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Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

2,352 Ratings
THE BROS
75
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,352
Reviews: 944
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 13.76%
Wants: 49
Gots: 211 | FT: 4
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:
"Vital Statistics

Style: Belgian Style Strong Dark
Color: Dark mahogany
ABV: 9.4%
Bitterness: 32 IBU's"

(Beer added by: sloejams on 05-04-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Brother Thelonious Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,352 | Reviews: 944 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.08/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(On-tap at the Brick Store Pub).

Appearance: What a beaut! Crimson red hue capped with a rather sturdy tan-colored head.

Smell: Suitably rich, yeasty aroma consisting of bananas, cherries, and spice layered with a pleasing malt presence.

Taste: Hefty malt sweetness upfront with notes of chocolate, brown sugar, almonds, and more cherries (providing just a tinge of tartness). Ends with just a soft touch of pepper in the otherwise sweet, lingering finish. Never really delivers any substantial hop bitterness or flavors.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, and surpassingly soft on the palate.

Drinkability: Are you up for a decent American attempt at a Belgium style? This can be that beer. It will be that beer.

ChainGangGuy, Aug 09, 2006
Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out as a dark reddish brown color, the head was a cream color and looked pretty fluffy. The smell of the beer had some dark malt aromas giving off a little sweetness and some bready Belgian yeast as well. The taste of the beer has a little bit of dark fruit in the mix along with some earthy notes. The mouthfeel was about average for me on this one, it's smooth but just doesn't wow me. Overall this beer isn't bad, I know a lot of people who love it but I've had it a few times and I still haven't been overly impressed by it.

Knapp85, Sep 07, 2011
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of TMoney2591
3.4/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at ChurchKey.

Another one of those constantly passed beers that I've always wanted to try. Finally! It pours a deep dark brown (borderline hazy), with a finger-and-a-half of ecru micro-foam on top, which quickly fades into nothingness. The nose comprises soap, bubblegum, raisins, banana, and pepper. The taste runs along somewhat similar, though darker, lines: notes of figs, raisins, cinnamon, sharp bitterness, cracked pepper, and light vinegar pervade the tongue. Something seems off...I can't put my finger on it, but the combination just leaves a bad taste in my mouth (literally). Well, not bad, but definitely not good either. The body is a surprising light medium, with light carbonation and a very fluid feel. Overall, I've gotta say that I'm pretty disappointed in this brew. I've had many that are worse, but this one was hyped-up a decent amount, and it just couldn't live up. If it weren't for that off-taste...

TMoney2591, Jun 18, 2010
Photo of largadeer
2.85/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

750ml bottle. It's a dark but beautifully clear crimson red. The head is off-white, fairly lasting. It smells like fried bananas, raisins, bubblegum and licorice candy.

Flavors are similar, banana especially, sweet and overripe. There's a bit of cocoa that only enhances the sweetness, along with raisin, date, iron - the dried, concentrated fruit flavors are intense. It's not a terribly rich beer, but it is overly sweet, and the yeast strain fails to impress.

I've had this beer several times over the years, and it's never made a strong impression on me. Merely an OK example of the style.

largadeer, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of zeff80
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a semi-opaque, deep mahogany color with a small, tan head. It ledt a soapy lace/residue.

S - It smelled sweet and of fruits (pear and apple). Some spicy notes, too.

T - This is a very complex dubbel. Lots of fruit flavors, sweet caramel malt, spices, and a subtle hop bitterness.

M - It was soft and smooth. A medium to heavy-bodied beer.

D - This is an excellent North Coast beer. It belongs up there with Old Rasputin and Praqster.

zeff80, Aug 17, 2008
Photo of biboergosum
3.3/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, saved from a trip through the beervana of Seattle, Portland, and yes, Boise, earlier this year. While jazz totally isn't my thing, I'll still entertain any offering from this brewery.

This beer pours a cloudy, dank, brick-tinged brown hue, with an emaciated finger's worth of fizzy beige head, which doesn't stick around long enough to suffer questioning. It smells of sweet caramel malt, dotted and blotted with figs and dates, some prominent dusty vinous notes, and mildly acrid alcohol. The taste is dark, muddled earthy fruit, understated caramel/toffee malt, a soft leafy hoppiness, and some mild booze warming. The carbonation is on the down low, brutha, the body a solid medium weight, and agreeably smooth (not that I'm saying anything further). It finishes sweet, fruity, and warm - see the prior liner notes...

While I don't particularly care for the eponymous artist's musical style, I do quite like BSDAs. So, it somewhat irks me, that this offering is so, well, simple. Drinkable, I suppose, but lacking that usual dense, complex oomph that usually pulls me in, and convinces me to stay.

biboergosum, Nov 01, 2011
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +5.8%

JAHMUR, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy Burgundy accented dark mahogany. Antique white head dissipates shortly (bar glassware perhaps...). Glowing ruby highlights and a rim of gold.

The nose expresses deep caramel with fruit pulp (plum) and a vinous accent. Background spice.

Effervescent. Foams in the mouth.

Flavor: malty, bready, sweet, vinous, fruity, dark skinned fruit, sugary candy... the alcohol is obvious and lends some spice. Otherwise clean. Not particularly phenolic, but present (mild suggestion of bubblegum/banana).

Finishes dry and bitter with a wash of alcohol.

A bit hot, a bit sweet. ....out of round.

NeroFiddled, Sep 29, 2006
Photo of SocalKicks
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

SocalKicks, Mar 14, 2012
Photo of Jason
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

Jason, Apr 18, 2013
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a coppery brown color, with a short off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a decent lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of apples, caramel, brown sugar, some chocolate, Belgian yeast and some hops.

T: The taste is sweet up front with flavors of brown sugar, caramel and a little chocolate that are quickly followed a mild flavor of tart fruit. There's a nice Belgian yeast backbone and a heart malt character. The hops presence is mild but complementary. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this might not be the best Belgian-style beer I've had but it's a solid beer overall that is worth drinking for a while.

TheManiacalOne, Jun 18, 2009
Photo of WVbeergeek
2.53/5  rDev -33.1%
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.

WVbeergeek, Sep 15, 2006
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I don't know what it is about this beer, but every time I try to review it, I forget myself and end up neglecting to do the work. I suppose that's a sign of how good this beer is. Also, I've had different aged versions of this, so have had different flavor experiences with it. All have been good, of course. But I just want to make the effort to mention it so that it's known that it's a nice beer to age for a while. Overall, this is as close as you're going to get to a true Belgian style ale. Always reliable; always a pleasure to drink.

RblWthACoz, Aug 05, 2012
Photo of Kegatron
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500 ml corked & caged bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a beautiful looking DEEP clear ruby, with a finger of foamy light tan colored head. This retains with a frothy looking 1/3 of a finger, leaving back a robust cascade of lace that quickly slides down the sides of the glass yet still hang in some thick swathes. The aroma smells of a sweet mélange of dark fruit, chocolate, and toffee, which is in turn followed by notes of spice, heat, and some light roast that helps cut some of the sugars here a bit.

The taste is similar, being rich with dark cherries, brown sugar, a splash of caramel flavor, and then some light roasted cocoa notes across the back. A dry and spicy finish really hangs some sharpness on the tongue. I’m really enjoying the combo of cocoa and brown sugar in this. The mouthfeel is fuller bodied, with a lively creamy feel that fills the mouth. It’s not too sharp but does toe the line some. There is some light warmth in each sip but be careful with that 9%+ ABV here. It’s catches up to you quickly!

It had been a while since I’ve had this and I must say that I really enjoyed it much more this time around. There’s lots of rich sweetness and fruit flavor to this, yet it possesses just enough assertiveness from the yeast and malt as well to help keep things balanced on the platate. My only complaint here is the overall heft of this, as it just got to be a bit taxing to finish this bottle by myself. I could have easily split this 16.9 oz bottle with another. Anyway,this is a good one to help take the winter chill of with!

Kegatron, Dec 08, 2011
Photo of russpowell
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep ruby red/chestnut with a 3 fingers+ tan head into my Vondel glass. Near zero head retention & lacing

S: Chocolate& fruittyness, then alcohol as it warms

T: Chocolate & fruittyness (plums & cherries) up front along some biscuitty notes. Raisin hints follow along with cherry notes & dryness. Warming alcohol slowly creeps in along with vanilla & caramel. Finishes dry, fruitty & warming with hints of chocolate

MF: Chewy with low carbonation

Drinks alright for the abv, says it's an abbey-style ale. This works for me a slightly amped up dubbel

russpowell, Dec 10, 2006
Photo of Slatetank
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Slatetank, May 26, 2013
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.3/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

For this evenings liturgy, the sacred text we turn to is from Brother Ellington: It Don't Mean A Thing, If It Ain't Got That Swing. Brother Monk swings it in his angular, avuncular way on the 88's, getting us in the groove in his inimitable fashion, we're deep in the pocket, the rhythm's rockin', we're reeling with the feeling...

A clear, dusky crimson shade, this, with a slim, cola-toned head...not as impressive as I like a dubbel, but fair, s'okay, s'alright...
("Sophisticated Lady" is next, and I'm set in a proper frame...)

Nose starts with sweet things, dark fruits, mingling with spices, plums and cinnamon, apples and pepper, the dark keys get hit, while the sweet notes linger...
my poor heart is sentimental, not made of wood, ...I got it bad and that ain't good...a sombre timbre is struck, then a thrilling trill is played, a chord set deep in the heart, let loose by a freewheeling arc of high-flung notes...
cola meets coffee, ...Monday, Monday rolls around...
and I end up where I start out, just crying my heart out...Oscar strums, and Kenny kicks it...

We lift glass to lip, ale meets tongue, tastes thrills the buds, it's a sweet, spicy thing. A cola-tinged pepper is the first thought to mind, cocoa and coffee, black and tan finds a fantasy in the senses...deep and dark, pretty and twisted, fine and fancy, sweet and lovely...very evenly played, but you never know what's next...a cadence keeps up, a groove maintains, richness reigns, swing is always king,...big fat chocolate keeps time...
...you ain't been blue, ...no...no...no...no...
rolls and rolls around the mouth, a sweet thing, and full of character, plenty of hops to tingle the buds...finish on a beautiful run on the keys, and then start the next one swinging...I let a song go out of my heart, it was the sweetest melody...

another touch of the ale on the lips and the coffee/cola thrill continues...

...it's not too late, to make amends/ we were meant to be, more than just friends/just friends...

sweet, but expertly balanced by the darker tones, and the hops, well played on all parts of the keyboard, darkness and light get a little shine...

is it Fats Waller, Art Tatum, or Albert Ammons at work here? Or Willie the Lion Smith?...naw, it's another cat purring the keys...and now, Kenny's hitting the trap hard, syncopating like a clockwork kitten...

another drink and I'm liking more, as the spice and the rich, dark fruit rides over the cola-ish feel.
We're on a caravan, searching and wandering, looking for further flavors than the norm, stretching out against the desert of what we're used to...prunes bump against cinnamon, nicely rounded off, an equally met challenge of malt and hop.

Night, night, night, and the stars are shining bright...while the darkness drums away...

Kenny switches kits with Art who swings like a pendulum, and rocks like Gibraltar...got to be, bringing me, memories of you, as all the clouds roll away...

I like the quote from Monks' son, who goes by T.S., "finally, after all the years of getting a cut from the door, musicians will get a cut of the bar!" A refererence to the the proceeds that will swing their way to the Thelonious Monk Institute for Jazz, which will receive the profits from this particular ale...I wish it were more than $2 a case, though, but as long as folks keep hearing about the man and the music, I'm cool on it.

It's a full-bodied, thing, with a long cola-tinged finish, plenty of sweetness, tempered with spice, rich and chocolate-y. But I forgive some technical flaws by how it swings on the palate and pleases the senses...and it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing...


This review was done to the tune of the classic recording, "Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington", recorded in July, 1955, with Thelonious Monk, piano, Oscar Pettiford, bass, Kenny Clark, drums. Some parts to the almost equally brilliant recording "The Unique Thelonious Monk" which features those same players in March/ April of 1956, but with Art Blakey on drums. To your own peril you go, without hearing these classic recordings. (I even reviewed it on iTunes, check that out!)(Plays Ellington, not The Unique)
and do I need to comment on that label;? Too cool! Brother Monk holding court!

feloniousmonk, Nov 20, 2006
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.18/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

definitely nothing special here. let down for sure. pours a transparent deeo ruby red color with a very small head that fades to nothing. smells malty, but not in a pleasant way, like something went rotten a little bit, sugary too, and just a hint of belgian yeast. flavor is about the same, off-putting malt character, a bit metallic, and overly sweet. feel is weird in the stomach, carbonation is fine, but something is just off about this one. im hoping i just got a bad bottle or something, but this was on the verge of undrinkable for me, thick and sweet and funked out. im reluctant to try it again, but i guess i have to at some point given the largely positive reviews. north coast has been a bit of a disappointment for me thus far.

StonedTrippin, May 20, 2012
Photo of drabmuh
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Brother Thelonious. Apparently a purchase of this beer benefits a Jazz organization out in California, good to know. This was a standard fair, American made Belgian style ale. It was darker than I expected but it turned out to be about a strong brown ale. The mouthfeel was sweet and full. Dark brown, almost no head or carbonation but you wouldn't especially expect a beer like this to have either of those. Nearly 9% ABV and this was a big bottle, it packed a wallop. It wasn't the easiest beer to drink. The sweetness of the malt and the sweetness of the high alcohol were not as balanced as I would have liked. There is definetly a market for this beer though, it just may not be me. I have seen this beer (and maybe you have too) and have been curious for a while. I am glad I drank one and it is a good beer for me to start out my new journey on. If you like brown ales or porters and are looking for a serious one, or if you are into Belgian style ales (especially dark ales), you should check this out.

drabmuh, Jul 21, 2009
Photo of jlindros
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tap at Armsby Abbey, 2009 vintage.

Creamy 1 finger head fades slowly over dark mahogany brown beer.

Nose brings plenty of dark malts, light sweet syrupy, bit of dark fruit, aged malt aromas, light caramel and toffee.

Taste starts with a nice aged malt flavor, lots of med to dark malts, light caramel and molasses, bit fluffy, some dark fruits raisin and plum, bit of Belgian fruity yeast and malts, touch of booze. Finishes bit drier but little sticky with lingering dark fruits and touch off booze and but of aged malts.

Mouth is soft med bodied with decent carb.

Drink is decent, some booze, drier but little sticky finish.

jlindros, Feb 19, 2011
Photo of mactrail
2.18/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This is a surprise. I remember this as being rich and a little sweet, but this batch seems to be rather thin and definitely on the acidic side. Looks well enough, more red than coppery in the Duvel tulip. Nice head but coarse bubbles. The nose is a little vinegary.

Sharp and hints of some kind of bacteria like a Grand Cru, only much drier. Where did all the sugar go? Tart, rather bitter, quite earthy. Body is thin. Flavor makes me think of shellac. Aftertaste is very bitter and dirty.

From the 12 oz bottle from the cooler at Olive Tree in OB. I'll give this a taste if I see it on tap, but I'm leery of the bottles now. It was quite tasty in the big bottles but it has been three or four years since I've tried it.

mactrail, Apr 09, 2012
Photo of WesWes
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a cloudy brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice, malty scent that boasts of crystal malts and Belgian yeast. It's sweet with the alcohol warmth and a fruity presence; raisons, figs. The taste is decent. It's full of malt flavor especially the crystal malts and a bit of special roast. It has a solid yeast fruitiness with a warm raisony finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking beer. It's a bit too much with the alcohol warmth. It could also use some more body and/or specialty malts. All in all, a fine effort.

WesWes, Jul 02, 2007
Photo of mendvicdog
4/5  rDev +5.8%

mendvicdog, Apr 12, 2014
Photo of Mora2000
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

Mora2000, Jul 18, 2012
Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,352 ratings.