No, we’re not talking zombie Washington and Jefferson we’re talking their Hewe’s Crab apple.
History is amazing. History that you can drink is delicious. The Hewe’s Crab apple as seen above most certainly falls into that historically delicious category.
Here’s to you, George Washington.
Blue Bee Cider, Virginia’s first and only urban cidery, celebrates the holiday season with the limited release of Hewe’s Crab, a small-batch cider fermented from the most coveted and celebrated of Southern cider apples. The 500-bottle production will be available to the public on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 12-7 p.m. at the cidery, located at 212 W. 6th St. in the Manchester neighborhood of Richmond.
The Hewe’s Crab apple was first recorded in 1741 and became a favorite of the American founding fathers – particularly Washington and Jefferson. Though cultivated for nearly 200 years for fine cider, the Hewe’s Crab was lost during the Prohibition Era, joining the ranks of many other extinct cider apples. It was rediscovered in the late 1900’s disguised in a commercial orchard as a pollinator.
“This is possibly the most culturally significant cider that we have ever made,” explained Courtney Mailey, Blue Bee Cider owner and founder.
Mailey grafted Hewe’s Crab apple trees in 2011 during her apprenticeship with Albemarle CiderWorks. The trees, initially planted in a nursery at Tricycle Gardens before relocation to Blue Bee Cider’s country orchard, produced their first fruit harvest this year.
“The apple is strongly biennial,” Mailey said, “so you have to hope that the weather gives you a good year every two years. You have to be twice as lucky.” As a result, Blue Bee Cider will only be able to produce Hewe’s Crab every two to four years, even under optimal conditions.
Due to the limited batch size, Blue Bee Cider will include Hewe’s Crab in the tasting lineup for one day only (during the Dec. 12 release event). After that point, Hewe’s Crab will be available for bottle purchase only at the cidery tasting room.
Additional ciders in the heirloom series will be released in small batches throughout 2016.
Blue Bee Cider crafts artisanal ciders on a seasonal basis, with emphasis on Virginia fruit. Their tasting room is open Monday-Wednesday from 11-5 and Thursday-Sunday from 12-7. For more information, visit www.bluebeecider.com, or contact Brian Ahnmark at 804-231-0280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Century Farm Orchards where I “borrowed” the picture has three pages of descriptions on Old Southern Apples which is a surprisingly interesting read.
Image: Century Farm Orchards