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Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,614 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,614
Reviews: 982
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.46%
Wants: 62
Gots: 362 | FT: 5
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: 2,614 | Reviews: 982
Photo of SmokinSmyth
3.2/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I drank this with dinner, a dark beer with quite a kick. It did not overwhelm the food (ham), and was very smooth. It was in a corked bottle, very tasty. It had a very nice color, and poured with a prodigious head. Part of the proceeds goes to support the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz.

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

12oz Singleton Poured into an Ithaca Beer Co. Imperial Glass

I've had this beer on tap at 99 bottles in Santa Cruz, and in a bomber out there as well. I'm finally getting around to rating it, but it's always been just a decent beer that doesn't stand-up to what i've come to expect from North Coast.

A: Deep nutty brown, nice frothy head. Ephemeral, little to no lacing.

S: Strong and sweet, caramel and fruit. All the usual belgian strong brown notes.

T: Little iron up front. Gets boozier and boozier and sweeter and sweeter all the way through. Finish is too-highly carmelized berries.

F: Bubbly, strong, and pretty good.

D: Unimpressed, but not disappointed. Far too sweet with no cut for my taste.

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 bobhits
2.33/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

deep amber 2 finger head. Tones of bubbles racing to the top.

Belgium yeast and malt...wow...how new. Touch of alcohol.

Sweet, yeasty, amber, caramel malt covered in yeast...simply boring as hell. If you like this style be default enjoy...otherwise avoid like the plague.

Lots of carbonation, medium body...very drinkable very nice mouth feeling.

Abby ale is another word for crappy yeasty mess more often than not. I have had so many beers of this style and I keep being left baffled how people enjoy it. Candy and sweetness are not positive unless balanced by a bitter flavor. These beers lack that and ultimately suck as a result. Factor in this isn't an overly well done one for the style and things just get worse. It's odd I can love a beer of this style if they get it right...and i mean RIGHT, but even the slightest failure and it's crap. This sadly is crap.

If you like the style give it a try but for me and at 9.4% it's just a keep away.

Photo of Swill5786
3.96/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep brownish red with one finger head, quickly fading. Not bad looking but not really distinctive. Aroma is a different story - a brilliant complexity increasing with warming. Note of raisins, apples, cherries and perhaps other fruit in the nose with a hint of brown sugar and alcohol lurking behind the prominence of the fruit. Taste is also quite interesting and complex. Caramel malt and all that fruit up front. Alcohol bite seems to ride in the middle. Easy on the hops bitterness, slight sour quality at the back. Sweet bread finish. Medium mouthfeel, average for style. Not grasping for more than one at once, but quite enjoyable as a stand alone experience.

Photo of littlesgtpepper
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the North Coast Brewery on 09/22/10 in a snifter glass.

Had a nice off-white head and stayed forever. Very nice lacing down the glass as I drank.

The smell was light but I sense apples and I almost thought this beer could pass for a sour by the smell.

This is a very nice beer. The flavors of maple syrup, sour (something?!), slight roastiness, cider, and vinegar clash together to create something closer to a wine or a sour than your average dubbel. The hops (if there even are any!) are clouded and completely undetectable considering the strong flavors. This beer, even with its tartness, reminds me of a dunkelweizen or a Belgian.

Wasn't too impressed by the bottle but really liked the on-tap version. I need to give this one another shot and would recommend this one to people who like Belgians or sours.

Photo of bagpiper2005
4.24/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour: Deep, clear reddish-brown color, and just as red as can be when held to the light. A finger and a half of reddish-brown head that dissipates quickly and doesn't lace the glass.

Smell: Malts are the star here. Hints of sweet caramel, toffee, brown sugar. Hints of raisin and apple, and a touch of chocolate.

Taste: The front end is deliciously fruity sporting notes of sweet raisins and tart green apples, which then gives way to a caramel and brown sugar taste. The middle of the palate is nice and yeasty and the back end finishes up with a touch of chocolate and alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel: Rather light for the style and ABV (closer to a medium body), though a bit chewy. Pretty high carbonation.

Drinkability: A lovely warming sipping beer. Smooth drinking and delicious.

Final Notes: Yet another solid (albeit high-octane) offering from North Coast. Makes a great dessert or winter beer. Highly recommended.

Photo of Vixie
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours very dark, not quite black, reminds me a lot of the color of a cola drink. Not a lot of head, maybe a half inch of a tan head.

This smells sweet, a lot of malt, a lot of yeast. Also has a bit of a hint of citrus in it.

Tastes similar to the smell, a bit on the sweet side. I can also detect hints of coffee and chocolate in there. Finishes dry, with a hint of hops and Belgian candy sugar.

Seemed a bit on the thin side to me, a bit more body wouldn't hurt here.

While not a great beer, very much not a bad one either. The sweetness reminded me a bit of a fruit beer. Definitely worth a try, but won't become one of my regular beers either.

Photo of morebeergood
3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Purchased a single small bottle at Whole Foods for $3.49. Poured into my Ommegang chalice. Dark color of faded ruby. Had a moderate sized head, but it faded rather quickly. Minimal lacing on the glass. Smell was very ripe with notes cherry and prunes, but also hot with booze. Taste was flavorful but unbalanced. Had a nice fruit flavor like figs and rye bread, but then it had a medicinal quality to it like cough syrup. Mouthfeel was very sticky, the body was thin, and the high abv was right up front. This beer does not feel good in your mouth. Does not remind me of other well-made dubbels I have had. Perhaps this beer could use a bit of age in the cellar to mellow out. But to drink one right now was not a great pleasure. Worth a try, but not worth buying again on my part.

Photo of twelvsies
1.99/5  rDev -47.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I had this beer probably five years ago when I first saw it. Wasn't impressed, but I figured it was worth another try at least so I can put the awesome Monk bottle next to the DFH Bitches Brew bottle I have. Anyway, on to the beer...
Actually, one interesting side note - I've opened probably hundred's of thousands of corked bottles (6 years of bartending, several beer bars) and this was the hardest bottle to open.
OK, now on to the beer. Dark brown color, odd colored brownish head, dissipates quickly. Man, the nose on this is quite funky, not in a good way. Definite whiff of soy sauce, not a good sign, and cardboard. Unfortunate. It really is an alright tasting beer, but if I catch that whiff before a sip it kind of ruins the whole thing for me. Sticky mouthfeel... Too bad - I really wanted to like this beer. I am a jazz musician myself and Thelonious Monk is one of my idols. Too bad the beer does not represent. Awesome label, great brewery (otherwise), yet a terrible beer. It's ok, it was worth the $9 to have the bottle on my shelf.

Photo of dgilks
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep mahogany colour with a red tinge. Small tan head with poor head retention.

Rich sweet bready melanoidins with noticeable alcohol. Not as fruity as many dubbels.

Very sweet, thick bready malt character with a mild fruit character. More doppelbock than Dubbel.

Medium-full body with moderately-high carbonation.

Good flavour but not really Belgian in my book.

Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.94/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml into a Ballast Point pint glass...

A - Poures a reddish brown color with a one finger tan head that dissipates fairly quick. Not much head retention or lacing with this one...

S - Pick up notes of dark fruits, raisins, and something sweeter. Maybe caramel or brown sugar...

T - Plums, raisins, apricot, and various other fruits followed by a smooth alcohol warmth. This is one tasty beer...

M - Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation...

D - Bought this one on a whim, and I wasn't disappointed. Another solid brew by North Coast. Definitely something that I will be picking up again...


Photo of rembrant
2.21/5  rDev -41.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Pours a medium red brown with a 1/2" head that's gone quick. A more down the middle pour can form head but it still fades. Not much lace but a pretty color

Aroma Not much. Seems a touch of malt and something yeasty-tangy.

Flavor Well, there's a moderate malt,some yeasty old wood thing that's hard to figure. Second swig I get some trace of fruit-herbal hops and a metallic aftertaste. Progressively, barnwood and scrap iron tastes grow. Reminds me of an old wood box full of bits of old hardware, copper,steel,aluminum and old musty wood.
Mouth Body and carbonation about medium, aftertaste lasted awhile...but in this case,that's not very pleasant.

Drinkability. Well, impulsively I added this to some other singles on the spur of the moment. I had confused it with an IPA I wanted to try,and also had no idea it was over $3 a bottle.

I'd never cared for Belgian. Some years ago I went way over budget on one supposed to be good stuff...and found it almost too abrasive and rank to finish. Deja Vu

I can't see that dank wood and assorted metal as a taste I'd acquire. Worse yet, it STAYS on the palate. Easily the least drinkable brew I've had in some time.

That I could have indulged in a Bell's Expedition at about that price makes me very sad.

Photo of grittybrews
3.67/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a syrupy blackish-brown into a Duvel tulip with a minimal film of head. Sweet Belgian yeast aroma of peppery banana and clove.

Slightly high carbonation and a full mouthfeel. Sweet up front with plenty of fruit and spice followed by a very nice chocolate malt creaminess. Finish is oddly metallic.

Pleasant enough but not a stellar example of the dubbel style. I found the initial flavors excessively sweet and the finish to be a bit "off".

Photo of bmwats
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml. bottle into a tulip.

A: Dark brown. Pours about a 1 finger, foamy, brown-white head. Settles fairly quickly leaving a thin layer of foam and a slight buildup around the sides of the glass.

S: A little oak and some nice bittersweet chocolaty, fruity goodness.

T: Sweet malty goodness. Nice and nutty.

M: Light finish, but full and robust body.

D: Uhhh.... it's great.

Atmosphere is really solid here. Very strong, dark, and regal appearance. Nose is a nice balance of earthy and sweet components. Flavor is beautiful. Full and robust. Overall, this is a very good quaff.

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

I think this beer might need a style change as it tastes and feels a lot more like a Belgian Style Strong Dark (as North Coast calls it). The beer reminded me of Unibroue's stronger, dark offerings. The malt is a bit syrupy with a mix of caramel and dried berries. Otherwise there's a bit of spice, but this beer needs a bit more complexity to stand up to the leaders in the style. Still, I think this could make a great beer to age for a couple years.

Photo of Mosstrooper
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 750mL bottle into 16oz Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass.

Appearance: Ruby-caramel in color with a large, yet quickly dissipating tan head that leaves no lace, but leaves a layer of foam floating on top of the beer. Many, many bubbles inside around the sides of the glass.

Smell: Sweet dark fruit aromas backed up by touches of caramel, chocolate, and yeast.

Taste: Begins with apple and red grape sweetness, rounding out to a chocolatey finish that also holds some plum notes. The finish also reveals slight yeast and a touch of bittersweet alcohol. As the beer warms, some spicy, almost cinnamon-like flavors come through.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with a somewhat sticky finish that ends up drying out as the alcohol takes over and warms some.

Drinkability: This is a very good dubbel, and a very good representation of the style. Definitely a nice sipping beer, and definitely one I would like to drink again- certainly worth a try.

Photo of thagr81us
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from tap into a tulip. Pours a nice deep red-brown with a two finger off-white to light tan head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. It maintained nice lacing throughout. The aroma was comprised of malt, fruit, and a subtle hint of alcohol. The flavor followed the nose with malt, fruit (mostly bananas), and a slight alcohol burn upon swallowing. It was light on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was not that bad. I really like the fruit flavor to it as it was not overpowering and made the brew quite smooth. I would definitely drink this one again for sure.

Photo of Naugros
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brewing a beer in honor of Thelonious Monk deserves credit right there. The word play between his last name and a holy man being attached to an abbey style ale is sweet. But then giving him a piano keyboard halo is genius.

I wish I could say I enjoyed the beer as much as the label. It's got a beautiful deep ruby color, but little head retention. The nose is all dark fruit and Belgian yeast with a little bit of spice. All pretty standard so far.

I struggle to find anything special about the taste. It's also pretty standard for an abbey ale: dark fruit (fig and/or raisin) mitigating the alcohol with the yeast adding a little spice (coriander and pepper). That spice brings some acridness to the back of the throat. That last, to me, is not a favorable experience and really detracts from a beer that starts off with a nice medium body. Another reviewer referred to is a metallic taste. I sense it as acrid, but it could be taken that way as well.

Perhaps I have had way too many dubbels at this point and have spoiled myself with some great ones out of Belgium as well as from Unibroue, Allagash and Ommegang. This doesn't really measure up to those. However, it is the best Belgian style brew I've had from the West Coast.

Photo of mexikrainian
4.67/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. poured into a Duvel tulip.

Aroma: raisin, brown sugar, cherry, malty and spicy.

Appearance: rich, hazy dark amber with thick off-white head and lace.

Taste: crisp, clean, and malty goodness. Smooth acidity with slight note of molasses at the finish.

Mouthfeel: medium-full body with perfect carbonation.

Overall impression: delicious, malty Belgian dubbel. The best American Belgian-style by far.

Photo of cheftasia28
4.42/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Chimay goblet.

A: Surprisingly dark coming from AgentMunky's recommendation for a finale beer ending a night of beer reviewing. I very dark golden brown with red tones. When held up to the light it shines a brilliant ruby red.

S: Very fruity and sweet! TO me, it smells like heaven! Almost has a candiness to it. There is a very mild alcohol aroma under the fruit and brown sugar.

T: DAMN DELICIOUS! Berry and fruit tones sing a beautiful melody. A banana end taste is undeniable. Not a strong after taste which is short lived which only forces me to take another sip!

M: It is light with a refreshingly crisp carbonation. Very clean and very good.

D: Of all the beer I have tasted, which has not been that many, this is hands down the best! This will soon become a constantly stocked beer in my fridge. Highly recommend.

Photo of detlefchef
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Chestnut reddish-brown, very brilliant color. Like others in the portfolio, it has the look of someone who knows how to finish beers. Cocoa and fried raisins on the nose. Smooth, deep, and succulent flavors of spice and dried fruit confiteure. Great texture and very drinkable for the style.

Pairing: Mole Poblano deconstructed. I'm typically averse to "un-making" a classic dish like Mole Poblano, but the beer seemed to release each of it's classic mole flavors one at a time and I think it would be an interesting pairing (even if a lesser dish than a well-made mole) to feature the elements taken apart on the plate.

Photo of kwjd
3.61/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish-brown that starts with a huge tan head. As the head settles down, has nice retention and lacing most of the way down. Smells of the Belgian yeast and sweet fruit. Taste is quite sweet, with minimal bitterness. Flavour has cherry and raisin, with lots of sugar. Good carbonation level. Just a bit too sweet for me, but overall a good beer.

Photo of thekanna
3.1/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Had at Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe in Washington, DC.

A: Poured into a stein; relatively thin with a ruddy copper hue and half a glass of off-white head.

S: Malty sweetness, a bit of metal, dried cherries, and spices... I detect peppercorns and coriander.

T/M: Spices... some nutmeg and pepper, a bit of caramel, sweet malts, cherries and other dark fruits (maybe fig?), rounded out by an overarching iron-like metallic taste, kind of like blood. Much thinner than I would've liked the style to be.

D: Not bad, not great... the iron-like taste kind of destroyed it for me.

Photo of Ghenna
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a corked and caged bottle into a SN hop glass. red/brown pour with 2 fingers of well lingering tightly bubbled off white head.

A little bit of candy sweet in the nose, along with a big Belgian spiced malt smell. Appetizing.

First sensation as I drink it is that it is kind of creamy in terms of texture. Initial flavor is hard for me to describe, I guess i would say it goes malt sweet -> spice -> kind of dry finish. Alcohol is obscured until it warms up, then procedes to warm you up nicely as well.

This is actually kind of a neat beer for me to have again. The first time that I tried it, as part of the beer flight at the NC taproom, it was one of the first craft beers that I had ever had. Truthfully I wasn't terribly fond of it. These many (well, ~5) years later my beer palate has changed to where I honestly think this is a really quality brew- and thats not just because it is corked and caged. This is a really good dubbel.

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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,614 ratings.