by Corin Hirsch
This week: Noonan Black IPA from Smuttynose Brewing Co., Portsmouth, N.H.
Cost: $1.55 for a 12-ounce bottle at Lebanon Health Food Store, Lebanon, N.H.
Strength: 5.7 percent a.b.v.
The pour: Inky and almost syrupy, like a porter, with a foamy head that holds its form for up to 10 minutes. The beer smells vaguely like a Dove Dark Chocolate Promise dipped in pine resin.
The taste: Hoppy-ho, this is bittah! At least to my wino palate. It's dry but substantial in the mouth, with coffee-like edges, hints of smoke and a roasty undercarriage. It lingers a looooong time on the back of the tongue.
Drink it with: I would love this with a plate of chicken molé, a sharp cheddar grilled cheese sandwich (on Harpoon miche from King Arthur Flour — I'm just sayin') or hunks of Callebaut chocolate. As it was, I sipped it on its own.
Backstory: The late Greg Noonan is the patron saint of the Vermont brewing industry, and the black IPA style was born at Vermont Pub & Brewery — though then-brewer Glenn Walter is credited with the recipe. The peeps at Smuttynose brewed this as a tribute to Greg using Magnum and Bravo hops.
Verdict: I bought this thinking it was a new release, but this beer has actually been around since spring. I prefer my black IPA less bitter but for those with hop-loving palates, this is a sharper, yang-ier alternative to porter and stout — and you get to look at Greg Noonan's smirking face while you sip.