Running a business is like going on a long journey. There are ups, there are downs, and long periods of waiting. Sometimes even the destination is different from what was originally planned. Morgan Alexander, president of both the Tacoma Brewing Company and the newly minted Tacoma Cider Company, knows all about the trials and tribulations of getting things going, and the sense of accomplishment when the wheels actually start turning.
At the beginning of his business journey, Alexander had the concept of a cidery, and then some. “The concept has been around for many years,” he recalls. “The initial plan was to start a brewery, winery and distillery. The holy trinity of alcohol production. Things happened along the way though. Making beer is a lot of work, and things always take three times as long as you think they will when starting a business. That’s why in year seven now of Tacoma Brewing, I decided to start Tacoma Cider Co, which is actually a winery (silly laws and regulations). I have given up on starting a distillery. Between Washington State politics and City of Tacoma policies, I don’t have pockets deep enough, or the patience, to start one here.”
While brainstorming ideas, Alexander thought of doing things just a little differently. “I like to experiment with flavors and so the idea of making cider was to do things flavor-wise that can’t be done as well with beer. Aside from that, the initial name of the cidery was Bone Dry Cider Company – the concept being to make bone dry ciders. I found that too limiting though and so decided to go with Tacoma Cider Company. Many of our ciders are bone dry, but some with be lightly sweetened where appropriate – like with our Caramel Apple Cider.”
Hailing the motto “Inspired Ciders,” Tacoma Cider Company’s first batch of ciders strayed from the boring old cider routine. Recent flavors include Passion Fruit Cider, a cider aged in a Chambers Bay Distillery bourbon barrel, as well as cider infused cocktails, like the Painkiller Cider Cocktail, made with pineapple and orange juice, coconut milk, bitters, with a fresh shaved nutmeg finish. “It’s a tropical vacation in a glass!” exclaims Alexander. “What separates us is that we are willing to take a chance on flavor combinations that may sound different or odd at first. We’re starting small just like we did with the Tacoma Brewing Company.”
When Tacoma Cider Company opened their doors to the public in late October of 2019, the interest from the community was nothing short of exceptional. “We actually started with a grand opening and got totally slammed!” laughs Alexander. “There was a line out the door for most of the day. We were not expecting that kind of response! By 6:00 p.m., nearly all of our kegs had blown and we still had another three hours to go!”
The tasting room may feel familiar to those who haunted it when it was just the Tacoma Brewing Company, and that’s because it’s the same place, just nestled along Court E in downtown Tacoma. “Our tasting room is in an old brick building,” explains Alexander, “one of the oldest buildings in downtown Tacoma. It has a wall of windows though so it’s pretty light and airy, especially in the summertime when we throw our sliding door open! Our tasting room is family friendly. To me, it seems odd to not allow some people into a place that serves alcohol simply because they have kids. The rest of the world has done it for centuries! We don’t set out to create beverages for a certain demographic. If there is a demographic, it’s a segment that appreciates craft beverages that are made to be unique and different.”
Now the fans of Tacoma Brewing Company, fear not. The brewery is still operating. “It’s a little confusing,” laughs Alexander. “Tacoma Brewing is still going. The tasting room will now feature both Tacoma Brewing and Tacoma Cider. We’re making both beer and cider now. We set Tacoma Cider up as a separate company with the hope that Tacoma Cider will spread its wings and its own cider dedicated location.”
Because of their immense popularity, Alexander asks for just a little patience as the cider production ramps up. “We’re hoping to work our way to always having 12 ciders on tap, but it may take a while,” he explains. “Also, we are hoping to come up with flavors that people respond so strongly to that we can then take the next step and put it in a can so people can pick it up at their favorite store.”
In the meantime, the next time you’re downtown for some fermented refreshment, be sure to check out Tacoma Brewing and Cider tasting room. It’s a little different, and they like it that way.
Tacoma Cider Company is located at 1116 Court E, Tacoma, WA 98402.