Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,702 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,702
Reviews: 1,006
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.19%
Wants: 67
Gots: 426 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  9.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: sloejams on 05-04-2006

"Vital Statistics

Style: Belgian Style Strong Dark
Color: Dark mahogany
ABV: 9.4%
Bitterness: 32 IBU's"
View: Beers (20) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,702 | Reviews: 1,006
Reviews by mpenske:
More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.24/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This is a solid brown in color with a rather smallish head on a hard pour.

Smell – The deep, rich yeast is always my favorite and made up for the lack of a good appearance. It’s dark and doughy and dominates the nose.

Taste – The big malty yeast comes out in spades at the taste. It is very bready like undercooked toast. There’s a light yeasty sweetness as well.

Mouthfeel – This is big in the mouth but shy of full-bodied. The carbonation is light and tickling on the cheeks. It shows a light bitterness just at the very end as you’re walking away from the glass.

Drinkability – This is my kind of BSDA. It’s big but not gianormous, heavy on the yeast, and goes down smoothly.

Photo of Brutaltruth
3.94/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from the 750 ml bottle in a snifter. Named after one of the greats of jazz, and a personal favorite along with Brubeck whom I was fortunate enough to see in concert.
Brother Thelonious pours a deep reddish brown with a moderate off white head of foam that dissipates to a thick ring and light lacing. Nose of raisins, light brown sugar and caramel, earthy ester powered yeasty goodness, some roasted grain notes, and strong alcohol. Flavors are lightly sweet to the front and sides with a spiciness to the rear from mildly bittering hops blending in nicely with the earthy Belgian yeast. Sweet malts, raisins, and brown sugar are lightly overpowered by the spiciness of the yeast and a mild hop bitterness. The ale finishes lightly dry with a muted sweet aftertaste, and lively carbonated mouth feel. Very nice. The Monk would of been impressed.


Photo of boston2bburg
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I settle down on the warmest afternoon of the year so far with one Brother, as I wait for my own to arrive from Boston. The note on the bottle couldn't be more fitting: "CARPE DIEM VITA BREVIS." Life is short, seize the day.

It pours a very hazy auburn brown with a finger of tan head that thins out, not quite covering the chalice. The bubbles are very fine and foamy. Lacing is sparse, but it gets extra points for having such a cool bottle and label.

Caramel is most prevalent in the aroma but it is complemented by fruity esters, raisin and prune. Some earthy, woody hops are involved. With warmth, buttery notes show up, and finally some booziness when you get to the dregs.

Raisin, prune and caramel again on the tongue, but in that order. It's a bit sour but not very bitter, and this eases up a little as you drink more of it, or have a bite of cheese (I'm having muenster). Earthy hops are there as well.

The hops add an abundant spiciness to the mouthfeel. It's very light-bodied for such a strong beer and the only thing really keeping me from chugging it down is the sourness. I'm not overly familiar with the style but I'm sure the sour characteristic was intended. The alcohol itself isn't very noticeable but there is a sharp acidity that can be a little overbearing. Overall pretty enjoyable.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine May 2007.

Brewed in homage to jazz master Thelonious Monk, a portion of the proceeds for each case sold goes towards education at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

A hard pour yields a sizable head--and the thick collar of foam is a snap, crackle and pop away from nothing. Hazy, murky brown color is nearly opaque. Browned apple pulp, toasted grain husk and faint tropical fruit notes invade the nostrils. Slick mouthfeel with a medium body and semi-crisp carbonation. Brown malt to start: toasted and lightly roasted. Big twang of fermentation, fruit and tart with a metallic finish. Brown sugar sweetness flashes on the taste buds. Over-ripened tropical fruit, bread crust and a hint of black pepper in the middle. Beef stock? Finishes a bit toothy with a faded metallic flavor.

This Dubbel is just okay, nothing compared to some of its Belgian counterparts. On the other hand, if you dig jazz, grab a bottle or two--at least you know there's a good cause to get behind.

Photo of lordofthewiens
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a goblet the beer was a red/orange color with a very tiny head. Wisps of lace. Brown sugar and dark fruit aroma. Taste followed form: brown sugar, dates, raisins, apple. A little yeasty. Medium bodied and smooth. A bit on the filling side; one was plenty for me.

Photo of Billolick
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Large bottle, caged and corked, picked up @ American Bev in BKLYN, NY, I didnt see any freshness indication. Helps support Jazz Music by brewery making a donation for every case purchased. Pours medium brown, cloudy minor tan head, with so so retention, and just a wisp of lacing left. Nose here is milk chocolate and some raisins. Notes of bananas, chocolate, sweet bready malts. A bit on the sweet side, might benefit from some time in the bottle, still tasty and enjoyable, I'm a bit suprised by the low marks for this one, as somebody else noted, this one will benefit from some time to warm up. I'd like to try it with a chocolate dssert.

Photo of Phat_Borracho
2.73/5  rDev -28%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.25

Its a good beer when nothing else is available

Photo of Mora2000
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a hazy brown color with a white head. The aroma has a ton of toffee malt, as well as quite a bit of dark fruit. The flavor is somewhat similar. I get a lot of toffee and grain notes, as well as some brown sugar and some dark fruit. Overall, the beer is fairly sweet. There is also some noticeable alcohol present in the flavor. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.42/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Single bottle from Premier Gourmet in Buffalo. Been meaning to give this brew a try for quite some time now.

Poured into a Duvel goblet. Chestnut brew, on the lighter side of the dubbel scale, with a good half inch of foam which recedes into your typical Belgian islands and swirls of head, and good sticky lace.

Nose is big on the figs, brown sugar, rum, booze, and yeast/herbal hops.

This one really didn't do it for me - I like what other BAs are saying on here in that it tastes 'unfinished', because it certainly feels like parts are missing. You really taste the booze on this, and so the finish is not pleasant. The port, fig and sweetness on the whole isn't bad, but I wasn't a huge fan of this.

Bit of a let down here. There are far better dubbels out there, and this one - despite the fantastic label and great cause - just wasn't the ticket. Oversweet, boozy, and lacking in the complexity I can find elsewhere.

Photo of PsychoJedi
3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Normally, I do not drink black beer. But, this beer is not what I would consider normal. It pours a dark beer with little head. The smell it good. A rather fresh smell to a beer I thought would smell bitter. I does not taste bitter either. Has a slight after taste, but nothing a true beer drinker would be upset about. It taste like there is a bitter and a sweet taste are competing for dominance in the beer and it is ruled a tie. For someone that does not usually drink black beer, its pretty good. I guess I could not either recommend or not recommend this beer. One of those things one would have to judge for themselves.

Photo of magictrokini
3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Did not live up to expectations. Mahogany pour with a bubbly off-white head. Solid aroma or malts, alcohol, and smoke. The peat, yeast, caramel, and nutty flavors are good, but really washed out. This came so close to greatness. Instead, good, but not memorable.

Photo of jcdiflorio
3.41/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle served into a Chimay chalice. Poured a slightly hazed medium coppery color with a rich,creamy light tan head leaving a film of lacing down the glass very lively looking champagne like in apperance.

Delicate aromas with light and dark fruitiness with spice and a touch of yeast. Some notes of bannanas and raisins and chocolate.

The tastes are on the faint side with a tart acidy friutiness,bitter raisins,dusty chocolate nice balance with a drying bitterness thats very tart leaves some chocolate notes lingering. Efferecent feel,the body has a light feel,has some smoothness with not much of an alcohol presence. Goes down nicely with a slight touch of heat.

Photo of kingcrowing
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured in a fancy glass.

Pours a deep ruby red color with some dark brown and light amount of head. Smell is very belgian, some raisin and some of your standard Dubbel aromas.

Taste is quite complex. Lots of shit going on here, very typical of a belgian beer. Again this is surprising that this is an American beer. I think it's quite good, and theres not telling it was quite so strong.

Photo of soulpower75
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

I am a BIG fan of Thelonious' music and the beer is just smooth. It has a warm brown color and a deep malty flavor. It leaves you with bit of a bitter aftertaste kind of like the last note of a Monk tune.

Photo of Osiris9588
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From a 750ml bottle caged and corked--with a cool image of Thelonious Monk crowned by a piano key nimbus, wearing a frock and holding a beer chalice--pours a deep ruby. The off-white head is frothy, yet not very stiff and dissipates rapidly.

The smell is of sweet malt, sour cherry, wood, and tabacco. The flavor features that sour cherry, candied malt, raisin, plum, a little apple cider vinegar, molassas, along with some pepper and beef jerky--and plenty of alcohol flaring up as the liquid slides down the throat.

The mouth is full and fruity, then dries out a bit with the pepper toward the finish, with ample complexity. Highly drinkable for the style, despite the strong presence of alcohol.

I dig it.

Photo of MattyG85
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a stemmed goblet glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep and clear brownish amber with a moderate amount of bubbles. About two fingers of off white head which quickly fade to a small thin patch. Lacing is fairly light on the glass.

Smell: Some Belgian yeast with a big presence of caramel malts and toffee. A considerable amount of sugars, some of them candy like. Good hints of dark fruits including rum soaked raisins, dark cherries, plums, and fig. Also some hints of banana. Kind of boozy with some sweet molasses.

Taste: A pretty sweet and fruity take on a dark Belgian ale. Belgian yeast is fairly noticeable but the spices are subdued. Big taste of bready caramel malts with hints of toffee. Some molasses and candied sugars. Solid notes of dark fruits with some raisins, plums, dark cherries, and figs. Hints of bananas and a little hint of chocolate from the malts. Pretty good.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. Slick, fruity, and lightly syrupy. Very smooth and easy to drink.

Overall: An interesting American take on a Dark Belgian ale. On the sweeter side but far from cloying. Pretty solid.

Photo of ohmybock
2.96/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Corked bottle poured into a Chimay apparent bottling/vintage date. The brew looks nice, but the aroma is only OK at best. It has a dark (stewed/fruity?) character in the aroma. Taste further supports the aroma, but it does add a bit more complexity. There's a hint of bock/melanoidan character (different, but OK here) with a healthy dose of aged character too (which I don't necessarily like here.) I wonder how old this brew is, but I have no idea from the bottle. Come on breweries...give the end-user some sort of date! Whatever yeast is used doesn't add much of an abbey/trappist flavor to the brew. That's too bad because certain trappist yeast strains might make this brew better. Still, this isn't a bad brew. Overall, it's drinkable, but not something I will seek out again.

Photo of moundbz
4.65/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Terrifically smooth malt taste with bitter and alcohol taste at the end.

Photo of danend
3.46/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a goblet.

Aroma: A good bit of phenolic and alcoholic spiciness. Some sweet malt, figs, prunes and grapes. Has the yeasty character of a tripel, lacking the complexity I seek out in dubbels.

Appearance: Spot on for a dubbel, big thick tan head, deep mahogany, crystal clear.

Flavor: Like the aroma, a good bit of alcoholic spiciness. Some rummy, dark fruit notes in the finish, but very subdued. Almost a citrusy quality, probably attributed to the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Finish is dry, medium bodied, little alcoholic warmth on the way down.

Overall: A nice beer, not an amazing dubbel. The alcohol was a little too prominent, might have done well to age this one for a little longer in the cellar.

Photo of andrecrompton
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am a Belgian Ale fan and this was a pleasant surprise. From the pour and the smell you can tell you are in for a treat. Deep dark mahogany body with a smooth belgian finish. It has some sweet notes in the middle of the taste. Strong finish.


Photo of ThreeDimesDown
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky caramel-color with a 2 finger tan head that leaves behind some lacing.

Aromas of fruits (cherries, raisins, dates), molasses, dark caramel malts and a hint of vanilla.

Taste of coffee and caramel malts up front give way to a lighter toasted malt and red cherry sweetness. Faint bitter hop finish.

Mouthfeel is medium to full with lots of active carbonation. ABV% is detectable in the nose and in a nice mouth-warmth, but doesn't interfere with the taste.

This is a nice beer, not the best BSDA but very good.

Photo of ADR
4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep and dark translucent burgundy-brown appearance, rock-solid tan head of over 1/2 an inch. Laces in scattered patches. Malty aroma, not particularly yeasty, lots of pears and syrup. Mouthfeel is thick, carbonation lower, giving a nice smooth impression. Flavor works well for my tastes, deeply fruity with a candied sense, approaching a sweeter mincemeat with some tangy and spicey offshoots. The finish is especially nice, chocolate and a full sense without an astringent twang or any fall-off in body. This one works well for me, nice North American rendition, and one of the few examples when I seem to like it MORE than most of the others putting in their thoughts. There is a somewhat odd mothball kind of thing on warming, but its not as bad as that seems or pronounced. The whole Thelonious angle, fine but probably mostly for jazz posers

Photo of WVbeergeek
2.56/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I was under impressed by the bottled version so I decided to give it another go on draft at Mad Mex Robinson during happy hora I figured $2.50 it can't hurt me this time unlike buying the 750ml portion. Appears with no head whatsoever light cream collar of lace is left with each sip though dark ruby brown body. Aroma has light chocolate, raisin, and apple tones with alcohol evident with other over ripened fruits. Taste has a slightly spicy character with a touch of herbal hops, let me say though the flavor is so weak overall diminished by all standards trace of fruit and alcohol very watery presence espeically on draft in bottle I didn't like the way the flavors melded on tap I don't think it's flavorful enough. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied texture is way too light give me something I can bite into like Thelonious's music. Drinkability...I'm not going to bother again support his foundation I guess but this beer doesn't represent the artist or the music very well. Not too many clunkers from North Coast but this one's weak.

Photo of chinchill
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.

Pours a clear, dark and reddish, with a smallish but durable tan head. It has a very fruity and somewhat yeasty aroma that would let it pass as a true Belgian beer. There is plenty of fruit in the flavor as well, and this trait extends into the finish and aftertaste. Both dark fruits (dates, raisins) and a slight bit of banana make an appearance. The taste seems less than perfectly balanced, with too much sweetness up front despite a bit of sour and bitter in the finish. The alcohol is fairly well hidden if cold enough, but becomes more and more evident with warming, especially in the nose. The aroma and, more so, the flavor, reflects some spicing; although these have been added in pretty good moderation, the beer is still a tad spicier than I prefer.

M: medium+ body; some smooth feel, yet with a bit of a tongue bite ... partly from the high ABV, no doubt.

O: A respectable U.S. version of the style, but far short of the best Belgians. More similar to a barleywine than your typical Belgian strong dark ale.

Photo of OStrungT
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a maple brown color, with a thick, fluffy, tannish yellow head. The head fades slowly, leaving many laces.

This beer has a yeasty earthy aroma. It also smells strongly of raisins. Some plumb aroma is also present. A slight figlike aroma is also present.

This beer tastes much like it smells. Yeasty, with some fruity flavors. I can not taste the 9% alcohol content.

This beer is full bodied. It goes down smooth, leaving a raisinlike aftertaste. It is highly carbonated, fitting style guidelines.

This beer would probably not make the best session beer. The flavor, while not bad, is aggressive, and would become hard to drink after a time. Also, at 9% ABV, drinking many would become a problem.

Overall: This beer is ok. The style is not my favorite, but the beer good for the style.

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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,702 ratings.