787: El Toro Negro Oatmeal Stout

787 - El Toro Negro Oatmeal StoutName: El Toto Negro Oatmeal Stout
Brewery: El Toro Brewing Company
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Morgan Hill, California
Style: Oatmeal Stout
Alcohol Content (ABV): 5.5%
First Brewed: 1996
Price: $1.99

Tasting Notes
As black as night with a very thick, dense tan head. The nose is milk chocolate with espresso aromas. The flavors are oats, strong roasted coffee and a touch of tobacco, with a creamy mouthfeel and a very long, bitter finish. Try it with roast poultry, smoked meats, veal, and chocolate desserts.

Ricky’s Thoughts

I have had this beer before, but learning the brewing process at El Toro has me pumped up to drink it again. Cool how they brew so little beer at the brewpub. Looking at pictures of the brewpub, this place is small. Our kind of place. Oh, and looking at the label makes me think of the Breakfast Club. “You mess with the bull… you get the horns!” Ha!

We just got back from Flagstaff where we visited nearly every brewery within a 10 mile radius. We hit up Flagstaff Brewing Company, Lumberyard Brewing Company, Beaver Street Brewing Company, and Mother Road Brewing Company. Mother Road is sweet. They were all sweet. We also went to Hops On Birch, McGaughs Smoke & Bottle, and Oak Creek Brewing Company. I am losing track here… At Hops On Birch they had a Four Peaks tap takeover, and they had Sirius Black on tap. Yeah, we had some of that!

Before I forget, we also went to Made in the Shade, a huge beer festival in the middle of nowhere. It was $40, and while we drank a TON of beer, we won’t be going back. The Strong Beer Festival is our new favorite. Anyway, I will stop talking about our weekend and start talking about this beer. Bottoms up, people!

In the Glass: Pitch black is right. That is dark as night. The head was nice, but didn’t last long. It was a nice foamy tan that I wish was thicker and stickier. Not much lace here. The next time we have a weekend off, I want to head to California and see this operation. From the looks of it, it’s small and this was basically a homebrew before they started bottling it. I have had all three beers from El Toro offered in Arizona. This was my favorite. Of course, this time I am drinking with a purpose!

Nose: Not much going on here… it has a nice metallic finish, but not as impressive as I expected it to be. I am getting some subtle chocolate malt flavors, but I have to dig deep to find them. I hope the flavor is better than this.

Flavor: That really delivers. I like the mouthfeel best…but I will get to that. The flavor isn’t overwhelming, and it has a nice fluffy mouthfeel. The flavor hangs on a bit, but leaves my mouth polished and ready for another sip. This isn’t an incredible beer by any means, but it does have a nice drinkability. I can see myself drinking a pitcher of this during dinner.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel, and the finish, is my favorite part of this beer. The head was, at first, thick and creamy. The mouthfeel is every bit of that. On a second sip, I swished it around in my mouth a little bit. Some of those same chocolate malt flavors come out, but it is SO overwhelming that I could barely swallow. Still a nice finish leaving a somewhat metallic finish. I bet this would be great room temperature.

Aftertaste: I expect a beer like this to have a longer finish… but that’s OK. It’s thin enough to justify drinking a pint or more of this. The price is right, too. That is if you can find it. Total Wine & More is always out of the El Toro beers. Not sure if that is just a distribution problem, or what. They ALWAYS have their amber, but I am not a fan of amber ales.

This is a good introduction to the style. The tasting notes mentioned the oats, but I am not tasting much of that. If I didn’t know any better, I would almost call this an Irish dry stout. Still a good example of the style. If you are new to craft beer and/or oatmeal stouts, this is a great place to start. Cheers!

El Toro Negro Oatmeal Stout – The bottle says: “MADE FROM THE FINEST MALTED BARLEY, HOPS, WATER & YEAST”

Rating: 3/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts

We’re reviewing this beer after a weekend of a lot of beer. We drove up to Flagstaff on Friday to stay with friends and attend the Made in the Shade beer festival on Saturday. We had a really good time and even visited several local breweries while we were there. But now, we are back in the valley and relaxing (and reviewing a beer) before jumping back in to the work week.

This beer looks good. I think it’s a stout, and it certainly looks like one. It’s really dark in the glass, basically black, and looks pretty thick. It’s got a smoky chocolate smell to it. It smells really good. I can almost smell licorice in it too. Weird, huh? Or maybe my sinuses are still just all messed up from being in the higher altitude this weekend. At any rate, it’s a good smell and I can’t wait to taste it.

Hmm. What’s interesting is, that this tastes almost exactly like it smelled to me. I taste dark chocolate, smokiness, and licorice. The taste has a lot going on, but it also seems relatively subtle for all the flavors there. I like it, but I think it could be better. Boozier, maybe? I think this would be awesome barrel aged. It’s got the thick mouthfeel of a stout and some interesting flavor, but it’s just not enough to make a great beer out of a good one. I probably wouldn’t buy it again, because I know there are other stouts. But I would try different versions of it.

Rating: 3/5

786 bottles of beer on the wall…

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