“The idea was there but we kinda stumbled upon it sooner; I asked our contractor if he could install a nitro tap, and 10 minutes later, we had our cider on nitro. And it’s good,” Buskey Cider's CEO and founder William Correll says next to one of the four 15-barrel fermenting tanks the team purchased from Legend Brewing Co.
He’s right. The nitro cider is good. It's also creamy and sweet, and ready for public consumption beginning tonight, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Scott's Addition urban cidery's soft-open.
Correll’s cider-maker, Alec Steinmetz, is in between the tanks discussing brix, a measurement of sugar in cider. “It was a happy accident,” says Steimetz. The two, along with co-owner and active partner Matthew Meyer, winemaker at Williamsburg Winery, have been working around the clock to get everything ready for this weekend's soft-opening.
The juice is from Turkey Knob Apples, an orchard in Harrisonburg. It gets pressed at Andros Foods North America, based in Mt. Jackson, then comes to Buskey in a 5,000-gallon tanker — directly into the back of the cidery. From there it heads directly into the fermenters: the aforementioned four beer tanks, plus five wine tanks. Steinmetz is using wine yeast strains now for the cider but plans on incorporating some beer strain — those with higher acidity — in the future.
Right now, they have five ciders to showcase to the Richmond community: a hopped cider using Citra hops; an unfiltered batch of cider called Batch One; RVA Cider, a semi-sweet cider; the 45 and Trying, a drier cider profiling the yeast for a wilder flavor; and a non-alcoholic sweet apple juice that has been carbonated. The ciders will rotate as they experiment with flavors and fruits. Buskey plans on having one fruited or seasonal cider based on the ingredients currently and locally available; upcoming fruited juices are tart cherry, cranberry and black currant.
Their intent is to be neighborhood-focused. “We really want to find our footing with what the community wants, and adapt [to what] our consumers want,” says Steinmetz, whose background is in brewing. He moved from Wisconsin, the former head brewer of Water Street Brewery, to become the cidermaker at Buskey after meeting Correll through a LinkedIn conversation. “I am really new to cidermaking, but I know fermentation and that whole thing," he says. "But if consumers are calling for something a little drier or sweeter, we are going to play with that.”
Buskey Cider is located at 2910 W. Leigh St. and soft-opens tonight, April 15, from 6 to 9 p.m. Its grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.