I have been seeing these guys … Green Empire Brewing that is … all over the place: beer shoppes, bars and restaurants. This nanobrewer is based in Colchester, Vermont, but unfortunately, they don’t have a tap-room yet.
While I pondered and plotted on how to do a review of this brewery, Lady Luck serendipitously smiled upon me as I was walking through downtown Burlington during a Saturday lunchtime. Passing behind the Farmers Market on St. Paul Street, I noticed some folks hawking beer. Curiously, I poked my head around the tent, and voila! … there was Green Empire Brewing!
I chatted up the brewers (that’s when I discovered that I was essentially in their “tap-room”) and asked founder/brewer Dave Bombard a few questions … he graciously replied:
Cicerone: How did Green Empire originate?
Dave Bombard: Green Empire started with Evan (Vacarr) and I brewing on his porch in Plattsburgh, NY. After brewing together for several months, Evan moved to Burlington (where I was living) and we didn’t have any space to brew. He found a small location to rent in Fort Ethan Allen as a place to “home brew”. Before we knew it, we bought a 4bbl system, squeezed 10bbl tanks into the 9.5ft ceiling space, and that gave way to what is now Green Empire Brewing.
C: What is your view on the Vermont craft beer scene and the future of this market? What makes it special?
D: Vermont is home to so many talented brewers, professionally and at home, who regularly are pushing the boundaries and making some of the best beer in the world. Even some of the smallest brewers in the state are producing very high quality liquids, and being able to operate our business in a state that is so supportive of craft beer is a dream to us. It’s insane to me that you can walk into almost any gas station and be presented with a world class selection of freshly packaged beer from several local breweries. In Vermont, craft is the norm, not the exception, and thats what makes the beer scene here special to us.
C: How does Green Empire differentiate itself in a crowded craft-beer market?
D: I wouldn’t call the craft beer market crowded, nor would I say we intentionally do anything in particular to differentiate ourselves. We’ve always been about brewing beers that we enjoy, and sharing them with as many people as we possibly can. There is always room for great beer in the market, and in my opinion, the more of it the better. Vermont is an amazing destination for beer tourism, and its for good reason that people travel from all over the world to spend a “beer-cation” in our state. Rather than thinking of it as crowded, I prefer to find excitement in the fact that new breweries are opening their doors every year, and that VT breweries I’ve loved and respected for a long time are continuing to release new and amazing brews. Instead of placing our focus on differentiating our beers from other local craft brewers, we’d rather concentrate on carving our place in the Vermont beer scene by brewing beer we enjoy.
C: Are you planning a tap room in the future?
D: Evan and I have always wanted to grow our brewery as organically as possible. We decided early on that we would open the brewery without a tasting room as we both felt the space we were brewing in wouldn’t provide the experience that we would strive to provide our guests. While we do plan to eventually move into a larger space that can accommodate tasting hours, increased production, and dare I say…. a little breathing room, we are committed to doing so on our own trajectory. For now our attention is on producing quality kegs and cans from our 900 sq ft of paradise in Fort Ethan Allen.
Seeing that it was now after lunch, I then tried the two beers offerings that they had available that day (in addition to tastes, they had 4-pks. for purchase). Here is what I found:
Side Business IPA (7.0% ABV) A potent IPA brewed with Columbus, Citra and Mosaic hops.
Appearance: 4.4 | Aroma: 4.6 | Feel: 4.4 | Taste: 4.6 | Overall: 4.5
Chill Session (4.2% ABV) A hemp-infused ale, brewed with Mosaic and Cascade hops. Didn’t seem to have much flavor and just a hint of the hemp … probably a good thing.
Appearance: 4.3 | Aroma: 4.3 | Feel: 4.2 | Taste: 4.2 | Overall: 4.2
The Cicerone says: You won’t go wrong with Side Business … buy some if you see some!