Aug 22, 2013

Smuttynose Noonan Black IPA

Huh, and here I though that the Black/Cascadian/Whatever IPA was a Northwestern concoction. Well, New Hampshire’s Smuttynose Brewing claim that their Noonan Black IPA is a take on a style of beer that originated from the Northeast. Actually let’s quote their website with for the beer’s story:

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.

Regardless of where this style of beer originated, the Black IPA is still one that I struggle to fully enjoy on a regular basis. Sure, I’ve had some really well crafter examples of the style — most notably and recently Maine Beer Company Weez, Bear Republic Black Racer IPA and Sweetwater Brewing Some Strange II. For the most part, however, many of the examples of the black IPA that I encounter are relatively one-sided (heavy on the hops or heavy on the roast) or just plain muddled. Smuttynose Noonan Black IPA falls in the first of these too categories. It’s mostly all hops, but with the coloring and subtle traits of a porter.


A large rocky cap of mocha head rests atop the dark cola colored brew.

Smuttynose Noonan Black IPA photo


Grapefruit, herbal hop notes, light roasty malts and distant coffee are all present in this wonderfully earthy aroma.


Noonan Black IPA leads off with a large, citrusy hop character that hits hard immediately. There’s no easing into this one. A light roasty char sits in the background along with a hint of dark coffee that forms late in the swallow. The high level of hop bitterness lingers with a touch of pine in the drying finish. The brew is medium bodied and doesn’t display but a hint of its 5.7% ABV.


As stated in the intro, this is a pretty one-sided beer. The hop character of Noonan Black IPA tastes pretty darn good delivering plenty of grassy, bitter hops and a touch of dark malt beneath. Essentially, this is one big, black hop bomb. Personally, I would have preferred, for this type of beer, to carry a bit more of the dark malt and light roast forward in the flavor to balance the hop character.

Rating: 3.5/5

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