Highpoint Cider has been crafting high-quality ciders with “integrity, passion and dedication” since 2018. From humble beginnings in a Jackson living room to its current 3,000-square-foot production facility and taproom in Victor, Idaho, the company is a rapidly growing outfit that seems to only be getting more popular in the Tetons and beyond.
Owned and operated by brothers Andrew and Alex Perez, Highpoint Cider offers three flagship ciders (Transplant, Spur and Tram-Line) and a variety of small-batch, limited-release options in their taproom. All of their ciders are unfiltered, low in sugar and fresh-pressed from Rocky Mountain apples.
In advance of High Point Cider’s Winter Warmer party benefiting KHOL on Feb. 5, co-founder Alex Perez sat down with KHOL Music and Community Affairs Director Jack Catlin in the KHOL studios.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. Listen above for the full conversation.
JACK CATLIN/KHOL: I read that you two come from a family of entrepreneurs, with yourself having a background in business and your brother, Andrew, in biochemistry. Can you touch on that combination of the family background to begin with, your path in business, and then your brother’s path in science and how it all relates to the success of your business?
ALEX PEREZ: So, our our family owns a stamp company where they sell postage stamps to people that collect postage stamps. It’s a really interesting niche business, and it’s definitely something that my brother and I just never felt passionately about jumping into. Andrew obviously pursued like a background in sciences, and I was always interested in business. When I was living in Boston, I got involved with like some early stage startup coaching and venture mentorship, and that I think really kind of gave me a good framework to, like, help validate ideas. And that’s kind of what I put the the idea for High Point through was the same process that I that I’d taken startups in Boston through, just from a validation standpoint, making sure that you had a good idea, you were solving the problem. And so after doing that with the idea for cider in the Mountain West, it really seemed like something that we wanted to pursue. And at that point, I was like, ‘This seems like it could be a viable business.’ I need to find someone that might know how to make cider because I sure don’t. And my brother’s biochemistry background seemed like it would be a useful skill set that could be leveraged to make some some tasty cider. So, I approached him about the idea.
KHOL: Do you get involved in the science aspect and [does he] get involved in the business? Like, do you guys find that [partnership] or do you kind of keep it separate?
PEREZ: There’s definitely a lot of overlap. From the get go, we’ve both kind of been doing everything as the company grows and we would like to hire more people and kind of have more distinct roles. I think that will shake itself out a little bit. But like one example I thought of when you were asking, you know, kind of how do we approach things differently? I remember in our early, early days when we were doing like small batches in the kitchen, we got this this tie trainer kit to do some testing on our juice and the cider. I pulled this thing out of the box and out came this like big, thick manual, and I started flipping through it and I was like, ‘This is so boring.’ Like, I was crying, looking at this manual. And Andrew comes in the door and he’s like, ‘Oh, sick, the tie traders here, I can’t wait to dive into this thing.’ And he starts like just like getting all excited, like flipping through the manual. And I’m like, ‘Oh, jeez, I’m so glad that you’re excited about this because I am not.’
KHOL: So, what are your thoughts on the evolution of the cider industry over the years, and where do you see it going?
PEREZ: One of the coolest things about cider and [that] most people outside of, you know, cider drinkers may not be aware [of], but cider was really the original alcoholic beverage or just the beverage of the United States. The founding fathers were all big in the cider. Beer wasn’t really as popular until kind of the mid-to-late 1800s, with a bunch of the German influence coming over from Europe. But [in the] early Revolutionary days and kind of frontier days, cider was king. You know, the whole Johnny Appleseed thing. Those were all cider apples. People drank a lot of cider. That history got a little bit lost with Prohibition and with the rise of beer and, you know, just changing tastes and stuff as the country has grown. But, you know, cider has always been a big part of the culture in the United States, and I think it’s finally coming back to prevalence in some places. The way we want to approach cider is we just want to make something that is fashionable, delicious. You can crack one, have one on a hot summer day, go back for another one and not think twice about it. And it doesn’t have to be pretentious. It doesn’t have to be. If we want to make it as accessible as possible, bring it on. Your adventures can do like a beer and kind of positioned as like a craft beer alternative.
Also, from an ABV [alcohol by volume] perspective, 6% we think is the sweet spot just where you can enjoy it. It’s refreshing. It’s maybe got a little bit more kick than a beer, but it’s not going to put you on your butt if you drink two or three of them. And the way that we approach that again is by using a blend of dessert apples, and we love crafting products that have like a really rich apple flavor and are kind of more of a straightforward cider. But we also don’t shy away from using other ingredients to infuse different flavors into the cider, kind of using that cider as a base to build on and put other flavors in like, say, with mosaic hops or the ginger. I mean, the Sweater Weather [a limited release] has like six different ingredients layered into it to get that flavor profile.
KHOL: Your relationship with the radio station here actually runs deep as your business is now a part of the new KHOL Benefits Card, giving members 10% off at the High Point Cider taproom. Not only that, but you are hosting our Winter Warmer party Saturday, Feb. 5, at the taproom in Victor, featuring DJ sets by yours truly, DJ KnewJack, and local legend DJ Cut la Whut, who I had the chance to interview. Why is supporting local independent radio so important to you? And what can those out there listening right now expect at the party on Saturday night?
PEREZ: Yeah, I mean, just like everyone else, we love you guys. I mean, this is my favorite radio station to listen to. Driving over the pass every day, you know, it’s community radio, so it’s programing that’s run and supported and put on by people that actually live in this community. And I think it’s a great megaphone for those of us that call the valley home, and it’s a great organization to support. As far as the party, Cut la Whut assures me that it’s going to be a banger. I think we’re all pretty ready to boogie after a little Omicron pause. And I think it’s going to be fun. I do think we should also just remind everyone that it is vaccination required, so we’re excited to get down and boogie with everyone, but you do have to show proof of vaccination at the door.
This coverage is funded in part with an Arts For All grant provided by the Town of Jackson and Teton County.