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Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,550 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,550
Reviews: 967
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.46%
Wants: 61
Gots: 314 | 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 (22) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,550 | Reviews: 967 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of boogyman
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured into my St. Bernardus glass. It is a dark maroon amber color. Maybe a finger of head that dissipated quickly. After about 15 seconds it leaves just a few bubbles on the ridge and some still floating on top.

S- Smell is of dark fruit like plums and a bit of cherries. Also have some peach and maybe some pear in there.

T- Definitely can taste the vanilla, dark fruit, and yeasty flavors, maybe even some bananas in there. So far this beer has me won over. I haven't had many dubbels but this is one of the best I have had.

M- Goes down smooth but has a fairly strong after-bite.

D- Enjoyed drinking this one. I could even have another if I had it. Go grab this one if you can. It's worth a go.

Photo of rosmhuire
3.2/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

A: Dark amber coloring. Average-sized white head that is gone in an instant - what the hell?

S: Bready sweet malt dominates on the nose.

T: Starts off a little too sweet, but then the hops come through on the back end a bit to prevent this from being too cloying.

M: Wow, this has tons of carbonation - more than I have ever experienced in a dubbel.

D: Moderately sessionable. I just don't really love the nonexistent head and excessive carbonation.

Photo of guinness310
4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: A vivid red mahogany body sits atop an off-white fluffy head that dessipates very quickly.

S: Spices; cloves and spice-all are evident on the nose. A very faint floral scent hints its way out of the glass. Ethanol is also evident on the nose.

T&M: Cloves, caramel and many spices rush the mouth while a smokey-like and ethanol flavour lightly lingers in the mouth.

D: Extremely drinkable. True to its style...

Photo of Evil_Pidde
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours deep amber with a rather flat white head that dissipates quickly.

S: The Smell is rich chocolate, a hint of coffee. Sweet malt; dark dried fruits together with cherries and a hint of hazel-nuts. Some faint vanilla as well.

T: Rich sweet maltyness. Dark dried fruits. Bitter hops as well as some floral ones.

M: Medium body and rather rich in carbonation, compared to other dubbels. Longlasting aftertaste that holds nice bitterness as well as some sweetness.

D: A nice dubbel, I've had most Belgian dubbels before and this was not a bad alternative. The weak head and the rich carbonation holds back a higher grade.

Photo of BDLbrewster
3.13/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours an opaque chocolaty, swamp water brown with a small cocoa head that is gone instantly.

The smell is rich, chocolate, sweet toasty malt and caramel come to mind. The roasted malts are very pronounced and work hard to cover up the alcoholic phenols that rise from my glass. The yeasty character that I pick up in most Dubbels is not really here in this one.

The taste is full of sweet caramel and chocolate syrup, much more that expected. The yeasty taste that I didn't get in the nose is very pronounced in the taste. There is a boozy warmth, but the flavor of alcohol is covered sufficiently by the roasty chocolaty malty flavors. The warmer the brew gets, the more of a boozy alcohol flavor emerges.

The mouthfeel is rich while remaining light, the carbonation is much higher than expected, but it works well for this brew.

Overall, good brew. Drinkability is hindered by the 9.4%, and the richness gets to be a bit cloying. 750ml is too much, but I would be all over this if I ever saw it on tap.

Photo of goblue3509
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep copper color with red highlights with no visible carbonation and virtually no head except a thin film. No lacing is present. The aroma is of deep caramel malt and some roasted malt. There are also smells of dark fruits. The taste is of caramel malt and deep roasted malt, there is a hint of dark fruits, but the main taste is the deep caramel malts. The mouthfeel is creamy with slight carbonation. Overall its a drinkable beer, you could have two or three no problem, having four or five might be pushing it.

Photo of Clydesdale
4.04/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep reddish-amber color. The tan-tinted head is fairly robust and has a creamy, denser texture. Retention is average, with modest lacing.

S: A fragrant, fruity aroma of cherries and raisins. Spicy clove and phenolic notes are also definitely present. Some nice caramel and toffee as well as a bit of alcohol.

T: A firm tofeeish malt sweetness, with a bit of sugary character. Fruity notes, again with mildly tart cherries, golden raisins, and dates. Phenolic spiciness is firm, with some mild clove/spice flavor. There's a pleasant bit of alcohol into the finish.

M: Medium-full bodied. Carbonation is a bit high for the style. A bit of heat from the alcohol, but it is well-integrated.

D: A pleasant, fruity dubbel from North Coast. Some minor things are a bit off (head and carbonation), but this is an enjoyable interpretation of a staple Belgian style.

Photo of deruiz10
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Tulip glass.

A - Quarter-inch brownish head fades within a few seconds and leaves very little lacing. Pour is a gorgeous brown and ruby red. It would look spectacular if the head retention was better.

S - I must admit that I did an accidental Belgian dip when whiffing this one. Dark fruits and brown sugar with notes of vanilla and perhaps a hint of alcohol. A little subdued.

T - Dark fruits predominate with some caramel sweetness, also some alcohol showing through and some mild yeast. Finish is a tart apple or cherry flavor.

M - Slick but not watery with fairly light carbonation makes for a pleasant, mildly chewy sensation. A little more carbonation would be nice.

D - A delicious beer all around, though the sweetness would get a little overwhelming after the first one. A good sipper though.

Photo of Asgeirr
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Brother Thelonious pours a beautiful dark maroon-to-crimson colour along with a rather medium-sized crown of a solid buff leather which persist for a minute or less and leaves some remnants alongside the glass in the shape of a balding monk. Continually, the bubbles seem to stroll slowly like a victorious platoon in fatigue from their most recent battle.

Smell: Sweet malty scents of duce de leche (a milk-based caramel syrup) interlaced with some smooth notes of dark fruit -- such as plums -- soaked in cognac and hints of vanilla,
some pepper and soy may be detected in the far end as well.

Taste: Corresponding to the sensations in the smell, we get a malty and sweet cherry-like sensation quickly accompanied by a vinous touch (so let's make it sherry then, shall we?) but in between comes the caramelly savour, like a breeze of enhancement in the pyre of sobriety, while the ending of soy is replaced by a gentle caress of sour of apples.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, rather full 'n' fluffy in viscosity, medium-low in carbonation and with a warming touch.

Drinkability: Happy new year, this is far from a crappy brew beer, the sheer nectar of the gods it might not quite be, but it's darn good, see! I've had me a few of this inebriating beverage on a number of occasions and it never seems to disappoint. I've said it once and I'll say it again: give it a go ya ho-ho-ho!

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep ruby brown with a cola-like hue, nice tan head, good retention, sticky lacing

S - Brown sugar, raisin, butter, biscuits or bagels.

T - Subtly as it smells, initially, and at the finish, between intense sour cherry, fig, plum. Muted hop profile, just enough bitterness to balance against the rich and fruity flavors. Very delicious taste.

M - 'Wet' enough to avoid the syrupy feeling, as this style is not suited to high viscosity.

D - Drink 'em if you got 'em. Tonight, I sat around with the fam, had a Thelonius, watched 'Brazil', and had a real mellow time. Great evening beer.

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

If only the beer had some head. Its deep hazelnut colour is most charming, especially to the light where it becomes a lucid cranberry tone, and despite the apparent darkness this hue seems most natural when it's bathed in the light. Unfortunately, a big pillowy head is a definite requirement for dubbels, Belgian-made or not.

Brother Thelonious doesn't make the jazziest smelling dubbel but then again Belgian ales tend to be the hippest cats out there. An authentic, quality Belgian yeast can carry a tune that is highly fruity, bready and spicy, and will belt out esters and phenols like it's nobody's business. This aroma, although on key, isn't quite a headliner...

But it could be, depending on the venue. As far as American ales go, this is as close to a genuine Belgian replica I've come across. Up against the real things, however, I maintain that I'd be able to tell it apart from authentic examples. Then again, who cares? This is equally redolent of dried fruits, savory spices and sweet malts and every bit as pleasant.

The taste, however, isn't quite every bit as flavourful as say the Westmalle Dubbel or the Achel Brune (to name just two of my many favourite examples of this wonderful style). That being said, you don't have to taste as good as those to still taste great; notes of raisin paste, dried cherries, toffee and currants are plenty enough to make this tasty.

The only dilemma seems to be that all these delicately nutty, sweet, earthy, fruity and savory flavours can't seem to hold their alcohol. The alcohol is a little less inhibited than in most authentic Belgian examples and is more easily noted outright. Still, it has enough going on that you can sit and sip slowly, enjoy its graceful complexities and not be scolded.

Jazz musicians sort of improvise and make it up as they go along; Belgian brewers do the opposite, they stick to time honoured yeasts and recipes and traditions. North Coast, a brewery way in the north of California, may have emulated the Trappists monks more than it has Thelonious Monk but it's done them both proud. Encore! Encore!

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

Dark murky brown on the pour, prune juice like, with no head. There is a thin film atop the still brew and a ring comprised of very fine continuously replenished bubbles that redeems somewhat an otherwise disappointing appearance - if not for that, I would score appearance a full point lower. The aroma is very much Belgian style abbey ale with yeasty notes, dark fruit tort, rum cake and molasses.

The taste is suggestive of fig and date sweetness, stewed prunes, touches of sour, dried cherry, blackberries. Alcohol is reasonably in check. Nice balance with a good finish that lingers, body a bit thinner than I expected from the array of flavours. Overall a decent although not outstanding example of the style in my book.

Photo of benclimbs
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with almost no head and very little lacing

smell is some dried cherries, dry red wine, caramel malts and a little banana

taste is cola, prunes and a bit of black tea with a slight alcohol finish followed by a hint of bitter cocoa aftertaste

mouthfeel is silky, and nicely drinkable but not sessionable

a good double done by a very good brewery - I still prefer pranqster and old stock for their respective styles

Photo of cosmicevan
4.35/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750mL bottle into a tulip glass.

A - Deep amber colour when held up to the light. First pour didn't get much head but my second pour gave a finger with more lacing.

S - Cherry, hickory smell to my nose.

T - Subtle sweet fruity taste...rich in flavor. Fig-like.

M - Light carbonation and smooth.

D - Very drinkable, similar to Ommegang's Abbey Ale with a pleasant after taste. Thoroughly enjoyed.

Photo of cleeze
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a dark ruby color with a perfect head. Nice and foamy then disappearing to show some great lacing.

Smell is fruity;cherries on the nose. Yeast and alcohol evident in the aroma.

Loads of dark fruit. Maybe plum and cherries. Candy sweetness upfront then well balanced with some great malty goodness.

Photo of Magpie14
4.17/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: jeweled crimson color with a touch of brown and purple. Lacing is minimal...much as the head. What exists is a thin brown ring of foam hugging tight. As my drinking continued a few speckles of foam managed to stick to the glass. Otherwise, most of the points fall within the bodies pleasing hue...good marks

S: the nose is full of character. Brown sugared candies, some caramel, malts, dark fruits (mostly figs), and some noticeable spices. What is great is that nothing is overbearing, it smells very friendly

T: what hits first are the caramelized raisins, figs, and wedge of orange peel. This is followed by heavy cloves and a pinch of nutmeg and the sweetly laced leafy hops. In addition it has some yeast and malt characters holding fast. What has really got me intrigued is the overall sweet demeanor, it reminds me of traditional dutch babbelaars, without being over the top sweet. Things meld very well

M: this Dubbel comes across somewhat softer than you think, very nice. The body has a medium feel and carbonation is spot on and the finish gathers just a light slap of tartness
If any faults are present, it has some alcohol flavors pushing through as it warms

D: great stuff. I was glad to finally get a chance to drink this. I have picked up the bottle numerous times and pondered...put back...and pondered. What a bit of luck to have it on draft at a great local restaurant and bar. Overall one of the better Dubbels I have had
Thanks midnite2sixman for being a chronicler of beer and a true patriot

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

I drank this one a couple of weeks ago, but I take excessively thorough notes.

This brew is the deeply red-hued brown of cherry wood. The head pours fairly thick, though very small, and dissipates to a very light foam that floats in a thick patch or two atop the beer beneath. Lacing is minimal. This isn't anything unusual for a beer close to 10 % ABV, but there are brews that produce more of a head at higher ABVs.
The nose is heady, clean and pretty big. Like most Belgians of any style, there's a particularity to this one. Alcohol is straight up in here, with the particular note of Belgian yeast strain evident. The dark fruits appropriate (and necessary) for the style are here, aromas of raisin, currants and /or plum. Cloves and other gentle spices are evident in the foreground. Everything's up front in this one.
This beer has the typical boozy flavor profile of others of its like, whether you call it a BSDA or a dubbel. It's a lot like a brandy or a cognac, with perhaps some characteristics of a good scotch. Otherwise, the flavor follows the aroma profile almost exactly. Everything from the aroma is here in a sturdy malt back with a candied sugar sweetness that isn't overdone. Perhaps the malt could be stronger in the profile, and perhaps there could be more complexity or a stronger feel, but this is a great beer.
There may be something just lacking in the mouthfeel; nothing that keeps this from being a great beer, but less than world class. It's heavy and thick in the feel, though the crisp bite is just enough and the smoothness isn't quite enough to balance. This shouldn't be hugely carbonated, but it's only just a bit more than flat. All in all it's not a bad feel, but it's not spectacular.
Obviously a high ABV prevents an exceedingly high drinkability, but I still want more than one. This is a great beer from a brewery that's never let me down.

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

Consumed 12/1

A: THis beer pours a ruby chestnut color with a once finger of creamy khaki head to it. Head recedes somewhat quickly and leaves spotty lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is of belgian yeast, banana, and clove.

T: Taste starts with a nice dose of belgian yeasts up front mingled with a hint of sweetness (some caramel and toffee). Middle is filled with banana, raisins and clove spices. Finish has hints of hop bitterness and a nice apple flavoring to the finish.

M: Lighter side of medium body, medium carbonation, creamy body with a sticky finish.

D: Goes down easily, not very filling, definitely a beer that I would pick up again.

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

Presentation: 750 ml, corked and caged, nice label...no date that I saw, but Sycamore's pretty dark inside

Appearance: Attractive, but surprisingly bright dark amber/garnet brew with a big ivory cap which soon fades to a thick ring and medium film with decent retention

Smell: One of the fruiter Dubbels I've smelled...this is FULL of plum, with some big hints of apple as well, and a bit of burnt sugar

Taste: In keeping with the aromas...big plum, apple, sweet burnt caramel...a little earthiness in the background as well, not quite tart, but just a hint of sharpness, keeps it from becoming cloying

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, a bit less CO2 than I'd like...

Drinkability: Medium-high

Conclusion: Good stab at the Dubbel style by an American brewery; for the same price, I prefer Ommegang's Abbey for its slightly heavier malt and rum-raisin overtones

Photo of alcstradamus
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes

Dubbels are probably my least favorite Belgian style. This one starts out very promising. Cola brown pour with a finger of head, making way for a luscious caramel nose with a great blend of spices and dark fruits that makes for a complex and inviting aroma.

The taste is a bit of a letdown...that balanced complexity in the nose doesn't translate the same on the tongue. The malt profile still dominates, but it doesn't have the caramel flavor I was expecting. The spices are subdued which I am OK with. The dark fruits are in good harmony. Really, the malt profile is the only thing holding this back from true greatness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with tons of effervescent carbonation but just a small sting. This is definitely a good dubbel, but already being from a handicapped style (to my palate) it takes something really special to stand out and I'm not sure that this is special.

Photo of cagocubs
4.06/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cellared a bomber of BroT for about a year. Opened it over the weekend and oh my was it good.

This was the sexiest beer I have ever poured, and I was not expecting it at all. Poured a brown with rubyred. The head was amazing. Nice towering ivory head that retained and laced throughout. Nice active carbonation. Great looking beer. Smelled malts, hops, barley, and dark fruits. Taste was capped off with good caramel malts, barley, and the dark fruits with some alcohol bite. Mouthfeel was nice and warming, good mouth coating. I will be buying more and drinking it more frequently.

Photo of theboozecruise
3.38/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Chimay goblet... no head at all. Zero. That was really odd. The color is a dark ruby red, almost brown.

There's a good smell to it, herbal, a little pear and apple scents.

The taste isn't much like the smell upfront... hints of malts, then the fruit flavors come through and on the back end more malts with some hops as well. Pretty good, considering this one has almost no carbonation.

I'm sure I just got a bad bottle... the flavor is still there but it's just obviously gone flat. Unfortunate.

Photo of davidw987
4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, not the 22 oz bottle. Fresh batch from BevMo November 2009.

Deep ruby-brown color, translucent with a nice compact head. I tasted more of a molasses taste in the malt profile than I remember. Very rich. I drank this the other night. Maybe I'll update this review after I have another bottle tonight.

Photo of mrmanning
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of HogtownHarry. Deep mahogany pour unleashed a beige foam that left minute lacing. Nose was bready, had pit fruits and tobacco with essences of yeast and caramel malts. Slightly smokey flavour profile was elevated with sweet molasses and caramel, tobacco and yeasty, bready crust like earthy flavours. Good beer. Thanks Harry!

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.

Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,550 ratings.