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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

2,376 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,376
Reviews: 945
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 13.76%
Wants: 49
Gots: 219 | 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: 2,376 | Reviews: 945 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WeeObese
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The beer pours dark amber almost ruby in color with a thick tan colored head that dissipates quickly.

The smell is dominated by dark carmel malts, fruity spicy phenols, and slight alcohol.

Taste is sweet malt followed by strong alcohol, and finishes with a nice Belgian yeast aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is warming and full.

The beer is pretty big so, although tasty, more than one could be a little too much.

WeeObese, Jul 06, 2008
Photo of asabreed
3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a Delirium Tremens tulip.

Appearance: Dark amber body, scant lacing. Color saves it, as its deep and nice to look at. Slightly soapy head for how minimally it appears.

Smell: Sour apples initially, with some cherries, peppery spice, nice earthiness, mild alcohol whiffs. Mostly fruit esters and a bit of citrus from the hops, and as it warms it has a kind of granny smith apples dipped in Nutella kind of aroma. Still, there's not much Belgian flavor. Not much yeast, no signs of candi sugar commingling with other flavors, and there's some earthiness, but hardly a semblance of any kind of funk.

Taste: Mostly a mix between bitter chocolate earthiness and sour fruits and berries. No heavy signs of yeast flavors of phenolic activity. Semi-dry finish, fairly long, with a nice balance between the malt and fruit flavors and bitter citrus and earthy hops. Still wish there was more going on, especially for a brewery that I hold very highly in my book.

Mouthfeel: More watery and slick than it probably should be, as there's not nearly enough carbonation for the style. Doesn't really feel like a Belgian at all.

Drinkability: $4 for a short bottle? Glad I didn't get the corked and caged variety. There's some interesting things going on, but enough to keep me going back. And though I didn't expect it to taste like an exact non-domestic mimic of the style, they have a long way to go to impress me with this. I'm glad I tried it, especially for Thelonious, but man, I'm not sure he'd be too thrilled if he were to see this in his name.

asabreed, Jul 03, 2008
Photo of paco1029384756
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours brown/red with small tan head and a thin ring of lacing.

Scent of Belgian yeast, brown sugar, roasted malts and foliage.

Taste is a bit sweet and a bit earthy with some sweetened tea, Belgian yeast, and slight roasted malts.

Mouthfeel is a little uneven, viscous.

paco1029384756, Jul 02, 2008
Photo of elricorico
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very red in colour, looks quite dark in the glass. Thick creamy beige head that takes its time in receding.

Aromas of cherries, musty yeast and a bit of liquor. Some impression of red licorice whips.

Cherries again in the flavour, a little bit tart and musty. Vinous at times in the finish. Sweet but not overly so. Some spice impression mixed in, pepper or clove. Good, but it just feels like its lacking something.

Medium bodied and a little sticky. Carbonation is a bit coarse. Not bad altogether.

I like it, but certainly there are better examples out there.

elricorico, Jun 28, 2008
Photo of Crosling
3.05/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brick colored autumn color with a small, well layered hour. Bubble gum and dark fruit in the nose, fairly nice, but could have more depth. Flavor has hints of honey covered fruits, decent belgian character and a decent finish. It's an ok Belgian style beer, better than most American interpretations.

Crosling, Jun 21, 2008
Photo of BullCityB
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful deep amber with a craggy foam head. Just as a dubbel should be. Nice lacing with solid retention.

The smell is slightly alcoholic and quite spicy. Theres some sweet fruitiness in the background as well.

Flavorwise, Brother Thelonious is fruity and sweet at first, with more spice and warming alcohol in the finish. As per the style, no hop flavor or aroma is noted anywhere. The alcohol may be a little bit too dominant on the finish, but not much. It is 9%, rather high for a dubbel, so I can accept it. Maybe a little age will smooth that out and meld the flavors a little more? It would be a more enjoyable experience with a little less of it.

The mouthfeel is smooth, but not silky smooth like so many of the best Belgians. Carbonation is a little on the low end for a dubbel, at least in my experience.

Overall, the alcohol makes this a true sipping brew. Nobody will be chugging this one any time soon.

I think that this would probably be a better beer after a year or so. It would likely smooth out the alcohol that is rather dominant here. I don't want to see it go away entirely, but less of it would let the virtues of Thelonious shine brighter and overall, bring a dose of balance (to the force).

BullCityB, Jun 17, 2008
Photo of Natural510
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(100th review)

Pours an amber red with brownish overtones from 750ml bottle with thick, off-white head which dissipates into a creamy layer and laces the glass beautifully.
Yeast & malts hit the nose up-front. There are aromas of caramel, cinnamon and dried fruit such as apricot & plum.
Very sweet maltiness coats the palate. Hops pack a solid kick and the yeast vibrates the mouth with its presence. Caramelised brown sugar, cinnamon, clove, dried fig & dates and black cherries are some of the flavors detected. Alcoholic content & sweetness pack quite a whallop when combined.
Stays creamy in the mouth, hops & yeast kick around to keep things vibrant.
Overall I enjoyed this experience, although the sweetness can be a bit much after awhile. Could've been a more perfect brew if it laid off the sugar/fruit by about 25%. Otherwise, definitely worth a try.

Natural510, Jun 14, 2008
Photo of elniko
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into snitfter

A: Awesome looking brew, dark amber color. Half finger head that did not dissipate.

S: Strong alcohol on nose but not overhwhelming

T & M: Solid taste, despite alcohol on the nose does not overwhelm brew. Definite spiciness in a taste. Mouthfeel is excellent, this is a beer that lingers after drinking and stays with you.

D: Drinkable but high alcohol content would limit multiple bottles in one sitting. Look foward to having again. Love the bottle too, Monk is a jazz king.

elniko, Jun 13, 2008
Photo of ohmybock
2.93/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Corked bottle poured into a Chimay chalice...no 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.

ohmybock, Jun 13, 2008
Photo of MisterClean
4.5/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

out of a 750 at Santa rosa

A - Pours a dark brown with moderate chocolate foam, and a nice bit of lacing

S - Brown candi sugar, plums, and cinnamon.

T - Brown candi sugar, plums, and raisins.

M - Surprisingly, not much alc feel, very creamy, and refreshing on this hot day.

D - Very excellent. Great dessert beer.

MisterClean, Jun 08, 2008
Photo of WillClark
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the 750ml bottle. Nice yeasty notes: hints of plum and dried cherries. Nutty and creamy mouth feel. Little toasty malt and a smooth finish. Like most good craft Belgian style ales, the alcohol is well hidden. Would be a nice pairing with game dishes or chocolate desserts. Dig it.

WillClark, Jun 05, 2008
Photo of ibbjamin
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Paid $7.49 for an Australian Longneck from BevMo in Willow Glen, CA. Poured into a goblet with a few pours.

Two inch darker tan colored head. Lots of carbonation. Dark copper color with a reddish tone when in good light. Minimal lacing.

Smells of a great balance between yeast and sweet malts. Hints of caramel, fig and raisin along with some roasted malts.

More yeast flavor present in the taste. Again there is the balance with the sweeter malts which lasts nicely into the aftertaste. The carbonation balanced with the yeast and malts creates quite a unique experience. I can't say that I throughly enjoy the taste, but I give them an A for creativity. Nice masking of alcohol for a 9% ABV.

Mildly creamy start, mildly watery finish. Perfect carbonation, nice finish and mouthfeel for a medium to heavy bodied beer.

Very drinkable and highly recommended for a Dubbel. At 9%, this one definitely packs a punch; especially for how easy it is to drink. I'm curious to try others of this style.

ibbjamin, Jun 04, 2008
Photo of biggmike
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this into a goblet. Poured a dark amber color with decent head that dissipated rather rapidly. The aroma is malty with a touch of fruit at the end. Flavor is of dark fruit with a bit of alcohol in the taste. Mouthfeel is good. Drinkability is good, but the alcohol is a bit too present in the flavor.

biggmike, Jun 02, 2008
Photo of spointon
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this one from a 750ml brown bottle into a St. Bernardus chalice.

A= This ale poured a dark, slightly-reddish brown color with a 1 inch tan head. The head quickly faded and left a sicky lacing down the glass. I was surprised by the clarity of this brew. Carbonation was moderately high.

S= I detected aromas of candied fruit, plums, and raisins. Unfortunately, the aromas were far more muted than similar ales from Belgium. The alcohol was barely noticable in the aroma, which is impressive at this abv.

T= Similar to the aromas, the fruitiness of this ale dominated the taste. The raisin taste really popped initially. There were some spicy notes in the middle among the sweet malty flavors. Again, the yeast and alcohol were a bit too muted.

MF = This brew was surprisingly lighter than I expected. Very soft on the tongue, especially for the medium-high carbonation.

D= A worthy attempt at a classic Belgian dark ale. Not as good as its pedigreed Belgian cousins, but worth a taste anyway!

spointon, Jun 02, 2008
Photo of prototypic
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: I was greeted with a very loud pop as I cracked the cap off. Must have some serious carbonation going. It poured a dark, chestnut brown color. It's very clear and has a slightly orange, two and a half finger head. Carbonation is very active. Retention was very good and a nice sheet of lace remained.

Smell: Heavy scents of dark fruit (mostly raisin), fig, and toasted nut permeate the nose. There's a bit of clove and other spices that clearly play a secondary role. It's has a nice, sweet caramel malt smell. Yeast is noticeable, but appears to be a little lighter than most of its authentic Belgian colleagues. Alcohol is faintly noticeable on the tail end.

Taste: The dark fruit flavors (raisin and plum) really pummel the palate up front and refuse to let up. Fig and date flavors are a little more subdued in taste, but are present. Spicy clove, light corriander, and orange peel make an appearance, but really have a tough time getting off the ground due to the strong dark fruit flavors. It gets better as it warms a little and the spices blossom a little more. It's sugary sweet and has a solid, sweet caramel malt flavor that smoothes it out a little. Yeast and alcohol flavors lighter than expected.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It's light to medium bodied and has a decent feel. Personally, I'd prefer it just a bit thicker and smoother. But, it goes down easy enough despite its high abv. I could drink a couple of these in a sitting without much trouble.

North Coast did a pretty good job with this one. It could be improved pretty dramatically if the strong dark fruit flavor was scaled back and if the body was thickened a bit. Despite those setbacks, it still proves to be a solid Belgian style release. It's not quite on the level of other authentic Belgians. But, very respectable and worth a try.

prototypic, May 30, 2008
Photo of ewpgolf2
4.08/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This would have been even a higher rating if not for the head petering out so quickly into oblivion. I got cooked sugar w/ an alcohol(ly) presence from the bouquet. I wasn't expecting much since the only other North Coast brew I have/tried is Old Rasputin RIS (not for me). HOWEVER, this Abbey caught my attention. The first taste reminded of a Blackened Voodoo, but then, an overture of complexities took over. This is quite the brew! I almost always take 20-30 min. to consume 1 bottle when reviewing...and I'm glad I did. The warmer it got, the better it was. Usually, you get more alcohol forcing through, but not w/ this one. The best taste was at the end and leaving me wanting more. Mouthfeel was smooth w/ no sticky(clear your throat) remnants and I could see myself drinking 1-2 more. This was a surprise and "smoothy drink".

ewpgolf2, May 26, 2008
Photo of YankChef
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml poured into a chimay goblet

Appearance: Ruby colored dark amber with a 1 inch foamy creamy looking head that dissipates quickly to just cover the beer.

Smell: Lots of fruit in the bouquet with some standouts being apple, pear and plum. A sort of spiciness too, saaz hops?

Taste: Huge upfront with the malt and a lot of fruitiness is present with darker fruit coming through. There are also subtle underlying flavors of coffee and chocolate to make this have several layers of flavor. Hop bitterness is mild and produces a very smooth finish. There is also a certain sting that is felt on the tounge on the front. Definitely thinking saaz but I could be wrong. Alcohol is a little overpowering and too apparent

Overall: Very apparently american imitating belgium bot not a bad take on the style, if they backed off on the alcohol a little I feel it would be more enjoyable.

YankChef, May 25, 2008
Photo of Ben4881
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brother Thelonious
North Coast Brewing Co.

Brother Thelonious is a hazy amber beer with a thick tan head that has decent retention.

This beer smells of sweet malt and yeast and it's a little smoky and fruity at the end.

The malt flavor kicks in up front and tastes sweet and toasty. A strong alcohol flavor follows, breaking to a clean fruity finish. Is that raisins?

Brother Thelonious has a medium body with quite a bit of carbonation. It feels much lighter than its thick, hazy appearance.

This beer is a little on the sweet side and the alcohol flavor is strong. The bomber is large and I would encourage sharing this brew.

Ben4881, May 23, 2008
Photo of tredaug
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark amber color, nice consistent head (~1.5" when poured into a 20 oz. glass. Good lacing; carbonation allows the head to remain for a few sips/minutes.

S: Deep malt aroma, some roasted barley, brown sugar, quirky hop aroma, and definite alcohol.

T: Unbalanced, but nice hint of raisins. Very nice complex hops (reminds me of the Westvleteren 6), but too much alcohol flavor for the combination of hops and roasted barley. Flavor needs more body (roasted barley in my opinion).

M: Needs more body, but isn't bad for the style of beer. Crisp, with a light taste, but an aftertaste overwhelmed by the alcohol.

D: It may disappoint some to read this, but I think of this as an overalcoholic version of Duvel with very nice hops, and a weak malt and barley flavor that doesn't overcome the omnipresent alcohol.

I can relate with many of the reviews. I'd say this one is definitely nice for people who don't mind the taste of alcohol. Honestly, I'm a hop fiend with a liking for a nice deep barley background, similar to a lot of Stone Brewing Company brews. So that's where I'm coming from.

tredaug, May 22, 2008
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.28/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Update: We decided to try Brother Thelonius fresh and Brother Thelonius aged for one year. Below is a compostion of the two reviews.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful mahogany with a quickly rising tan head. Head settles back down to a thin cap after about a minute and leaves very sticky lacing in its wake.

Smell: Big time molasses and caramel, followed by raisins, cinnamon, other dark fruits, chocolate, and alcohol. Complex and very enticing. Original review had a very pungent alcohol aroma associated with it. Aging it seemed to mellow out the smell and taste (as you will see) a ton.

Taste: This beer is much better after a year of aging. Our initial review claimed that alcohol dominated the taste, however the alcohol is well masked in this version. As indicated by the smell, molasses and caramel are the two major players in taste. Raisins, banana, and figs also step in. Aftertaste is quite spicy with a touch of alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Thick and chunky, warm; a little cleaner than syrup. Me mouth feels tingly from the carbonation and alcohol. For having such a bold flavor, this is a very smooth drink.

Drinkability: While alcohol is masked better in this aged version, it's still there. I already feel the buzz. This brew is delicious yet dangerous.

When we reviewed this beer fresh, we gave it a B-. Reviewed after aging: an A-. Word to the wise: age it

ThreeWiseMen, May 16, 2008
Photo of drxandy
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into tulip glass, pours a golden redish brown with a creamy eggshell head

smells of sweet apple/fruit and belgian yeast

tastes malty, nicely carbonated, heavy belgian yeastiness, bitter, caramel, hidden fruitiness of apricots, white grape, a nice dubble

mouthfeel is nice, carbonation makes for creaminess and hides the abv pretty well

overall i was a little disapointed from what i expected after trying the old stock ale before this (which was very impressive), but a good rendition of a dubble, probably wouldn't buy again though - however i do love the play on belgian monk's and thelonious, great bottle art too :D

drxandy, May 14, 2008
Photo of SusurusIgnoramus
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pour s a beautiful dark brown color. When held to light it reveals red hues. Creamy tan head, starts out generous and dissipates before long. A thin ring of foam remains around the edges from the considerable carbonation.

A sweet alcoholic nose hits me first, but after a few sniffs there is a strong presence of peanut butter. Not expected.

Big malty character and alcohol in the taste, as expected in such a style. Can feel the alcohol in my nostrils. Get the feeling it's a little cold for the style. I'll let it sit for a bit.

It's warmer now, but I'm still having trouble picking out flavors. Though, I do taste the peanut butter I smelled earlier. Either my palette isn't mature enough for this beer, or the malt and alcohol are masking everything else.

It goes down fairly smooth despite the high ABV, but definitely not something I could drink multiples of it a row. Maybe two with a decent meal. Half way through, I start a small buzz. This is my first beer of the evening, and I've had dinner.

Mouthfeel is crisp, but nothing to write home about.

SusurusIgnoramus, May 14, 2008
Photo of BMoney575
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sampled on 5-12-08

Pours a deep red, with a foamy tan head that lasts forever. Lacing is thin, but clingy.

Smell is fruity, and very chocolaty. Lots of malt, with a heavy, fermented quality. Not very strong, but pleasant.

Taste is big malt, surprisingly little Belgian. The finish is quite bitter and a bit boozy. Not nearly as sweet and fruity as I was hoping.

Mouthfeel is decent, the carbonation is a bit much.

Drinkability is good, but the flavor keeps from being better.

Overall, a little bit of a disappointment. Worth a try, though.

BMoney575, May 13, 2008
Photo of 1fastz28
4.4/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours a beautiful deep ruby color with a brownish head that goes away quickly. it smells great, roasted apples, sweet malt and a spicy yeast aroma all complement eachother. taste is very expansive, has chocolately malt flavor, but your belgium yeasty wonderfulness, also a fruity appleish flavor. it really hits all the good spots that makes belgians great. mouthfeel is full and rich, very good. another great beer from north coast.

1fastz28, May 11, 2008
Photo of stumac
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

deep reddish-brown color with small, long lasting off-white head. aromatics of sweet malts, some subtle fruit, little bit of caramel. tastes is sweet, some wood, oak, light hop crispness. light bodied, low carbo, sweet aftertaste. good brew. good brewery.

stumac, May 11, 2008
Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,376 ratings.