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Chicagoist's Beer of the Week: Greenbush Brewing's Emptiness

By Jason Baldacci in Food on Aug 30, 2013 8:20PM


We swung by Emporium Arcade Bar in Wicker Park for their Michigan Beer Night (and some pinball) Thursday and, while Pure Michigan certainly has some top notch breweries these days, there was one beer that really stood out for us.

The beer that jumped off the draft list immediately was called Emptiness, an American Wheat Ale that's brewed with apricots by the good people of Greenbush Brewing Co. On the nose, we caught a nice whiff of fresh lemon and tropical fruit, while the apricots themselves were present, yet subdued. On the palate, we picked up a healthy pop of citrus, and those specific lemon aromas seemed to shift into lemongrass, which pleasantly lingers on the finish after each sip. The apricots don't really hit until the mid-palate, but they lend a wonderfully fresh and quenching quality to the beer overall, and the brewers at Greenbush managed to balance them against the rest of the ingredients very nicely. The wheat in the grain bill of Emptiness keeps the mouthfeel relatively creamy, and even with apricots in the mix, this beer drinks quite dry. At 6.4 percent alcohol content, this is a full-flavored and almost full-bodied brew that we could still have a few pints of on a hot day.

Personally, we're very picky about beers that are made with fruit. While we feel there are occasions for all kinds of different things, at the end of the day, we prefer our beer to still taste like, well, beer. Even if you're brewing with fresh fruit, it can be difficult to balance a recipe. If you're brewing with fruit extracts or syrups, it can be almost impossible. There's more variety in the craft beer industry now than there ever has been before, but for every fruit beer we come across that we love, there's at least one to match it on the opposite side of the spectrum. We've tasted cherry wheat beer that was more along the lines of cough syrup, and we've tasted plenty of different things that were so cloyingly sweet that we couldn't even make it through a full glass. What we really like about Emptiness, and what we appreciate about the care put into the brew by Greenbush, is that it doesn't taste just like an apricot beer, it tastes like a great beer that just so happened to be brewed with apricots.

We've only seen Emptiness on draft, and we've only seen it at Emporium. We're not positive, but there's a chance that Greenbush only sent in one keg for the Michigan Beer Event this week, so we'd recommend high tailing it over to Emporium for a taste of Emptiness (and pinball) this weekend. If all else fails, always remember that Greenbush Brewing Co. is only a little more than an hour away.