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Apocalypse Ale Works to open cidery

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By John Barnhart

“This is an agriculture announcement,” said Traci Blido, Bedford County’s economic director, Friday afternoon.

    The announcement was by Bettina King, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry. She announced a $12,000 grant from her department to Bedford County’s economic development authority to assist Apocalypse Ale Works, in Forest, to establish a cidery.
    It was also an agriculture announcement because Apocalypse has committed to using 100 percent Virginia grown apples for its hard cider, called Legacy Cider.  The apples will come from three Virginia orchards, including Gross’ Orchard in Bedford County.
    It’s an agriculture announcement because Legacy will use lots of apples when it reaches full capacity. Austin John, one of Apocalypse’s owners, said each batch of cider will use 15,000 pounds of apples.
    “Our goal is to have [hard cider] taps flowing in November,” said Austin John, one of Apocalypse’s owners. “That’s Virginia Cider Month.”  
    Ring said there are currently 20 cideries in Virginia and the Commonwealth is the sixth largest apple producer in America.
    Apocalypse has made a $300,000 commitment to build the Legacy facility, which will be an extension of its current Forest brewery, the first brewery in Bedford County. The John family, which owns the brewery, will also expand its brew pub to a full service restaurant.
    “It’s a great day for the John family,” Ring said.
    Apocalypse Ale Works was established six years ago when Doug, Rosalie and Austin John pooled their assets to start the brewery. It remains a family-owned business because it has continued to expand without outside investors. At present they have more than 28 taps at their brew pub.
    “It’s good for Forest, it’s good for Bedford County, it’s good for Virginia,” said Delegate Kathy Byron.
    Byron also thanked Blido for her leadership in the effort to make this happen.
    It’s going to be good for every business on Burnbridge Road, where Apocalypse is located. The brewery has currently reached the maximum capacity for its private septic system. The Bedford Regional Water Authority will be extending water and sewer lines along Burnbridge, making Apocalypse’s expansion possible and providing public water and sewer to every business, and future business, along the road.
    “That’s huge for us,” said Austin John, commenting on the sewer line extension.
    John said they will initially produce 1,500 barrels of cider a year and eventually expand to 2,000, matching the 2,000 barrels of beer they brew each year.
    “We look to have a very local product,” he said.
    John said the cidery will initially create five new full time jobs.