. Leigh Street, you can try the ciders as full pours or in a flight. “Upfront we plan to simplify our operation and let our customers get their growler fills at other accounts like Growlers to Go,” says Correll. Loveland will distribute the ciders for draft service locally.

Once you’ve had a sip of the apple, I believe you’ll agree: Buskey’s a nice addition to the RVA family.

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Annie Tobey

Writer and editor Annie Tobey dutifully studies the craft beverage scene, then runs Richmond’s roads and trails to earn the next round of research.

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