Green Empire is a nano-brewery located in Colchester, Vermont that has made a huge splash in New England during its short lifespan. They are well known for producing deliciously hazy beers, so it should be no surprise that IPAs make up the majority of their releases.
Currently, it looks like their taproom is still closed due to Covid concerns but, if you live in the state, they will ship to you; or, if you’re local, they can even deliver it directly to your house.
However, even with their popularity, it is rare to find them outside of Vermont. So, when I saw a mixed four-pack randomly show up in my neck of the woods, I knew I couldn’t miss that opportunity.
Today’s featured brew is their Side Business, which is quite possibly the most important beer in Green Empire’s portfolio.
Side Business, a 7% IPA, was the first ever beer they released/packaged for public consumption. This staple of Green Empire is brewed with Citra, Columbus, and Mosaic hops and a four-pack costs $16 on their website, with a solo can going for around $6.
The beer poured a nice and hazy golden straw color with just about two fingers of eggshell white head building up. The foam was on the denser side and took a few minutes to fade down into a manageable amount.
Immediately this beer perked up my taste buds. The aroma was insanely juicy and featured a blend of tropical fruits with notes of flaked wheat sitting in the background. Leading the way were big whiffs of pineapple, orange, and lemon. Sitting just beneath the three main flavors were lighter notes of papaya and passion fruit.
The beer was soft and pillowy and my first sip started off with a mild carbonation fizzle that quickly gave way to the hoppy fruit flavors.
A light twinge of bitterness hit my tongue but brought forward the pineapple and lemon. The orange waited a moment before bursting across my taste buds in a sweet, juicy pop a few seconds later.
Around the midway point of the sip, the beer began to turn quite dry and a pithy citrus rind characteristic slowly crept forward, overpowering the early juicy notes. Joining the orange peel flavor was a light resin and some herbal and earthy undertones.
The finish was long and rather dry, which meant having a glass of water nearby was a good idea.
It was a nice blend of New England IPA and West Coast. You get the juicy qualities up front before the hops take over and shine on the backend, with a low bitterness that hums on underneath for a while.
But, despite the pithy and bitter notes that finish off the beer, Side Business was easy to drink. I was shocked to see just how quickly I had finished the pint.
From my experience, it’s never a bad choice to try an IPA from Vermont. The whole state just seems to know how to brew a damn fine IPA, and Green Empire is no exception. In fact, they might be one of the best up there.
If it had stayed as juicy and tropical as the aroma had let on, this might have been another elite brew. As it is, it’s still a very good IPA and worth every cent.
Also, check out their Leo (a Citra & Simcoe hopped hazy IPA), it was - by far - the best beer of the four that I tried!