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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 41 Drink: Black Hawk Stout

Mendocino Brewing Company began life as the Hopland Brewery, one of the first microbreweries in the U.S., in Hopland, Calif., an early hop growing center in the Russian River Valley. Today the region is better known for its wines.

Today, Mendocino still runs the original Hopland brewpub, but most of the company’s beer flows from breweries in Ukiah, Calif., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The company now distributes to more than 40 states.

Hopland went public in 1994 by selling stock to fans through flyers that were stuffed in six packs. But the brewery hit a tough business patch in 1997 and Vijay Mallya, the Indian billionaire who is chairman of United Breweries Group, Kingfisher Airlines and Scotland’s Whyte & Mackay Distillery, acquired a majority interest in Mendocino.

Black Hawk Stout, a brews I covered in the soon-to-be-released book "1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die," was served at Hopland’s grand opening in 1983. It was designed to be a big, traditional dry Irish-style stout, using two row pale, roasted black caramel malts in the mash and boiling whole leaf Warrior and Cascade hops in the wort. The result is a beer that is crisp and refreshing, but also goes well with shellfish and roasted meats.

A thick creamy tan head and a rich roasted aroma open this dark as night 5.2 percent alcohol by volume stout. There are plenty of coffee and dark chocolate notes. Big, filling brew with a rich mouth feel and some burnt grain notes in the finish.

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