If you ask Green Empire Brewing co-founders Evan Vacarr and Dave Bombard which of their beers are their favorite, you might get some reluctance to choose just one.
“It depends on what kind of mood I’m in!” Vacarr protested.
Bombard, however, easily decided on Side Business, their single India Pale Ale whose name aptly describes the pair’s current endeavor.
“We still both work full-time jobs, but we also work full time here,” Bombard said. “So it’s in a way our side business, hopefully not for long.”
Bombard is a full-time pharmacist and Vacarr an online retail shop owner, but both said they’d rather be brewing beer for their main gig.
The two met after graduating college and started home brewing on Vacarr’s front porch in Plattsburgh. Eventually Vacarr moved to Vermont, and the two transferred their setup into a unit in Fort Ethan Allen. Green Empire’s first kegs were tapped in August 2017, and canning began six months later.
Bombard said aside from the Burlington Farmers Market, they sell all of their brews to Vermont Beer Shepherd, a distributor that specializes in independent craft beers.
The pair are currently brewing six Green Empire beers on a regular basis: Side Business, an IPA; Free Spirit, a double IPA; pale ales Citra Friendly and Leo, the latter named after Vacarr’s son; Syncopated Healing, a west coast IPA; and Chill Session, made with hemp from Vermont Hemp Company.
Bombard said they’re looking to experiment with different styles to offer more new brews in the future.
“Eventually we’re going to try to move into a space where we can have a tasting room and be open to the public,” Bombard said.
“People want the destination tap room,” Vacarr added.
The two agreed their current space in the Fort was a nice upgrade from brewing on the porch and helped them get the business started, but they are setting their sights on a bigger space for the future.
“We were able to grow here … and kind of get our feet wet with some recipes we really liked and get them out to the public,” Bombard said.
Vermont’s tight-knit community of beer brewers is what excites Bombard and Vacarr the most.
“The community is definitely supporting and very helpful and not as snobbish as you think it would be in a world-class beer market,” Vacarr said.
He said Green Empire is part of the Vermont Brewers Association, a group formed in 1995 to promote craft brewing here, which is welcoming to newcomers on the beer scene. They plan on participating in the VBA’s festival next summer on the Burlington waterfront, as well as a winter collaboration brewfest in Killington.
“A lot of people really look up to Vermont beers, so there’s a little pressure,” Bombard said. “Being in such good company all the time is a really nice thing.”