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Beverages worth crossing the state line for

Once in a while I run across a wine out of state and think: “Hey, we should have that here in New Hampshire.”

This happened to me again last weekend while Wendy and I were visiting her sister Debbie down in Hudson, Mass. It was the family Fourth of July gathering and everyone had come from many miles away to be there.

My brother-in-law Paul served up a Spanish wine I’d never had before, Agostin, a 2009 Carinena DOC, half Garnacha and half Syrah. We picked up a few bottles at the Lake Boone general store on our way out.

Here’s what it was like: a medium-intensity red, purple and ruby in color, showing some development and aging. Thick but fast tears on the side of the glass. The palate was very dry, with medium-plus acidity, medium tannin that was fairly ripe, medium-plus alcohol, a bit on the warm side at 13.5% alcohol by volume, but this did calm down once it got some air. The body was medium and it had medium flavor intensity of fruits that reflected the nose, including plum, black cherry, some leafiness, and some delicious dried fruit. The finish was long and held the flavors right to the end. Good quality, ready to drink now. A very good every day drinking wine. 85 points. The price; $6.99. Yes, you read that right. New Hampshire distributors, where are you?

At the same shop we came across a beer that I have written about before, a history-making beer, in fact: the Spencer Trappist Ale, from St. Joseph Abbey in Spencer, Mass., the first official Trappist brewery in the New World.

The brewery is going strong, and the beer is slowly spreading outward to retailers in all directions from the abbey. Sold in a 4-pack, it has a large off-white Belgian beer head, over a dark amber beer. Hops and malt converge on the nose. The palate is dry with medium bitterness and acidity, good carbonation, medium alcohol and medium plus body as a good Belgian ale should have. The texture is silky and it has a good medium-plus flavor intensity of hops, malt, rich and cloves. Long, intense finish. We need to keep pestering the monks until they start sending it to New Hampshire.

Lastly, closer to home, I pulled a bottle of Common Man Ale from Smuttynose Brewery in Hampton off the shelf last weekend. Average size off-white head, very creamy over amber beer. Malt and hops on the nose, mixed in even proportion. But, it is the malt that comes through on the palate, with bread, caramel, green and a good bitterness. The palate is dry with medium-plus bitterness medium alcohol and body, and medium-plus flavor intensity and the medium-plus length finish.

So, there is a trip across central New England for you. I’m hoping that the first two will be joining the third one to be available to all of us here in the Granite State.

Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at


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