Best Microbrew - 2003
White Hawk Original IPA, Mendocino Brewing Co.
White Hawk IPA isn't for wimps. Its bracingly bitter flavor and puckery finish take India Pale Ale to a new level of intensity, and aficionados of Asahi, Corona, and their pallid ilk should keep their distance. This variety of suds is traditionally hoppy and robust, developed to withstand the rigors of the long ocean voyage from Britain to colonial India. White Hawk -- ostensibly based on that original 19th-century recipe -- combines American Cascade and English Fuggle hops into a potent, aromatic brew with the richness of a good stout and a nice 7-percent-alcohol kick. Its dry yet assertive character is an especially good match with the spicier varieties of Asian food as well as with rich pork dishes, salmon, and other meaty fish. It's an aggressively tasty addition to Mendocino's avian lineup of Blue Heron Pale Ale, Black Hawk Stout, and the excellent Red Tail Ale.