A shared love of cider brought Katie Morgan and Charlie Davis together, after Morgan’s love affair with the beverage sparked during her college studies across the Atlantic in the U.K. Now the pair is the cider-slinging husband-and-wife duo behind Chicago’s Right Bee Cider — Davis as the cidermaking “Worker Bee,” and Morgan, the “Queen Bee,” running the show. Officially the Windy City’s first cidery, Right Bee Cider paves the way with recipes that showcase the founders’ appreciation for a traditional English cider, all the while introducing their city to the cider scene. We spoke with Morgan to find out how Right Bee is setting the precedent for quality Chicago-made cider.
Cidercraft: Where does your passion from cider stem from?
Katie Morgan: I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad at the University of Cambridge while in college, and I instantly fell in love with English-style ciders, especially fun and interesting “scrumpy” ciders. Somerset, England, is one of my favorite places in the world, and the cidermakers there are among the warmest and most welcoming folks you’ll ever meet. There is no pretentiousness or competition. It’s just a collaborative and supportive community making cider the good ol’ fashioned way! When I returned to the States, it was really difficult to find ciders like the ones I’d come to love. Enter my future husband, who made the perfect cider for me as a gift, and the rest is history!
CC: Right Bee Ciders are known for their natural, easy-to-sip flavors. What’s the inspiration behind this?
KM: It’s simple — we make ciders that we like to drink. Charlie and I both enjoy clean, crisp, light and refreshing ciders, similar to those I enjoyed in Europe. We don’t prefer overly sweet ciders, so it was very easy to decide on the proper recipe for us.
CC: Some of your ciders feature homegrown honey from the cidery’s resident bees. How has beekeeping in an urban environment been?
KM: We have always been passionate about quality ingredients, doing things ourselves and our environment, so it seemed only natural to explore keeping our own bees and including a drop of honey in some of our recipes. Naaman Gambill from The Hive Supply here in Chicago helps us manage our hives. Beekeeping in an urban environment like Chicago is great because the bees have a wide range of diverse flora to forage on!
CC: Right Bee is known for collaborating with fellow local producers. Any other collabs around the corner?
KM: We absolutely love working with the local community on fun experiments! We worked with Pat Berger from Paddy Long’s and Kaiser Tiger to create a Blueberry Honey cider with over 200 pounds of blueberries from Roedger Bros. Farms purchased at our local farmer’s market. We created a hopped cider with Old Irving Brewing, and then barrel-aged it in a gin barrel. It’s fantastic! We are working on a new collaboration for summer with Old Irving Brewing called No Way Rosé, so be sure to follow us on social media for updates.