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Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

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

2,352 Ratings

(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
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Ratings: 2,352 | Reviews: 944 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed 2/14/08. Bottle. Poured a dark reddish brown. Aroma of dark fruits, Belgian goodness. Taste was similar (reminded me of a Chimay Bleu or a Kwak), also got some wheat at the end. Very smooth and easy to drink. Classic Belgian. I liked it a lot but it wasn't as complex as some of the fruitier belgian strong ales or quads.
Aroma: 7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Flavor: 7/10
Palate: 4/5
Overall: 16/20

LilBeerDoctor, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of bark
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The colour is deep brown, the liquid is clear. The low head disappears quickly, no lacing.

The complex smell got notes of hazelnuts, dark bread, toffee, yeast, some alcohol, dried fruits, and brown sugar. Hints of red wine and Christmas spices.

The taste is very elegant and highly balanced: Sweet notes of brown sugar and dried fruits are balanced by a dry fruity bitterness. Some sour notes and mild spices in the background. The aftertaste is quite mild with warming alcohol, strong red wine, pastry dough and hints of cinnamon and cloves.

The carbonation is medium, yet the very small bubbles are many and very fresh. The liquid is a little thin, but it is not a bad thing; a heavier liquid would have made this beer much less drinkable.

An elegant and well crafted dubbel. Lots of alcohol, still almost gulpable.

bark, Nov 16, 2008
Photo of beerthulhu
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark mahogany red with an off tan head.

S: Fruity dried fruit aroma, lots of raisins and plums.

T: Deep burnt caramel sweetness with hints of vannila. Rich velvet like lacing. Big raisin sweetness with a fruity ending. Alcohol is moderate at first but is very noticeable upon warming with lots of dried fruit dominating the palate. Belgian body with a bock flavor. Some bread notes and rich caramel. Dry palate.

M: smooth, with a good amount of carbonation. Nice feel on the tongue with toasted malt and fruit lingering behind.

D: Very good drinkability, very smooth and solid in most aspects (nose, flavor, mouthful).

beerthulhu, Nov 09, 2008
Photo of chaz410
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A great dubbel. Smooth smell, hinting at raisons, dates, cherry, malty sweetness, typical belgian hop notes.
This little beer was unbeliveably sweet without any notes of bitter. I liked it a lot but I can see how those used to having some bitterness wouldn't love it. The fruit notes ring out from the typical belgian dubble profile.
Very good!

chaz410, Nov 06, 2008
Photo of easement
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Deep Amber. Moderate Head with little retention.

Aroma- Metallic, Citrus, slightly floral.

Mouthfeel - Syrupy.very nice for the taste. it was different than I expected.

Flavor- Spicy Herbs. Bitter malt aftertaste that lingers.

Overall- Pretty Good. I would drink this again. Not my favorite, but good.

serving style: bottle

easement, Nov 06, 2008
Photo of Ljunkan
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber color.

Smell is of malt, dried fruits, plums, caramel and american hops.

Taste is first sweet, malty with notes of dried fruits and caramel. It ends with some american hops and notes of citrus.

Quite filling and nice mouthfeel. A very nice sipper, for sure. Maybe not extremely drinkable, but I think the alcohol is well hidden.

Ljunkan, Nov 05, 2008
Photo of whiteskittlz
3.48/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bought from North Coast Brewery in Fort Bragg. Hibernated in my fridge for 4 months. Poured into goblets on Election Night '08...so I guess it was policitally motivated.

appearance - deep mahogany colour, unfiltered. my only complaint is how quickly the head dies down (which the label depicts as a nice stouty head) - I would guess this is because of its 9.4% ABV.

smell: sweet maltiness, slightly yeasty, typical of Belgian brews + dark chocolate

taste: dark chocolate, woodsy (cedar, oak), swwet malt. keeping the temperature cool enough, the abv has not gotten in the way

mouthfeel; alcohol was felt going down, but again not overpowering.

drinkability: with temperature kept in check, it was easy enough to put down for the style

- ajh

whiteskittlz, Nov 05, 2008
Photo of DrJay
3.28/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A bit murky, tawny brown in colour with a thin beige cap when poured into a chalice. A little bit of stickage and the head settled into a collar with a clump of bubbles floating in the middle of the glass. When the cork popped there was a flash of bready yeast and wine in the aroma. Once in the glass it was a little less yeasty, but still very vinous. Plenty of toffee too, plus some plum and raisin notes. Pretty much the same in the flavour. There was a bitter edge that became more pronounced in the finish along with some alcohol flavour and warmth. Quite fruity overall. Light spice in the finish. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation, decent texture, slightly dry in the finish. Not a bad drinker for the abv, but a fairly mediocre dubbel.

DrJay, Nov 05, 2008
Photo of BigFrank71
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got this on tap at my local beer bar served in a 12oz tulip. appearence darkbrown with a mocha thick head, i did enjoy the aroma smelled a little of carmel and spice. Taste and mouth feel better then i expected for a belgian copy dubble. over all i would order this beer again and actually bought a bomber of this at a beer store for future drink.

BigFrank71, Nov 04, 2008
Photo of Bananaman
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

North Coast is a incredibly good brewery in my opinion, but this one is not one of their best ones'.

Looks really nice though! Deep brown/reddish color with a nice big beige head which soon settles to a nice lid of foam.

Aroma is good of gingersnaps, rosted malts and some fruitiness.

The taste though is a bit overwhelmed by alcoholish-taste, which is a bit sad. But there are some really nice and exciting flavours going on in there of gingersnaps, rosted malts and some toffee. Another "bad thing" about this one is that I think it's a bit "over-hopped" for the style.

All and all, a good beer. I think a couple of years in the beer-cellar might round this one of and make it a wonderful beer.

Bananaman, Nov 04, 2008
Photo of Ch1mpy
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a thick light brown head. No lacing.

Sharp malty smell with apricot and a strong presence of burnt sugar.

At first the taste reminds me of Glühwein. It stings of alcohol but there is also a pleasant taste of dried fruit. There is also some smoke and malt flavours in the taste.

The aftertaste is long and surprisingly sweet with lots of dried fruits and a nice malty finish.

Ch1mpy, Nov 02, 2008
Photo of Seanibus
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep coffeelike amber with a decent head, but with no lacing. The smell is roasted, with a soysauce like character - much like a dry porter. The flavor is roasty, cherrylike, with a little woodiness on the back end. There is a nice burn of malt spiciness down the throat. The mouthfeel is medium, with a little woody cling on the back of the mouth and a nice sting of carbonation. Not bad, probably be better with food.

Seanibus, Nov 01, 2008
Photo of yelterdow
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

750ml corked and caged bottle, cellared for about one year. Served at between fridge and cellar temperature in a Chimay goblet. I'm noticing the 9% ABV on the label... a strong dubbel compared to most in the 7-8.5% range. Let's drink!

Appearance- Gentle foam eases up the neck of the bottle upon corking. On the pour, the color is a caramel brownish red with a two-finger light tan head that pops away to an o-ring around the perimeter. Lacing is moderate and spotty.

Smell- There's a tartness that bites the nose initially, then a wonderfully creamy nose of prunes and figs settles in. It's a luscous, malty aroma that continues to carry an almost lemony breeze even afterwards.

Taste- An evolution of flavors develop on the tongue, beginning with a surprising tartness at the sides. The big malts and dark fruits arrive shortly, delivering full-on rich flavors of plum and figs. There is a subtle hop bitterness in the finish, but it is cloaked in vanilla and booze-drenched fruit.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- The texture here is simply put, perfect. Slick and frothy going in, it remains impeccably sublime through the swallow. Considering the richness in flavor here, this mouthfeel couldn't possibly be better. This is a big beer, one best savored with a hearty meat or cheese dish. Well worth the money spent.

yelterdow, Oct 24, 2008
Photo of bifrostguard
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Hazy orange with a quickly disappearing head.

S - Dark fruits, spice, a little alcohol.

T - Same as the smell except a little less potent as one would expect.

M - Medium bodied. Nothing particularly notable.

D - Not bad, but I think a couple would be enough as the flavor is not a full as I would like it for having a higher alcohol content.

bifrostguard, Oct 15, 2008
Photo of marcellaproust
4.28/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Very nice foamy head, ambitious bubbles here and there, and head lasted a nice bit. Pretty amber-brown cloudy color. Aroma perfectly matched the taste: whiff of nuttiness (macademia? pecan? yes, pecan) up front then move to creamy caramel and baked, slightly burnt figs. Carbonation very nice: pleasant fizziness that lasted throughout the whole beer tasting. This beer is remarkable. After tasting this and moving to the Bernardus Abt 12, the Bernardus tasted very (though pleasantly) apple cidery. A palate cleanser after the Thelonious.

marcellaproust, Oct 15, 2008
Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours brown with ruby highlights. About a half inch of head on the pour, but it is quickly gone afterwards. Smell is very nice. Very plump, juicy dark fruit. Some ripe dark grapes, plum. There is a lot of yeast flavor in the first sip. Dominates most of the promising notes that are in the smell. Good amount of carbonation and lively bite in the mouthfeel. Easy drinking, but unfortunately more complex in the nose than in the taste.

FtownThrowDown, Oct 14, 2008
Photo of Bugsey
4.72/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was huge surprise for me. I just bought one to try it, but couldn't stop thinking about all night long.

The flavor lingers, as does the warmth from the alcohol. Tastes are clean and balanced, yet there is rich maltyness, perfectly sweetened with brown sugar and carmel. Dark fruits, prunes and dates, are also there.

Going to try this one again.

And the label is pretty cool too.

Bugsey, Oct 07, 2008
Photo of BretSikkink
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brown with some lighter, reddish-orange highlights. The head jumps up nicely right away, but I'm afraid is hugely lacking in retention and lacing. I think that this is a big part of being called a Dubbel, so I'm a little mean on the score.

The nose is redolent of dark fruits with caramel and yeast phenolics as well. Pretty good.

Great in the mouth as well, with lots of fig and date sweetness, with some caramel malt for good measure. Slightly smoky, and phenolic clove in the finish.

Pretty damn sweet I have to say, a little too much for me to love. This should translate to a creamy, chewy mouthfeel that I'm just not getting here. It's almost harsh in its carbonation, ripping the flavors away rather than gently scrubbing.

Close but no cigar.

BretSikkink, Oct 06, 2008
Photo of popery
4.28/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This isn't a bad beer by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't particularly enjoy it either. It pours hazy and darkly golden with a light head. It smells ok, fairly fruity with some spiciness. The taste was a bit too sweet for me and there was some sort of off note present. It reminded me of soy sauce in a somewhat unpleasant way. I've never quite had that from a beer, but once I started thinking about soy sauce, it was pretty much all I could taste. Alcohol was definitely present and a bit too strong, so actually it was more like soy sauce that has gone bad and fermented some. That probably sounds worse than I mean, but I didn't enjoy it. I like North Coast's Old Stock Ale, which seems a bit funny with my opinion of this one but it's probably a completely different brewing process. I know very little about brewing. Anyway, the mouthfeel wasn't all that great. The flavor lingered a bit too much and I would've preferred more carbonation. Ultimately, it was not a very drinkable beer due to taste, but it's not a bad beer either. Dubbels and BSD's just aren't really my thing, so far anyway.

Edit: Tried it again on tap at North Coast's taproom. The flavor was much better and lacked any of the bizarre soy sauce notes from my first review. There's complexity in the taste with a lot of fruit and a well-balanced sweetness.

popery, Oct 02, 2008
Photo of jcdiflorio
3.38/5  rDev -10.6%
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.

jcdiflorio, Oct 02, 2008
Photo of notafood
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very dark and cloudy amber/brown, almost opaque. Slight cream colored head with good retention.

Smells very nice, dried fruits, sugar, malts, molasses. Nice and roasty/toasty.

A nice dubbel, not too sweet, complex. Some good malts going on, a little spice. Molasses, caramel, raisins, good dry finish.

A little sticky, but nice, full-bodied. A bitter finish that helps keep the beer moving.

I'd consider having some more of this. I thought it was surprisingly drinkable for a dubbel.

notafood, Oct 01, 2008
Photo of webmanspidey
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice dark brown color with lots of tannish white head. A sweet caramel smell with noticeable cherry grape and raisin. Taste is more of the same. Lots of alcohol present. Lots of carbonation. Aftertaste not as pleasant. A slow sipping beer but enjoyable.

webmanspidey, Sep 30, 2008
Photo of Offa
2.5/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

This is to me another disappointing, rather bland, uninteresting, and one-dimensional abbey ale. Although I have had several that I think are complex and flavourful, many others I've had simply seem bland and one-dimensional and this is one of the worst.

It looks good, a deep reddish-brown and slightly murky with a small but dense, permanent tan had that essentially never shrinks and leaves a very little foamy lace.

The aroma also is nice and promising - fruity, darkly toasty with a hint of chocolate at first that soon weakens to leave a lot of stewed fruit, fermented apples and pears, kulich (sweet Russian easter bread with dried fruit), candied citron, spices bark, hint of grapefruit - clearly alcohoplic and meaty but pleasantly and interestingly so. This is a nice, promising smell.

The taste, though, fails to live up to the look and smell. It is light, zesty, and tart, with bittersweet fruit, tart cranberry juice, cirus, hint of burnt caramel and alcohol, with brief initial promise and complexity. This promptly degrades, however, into complete blandness with merely overly strong, persistent tartness being the main quality, with only very weak hints of cranberry and burnt dried fruit. It rapidly becomes tiresome and boring, the tartness which at first seemed like a nice quality utterly dminates the drink, leaving almost no other taste or character. What compelxity it started out with vanishes and I see no point in drinking this.

Offa, Sep 29, 2008
Photo of Jmamay22
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brother pops open with some cool gun smoke and I can already smell the dark sugars, fruit and spices. The beer pours a semi cloudy tawny brown with a tan collar. No lacing.

Wow! Smells phenomenal. Prunes, toasted sugar, raisins, and spices fill out this wonderful bouquet.

Tastes similar although less fruit and more spice. The caramel and dark sugar comes through nicely. Finishes with spices and a slight warming effect. Deeply rich and malty.

Mouthfeel is on the heavier side of medium and does a great job imitating the Belgian greats. Large alcohol volume, but mostly absent in the taste and smell. Very drinkable. Underrated brew from an underrated brewery. I should stock this more often. Plan to pair it with steak later this evening.

Jmamay22, Sep 28, 2008
Photo of GilGarp
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I hadn't seen this North Coast Brewing offering before today but had enjoyed their beers in the past. My friend swears by the Old Rasputen! I was initially attracted to the label and wondered if the name refered to the one and only Thelonious I know. Only now do I make the (obvious) connection between a beer style originally brewed by a monk and a jazz great with the same name. Brother Thelonious has a deep reddish brown color and pours with little head that lingers briefly. The smell is pleasant and familiar to someone who enjoys Belgian beers. The taste is also predictable but in a good way. If I hadn't seen the bottle, I would have assumed only a small group of little old men living in an abbey could create such a brew. A combination of carmel, chocolate and raisins hide the deceptively high alcohol content. I strongly recommend this beer as one of the best American abbey-style beers I've ever had.

edit: re-review

I bought a bottle of this about a year ago when I was first starting to "cellar" beers and figured this was a good candidate being almost 10% and not known for fresh hops.

No date on the bottle. Pops with vigor and pours with just a bit of head. It has a nice redish brown color with good clarity.

Aroma is rich and fruity with a bit of spice.

The flavor is surprisingly strong, full of dark fruits like raisins, figs, plums. Lots of sweetness but balanced with some bitterness on the finish. Nice spicy layer too.

Mouthfeel is good despite high alcohol. The same could be said for drinkability.

I couldn't ask for better results from aging this beer. It makes me wonder what would happen if I bought a case and had one every year until I'm 40. Yikes, that's a scary thought!

GilGarp, Sep 26, 2008
Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,352 ratings.