Brush Valley Brewer’s 2008 Red Cap Cider

Gretchen and I have been growing our own apples for years now. We bought a cider press a few years back and have been making ourselves sweet cider every fall. As I get back into home brewing, after a fourteen year hiatus, I thought I would try a hard cider. I decided to go for a medium-dry, petillant English cider. This is my first attempt at a hard cider.

Here is my recipe:


  • 2 bushels Apples from several varieties
  • White Labs English Cider Yeast (WL775)
  • ½ teaspoon plus a pinch Wyeast Nutrient Blend
  • 5 Campden Tablets
  • 2 pounds Lactose (Milk Sugar)
  • 0.75 ounces Malic Acid
  • 0.25 ounces Wine Tannins
  • 5 ounces Corn Sugar (for priming)


  1. Pick the apples and allow them to sit at cellar temperature for one week.
  2. Press the apples. You should end with something in excess of 5 gallons of juice. Measure the Brix and Gravity of the juice. Mine turned out to be 13.6/1.054 this year.
  3. Make a starter by mixing 1 quart of juice with a pinch of yeast nutrient and bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool to 72°F. Place in a suitable container. I used a half-gallon growler. Shake to aerate. Pitch yeast. Affix an airlock. Ferment at 72°F for 2 days.
  4. After pressing, place the juice in a bucket. Add 5 crushed Campden Tablets (one per gallon). Affix an airlock. Allow to sit at cellar temperature for 2 days.
  5. Vigorously stir the juice to disperse any remaining Sulfur Dioxide gas resulting from the Campden tablets. Transfer the juice to a 6½-gallon glass carboy. Add ½-teaspoon of yeast nutrient. Rock to aerate. Pitch the yeast starter. Affix an airlock. Ferment at 72°F for 4 weeks.
  6. Measure the Brix and Gravity of the cider. Mine turned out to be 5.3/1.001 (7% ABV) this year. Rack the cider to a 5-gallon glass carboy and allow to mature at 72°F for 8 weeks.
  7. Mix the lactose, malic acid, tannin, and corn sugar in 5 pints of water and bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool to 72°F.
  8. Add the mixture to the bottling bucket. Rack the cider to the bottling bucket. Bottle. Allow the cider to bottle condition at 72°F for 3 weeks before sampling.

Just for fun I measured the gravity after back-sweetening with the lactose. It brought it back to 1.014, which would be about as sweet as a typical finished ale.

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