Mendocino Brewing Co. - Black Hawk Stout

Call me old fashioned, call me anachronistic, call me whatever synonym you want.  I want a hawk.

I don’t mean a hawk in a big cage or a hawk that visits a feeder full of woodland creatures I put out.  I want an animal familiar, a big ol’ winged Raptor (biologically, yes they are a Raptor) to perch on a huge leather glove, flying off to catch vermin and carry messages.  The feathers would have been a bonus to sell to hokum practitioners, but just recently eBay made selling magic spells against the rules.  If I wasn’t already certain eBay is a cabal of dark wizards, this would have sealed it.
The fact that the practice of falconry has fallen so out of favor is a testament to how lame we’ve gotten as a species.  Some falconers will even keep Golden Eagles.  Could you imagine having a beast with a seven foot wingspan?  Yes, Hawks are pretty darn cool, despite being largely ignored as a pet option.  Luckily, the Mendocino Brewing Co. has a close second: a hawk themed line of beer.  Their “Select Collection” has Eye of the Hawk American Ale, White Hawk Select IPA, and the one I tried, Black Hawk Stout.
Their website categorizes it as a classic Irish-style dry stout, with an ABV of just 5.2%.  It’s been a little bit since I’ve reviewed a stout, so I thought it may as well been this one.  These come in regular six-packs, but I’m not sure what they are going for these days.  Mine was from a restaurant, but I can’t imagine it being more than around ten bucks.  The bartender poured it out into a chilled sort-of pinched weizen glass.  It’s a bit of a peeve of mine when a beer is served over-chilled, but I can’t expect everything from everyone.
It poured a very pitch black, with a nice couple fingers of brown head.  I was really torn on whether I should give it a taste now and compare it later, or taste it after it has warmed up a bit.  I decided (mainly because I had time before the food came) to let it sit for a minute or two, at least until it gets up to around cellar temperature.  I figured I would miss out on those initial impressions, or at least the strength of them.  When I did give it a smell, it was very textbook stout.  The taste was very excitingly malty, mostly coffee and chocolate flavors.  There was a bit of a sweetness, a bit fruity like dates.  There is a bit of a hint of bitter hops at the end, contributing further to that ‘parched’ mouth some stouts will give you.  This is an effect that I’ve always had a personal love/hate relationship with.  On one hand, your mouth feels all dry and icky, which is bad.  On the other hand, it makes you want another taste of beer even more, which gives that kind of “hunger is the best spice” delayed gratification thing.  I haven’t really heard many other people mention it, but it’s something I always take into account when drinking a beer like this.
Overall, a pretty alright stout.  It’s pretty indicative of the style, it’s very drinkable, and it is a good accompaniment to food because it’s not so heavy that it’s filling.  If you’re doing a flight of stouts and you want something to represent Irish-style or dryness, this is a fine example.