Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Matador, Version 2.0: El Toro Bravo

I'd seen The Matador, Version 2.0: El Toro Bravo in the store for a while before deciding to part with the eleven sheckels that it costs to buy a 750mL bottle. Brewed in Barrie, Ontario by Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery and sold in a handsome box featuring a very cool painting of a bull, this "Imperial dark rye ale aged on Spanish cedar" clocks in at a demonic 10.1% alcohol. It's a very elegant looking beer: clear, with a reddish honey hue, and blanketed beneath a creamy head. Not as dark as expected, but very sexy. According to the label, El Toro Bravo is the second entry in the Monkeys' Matador Series of suds aged with Spanish cedar. Also, it advised that this beer can be agreeably aged, though not drinking a beer is nowhere to be found in my unique skill set.

El Toro Bravo has a warm and generous nose reminiscent of my cigar humidor. The woody cedar elements are snugly nestled around sweet, malty elements and a hint of spice. The flavour is sweet initially, with soft honey notes and a very woody tenor. Behind that, a bill of rye spice is timidly lounging--not as obvious or as aggressive as I'd like it to be, but undeniably present. There isn't a lot of bitterness to this brew, but that isn't really the point. It has a very smooth, very mellow mouthfeel that makes for enjoyable sipping. A word of caution: El Toro Bravo is a strong ass beer, but its 10.1% is cunningly cloaked, making it dangerously drinkable. If you're not careful, you'll be singing and weaving in the blink of an eye.

The Mat 2.0 is a grand ol' brew. It's not perfect, but it sure is nice. It's a strong beer with significant subtlety and craft. I wanted more rye spice and a bitter finish to compliment the strength, but what I was presented with was certainly worth the purchase price. Would I buy it again? Most def. Would I buy it again tomorrow? Less def. This is an occasional treat--a beer to appreciate on a chilly winter's eve. Flying Monkeys is one of my favourite Ontario brewers, and with El Toro Bravo, they have delivered another winner.  I expected audacity, but was met with a relaxed, contemplative brew. And I liked it. Kudos!

Beer and Canada are like Salt & Pepper ... only different.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

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