Fossoway Red Apple Wine

Red Apple Wine
Red Apple Wine, c. 1829


This is by far one of my favorite wacky historical brews so far. What a powerhouse of flavors, and THAT COLOR!

As the brew started to ferment, it tasted smelled healthy and earthy, like beets fresh-pulled from the ground, and apples fallen from the tree. I would recommend just that juice, if the finished wine weren’t as good as it is.  The finished wine is the vivid dark pink you see above. The color leached out of the beets and into the cider, just like that.

The initial taste is powerfully fruity, with a burst of sour tingle from the tartar. After that comes the very best of beet flavor, followed by the herbs. The flavors linger on the palate, and are so quirky and unusual that I found myself taking sip after sip. You know, for science.

Red Apple Wine Recipe

Take of cold soft water, 2 gallons, apples, well bruised, 3 bushels. Ferment. Mix, raw sugar, 15 lbs., beet root, sliced, 4 lbs., red tartar, in fine powder, 3 oz. then add ginger, in powder, 3 oz., rosemary and lavender leaves, of each two handsful, British spirits, 2 quarts. This will make 18 gallons. –MacKenzie’s Five Thousand Receipts, 1829

Brewer’s Notes: Instead of mashing my own apples, I chose to use pre-pressed apple cider.

OG: 1.08       FG: 1.042       ABV: 5%       Total Time: ~3 months


  • 1 gallon raw apple cider      
  • .83 lb. sugar
  • .4 lb. diced raw beetroot
  • .16 oz. powdered tartar (available in most homebrew stores)
  • .16 oz. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. each rosemary and lavender leaves
  • 1 packet yeast (I used Vintners Harvest VR21)
  • .2 quarts British spirits, such as brandy (200 ml.)

Pour off about 2 cups of the cider in order to make room for the other ingredients. Combine everything except the spirits, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pitch yeast, let ferment. Rack off the sediment, beets, etc. after 2 weeks, and let ferment until finished.

Add the spirits. Rack into bottles, and allow to sit at least a week before enjoying.

Red Apple Wine hydrometer reading
Red Apple Wine hydrometer reading



13 Comments Add yours

  1. harbqll says:

    I mixed up two gallons last weekend. The beet color is really groovy. And my hands were red for the entire day.

    1. Chelsea says:

      Awesome! I love that you’re trying this- it’s one of my fave quirky historical experiments so far…

      1. harbqll says:

        The first flip was tonight. What. A. Color. My efforts have been on and off, hopefully a little more on than off…but I *really* want this one to work.
        The flavor currently is rough, but mentally editing that out, it’s nice. Very layered in taste. I can’t wait for mid-august to arrive!

      2. Chelsea says:

        Isn’t the color amazing? All just from soaking the beets! I think I was a little heavy-handed with my tartar, but it still mellowed into a great summer wine. Definitely making more this fall… 🙂

  2. harbqll says:

    It’s mid-August! The flavor has mellowed considerably. It’s become a very dry wine, and very tasty. The color hasn’t faded, and the brew has clarified to near translucency. I haven’t yet added brandy, but I’m thinking of also dropping in a little apple juice concentrate to back-sweeten just a tad. I’ll try that in an aliquot first, before I put it in the entire brew.

  3. Joanna says:

    By “raw apple cider” do you mean unpasteurized? I’ll have to go out of state to buy that, I’m willing to in order to give this recipe a try!

    1. Chelsea says:

      It’s ideal, but I haven’t had any trouble fermenting pasteurized cider, too!

      1. Joanna says:

        That’s good to know! I’ve had bad luck with fermenting cider in the past, but this is just too intriguing to pass up.

      2. Chelsea says:

        I hope you give it a go! It’s really quirky, which is why it caught my eye. 🙂

    2. Myxx says:

      The only problem I have had with store-bought cider is trying to ferment cider with preservatives. I think most of them kill the yeast before they can work their magic.

  4. Mike says:

    Really cool idea! I’m definitely interested in trying a cider with some beets in it. Only thing is, I’m unsure I can get Vinters Harvest VR21 here in Canada. At least within a reasonable price.

    Do you think something like a Lavlin-71B would work in this recipe too? It’s also known for a fruity aftertaste.

  5. Jae says:

    I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  6. Myxx says:

    The wheels are turning…. I think I might make a beer with beets to get that killer color. If I do, I will surely post a recipe and (hopefully) a pic or two.

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