The line separating beer drinkers and cider fans has never been thinner.
Cider houses with beer bar sensibilities are on the rise, and the brand-new taproom from Alter Ego is a welcome addition to the scene. Located across the street from gluten-free brewery Ground Breaker, and just a handful of blocks from areperia Teote, it won't be long before this industrial corner of the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood is designated "Gluten-Free Gulch" or some other quirky nickname. But Alter Ego's incidental affiliation with an oftentimes trendy dietary constraint shouldn't deter those in search of inventive brews.
If the sweetness of many mainstream cider offerings has left you burnt out and uninterested in what the future may hold for this burgeoning industry, the 5-year-old cidery's newly opened taphouse—featuring a no-fuss bar, outdoor picnic tables and hanging filament bulbs—should give you an ideal venue for a reappraisal.
Its flagship concoction is the Brut, a semi-dry cider with a palate-tickling sweetness that fades into a sour finish just as the bubbles break. Its resilient, Champagne-like effervescence does wonders to keep the cloying notes of sugary tartness at bay, making it a point of entry for drinkers who prefer straightforward, unadorned beer to trendy adjuncts and zealous overhopping. You could also seek out a brilliant halfway point in the Snakebite, a blend of the Brut and a bright, clean lager from Level Beer. Its delicate cider flavor up front and the crisp lager finish provides the best of both worlds, and the end product is wonderfully crushable on a hot summer day.
Deviations from the norm are a mixed bag, but the experiments located closer to the dry end of the spectrum tend to give their flavors more room to breathe. The Brew trades the puckering finish of the Brut for the mildly bitter and nutty aftertaste of coffee, which is enjoyable but also likely to turn off those who aren't nursing an addiction to cold brew. The heavy dose of cranberries in the Camellia Noir calls to mind the heady sour fruit experiments of Cascade Brewing, and the fact that you can load up on 5-ounce tasters—most of which run $2 to $4 each—means sampling is encouraged.
If Alter Ego is still somehow unable to sell you on cider, there's a rotating guest beer tap and a handful of wines from Helitoterra, the winery that shares the warehouse space with Alter Ego. This is a cidery that knows doing just a couple of things well is a fine approach to succeeding in such a crowded industry, and its flair for offering approachable ciders that are enjoyable by visitors from varied beverage backgrounds is sure to earn them that success.
DRINK: Alter Ego, 2025 SE 7th Ave., 971-229-1445, alteregocider.com. 4-9 pm Monday-Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday, noon-7 pm Saturday.