Brewing Birds: Black Hawk Stout
I’m pretty sure that the “Black Hawk” on Mendocino Brewing Company‘s Black Hawk Stout is merely a mythical creature instead of the trio of neotropical Buteogalli birders in the southern half of the United States may be familiar with. I suppose that saves us from having to determine whether it’s a Great Black Hawk, or worse splitting the difference between Mangrove and Common (and let’s not even begin to consider the Cuban subspecies of Common Black Hawk which is really more brown anyway…). The bird itself looks more like an aggregate of many Buteos tinted to the dark side. I can’t say it’s particularly accurate, but it’ still a striking figure on a beer bottle, and consistent with the rest of Mendocino’s offerings.
The beer itself is styled as a traditional Irish stout, a dark beer with a toasty flavor due to the roasting of the malt. It pours a deep reddish brown with minimal head. it could certainly look better, but the carbonation could be lacking in this particular bottle because it’s been in my fridge for so long so I hesitate to say that this is a characteristic of the beer generally. The scent is a little weak, but stouts tend to be more malty rather than hoppy so once again, that’s par for the course for this type of beer and little more than personal preference.
Despite a less than impressive first impression this is a really tasty beer. It’s a little on the thin side for a stout – I prefer mine a little more creamy – but within the range of what you might expect. It’s got the prevalent coffee flavor you want in an Irish stout with a nice dry bite, though it is on the fruity end for a dark beer. Not necessarily a bad thing if you like that, but for me it’s probably not a beer I’d have more than one of at a time, though I’d still enjoy that one.
Mendocino has a lot of bird inspired beers, and while I’m not a huge fan of some of them (see the Red Tail Ale that I reviewed some time ago and didn’t like at all), this Black Hawk Stout is definitely on the list of beers I wouldn’t hesitate to order if I saw it on tap. Regardless of whether the hawk looks like a real one or not.