I have this issue with driving somewhere in Virginia where no matter what, I get lost the first time I go there. Typically, this only leads to cursing in the car and apologizing when I show up 15 minutes late. Honestly, it’s never gone well for me until a couple of weeks ago when I came finally came across Total Wine while trying to find a bowling alley (stupid google maps). Since moving to the area, I had heard all about this magical store out in Virginia but never really found the time to go out there, so once I saw it, I had to go. When I turned the corner to start walking up the beer aisle, I knew that getting lost this time was divine intervention. They had all sorts of great stuff, but this beer, Mendocino Brewing Co.’s Eye of the Hawk, stood out since I had just had it on tap near their Ukiah brewery. I thought it was pretty good then but was unable to do notes on the fly, so thanks to Total Wine for making this review happen.
Color/Pour: The beer pours very easily and with very little head or carbonation. It comes out a milky red/brown color that reminds me of store-bought ice tea in jugs.
Aroma: The beer has a heavy fruity sweetness. The smell is a lot like the one you get from a dried bag of banana chips. Thus, I’m starting to think I might have been wrong about this beer when I got it in CA…
Taste: …until now. The beer does not really have the sweetness or taste that I would associate with the aroma. Yes, it tastes a sweet on the back-end, but the front-end has an incredibly balanced flavor given the aroma. Nothing really sticks out — not malty sweet or hoppy bitter. Very well done.
Body: The texture of the beer reminds me of a slightly diluted barley wine. It’s heavy and seems to try to coat your mouth but doesn’t succeed. It clears with just a little reminder of the dried banana on the first inhale after drinking.
All in all, I think this is a solid American Strong Ale and recommend keeping an eye out for it. I’m not a massive fan of barley wines, and this beer seems to be toeing the line right below that style, and I like it.