As soon as I saw this beer on the shelf, all I could think of was Caddyshack, that classic comedy from 1980 with Ted Knight. Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and last but not least, Michael O’Keefe who played the role of Danny Noonan. Below is a bit of a refresher in case this particular Noonan variety doesn’t ring any bells…
After doing a wee bit of googling about this beer, I quickly learned that other than having the same name, Caddyshack Noonan and Smuttynose Noonan have absolutely nothing in common. Here’s what Smuttynose has to say about their Noonan Black IPA:
Black IPA doesn’t quite seem to make sense, does it? How can something that’s black also be described as pale?
Noonan is our interpretation of a New England original, the Black IPA. Dark like a porter, but hoppy like an IPA, this seemingly contradictory beer style originated in 1994, in Burlington, Vermont by brewer Glenn Walters and under the watchful eye of Greg Noonan. Greg was many things, a brewing pioneer and author, founder of three brewpubs, 2005 Russell Scherer award winner and genealogist. When Greg passed away suddenly, Smuttynose’s brewing team wanted to brew a beer in his memory and this was the result. We hope you find it a worthy tribute as well.
Noonan (the beer) looks like an ordinary porter or stout, until you get the pint up to your nose. You can’t avoid the big whiff of piney, herbal and citrusy American hops, but there’s virtually no roasted character. Ponderous, huh? When you take a sip, you’ll notice that the beer doesn’t taste a lot like a porter either. Instead of the expected astringency imparted by dark grains, you’ll find a depth of caramel malts and more American hops. Don’t worry that’s by design; it’s also what we love about the beer.
Now that I have all of that out of the way, let’s find out if the Smuttynose Noonan is any good…
- Appearance: Deep dark mahogany color with a thick and fluffy tan head that dissipates really slowly.
- Aroma: Deep dark bittersweet chocolate is the first thing you smell. Push that aside and then those piney, earthy hops start to come through.
- Taste: Smooth and creamy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Starts off with rich, bittersweet chocolate flavors that take hold and stay with you from start to finish. At mid-palate, some of those resinous piney hop flavors start to break through, but they never take over. It’s more like they’re riding shot gun. Becomes a bit more bitter at the finish, but not in a harsh or annoying way. Also a bit on the astringent side. The bittersweet flavors linger for a really long time.
- ABV: 6.2%
I’m no stranger to the Black IPA. I’ve had Back in Black, Weez, Wookey Jack, and several others on numerous occasions, and it’s definitely a beer style that I enjoy year round. Looks like I can now add the Smuttynose Noonan to my Black IPA repertoire since it can definitely hold its own against any of those superb beers. Smooth, flavorful, and very easy drinking, this is a beer that I will definitely buy again. Bravo Smuttynose!