The Green Mountain Mashers homebrew club first met in April of 1989 at the Vermont Pub and Brewery (VPB) in downtown Burlington, Vermont. Close to 40 people attended. Over the next several months we continued to meet and discuss ideas about forming a club and what that would entail. Through this entire process Greg Noonan — VPB’s founder and brewmaster, was always available to offer advice and support. Regardless of what he was doing he would always take the time to talk to us about putting a club together and offering ideas for topics of discussion and even writing a piece for the monthly newsletter which we called “Ask Mr. Lager.” (Greg authored the book New Brewing Lager Beer.) Brewers in the club would pose questions to Greg and his answers appeared in a monthly column.
There has never been a group of brewers more fortunate than us to have had someone the caliber of Greg Noonan at our disposal. Always smiling, always happy to see you, always willing to discuss brewing and offering advice on how to make better beer, we could not have been a luckier lot. Greg passed away in 2009 and losing Greg has left a big hole in our brewing community. We only hope to honor and pay our respects by keeping the club alive. We’ve renamed our yearly homebrewers competition the Greg Noonan Memorial Homebrewers Competition and brew a club beer in his honor every year.
Our most exciting event so far was last year when we brewed a wee heavy in tribute to Greg. We chose the wee heavy because Greg literally wrote the book on Scotch ales for the Classic Beer Styles series. We brewed it with a used bourbon barrel that we got from Sean Lawson of Lawson’s Finest Liquid (in Warren, Vermont) and sourced our yeast from the Vermont Pub and Brewery, using the same yeast that Greg used to brew his Scotch ales. Last spring we did two separate big brews at a fellow member’s house, Andy Hunt, who has a 30-gallon (114-L) homebrew system. After primary fermentation we gravity fed all of the beer into the bourbon barrel, along with a bottle of our favorite bourbon, for cellar aging. Next month we plan to keg all of the beer and condition it in the kegs.
Greg Noonan Memorial Wee Heavy
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.083 FG = 1.019
IBU = 29 SRM = 20 ABV = 8.3%
13.75 lbs. (6.2 kg) Maris Otter malt
0.75 lbs. (0.34 kg) Carapils® malt
0.25 lbs. (0.11) roast barley malt
1.25 lbs. (0.6 kg) Munich malt
0.2 lbs. (91 g) Belgian Special B
0.5 oz./14 g Magnum whole hops (60 min.)
0.33 oz./9.4 g Goldings whole hops (20 min.)
Wyeast 1728 (Scottish Ale) yeast
Step by step
After primary fermentation slows, rack the beer into a secondary with used bourbon barrel staves, adding a desired amount of bourbon. Age for 8 months minimum.