mendocino brewing co. eye of the hawk select ale

12Oct10

I’m not going to lie, as a graphic designer this beer caught my eye! Now don’t go thinking that’s necessarily a good thing, especially for a beer called Eye of the Hawk. So obviously there’s a big ugly eagle on this beer’s label, but this brewery’s design and packaging is the kind of bad that’s slightly OK. Maybe if my first sip of this ale wasn’t pleasant my opinion would be different. The label is tacky (drop shadowed-text and all) but I had hope in this beer which made me somewhat attracted to the awkward design. What actually grabbed my attention most about this beer when building my own six pack tonight was the brewery, Mendocino Brewing Company (which I had never heard of) and the big fat 8.0% ABV I saw on the side of bottle.

With my custom apple logo pint glass (that my wife made for me) ready, I opened the bottle and took a good sniff. I could definitely tell right away that this was a big beer! I’ve been working on pouring the perfect beer (1-1.5″ of head) all summer and I must say, I think I’ve got it down perfectly. Excited for my first sip, I took one more smell and then got down to business.

Right away I could taste sweet caramel notes with a lingering bitter-tartness after I swallowed. This ale didn’t knock me off my feet as much as I would think an 8.0% abv beer would. With a red amber color, the medium bodied Eye of the Hawk is surprisingly drinkable for a beer of this caliber – almost to the point of being dangerous if you were to drink several, unknowingly aware of it’s power. Although, it is a little rich for my taste, where 1 or 2 would be about all I can handle for a typical night. Maybe that’s due to it’s warm finishing flavor – slightly reminiscent of Founder’s Dirty Bastard – but obviously not a scotch-style ale.

I read the brewery’s description of Eye of the Hawk on their website and learned that this select ale is bottle conditioned. This is a process where yeast is added to the beer during bottling, creating natural carbonation and an additional fermentation process. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a beer that was bottle conditioned, but I have tried several cask beers at local pubs. Now knowing that this ale is bottled conditioned, I guess I can tell that it’s slightly less carbonated – but I don’t think I would have necessarily been able to pick that out on my own.

Is this beer worth trying? Definitely. Would I buy it again? Yes. Would I recommend that they redesign their packaging to better represent a serious, legitimate craft-brewery? Absolutely. I’m excited to try more, bird-friendly brews from Mendocino Brewing Company!

Rating: (7/10)

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