Monday, November 20, 2006


Morgan Hill is a semi-rural suburb of San Jose, California, famous for nothing much except for being the location of the EL TORO BREWING COMPANY. This brewery’s actually been around since 1994, and has flown under the radar for a while despite making some pretty fine elixirs, such as the satisfying EL TORO NEGRO OATMEAL STOUT I downed last week. POPPY JASPER has been the one of theirs flowing on taps around my parts (San Francisco Bay Area) for years, and I’ve always found it to be pretty good (though this English-style brown ale, which used to be ubiquitous, seems relatively harder to find the past few years – not that I’ve been lookin’). This was my first experience with their Oatmeal Stout, and my first oatmeal stout at all in maybe 2-3 years (this was another style I discovered early in my beer-drinking career that hooked me on micros, and though I can’t pin it on any particular brand, it was either the SAMUEL SMITH or the ANDERSON VALLEY variety). Anyway, EL TORO makes a real good one. It has the smell of molasses and other sweet things, and a very smooth drinkability that goes well with probably just about any foodstuffs. It had a big head of foam that died down relatively quickly, and I found that it was exceptionally easy to finish this one off quickly – a fantastic beer for the pub, and very reminiscent of something English. Yet it was made in the coyote-clogged wilds of Morgan Hill. I hope these guys raise their profile a bit with this one; if you read the comments on it in Beer Advocate you’ll find there are a few folks that believe this to be a little bit beyond merely “very good”. Me, I give it a 7.5/10, so I guess I agree.

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