The Matador Version 2.0 El Toro Bravo
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery

The Matador Version 2.0 El Toro BravoThe Matador Version 2.0 El Toro Bravo
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Rye Beer
Ranked #33
Ranked #10,348
4.01 | pDev: 16.21%
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
Ontario, Canada
Very Good
The Matador Version 2.0 El Toro BravoThe Matador Version 2.0 El Toro Bravo
Notes: Imperial Dark Rye Ale Aged on Spanish Cedar
Reviews: 18 | Ratings: 73 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.11/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Within this style, Matador 2.0 is exemplary.
Usually with rye beer, my buds cringe from the hops. But, Matador does lots with minimal hops. Substantial amounts of rye spice-up the ale and, then, they put it on this Spanish cedar (can't remember having a beer seasoned that way.)

I'm greeted with a very good-Looker: full-on, luxurious head with great big bubbles that stick around longer than expected and turn into a fine glass-length lace. Smells are mostly malt and the cedar; an exotic combo. Tastes meld so well that I cannot describe it. My mouth is full and wants more.

After 15 years at it in Barrie, Flying Monkeys is still full of the passion of home brewing. They obviously have their following who gratefully keep the brewery in business. But The Flying Monkeys are a flashback to the way things probably still should be... only everyone is growing up. Anyway, the website of Flying Monkeys is worth a visit ... particularly since it is not easy to get to Barrie.

All said, Matador is an exceptional ale, packaged creatively and, if memory serves me, a very good value. Thanks.

Dec 07, 2019
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jwilcox767 from Ohio

4.6/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aged for 4 years from bottling.

A: Excellent hazy dark orange color, finger of head that quickly dissipated after a minute.

S: Floral, spice, woody, thick. Some hidden hops, nice malt. Love the rye character. Excellent blending.

T: Earthy at first, quickly followed by the woody/rye character.

M: Full body, not sticky though. Perfect carb.

O: I thought this was absolutely fantastic, I don't understand why some people are hating on it. Perfect on all fronts. I'm guessing that letting this age for years did it some favors. Too bad I'll likely never have it again but definitely buy it again if found.

Mar 18, 2018
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Ciocanelu from Romania

4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber color with beige head. Aroma is really woody with resiny, coniferous notes. Taste is spicy and woody, light caramel malt but not sweet. Finish is slightly bitter and the wood notes continue to shine through. Medium body and carbonation. Really interesting beer, the spicy wood is really different from anything I had before.

Sep 11, 2016
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SerialTicker from Michigan

3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served at Frankenmuth's World Expo of Beer 2016.

Hey man, ever lick Ikea furniture? The cedar in this is super intense. So much so, it almost doesn't even taste like a rye beer... really, the rye intensifies that cedar flavor. There's only a modest rye sort of spice finish on this one. There's not much else going on besides... well... liquid wood. I actually strangely dig this, but I was more than content with my 5oz portion.

May 24, 2016
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DoubleSimcoe from Pennsylvania

4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Tremendous! Wasn't expecting much and was floored by the deliciousness of this big beer, halfway between an Arrogant Bastard-like strong ale and a barleywine.

Nice caramel, toffee, hops, heftiness and some vanilla... drinks easy despite the ABV. Smooth all around, almost nitro-like. Paired wonderfully with a tapa of foie gras.

Mar 07, 2016
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JackieKu from Taiwan

4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle. Bottled on 2014-10.

A: Clear brown. Poured 2 fingers high head, moderate retention.
S: Toasted malts. Caramel. Vanilla. Slightly citrus.
T: Woody. Vanilla. Caramel. Pepper. Moderate sweetness. Moderate bitterness. Short and dry finish.
M: Full body. Low carbonation.
O: Delicious and complex strong ale.

Mar 04, 2016
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thehyperduck from Canada (ON)

4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle-in-a-carton pulled from the cellar; picked up at the LCBO last February. Bottled in Oct 2014; served slightly chilled. Be forewarned: I love rye, so my bias should be kept in mind.

Pours a foggy brownish-amber colour with orange-red highlights; seated atop is nearly two fingers of foamy, off-white head. It dissipates over the next five minutes or so, depositing a continuous curtain of lace just above a frothy collar; a bubbly film remains on the surface. The aroma is positively heavenly, featuring big notes of sappy cedar and spicy rye bread - so spicy, in fact, that it almost has a peppercorn-like potency to it. These are also underlain by touches of brown sugar, dates, and just the slightest touch of vanilla, as well as some rummy booziness as the glass begins to warm.

This one was a legitimate eye-widener upon the first sip. It starts off with generous toffee and brown sugar sweetness, but this is soon outshone by a tsunami of spicy, bready rye malt flavour that lasts well into the aftertaste. Subtle fruity flavours of raisin and cherry are noticeable mid-sip, as is a hint of vanilla - but then the cedar wood and sap start to rampage, becoming the focus of a big crescendo toward the finish. It ends with a peppery spiciness, citrus peel oiliness and some earthy, herbal astringency that is only outlasted by the rye bread (as well as some surprisingly well-restrained boozy sweetness). Medium-full in body, with low carbonation levels that limply prickle the palate. The mouthfeel is smooth and mostly satisfying, but is still this beer's weakest trait. The criticism ends there, however, because this is undoubtedly an exquisitely well-crafted imperial rye ale that begs to be shared with others.

Final Grade: 4.5, an outstanding A grade. The Matador Version 2.0 El Toro Bravo is many things, but subtle is certainly not one of them. This is not a beer for people who don't know what they like - the cedar wood offers impressive potency, and the rye malts are piled on. It is honestly much better than I thought it would be, given its fairly polarized review average. If I hadn't decided to age the first bottle that I'd purchased, I'm not sure I would have had the self-restraint to keep this one as long as I did. My favourite rye beer to date - wish I'd grabbed another bottle, but I guess I'll just have to hope that the Flying Monkeys see fit to brew this one again, instead of opting for a 3.0.

Jan 18, 2016
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Caveworm from Ohio

4.43/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Flying Monkeys The Matador Version 2.0 El Toro Bravo - Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery. Poured from the 750 ml bottle into a pint glass, this brew's head is 1 1/1 finger thick and off-white, secular lacing, and a medium translucent reddish brown.

I smell the rye above all, with perhaps a touch of the cedar. Nothing too overpowering or assaulting.

Tastes like a sweeter blend of the components from the scent. Also a slight booziness, but it's all good.

The mouthfeel here is fairly carbonated with a small astringency presumably elicited by the higher ABV.

Overall, I'll rate Flying Monkeys The Matador Version 2.0 El Toro Bravo - Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery with a 4.5. This is a great brew IMO, and worth the few extra $.

Nov 22, 2015
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle marked something I can’t read – my microfiche reader is down - at 42 degrees into snifter
Aroma of citrus and cedar
Head small (< two cm, aggressive pour), off white, frothy/fizzy, rapidly diminishing to a partial one mm ring and partial layer
Lacing none
Body dark brown, murky, effervescent
Flavor interesting combination of rye spiciness with cedar followed by a light alcohol after-burn; no malt, no hops, no diacetyl
Palate medium, watery, soft carbonation
Appearance 3, Aroma 4, Flavor 4.5, Palate 3.5, Overall 3.75

Oct 04, 2015
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mick303 from Canada (ON)

3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

LCBO bottle, not sure how long it was aged. Good appearance with a hazy medium brown colour and good retention and lacing.

Aroma is quite spicy, with pepper, cedar wood, rye notes, rum barrels, very hearty, some really nice barrel notes complemented with the rye spice and caramel malty notes.

T - very full, malty start getting more alcoholic and spicy, caramel and rum, aged citrus, nice barrel woody notes, with lots of demurer brown sugar. Leading to a surprisingly pleasant and warming finish.

M - quite big and boozy, with some phenolic spiciness to it. moderate carbonation.

An interesting beer, probably amped up for sheer shock value as I feel this could have shone more if it were around 8% maybe. Great aroma and nice taste, but the strength and alcohol gets in the way of the beer.

Sep 13, 2015
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Rick_from_London from Canada (ON)

4.64/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - Pours with a beautiful, full, creamy tan head that takes its time settling, leaving short but tenuous legs on the glass with a golden brass colour beneath the head.

Nose - A caramel toffee nose with a hint of dryness that passes as cedar shavings.

Palate - A full bodied creamy and very rich malt palate that coats the throat but leaves the sides of the mouth clean. The cedar, likley a residue from the rye, becomes evident with multiple, quick draws on the glass.

Finish - Clean and rich, leaving a lasting hoppiness on the front of the tongue and a clear citrus-pepper in the back of your throat.

Overall - A fantastically complex and satisfying brew that needs more than one bottle to truly be appreciate. Thanks to Rye-an for sharing in the tasting.

Jul 19, 2015
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DaveBar from Canada (ON)

4.49/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the LCBO for around $11.00 for a 750ml bottle. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass. Aged in the cellar for 1yr

A- Opens well and pours a 1"hight white head that films out in 1min. Medium brown color. Filtered clear

S- Nice spice here. Good malt backbone and super nice pepper finish

T- Oodles of complexity and levels of flavor. Just a nice blend that melds together well and gives a wood barrel hint that is not overpowering. Could use a touch more time in the barrel though. No sense of the heat at all. Be careful not to chug

M- Nice dry blend.

O- Overall a nice blend. My second bottle to try and it's a nice overall brew with character. An ale that does not overpower in any way and is mild in most respects but you do need to understand it's a complex bundle of flavors.

Food Pairing

This wonderful little brew went well with...... BBQ pork butt chops. Slap some all seasoning on them and BBQ on low for an hour.


May 18, 2015
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Cramshawbar from Canada (ON)

1/5  rDev -75.1%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Bitter cinnamon, with harsh rye taste. The aftertaste is like cedar cologne.
For those who like all that, this is fantastic.
And then there is me. Will not try again.

Feb 04, 2015
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DaveSutula from Ohio

5/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sublime. The rye and cedar commingle into a single beautiful note to support a perfect maltiness. Hallertauer is ever-so-gentle in the nose. The perfect winter warmer.

Jan 31, 2015
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taxandbeerguy from Canada (ON)

3.83/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750 ml bottle purchased for $9.95 CDN from LCBO. Served reasonably cold into a pint glass. Looking forward to an imperial rye ale.

Appearance - reasonably clear dark amber in color. A finger of ivory coloured foam rests on top as isn't going anywhere fast. Medium levels of visible carbonation.

Smell - aroma is a bit of rye and a rather floral bouquet but everything is subdued. A perfumey caramel makes itself known after the beer warms a bit.

Taste - starts sweet with a hint of caramel and toffee then goes downright herbal for a second then a blast of rye comes into play. Finishes with cedar and a taste of mild cigar smoke. Certainly interesting.

Mouthfeel - very smooth, very creamy, then an alcohol burn comes in the back of the throat and a tingling sensation on the tongue. A bit of a sweet cloyingness to finish.

Overall - it's got a little bit of everything but I just don't know how well it all fits together. Worth a try and I'm certain some will love this, but for the price tag, I'm glad I only picked up one bottle.

Jan 28, 2015
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BeerWatcher from Canada (ON)

4.55/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This is a bottle I've been aging for 8 months since May 2014. It is a dark ruby red in the light, with a thin, slightly off white head, that leaves light lacing behind.
The aromas are a constant swirl of something seemingly different on each inhale. I am picking up maple sugar, cedar, cigar smoke, grapes both red and white, sweet malts, and a few other things that are defying description, as if it is the first time I have ever experienced them.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied. The tastes consist of grapes, smoke, earthy malts, sweet molasses, black pepper, wheat bread, vanilla biscuits, and the list goes on. It seems to be morphing as it warms.
While the Flying Monkeys can often produce real in-your-face beers (not that I mind that at all), I like how this one is subtle, yet extremely complex, and demands you take your time enjoying the myriad things it is offering. A truly outstanding beer.

Jan 10, 2015
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biegaman from Canada (ON)

4/5  rDev -0.2%

The Matador Version 2.0 - El Toro Bravo has some visual "Olé" for sure; the mahogany toned beer has a lively autumn-red complexion that includes resplendent candy apple and cinnamon highlights as well as pristine clarity and an acorn cap for a head (both in colour and shape). Just be weary of the sediment that lurks in the last few ounces; it muddies things up royally.

Imagined as an "Imperial strength Dark Rye Ale aged on a bed of Spanish cedar", this has a strength and character loosely similar to a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine. For starters, the wood has a strong presence and imparts notes of splinter-laden vanilla cream and toasted-to-near-black coconut. Then there's the foundation of sweet toffee, dried fruits, and herbal hops.

One should logically expect a 10.1% wood-aged rye beer to be big and bold; somewhat of a relief, however, is that the wood presence is mellow and the alcohol fully in-check. This is an unexpectedly casual quaff despite its spice and strength, or at least it will be to bourbon drinkers; it shares similar nuances of holiday spices, orange zest, and cinnamon stick.

Indeed, while the flavour of cedar is distinct, the more general effects of wood aging are familiar: like a whiskey, there's plenty of ginger, clove and nutmeg spiciness, cherry cordial and wavering dried fruit notes, pear and caramel, plenty of citrus peel, and creamy vanilla bean notes with just a hint of singed campfire kindling. El Toro Bravo promises a lot - and follows up on it.

Who knows whether this will age as well as Flying Monkeys seems to think it fit to. One thing for sure, however, it's drinking mighty fine now. At the risk of repeating myself, this is an especially enjoyable ale for those who enjoy their bourbon, rye, or simply pumpkin pie (though there's also enough pungent hoppiness and sweet toffee-apple maltiness to satisfy craft beer drinkers of all stripes). El Toro Bravo is a tremendous improvement on the first 'Matador' release.

Sep 05, 2014
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superspak from Ohio

4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into snifter, bottled on 2/18/2014. Pours crystal clear reddish copper color with a 2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big caramel, toast, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, rye, cedar, vanilla, toffee, herbal, grass, light pepper, and toast/cedar earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/rye malt, earthy hops, and cedar wood notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, toast, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, rye, cedar, vanilla, toffee, herbal, grass, light pepper, and toast/cedar earthiness. Slight earthy spice on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, molasses, brown sugar, brown bread, rye, cedar, vanilla, toffee, herbal, grass, light pepper, and toast/cedar earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity and balance of dark/rye malt, earthy hops, and cedar wood flavors; with great robustness and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth and fairly slick/creamy mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is a great wood aged rye beer. All around great complexity and balance of dark/rye malt, cedar wood, and earthy hop flavors; and extremely smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

Jul 13, 2014
The Matador Version 2.0 El Toro Bravo from Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 73 ratings