Farewell to an old friend of wine lovers
Wailing and gnashing of teeth! There are happy events in the wine world, and there are sad ones. This week is a sad one for wine lovers, due to the imminent closing of Maureen Adams' Wine Studio on Hooksett Road in Manchester's North End.
Maureen has been providing fine wines at that location for the better part of decade, and has proven herself both highly knowledgeable and resourceful in bringing us wines from around the world. Her weekly tastings were always well attended, and her smiling face and engaging manner invited questions from the curious, the neophyte and the knowledgeable.
Recognizing that guys often came in with their significant others, she also began to offer a selection of craft beers, so that no one would go away empty-handed.
They are running what is essentially an estate sale until the store closes, with substantial discounts — the store will stay open until everything is sold, and then there will be an empty space in the plaza.
So, to Maureen and all who have staffed the Wine Studio over the years: You will be missed by all of us who love wine.
Noting this impending absence in the wine world, I bring you a beer instead:
Weihenstephaner Korbinian Dunkles Starkbier Doppel Bock, 7.4% abv, Market Basket. This Bavarian brewery is one of the oldest in the world (they will celebrate their 1,000th anniversary in 2040, so get ready).
The term "Bock" is of uncertain origin. Beer Advocate tells me that it may be related to the German word for goat, or specifically a ram. As for "Starkbier" meaning strong beer, it is known that in the monasteries of Germany during the Middle Ages, a stronger beer was made for consumption during Lent, a time of fasting.
Bock is actually part of the lager family of beer; in this case the fermentation is over an extended period, sometimes months. It typically falls in the 6 percent to 7 percent alcohol range, stronger than average for German beer. A double bock is heavy on malt — hence its role in the diet of those fasting monks — and the alcohol content is typically higher, from 6.5 to 8.5 percent (this one falls in the middle of that range).
The Weihenstephaner has a huge head; frothy, dark tan and lasting, it can take up half the glass. The beer is dark brown-black, depending on the lighting. It's high in malt, and this is markedly noticeable on the nose, with bread, caramel, grain and toffee aromas. It's a dry beer, though with just the slightest hint of sweetness form the intense malt, with medium bitterness, acidity and tannin. The texture is creamy, thick and rich, with well-integrated alcohol and an explosion of malt flavors from bread to toast, toffee, smokiness and caramel. On the shelf and ready to drink now, until winter finally lets us out of its grip.
If you try it and like it, there are some other breweries making double bocks as well, including Mercury Brewing Dornbusch Bock, Ayinger Brewery Celebrator, Spaten Optimator, Paulaner Salvator Double Bock, Sam Adams Double Bock and, from nearby Fitchburg, Mass., Procreator Double Bock. (Note to self: This sounds like the makings of an article for the dark, freezing depths of next February.)
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at email@example.com.