Eye of the Hawk | Mendocino Brewing Company

489 Reviews
Eye of the HawkEye of the Hawk

Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company
United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-04-2000

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 489 | Ratings: 957
Photo of scottfrie
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle split with my father-in-law (his choice).

A: Pours a couple shaded deep than copper with a couple fingers of light tan head that fade into a wispy film leaving a few streaks of lace down the glass.
S: Amber ale notes of caramel, metallic copper and pine resin mixed with stout notes of cocoa powder and anise.
T: Follows the nose with notes of copper amber ale flavors and caramel mixed with darker stout flavors of chocolate, licorice and toasted marshmallow. I get notes of citrus and pine hops in the finish and bready malt in the aftertaste.
M: Medium body, fizzy but fairly smooth carbonation, crisp and drying mouthfeel.
O: Better than I remember (sampled before BA), but still not my favorite. Interesting profile and idea but the outcome is a bit rough.

 777 characters

Photo of Guyute
3.74/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lots of booze to this one, can tell after a couple of bottles. Pours an orange, hazy color. Not a lot of hops to the aroma, a little more burning-ish, like malt liquor. Minimal head by height, but what's there is pleasant.

What I found most impressive was how well it paired with spicy, sweet Chinese food. A nice surprise/happy accident. A bit too much ABV though, two is enough for the night.

 395 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.03/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a Walter Payton shaker pint glass.

Something tells me a crappy Survivor cover band tried to make their own mark with this diddy...and failed... Anyway, this stuff pours a clear copper topped by a finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises buttery caramel, biscuit, light cinnamon, and a vague sense of very mild grass. The taste holds notes of orange peel, caramel, lightly-toasted biscuit, and a touch of fennel. Things seem limp, uninspired (whatever that friggin' means...). The body is a light-leaning medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a fluid feel. Overall, a weak little beer, one that lacks any discernible character worth paying attention to.

 680 characters

Photo of deaconoflove
3.47/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber brown with no head (probably too cold). Aroma has caramel, cider, w/ some alcohol sharpness to it. The taste is caramel candy, piney (although I just finished cleaning up tons of pine needles) with a tart bitterness. There is some fruitiness in there.
Feels a little sticky sweet as goes the style. Definitely a sippy beer. Nice.

 335 characters

Photo of BenHesk12
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Eye of the Hawk American Strong Ale, or "Hawks" as me and my buddies like to call it, is an instant classic. My first experience with this beer was at a social occasion where after taking a few sips, I realized I was drinking something special. It was a huge surprise to see printed on the side of the bottle 8% alcohol. This is a strong ale with a sturdy mouthfeel, and an appropriate and sippable bitterness you would expect from this style. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, with the alcohol content of malt liquor, whats not to like? Overall its just one of those beers that you're happy to drink any time, any place, without getting too fancy or stealing the spotlight. The best thing about this beer though, by far, is the value. $6.50 for a 6 pack at Trader Joes. YES! Overall just a great beer that is a refreshing change from the hophead trend, with great value and flavor that keeps you interested without overdoing it.

 925 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Good lookin' out going out to my local in-person trader, Tone77, for providing me with this one. I used to drink this pretty routinely as part of our tailgating pre-game warm-up for Pitt games as students. The mixed 12-pack case was a good deal and we ran through a lot of it about a decade ago. Since then, I have not indulged until now.

From the bottle: "This award winning brew is Handcrafted to perfection."; "A Premium American Classic from a Pioneer Brewing Legend."

My pour provided me with a thick finger of dense, tawny head with decent retention. Color was an oh-so-slightly hazy orangish-amber. Nose smelled like a Sugar Daddy bar - very caramel! Mouthfeel was medium, kind of prickly in its carbonation and the heat was immediate. Phew! Once I got past that, the caramel sweetness was about as much as I could handle. Dang, but this was making me sweat. Finish was semi-sweet as the yeast had converted much of the sugar into alcohol. Wow! And to think that we used to swig this like water ...

 1,008 characters

Photo of Hopfenpeter
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a hazy amber gold and produced a white creamy one finger high head. It dissipated with spotted lacing.
The smell is very sweet, like honey and fruit. Some hops in the background.
Tasting this beer, I am reminded of mead. Lots of honey notes up front, combined with a fruity hop flavor of apple as well as a caramel and malt backbone. This balanced combination follows through the hole tasting.
Nice medium to heavy bodied beer, very sweet in taste, but also very drinkable.

 490 characters

Photo of Mosstrooper
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Hazy pale amber color with a large off-white head that dissipates quickly, yielding a thick wall of lace.

Smell: Lots of fruit- apple, oranges, and sweet white grape with mild bready notes.

Taste: Begins with sweet apple and bitter orange peel flavors, before rounding out to a sweet breadiness. Finish is citric with a balanced, toasty bitterness and a nutty hint.

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy body with balanced, natural carbonation and a sticky finish.

Overall: A very good, complex beer. Deceptively drinkable at 8% ABV, so watch out!

 602 characters

Photo of Tolosa
4.29/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

That is one heavy hitter of a beer.

A : Nice deep gold, dense head, but you've probably seen sexier. Hawk logo is as tacky as a trailer park Halloween party. Bottle is pleasantly plump, tho.

S : This is where it begins to be interesting. Smells a bit hoppy but, wait, what is this alcohol I feel in the background ?

T : Did anyone poured a slint of jack Daniel's in my beer while I was looking away ?!? This is an incredibly boozy beer, the alcohol flavor burst into the palate. Mind you, not cheap alcohol, bit a high quality one. Way above any of those beers already mixed with alcohol. This level of warmth and taste in a beer is quite something.

Mouthfeel : You will not be able to gulp this one, because every gulp is like a jab from Mike Tyson, only much much much more enjoyable.

Overall : Incredible, has to be tasted to be believed. A beautiful beer, plain, boozy and bold. For the brave only, as it will knock your socks off after 2 bottles.

 957 characters

Photo of elNopalero
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours a toasted straw color with a thick layer of billowy white foam.

There’s a light lemony hop aroma with a sodium bicarbonate zing. The flavor has more lemon, with a slight pine-resin hint on the finish. As it warms a delicate honeyed sweetness emerges.

No indication that it’s 8% ABV.

This was a welcomed surprise and one of the more enjoyable bird beers from Mendocino.

 387 characters

Photo of TheSixthRing
4.08/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a solid golden amber with a white 2 finger head. Good retention. Resulting lace is thin, but consistent and sticky.

Smell - Smells of fruity esters and a bit of alcohol. Sweet bready malt undertone.

Taste - Caramel malt and fruity esters upfront. Apple and hints of citrus hoppiness. Pleasant, warming alcohol character. Somewhat bready. Great balance. Finishes with a continued caramel malt that lasts well into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body; decent carbonation. Smooth, and entirely too drinkable for the 8% label.

Overall - Mendocino's flagship beer, and it's a great one. Strong, assertive and a completely American ale. Beautiful complexity. I've been drinking this beer for years, and it never disappoints. Sometimes comes with a touch more metallic taste than tonight, Not one for sessions; drink with caution.

 860 characters

Photo of andrenaline
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Props to my buddy Evan for procuring this one for me...

A - Pours a slightly hazy copper colour with a reddish hue, thumb of soapy head with solid retention and nice sheeting lacing.

S - Musty caramel and grassy hops, hint of citrus, earthy undertones and a hint of peat.

T - The caramel malts come across nicely off the top offering upa dose of sweetness alongside some nice toasted bread notes and the leafy green hops. An english toffee flavour lingers alongside a sour citrus sweetness.

M - Medium bodied, extremely smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

O - This stuff is incredibly drinkable and loaded with flavour for the style. An unsuspecting gem that is highly recommended and I'm super stoked I got the opportunity to try it out.

 752 characters

Photo of Derek
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: copper-bronze with a little chill haze; slightly off-white head, good retention, leaves a bit of lace.

S: Sponge toffee, cotton candy, candied tropical fruit, hint of cider.

T: Grapefruit rind, sponge toffee, piny resin, papaya, good bitterness, really leaning towards a DIPA.

M: Light residual sweetness with a bit of hop acidity.

O: This 'American Strong' is boardering on a DIPA... and I like it.

 406 characters

Photo of Brewmaster_Rick
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tons of heavy caramel malt, mild bitterness for balance, a bit of sweetness (probably due to high ABV) but very palatable. Fantastic stuff, one of my go-to beers. Apollo bittering, Cascade flavoring, Saaz aromatics. Like Red Tail Ale's big brother!!

 249 characters

Photo of Daveychu
4.31/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Boozy as hell. Always at Trader Joes for seven dollars. How can I not like this? It tastes like very strong, pretty damn good beer. Um..also it's brown, nice lacing and smells like alcoholic candy. When I'm in the mood for some fancy strong Belgian business but don't want to drop ten bucks on less than a liter this is a fine fine option.

 339 characters

Photo of oogenesis
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A surprisingly light, but full bodied ale that reminds me of a good wheat brew with more OOMPH. Buttery, slightly fruity, with a floral aftertaste. The head on this brew is THICK and lasts quite a while. I prefer IPAs, but this might replace Lagunitas IPA as my go-to, everyday beer. Yum.

 288 characters

Photo of rundocrun
3.97/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Body is a translucent amber-brown with orange highlights. Yields 2 fingers of light tan head. Retention is decent, though i'm left with a 1/4" of foam after about 3 minutes. Relatively small amount of lacing.

S - Lots of caramel malt in this one! Truckloads of raisins, sweet figs and prunes. Not much hop aroma to speak of. Almost candy-like. Smells a bit like cherry-flavored candy or syrup. As the beer warms I get some buttery diacetyl as well.

T - Sweet caramel and darkly toasted malt up front. Has a pleasant biscuity flavor as well. Some hop bitterness and earthy hop flavor is noticeable through the middle and the finish. Here and there I get some fruitiness. Has a slightly dry bready flavor of a beer utilizing dark roasted grains.

M - Medium-to-thick body. Surprisingly dry finish leaving me with a residual hoppy bitterness and a touch of toasted malt.

 873 characters

Photo of canucklehead
4.42/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

With all the one-off, barrel aged, high buck beers out there now it is nice to come across a classic US beer that sells for the same price as the regular line up , comes in 12 oz 6 packs and has been around since the first wave of craft brewing.

The beer is a mix of a Barley Wine and and an Old Ale with that caramelly malty flavour found in Dopplebocks. The nose is lovely hops mixed in with a deep burnt sugar note. I found the beer fairly complex but very drinkable. The sweetness in the finish was probably about right and never interfered with the next sip. Great beer that is very under the radar for Today's Craft drinker

 630 characters

Photo of Beer4Baltimore
3.97/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle from a mixed 12 pack
A - slightly hazy orange amber with a one finger foamy head that leaves a little lacing.
S - strong barley and hop character with a dark fruity component.
T - definite fruity/barley wine character coming through in the taste even when still cold. Fits the description, almost like a blended old ale and barley wine combo.
M - moderately carbonated with a medium to heavy body that flows easily enough. Leaves just a slight lingering aftertaste that is pleasant.
D - a high abv that is not noticeable which might ease the drinking but this should be a slow drinker.
A distinct and clear old ale character comes through that is tempered by a hit of hops and a dallop of barley.

 712 characters

Photo of flagmantho
3.43/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: orange hue with plenty of haze and what appear to be tons of tiny floaties. Head is a thick finger of frothy ivory foam. Not too bad.

Smell: tropical fruity smell dominated by an overripe banana aroma, rather like banana bread. I'm not opposed to this aroma, but it's a bit on the sickly-sweet side and doesn't really appeal to me.

Taste: sweet malt with a lot more of that fruity banana flavor. This flavor profile works more for me in a hefeweizen or dunkelweizen than in a non-wheat strong ale like this. That said, it's not bad, and it's not as sickly-sweet as the aroma would suggest. Perhaps it's an acquired taste.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick body with a great carbonation and very nice creaminess.

Overall: a very weird beer. I could see myself growing into it, but it tastes nothing like its "strong ale" label would suggest. I do kind of like it, though.

 920 characters

Photo of BeerDocT
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a room temperature imperial pint glass.

-Appearance 4.0: Somewhat short, white head that quickly went away and left a filmy residue. Color is a deep, beautiful amber. Beer is well-filtered and crystal clear.

-Smell 4.0: Big barley notes in this bouquet. I also smell hints of clover honey and light caramel.

-Taste 4.5: Front is cool liquid and slightly salty. Middle is the unmistakable kick of pure barley and other grains. Finish is caramel, barley, hops and another small indication of brine. Aftertaste is long, very hoppy and pleasant. I also note more flavors of grains and grasses. Delicious.

-Mouthfeel 4.5: Carbonation level is almost perfect. Very skilled manipulation of the conditioning that leads to a heightened enjoyment of the beer.

-Overall 4.0: Excellent ale. This beer has a relatively high ABV (8%), but it is unnoticeable. This would make a fantastic session beer and is just an all around very dependable ale. Recommended.

 963 characters

Photo of tdm168
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber with a thin layer of off white head that's loose and soft and quickly fades to lacing. The nose has a very intense caramel aroma with an underlying bready, malt note. The flavor is bready and sweet with an intense caramel flavor which is followed by a light fruity note of apples and dark fruit. There is a piny, bitter hop character that tries to add balance to the sweet, caramel. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, smooth, and well carbonated with a crisp finish.

This is an alright beer. It's not great. It's a little unbalanced. It's like a sweet, caramelly amber ale that has been intensely hopped. I probably won't have this one again.

 667 characters

Photo of Psilo707
4.04/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Actually looks pretty bland upon pouring into clear mug. Head and lacing are both minimal and I'm wondering if I... somehow... poured it wrong? But wait, that's stupid. Nevermind. Yeah, not too much of an appearance factor here.

S: Now that's what I'm talking about. How many times can you remember a beer that had a medicore appearance but had a great smell? Well this is one of the top runners in that category for me right now. A nice sense of floral arrangement and citrusy scents waft into the nostrils and this is very inviting.

T: The taste of this brew is by -far- the highest rated aspect of the entire thing. There is absolutely no coppery or weird aftertaste, and it hits your tongue in a prime way the instant you take a sip. This is good stuff for sure. Love the taste of it. As it smells, floral citrus and hops. Good stuff.

M: Both creamy and thin at the same time. I kind of expected it to last in the mouth longer than it does but it dissipates really quickly in a way. Not a bad thing, but definitely not a memorable thing either.

Overall: This is a strange American Strong Ale for me. It's lighter, thinner, and less-bodied than most of the same substyle. But it comes with a taste that is amazing and thanks to this taste, the entire brew is propelled into -worth the purchase- status. It's sense of hoppiness while still retaining an orange/semi-malty/inviting appeal is very prominent, and I would recommend this to anyone who wants to know what a GOOD -Strong Ale- tastes like from an American microbrewery. A- !!

 1,544 characters

Photo of duderus123
3.64/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Glass type: Chalice

Appearance - A dark amber color, fizzy carbonation, a little murky. The head didn't stick around at all.

Smell - Bring the beer to your nose. Note the beer's aromatic qualities. Malts: sweet & caramelly scent Hops: The hops profile smell kind of floral and citrus . I can acutally smell yeast in this one

Taste - There is definately a good balance of flavor here. Hops are pronounced, but not overpowering. Malt flavor is apparent. Yeast is strong in this one. The ale is sweet and has a nectar or honey like quality to it.

Mouthfeel - Medium-heavy. its sticky on the pallet. Smooth, but a little too fizzy.

Overall - When I drink a Strong Ale I expect DARK colors, hefty body, and a hops profile that kicks you in the teeth. This is mellow and flavorful. Not true to the style but a good Ale. It doesn't taste like an 8% brew, but its still good.

 872 characters

Photo of diabecktic
3.9/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I get 2 fingers of white head with a hard pour. The beer has a nice, dark orange hue to it; it's translucent, but difficult to see through. Head eventually dissipates after a few minutes, leaving a decent rim behind. Lacing is adequate.

Aroma is floral and very, very yeasty. Pleasant overall, but very strong.

Sweet, caramel-like malt is best appreciated up front. Hoppiness adds some bite as the temperature increases. Yeast is very strong and most apparent towards the back end of the tasting. At 8% ABV, the alcohol remains well-hidden.

The medium-heavy density and lively yeast compliment each other nicely and result in excellent mouthfeel. Though the %ABV is fairly high, the alcohol isn't strong on the palate; this makes the beer very drinkable.

Though not the most visually appealing brew, the taste, alcohol content, and cost more than make up for the lack of aesthetic pleasantry. As far as I'm concerned, the yeastiness seems to be the most apparent aspect of this beer. I have no idea which strain was used to make this beer, but it must be fairly unique because I can't recall having any other beer which is even remotely similar. Some may find it overpowering, but I find it intriguing; when you couple this with the price, it's hard suggest against at least a sampling.

 1,336 characters

Eye of the Hawk from Mendocino Brewing Company
3.63 out of 5 based on 957 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.