Tonight, I had Eye of the Hawk from Mendocino BrewingCompany in Ukiah, California. Coincidentally, Mendicino holds the distinction of opening the first brewpub in California in 1983. That’s pretty cool in my book. Mendocino Brewing Company is one of my dad’s favorite breweries, and Eye of the Hawk is his favorite beer. Usually when he comes out we pick up a couple 6-packs. However, I recently discovered a bottle in my cellar from this past fall. At 8.0% ABV, Eye of the Hawk is right on the border of being cellar-able, and it’s also bottle conditioned, so at least theoretically the flavor can evolve over time.
Over on BeerAdvocate Eye of the Hawk received an 82 and a 90, while at ratebeer it received a 70 overall and a 22 for style. Clearly the reviewers over at ratebeer were not nearly as impressed, and for a style with as much room for interpretation as American Strong Ale, a 22 is rather harsh. An American Strong is merely defined as a strong beer, over 8% which is a qualifier that Eye of the Hawk clearly meets. So, moving on…
Eye of the Hawk is an excellent, rich bodied ale that is brewed to perfection. "Eye" is coppery reddish-amber in color and its unique taste is the result of a judicious mix of caramel and pale malted barley, balanced with Cluster, Cascade and Saaz hops. This gives the Eye its luxurious flavor, substantial mouth-feel and that slightly dry finish. Eye of the Hawk has garnered a cult following that is enviable.
After aging for probably at least 6 months in my cellar, and who knows how long in the bottle since it left the brewery the hops have mellowed considerably. It poured a nice reddish-amber with a thin white head with excellent retention. It has very nice fruity esters, backed up with complex malt and yeast scent. Medium-high bodied, and lightly carbonated, aging gave it an almost syrupy mouth feel, like a fine barley wine. It tasted sweet, but balanced with strong dark fruit, caramel, and malty flavors; with an excellent linger.
If you get a chance to fins a 6-pack of Eye of the Hawk, try aging it for at least 6 months in an appropriate location, definitely give it a try!
That’s all for tonight, Happy Drinking!