Apocalypse Ale Works, Bedford County’s first brewery, has announced plans to open a cidery on its Burnbridge Road property in Forest.
The new venture, called Legacy Cider, will use 100% Virginia-grown apples sourced from orchards in Amherst, Bedford and Nelson counties.
The fermenter for the cidery holds 933 gallons, which will use 300 bushels of Virginia cider apples — 14,400 pounds produced from 100 trees.
Apple varieties include Hewes Crab, Arkansas Black, Harrison, Albemarle Pippin, Old Winesap and Stayman.
Legacy Cider and Apocalypse owner Doug John said since the brewery’s opening in 2012, customers have asked when cider will be served.
“The climate is ripe to add cider to our expanding business,” John said. “The climate in Virginia is also perfect for apple trees.”
On Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced the cidery would invest $300,000 to establish the facility and would purchase $146,000 in Virginia-grown apples over three years.
“Legacy Cider’s new operation in Bedford County will further strengthen Virginia’s position as a top pick for artisanal ciders,” Northam said in a news release sent Friday. “This investment from Legacy Cider and their commitment to using 100 percent Virginia apples supports the Commonwealth’s farmers, who are at the core of our thriving craft beverage industry, and highlights the growing connection between agriculture and tourism in Virginia.”
According to the release, Virginia is partnering with Bedford County and Legacy Cider on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Gov. Northam approved a $12,000 grant from the AFID Fund to secure the project for Virginia, which Bedford County will match with local funds.
Traci Blido, director of economic development with Bedford County, said she is thrilled about the new hard cider production, which will have a significant value in the county.
“This expansion will bring more jobs and tourism and continue to entertain area residents for years to come,” she said.
The staff at Apocalypse Ale Works consists of three full- and four part-time staff members, but John said he hopes to grow that to five full-and eight part-time in three years.
The grant includes a commitment from the Bedford County Economic Development Authority to partner with the owners along Burnbridge Road to bring a new sewer line to the area.
John said the sewer line will enable other businesses to expand and bring new jobs to Forest.
The deck at the brewery will be renovated and transformed into a temperature-controlled environment complete with tables and expanded food service from its partners with Fifth and Federal Station.
The inside seating area will expand as well to seat 100 people.
In the release, Del. Kathy Byron, R-Bedford County, said by choosing to expand the facility reaffirms Bedford is a great place to open, build and grow a prosperous business.
“Legacy Cider is an expansion that not only will create jobs, but also will use Virginia apples in producing a quality product. Clearly, the John family is committed to Virginia,” she said.
Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434) 385-5482.