Vermont Pub and Brewery owner and brewer Greg Noonan died in his sleep at home early Sunday morning. According to this Beer Advocate forum post visitors to the Vermont Pub and Brewery on Sunday found the pub closed, with a sign posted: “Greg Noonan March — 1951 – Oct. 11th 2009. ”
We always enjoyed chatting with Greg, who had some of the best craft beer stories to share in Vermont. Always approachable and generous, he had a strong impact on many brewers in our region. His reach though, was in fact much further than just our small state. Debbie Cerda, the Austin TX craft beer examiner had this to say:
His books on brewing are mandatory reading for both home and microbrewers, including “New Brewing Lager: The Most Comprehensive Book for Home and Microbrewers” published in 1986 and re-issued in 2003. His sour-mashing techniques were featured in this article which appeared in the October 2008 edition of Brew Your Own magazine.
He was a well-known speaker at brewers’ conferences and author of numerous trade journal articles and books.
Greg was instrumental in getting “brewpubs” legalized in Vermont, lobbying the State for years to legalize small pub brewing and distribution. In New England he is often spoken of as the “Godfather” of brewing in Vermont and we have not met a brewery owner in the state that hasn’t referenced Greg in at least one aspect of their own brewery. Many sources cite that his lobbying work and research in Vermont was used as a basis to legalize pub brewing in other states as well.
Noonan was brewing beer as a hobby while working as a manufacturing manager for paper and wood products companies in Massachusetts. Microbreweries were just becoming trendy on the West Coast, and he decided to pursue the commercial possibilities for his craft.
He had managed restaurants in New Hampshire and Boston and wanted his own restaurant to feature his brew. He used the results of his research for Brewing Lager Beer to launch his brewpub in Burlington.
“I specifically sited my brewery in Burlington because it’s where I wanted to live. I admired the politics in Vermont,” says Noonan. “I had $175,000, which is a shoestring budget in the brewing industry; brewing equipment is very expensive.”
He applied to several banks for additional funds, but lenders were skeptical. “The banks all said, ‘What is a brewpub?’ But I plunged on anyway with the money I had.”
Greg Noonan was an inspirational brewer, not only in the larger context of his influence on the industry as a whole, but also on a personal level. At any visit to the Vermont Pub and Brewery Greg was happy to talk “shop” and share a pint. Our last meeting with Greg was at the Craft Brewers Conference, where always a good sport in the interest of beer, he “volunteered” to be in this video at cask night. His generosity and dedication to the craft brewing world will be missed throughout Vermont and undoubtedly throughout the entire brewing community.The background on Greg in this post was shared by Debbie Cerda, be sure to subscribe to her blog.