Blue Bee Cider's Courtney Mailey is collaborating with the VHS to produce cider from an 18th century recipe.

Scott Elmquist

Blue Bee Cider's Courtney Mailey is collaborating with the VHS to produce cider from an 18th century recipe.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Cyder" Takes Center Stage

The Virginia Historical Society and Blue Bee Cider team up to produce a nearly 300-year-old cider recipe.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 5, 2015 at 10:06 AM

The Virginia Historical Society is getting into the beverage business — sort of. Following the success of its collaboration with Ardent Craft Ales’ production of Jane’s Percimon beer, once again VHS working with a company to create a product from an old — very old — recipe. It’s calling the program, “History on Tap.”

Blue Bee Cider is its partner this time around, and the company plans to work with a recipe from the 1742 edition of “The Compleat Housewife” by Eliza Smith, the earliest cookbook produced in the United States. It was first printed in 1727 in England, and the book’s Virginia publisher, William Parks, deleted some recipes that he felt the American audience wouldn’t be interested in, but little else was changed.

The cidery plans to fill a 50-gallon barrel with the old-fashioned cider and on Tuesday, April 21, at 6 p.m. “History On Tap: The Compleat Cyder” will be held at Blue Bee Cider. For $20 you’ll not only get to try the cider, along with a few snacks, but speakers including the president and chief executive of the VHS, Paul Levengood, Sarah Meacham, author of “Every Home A Distillery: Alcohol, Gender and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake.” Blue Bee owner Courtney Mailey also will be on hand for a discussion about the cider-making process.

“The VHS hopes this experimental cider will create a thirst for history and stir up further interest in our ‘History On Tap’ program,” Levengood says in a press release. “Recipes in the VHS’s collections are accessible to anyone who wishes to do research on the topic.” Here’s to hoping more breweries, cideries and distilleries in town take him up on the offer.

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