Alter ego: noun [al-ter e-go]; a second self or alternative personality; a close and trusted friend; a constant companion.
The name comes of this cidery is derived from partners Anne Hubatch and Nate Wall’s other job as winemakers — their alter ego being cidermakers. The two teamed up with Wall’s wife, Kris, who brings a business perspective to the team, and opened in Portland in 2014 as Alter Ego Cider.
Since then the team has expanded its business from just wholesale kegs to bottles. This past summer they underwent three major changes: They brought on a fourth partner who is currently a CEO of a software company, they initiated the process of opening a taproom and they hired former head cidermaker of Michigan’s Blake’s Hard Cider, Robert Lauer.
“We needed someone who was more dedicated to making cider 100 percent of the time,” Hubatch says. “And also making a more diverse lineup of ciders so that we can constantly keep new small limited batches of things available for our customers at our tap house.”
With the addition of Lauer and the desire to branch out to utilize neighboring artisans, Alter Ego recently launched their latest small-batch collaborations with Bee Local Honey and Cascadia Coffee Roasters, which are both out now.
“When Robert and I were talking about where we were going to go with these next ciders, we came upon the idea that there are a ton of artisans in the neighborhood,” Hubatch says. By “collaborating with different businesses and using their strengths to apply to our strengths, we can do something quite special together.”
Also in the works are Portland-area collaboration with Jacobsen Salt Co. for a salty, gose-style cider and a cranberry and black tea cider made with Tea Chai Te, the latter which is almost ready to be released.
Hubatch says that it was a combination of reaching out to the businesses and natural collaboration occurring leading them to these particular partnerships.
In the future Lauer says he hopes to continue to explore these small-batch collaborations, particularly with farms in the area.
“Being a newcomer and being exposed to so many local farms where a variety of ingredients can be used… all those things have a lot of synergistic, longevity that we’re looking to capitalize on,” Lauer says.
While the honey pear cider and coffee cider have already hit the Portland area market, Hubatch says they’ve saved four kegs of all these collaborations for their taproom, which they expect to open in May and will be available to the public along with more future small-batch ciders.
“You’re taking different, disparate products and bringing them together to make some of the parts be very interesting craft beverage,” Hubatch says. “There are endless opportunities, our only boundary is our creativity.”