Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Greg Noonan, 1951 - 2009

A wave of loss swept over the brewing community Monday, as news spread that Greg Noonan passed away Sunday night. He had been battling cancer.

Greg Noonan was a major figure in the birth of the craft beer movement, opening the Vermont Pub & Brewery over 20 years ago in 1988. Just two years prior, he had published Brewing Lager Beer (and a revision in 2003), a major source for craft and home brewers to this day. His explanations of decoction, single infusion, and step mashing have been helpful to scores of brewers trying to understand these brewing techniques.

From then on, Noonan dedicated his time and effort to opening other brewpubs along the east coast, writing other books, and judging at beer competitions. His book on Scotch Ale in the Classic Beer Styles series is considered the definitive resource on the range of Scotch ales, from 60 Schilling light Scottish ale to the classic strong Scotch ale also known as Wee Heavy.  Just last year, his sour mashing techniques were featured in a BYO magazine article. Noonan was clearly a frequently sought-out brewing resource who provided valuable insights to those interested in making better beer.

His contributions to the brewing community were well-recognized on the BJCP website:
The BJCP is deeply saddened to learn the news of the passing of Greg Noonan. Greg was the owner and brewmaster at Vermont Pub and Brewery for more than 20 years, author of "New Brewing Lager Beer", "Scotch Ale" and the "Seven Barrel Brewery Brewer's Handbook", and a BJCP National Judge since 1986. His books remain essential references for beer judges and brewers years after their publication. He taught many people the fundamentals of water chemistry, decoction mashing, and countless other topics.

Aside from his contributions to the body of knowledge of brewing, Greg was an excellent brewer who won many medals at the GABF, WBC, IBF and other prestigious competitions. His Scotch Ale and Smoked Porter remain classic examples. He was honored by both the craft brewing and home brewing communities with the 1997 AHA Governing Committee Recognition Award and the 2005 Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing.

Clearly, the brewing community lost a valuable member on Sunday. You can view his obituary - and submit condolences - on the funeral home’s website

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