El Toro IPA | El Toro Brewing Co.

very good
77 Reviews
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El Toro IPAEl Toro IPA

Brewed by:
El Toro Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-15-2001

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Reviews: 77 | Ratings: 93
Photo of Goldorak
3.37/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Light caramel, kind of hard to judge the head in the ice cold bud light shaker pint filled all the way to the edge.

Smell: A large helping of C hops dominate the nose, a bit of pink grapefruit and pine, pine, pine. If you like the smell of pinesol, this Beer is for you.

Taste: The bitterness is sustained at first, with just a touch of caramel sweetness. But the more the pint went down the astringency went downright acrid, finishing bone dry. It was pretty good, but the kind of Beer that I only get sporadic cravings for. I probably would have gave it higher grades if I had less of it, because the more I drank it the worse it got, but the first half of my pint was pretty good.

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Photo of bradybeer
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was able to find this in Santa Cruz-and man I am happy.

Pours a creamy head while the body is copper.

There is an initial malt sweetness that hits you at first but with a very nice hop bitterness in the finish.

I could drink this nearly everyday-

Perhaps I had a fresh bottle-but I really enjoyed this beer and look forward to tasting their other brews-

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Photo of rayjay
4.27/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

6-pack from the brewery, a very small one but very friendly and worth seeking out.

A: Medium blonde, very tiny amount of sediment. Medium sized head with less-than-perfect lacing. Just a shade darker than I remember, but a nice light AIPA (the way it should be).

S: Floral. Lots of hops. Some apple juice too. Just a bit of alcohol and malt. I swear I smell glue, but not in a bad way!!!

T: Very bitter, seemingly more than some other IPA's but probably due in part to the low malt backbone. I mean, malt is definately there, but just slightly underbalancing the hops, which is perfect for the style, imho. A classic west coast IPA. Not as floral as it smells. Pure white grapefruit juice from concentrate. Bitter aftertaste lingers 4-ev-R...

M: A hair heavier than I'd have it. Otherwise a nice body, esp on a 105F day like today.

D: I give it a 4.5 because I've had some great sessions drinking this particular beer over the years. It has very rarely let me down, and even so that was probably a freshness issue with the bar. Cheers!

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Photo of dirtylou
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz single, $1.29, Brennan's - University

appearance: pours a pulpy clear golden-amber into a between the buns pint glass...3/4 frothy white foam with some solid retention

smell: well then, a surprisingly (brennans is hit or miss, usually miss) pungent and juicy IPA, sour grapefruit, grainy malt, pulpy hops, chalky aroma, light pine

taste: high bitterness level noticed immediately, chalky feel, pulpy ruby red grapefruit, sugary, other nice citrus flavours, light toasted malt presence, lightly spicy...Definitely one of the best obscure brews i have found at Brennan's

mouthfeel: high bitterness, a tongue twister, chalky, medium body

drinkabilty: above average

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Photo of znarf
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beware, I am a hop head, Three Floyd's Alpha King being my current beer of choice. For my taste El Toro IPA has a cleaner finish. This is not a criticism of the Alpha King, just a comparison. When a flavor is great, I do not mind it lingering. El Toro IPA is available year around for you enjoyment. It is worth pursuing if you local store does not stock it. Great for sipping while grilling in your back yard.

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Photo of SethB2
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Received via a most excellent (for me) trade with GClarkage. He sent me home with great stuff, and I sent him home with, err, let's not go there.

Anyway, poured this beer from a bottle into my Lagunitas pint glass. Looks nice. Looks like an IPA. Non transparent brownish-orange color with white head and good lacing. (As a side note, is it just me, or does it seem like about 10 different IPAs fit that same description. I swear I can't tell them apart, Alas, it matters not because I like the look.) Smells citisy/grapefruity ... very pleasant, though nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe some floral hops in there too. A sweet caramel smell peeks through in the background too. Taste is very, very good. Initially, the hop hammer lands on my tongue, as expected, but then a real pronounced toasted maltyness follows. I wasn't expecting this beer to be so balanced after smelling, but it does a great job. The sweet toasted malts then exit leaving a bitter grapefruit finish (and leave me wanting another slug). Wonderful. Mouthfeel is more full than most DIPAs. As this goes across my tongue, I feel like I might need a fork for the next drink (not literally, but you get the picture). Drinkability is very good as well. I have one more in the stash, but I think I might save it for the end times.

Great beer. El Toro guys, if you're reading this, please, please distribute to the Sacramento area. Me love you long time if you do.

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Photo of marcobrau
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I found this beer on a trip to Wisconsin a couple years ago. It still hasn't made it the Chicago area market, so every trip I take to Wisconsin demands a stop at a Brennan's market and the purchase of at least a six-pack of El Toro IPA. This particluar bottle of El Toro IPA pours a slightly hazy gold with a huge head that settles leaving lacing making for a very visually appealing beer. The honey-citrus aroma is quite appealing, too. The hop flavor is massive and intensely spicy, peppery and "hot." The hoppy flavors are laced with bits of vanilla and honey sweetness, before everything gets blown away by the exceptionally bitter finish that overwhelms the palate. After a few sips all taste is spicy, bitter hops. The malt in this beer merely supports the hops. Hopheads should celebrate this beer, one of the few I think could almost be too bitter (affecting the drinkability score somewhat.) This bottle was more full-bodied and less dry than I remember since the last time I reviewed this beer. It's still one heck of an IPA, though.

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Photo of Mark
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was bowled over by this IPA. Appearance wise it was a orangey amber with a pefect head that left intricate lacing patterns. Aroma was what one expects from double IPA's, hop city. Taste was grab you by the b---- aggressive, in your face whatever you want to call it. Excellent hop character, very grapefruity. Drinkability rating was relatively off to the other rankings because it felt much stronger than the 6.5% it claims. Also, I think there is too much of a good thing, or should I say hop monster liquid is not an everyday thing. I sure liked this beer and rregret not buying this breweries beers more often.

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Photo of AlexJ
4.36/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First of all, this is an excellent IPA that all fans of the hop should actively seek. It rates up there with the best, yet is virtually unknown. Thanks GClarkage for the sample!

An easy pour explodes into my pint glass with 4 fingers of fluffy head. Color is orange/amber and very cloudy, with fine particulate matter swimming around. Highly active bubbles rush to the surface, creating a rocky-topped head that never dies. With density like shaving cream, the top of the head forms strange, rock-like formations that seem to defy gravity. Lacing so thick that it looks like stucco. The last sip of beer still wears a half inch of creamy foam.

The aroma is sweet caramel and honey malts perfumed with exotic floral and citrus hops. Grapefruit, tangerine, and orange blossems rule the day.

The flavor starts of malty sweet, with creamy caramel, honey, and sweet yeast bread. Hops take over in the form of citrus fruits, melon, flower blossems, honeysuckle, and a hint of hoppy spice. Complex for an IPA.

Mouthfeel is medium to big, and is accentuated by all that carbonation yielding in a creamy, full mouthfeel. Delicious and totally sessionable.

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Photo of beveragecaptain
4.14/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. This beer pours out a hazy yellowish brown color with a creamy head. Big piney hop aroma. Very hoppy flavor. This is a good example of a west coast ipa. The malt isn't completely overpowered, but the emphasis is definitely on the hops. The abv is noticably high. Full mouthfeel. I'm suprised that this brewery isn't better known. Nice ipa.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Rich pumpkin orange with a wild flurry of yeast that damn near makes the beer opaque. The cap is lightly toasted marshmallow in color with a hint of pastel orange. It's firmly creamy and looks like it's full of hop resins. The upper edge of the head is sticking to the glass and is beginning to leave lace that looks like paint daubed on with a sponge.

It's been a while since I've had a truly hoppy, high quality IPA. What the hell was I thinking? The aroma on this one brings my hop love back with an immediacy and a vengeance. It's a smashingly good nose of pure, unadulterated hops with an emphasis on juicy orange and white grapefruit. A modicum of caramel malt is noticeable, but has the good sense to stay in the background.

El Toro IPA is a wonderful IPA from a brewer who doesn't get enough respect. The flavor is balanced if you approach it from a hophead's perspective and consider a 2:1 hop:malt ratio to be a fair fight. The caramel malt backbone is on the firm side and permits the huge hoppiness to have the run of the deck without coming close to going overboard.

Pithy, bittersweet, resinous orange and grapefruit are still ascendant, with a drop or two of spruce juice for good measure. This beer has a classic West Coast hop profile, carried out with aplomb. A long finish with echoes of bitter citrus peel is made all the more enjoyable by the presence of a mouthcoating stickiness. The medium mouthfeel feels slightly more full as a result.

While I was impressed by this brewery's Oatmeal Stout, I had doubts about whether or not they could pull off a top-notch IPA, even taking the relatively high scores into account. If it's so good, then why hadn't I heard more buzz? Make no mistake, this is a killer beer that will satisfy all comers, hopheaded or not. In terms of excitability, waving a hoptastic IPA like this one in front of me is akin to waving a red flag in front of a bull. Bravo! El Toro. Bravo!

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Photo of connecticutpoet
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Obtained in a trade with GClarkage. Second one I tried from the stash.

The beer poured out with a HUGE head... half a pint had a 4 finger hear, very rocky, and I had to wait for it to die down.

The bottle was labeed Brew 948.

The aroma was powerful, all grapefruit and lemon hops. It also smelled a little sweet.

Taste was of MAJOR citrus hops, with a light maltiness. The hop lingered a long time in the aftertaste. But it wasn't very bitter, oddly enough.

Mouthfeel was a little thinner than I expected from the aroma, but I could drink this as a session beer easily.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.63/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This review was from a 12oz bottle sampled on 12-18-04. Appearance is a murky orange yellow with about one inch of off white head on top. The head stuck around leaving thick rings of lace as this was consumed. Huge hop aroma, citric hops are just jumping out of the glass. It reminds me of the hop juiciness I have noticed in wet hopped brews. There is also a nice backing of bitter floral hops as well. First sip is a grapefruity hop bomb that comes on strong gripping your tongue with and not letting go. Strong earthy/floral hops are there as well. Even in its huge hoppiness a slight malt sweetness can be detected lurking in the background. Ends on a bitter earthy note that has some bite to it. Medium feel to it with a prickly component found in the hopped up beers. Goes down pretty smooth and it a prefect IPA for a hop fix. Definitely a top 5 IPA for me and a great hoppy beer. Thanks to gclarkage for the bonus brew that was excellent.

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Photo of santoslhalper
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearence: Pours a hazy orange with loads of carbonation ripping up the sides of the glass. A nice, rocky, bubbly head sits beautifully above the brew, and leaves massive lacing.

Smell: Hops! Hops! And more hops! Grapefruit and lemon greet my nose at first, with an almost complete absence of malts. Very herbal, very fruity, and very hoppy.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Wow. A huge hop presence at first, almost over-bearing, but just right. The middle a nice amount of malts shine through, and the end is nice, dry and hoppy. An incredibly hoppy taste, with hints of pine, herbs, oranges, and so much more. But so how it manages to remain well-balanced.

Drinkability and Overall: An outstanding beer to say the least. Hugely hoppy, and still well-rounded. I wish I had more than one of this, but thank God I got to try it. One of the best IPA's I've had to date.

Thank you GClarkage for another phenomenal beer. The beer Gods smile upon you.

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Photo of rkhaze
4.46/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy orange/amber with a nice sized creamy white head and a few floaties. Decent retention and excellent chunks of sticky lace.
Huge grapefruit and pine smells upfront. There were some other citrus aromas and perhaps a bit of sweet malt. This one is all about the hops though. A little one dimensional.
Wow! Tastes like a fresh, zesty and juicy grapefruit with pine resin poured on top. The sweet malt that was lacking in the smell showed up in the taste and balanced rather well. Finishes dry tangy and bittersweet. Excellent!
Medium bodied with a full creamy mouthfeel that was oily/resinous and a bit sticky. Perfect!
Great drinkabilty. A classic west coast IPA and quite a surprise.

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Photo of Troyone
4.26/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased in a 12oz. bottle, label says 6.5 abv; Recommendation, after one pops the top shake the bottom of the bottle before pouring it in the glass.
Poured a hazy somewhat copper and light iced tea to apple juice color with two inch head, also had lots of material in the haze like tiny hop flakes or yeast floating around. The floating specks of hops or yeast are almost uniform in size and seem to be spaced evenly throughout the glass, no beer drinker will see them all (or even the majority) settle to the bottom.

The smell is slightly malty with a rich flowery pine/resin hoppy aroma.

The taste has a cookie, toasted, nutty, and taffy malt; heavy to harsh slightly herb, pine, grapefruit, resin, slightly lime, and different flavors of tea hops; light doughy yeast; and has hints of toffee/cola. However the hops are smooth and dominate throughout to the finish.

The mouthfeel has a light/medium body, slightly syrupy dry texture, soft carbonation, with a smooth but manly finish.

The drinkability is great the carbonation is medium throughout and the aftertaste lingers the hops with the medium carbonation.

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Photo of bditty187
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

“Brew 930”

Surprisingly hazy, hell I’d call it cloudy! Dark amber with a tawny-coppery hue, lovely. The head was slightly off-white and it billowed to over two fingers in height before it quickly faded to a half finger cap. This cap lasted awhile. Nice. The appearance is better than ordinary. Subsequent lacing was prevalent but unorganized. This is a handsome beer. The nose is very bright; well-rounded citrus zest with soft notes of pine and mint. I detected a hint of wild flowers but the majority of the hoppiness in the nose is grapefruit rinds and pine trees. Lovely. Simplistic in that “hoppy as hell” kind of way! Soft melon scents and tropical fruits. Not much malt. Still the nose is inviting. It smells like a West Coast IPA, what more do I need to say? The palate is just raw enough, perfectly hoppy with a blast of dry, sticky, hop leaves. There is a hint of dankness like good marijuana. Plus there is a big bite of citrus, mainly rinds. Pine needles. Mint leaves. Wild flowers. Fairly warm entering my throat; I wonder what the abv is? The malt is very secondary, hints of caramel and some light sweetness. The taste is a good, hearty, American hop-bomb. Thankfully there are enough layers for me to care. This is a really pleasant IPA. The aftertaste is dry, hoppy, and bitter. It makes me want to eat a big, fat, juicy burger with a big slab of cheddar cheese. Yummy! Medium in body, low but natural carbonation, the mouthfeel doesn’t strike me as noteworthy in any way. It is not thin or flat and I can’t find any faults, still it does leave me wanting something more. Maybe a tickle more malt? However, there isn’t any obstacle to cross in order to like this beer. Drinkability is high; I really enjoyed quaffing this dandy. I purchased one bottle of this IPA in Brookfield, WI because I never heard of this brewery before. Now that I’ve visited the IPA I want more. Recommended.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.79/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed in October 2004. Purchased at Bevmo in San Mateo, CA. I have had this beer so many times at The Englander in San Leandro, CA. I've always had it from the tap though because I could never find it in the bottle. Well, I finally found it and I am happy I snagged a six pack. Pours with a very nice head and pretty decent lacing. The smell is utterly perfect for an IPA. An emense magnitude of hops hits you smack in the face. Smells of grapefruit, lemon and pine. Oh, this beer is heaven! Such a huge hop taste. Would think it was a double IPA, except it just isn't quite strong enough. Huge grapefruit and pine flavors. A dry finish and goes down pretty smooth. I can't see myself doing this as a session beer though. A bit to much punch in the face for me. Two or three would be just right though. Ultra-yummy beer. Getting more tomorrow.

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4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to BA MoeSizlak for picking up a sixer of this for me on a beer run to Madison. He gauranteed it to be liked, and it does not disappoint.
Smell is all hop aroma...citrus and pine just thin out the nose hairs, clean your sinuses. Terrific news.
This IPA has a medium body, medium carbonation, medium head. I guess i'd say that's why it's so damn drinkable.
The flavor hits you up front with pine cones, citrus, and some very tart rinds. THere is a slightly sticky, sweet undertone to this which made me think they were chasing AV's Hop Ottin IPA with the honeyed malts. And why the hell not? I wouldn't call it plagiarism even if I thought it truly was.
They don't make 'em like this in England.

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Photo of sweethome
4.39/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge grapefruit nose. Hazy golden color. All citrus - full of fruity esters- grapefuit, lemon. Bitterness grabs you right off. Again, lemon and grapefruit flavors with a nice carmel malt flavor coming through all the huge hops. I'm chewing a grapefruit here... Very long bitter and dry finish. Each sip provides maximum flavor and hop experience.

I also found it in Wisconsin, but have had it in past years in CA. Just as good as I remember.

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Photo of cokes
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Orange bolstered amber. Head clings and grows, and doesn't wilt and is greying khaki.
Smells of leafy pineapples and pine trees.
Brown-sugar enhanced toffee is the malt's contribution here. It drys as is lingers in the mouth. Breadier later on. Almost rye-leaning in the minor spicy tone, but those are delusions that accompany the hops. Speaking of which, the bitterness comes in spades...especially up front. Cold-edged, steely, herbal-laced pine cones. Woody, tropical fruit backs this up initially, then steps to the fore as it progresses. Pineapple is dominant, but lime rinds are noted. Bitterness wanes a bit, but remains forceful.
Medium-full bodied. Satiating. Low expressed carbonation.

What's more impressive, is that I'm inclined to believe that this bottle is rather old (and probably abused in one way or another). How monsterously hoppy could a fresh sample be? It would likely bring me to my knees.

Regardless, a worthy choice, this.

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Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got a few bottles of this, and it had "Brew 835" stamped on the label.

This actually poured a pinkish golden color. The aroma was nice but there was not a huge hop attack that I expect from IPA's, but it was very still very nice.

The taste was very smooth and balanced for an IPA. I really think that this brewery has a lot of potential if it perfects all of its brews!

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Photo of Gusler
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a somewhat bemused deep amber color, the head biggish in size, frothy in texture and a light tan color, as it diminishes in size the lace forms a nice covering sheet. Hop floral nose, underpinned my sweet malt, lemon like crispness and a real treat, start is slightly sweet, nice malt profile, the top fair to middling in its feel. Acidic bite at the finish, hops slap your palate big time, somewhat dry and bitter aftertaste, a fine California IPA, looks like another order with “Beer On The Wall” is due, as its not available here and I’m “Out”.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A hazy, deep-orange/copper body is capped by a short head of creamy vanilla foam. The retention is limited, however, and it drops shortly to a thin surface covering and leaves very little lace. Bright, piney and citrusy hops appear in the nose over a mild fruitiness and distinctly caramelish malt. A most enticing aroma! In the mouth its very fine, natural carbonation wakes the tongue with a soft, prickly sensation that fades to leaves its medium body soft and smooth in the swallow. Rich, fruit-laced malt acts as a solid base for its bold hop flavor; balanced by a bold bitterness that lingers in the aftertaste long after the malt has gone. Very nice!

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Photo of beerguy101
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Medium gold color. Small head. Aroma is hoppy and woody. This is a not a BIG West Coast IPA, but its definitely a West Coast IPA. Very hoppy with a big citrus and grapefruit overtones. Nice malts as well. Full bodied. Well balanced. Nice IPA. Woody and juicy. Very tasty. Great creamy and smooth texture. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is dry. Aftertaste is bitter.

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El Toro IPA from El Toro Brewing Co.
3.92 out of 5 based on 93 ratings.
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