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Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,552 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,552
Reviews: 968
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.46%
Wants: 61
Gots: 316 | 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: 2,552 | Reviews: 968 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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

This is my first review for this site and my first try of this style of beer, so please take this review with those factors in mind. I would have rather had my first foray into this style been an authentic Belgian product, but I found a 750 ml. bottle at Binny's for a more than reasonable price.
Appearnace: Reddish brown, mostly transparent. Thin light tan head, which settled to just the edge.
Smell: Dried fruit and sweet, warm spice.
Taste: Very sweet. Not much alcohol noticeable considering the ABV.
Mouthfeel: Syrupy, but not in a thick, cloying way.
Drinkability: Definitely not the most drinkable in high quantities, but getting through this beer was not a chore at all.

Photo of drtth
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lightly chilled and poured into a Duvel glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: The beer pours out a clear rich reddish light mahogany color with a ½" light tan head that recedes quickly to a ring of foam with a patch on the surface. Sipping leaves some sparse leggy and speckled lacing. A small ring of foam persists for most of the beer and sipping continues to leave sparse, speckled lacing.

Smell: The aroma is soft and contains dark fruits, such as dates, raisins, and dark cherries, mingled with hints of brown sugar and some molasses.

Taste: As predicted by the nose, the flavor is sweet, fruity and complex. The sweetness is like brown sugar mixed with a touch of molasses. The dark fruit is in the background here and seems to be dates, plums, raisins, and dark cherries. It is hard to spot any alcohol at all.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium-bodied and smooth with moderate, lightly prickly carbonation. The finish is fairly long, eventually ends dry in the back of the mouth, and is just a wee bit hot from a touch of the alcohol.

Drinkability: This is nicely drinkable as a beer for sipping, both because of the sweetness and because of the the ABV. Definitely a one a night beer. However, its also worth having again and seeking out if you have not tried it. I'm not sure, however, this should be categorized as a Dubbel rather than as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Photo of Yooperduder
3.34/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into a Northern Brewer pub glass, purchased as part of a 4 pack at Sav-Mor in Escanaba.

A - Mahogany brown, dark in the center with hints of amber on the outside edge. Not much head at all, a slight bit when poured that disappeared into nothingness. After 30 seconds no a single bubble remains.

S - Sweetness, malt, some caramel a touch of raisin and that abbey yeast smell. A bit below what I'd expect though.

T - Sweet caramel with some dried fruit, some raisins and a hint of fruitcake (the good kind). Finishes with no bitterness but an unexpected but pleasant effervescence on the tongue. Slight ethanol hint at the finish.

M - Smooth in the beginning but as you swallow the effervescence pops in the back of your mouth. Really helps to distribute that flavor at the end of the drink.

D - Not too shabby! Seems ot be missing some of the depth that I've seen in some other dubbels. Drinkable without a doubt, but not at the level of some of the Trappists, but for half the money I won't complain too much.

Photo of Lldeegan
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into chalice a hazy reddish brown that produces a nice creamy brownish mother of pearl colored head. As it settles it leaves a thin layer of foam that blankets the surface. Looks just like Chimay Premiere. This American Dubbel from North Coast smells of sweet dark fruit, alcohol and a bit of sweet malt. The fruits are the expected raisin and fig, with some brown sugar and vinous notes. The taste is an amplification of the smell, with certain elements becoming more prevalent, The raisin comes forth as well as molasses, with some sweet malt coming through towards the end and a hot alcoholic finish. This beer has a slick mouthfeel with some sweet malt chewiness. I think this is a very good Dubbel, American brewery North Coast did an awesome job on this Belgian style.

Photo of adamette
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle that bought at Rozi's in Lakewood, Ohio as a part of a 4 pack. I cannot recall the price. Poured into my Brewery Ommegang gold rimmed trappist style goblet.

A Pours a nice, pleasing dark caramel brown opaque body with a thin light brown head that is fluffy like a classic Belgian Dubbel. North Coast Brewing Company really impresses with their apparent understanding (and in some cases mastery) of such a wide range of different styles. Nice lacing on my goblet raises the bar even further for the look of this beer. 4.5

S Just a great Belgian yeast and beautiful sweet malt smell, a classic Dubbel smell. 4.0

T Nice caramel, dark fruit, fig malt sweetness with Belgian yeast in the background, an expertly made dubbel. There is a bitter taste on the back of my tongue that lingers longer than I recall the on tap version doing and there is a bit of a lingering alcohol taste as well. I believe that I recall the on tap version was nearly without an alcohol burn at all. This remains a great American Dubbel. 4.0

M As stated, a bit of a bitter sting and the lingering alcohol along with the more apparent big malt, Belgian yeast tastes really beef up the feel of this beer which also features a degree of syrupy stickiness. There is a lot going on in the feel of this beer. 4.0

D Well this is a sipper for me. I prefer to savor every drop rather than have more than one. That being said, there is much to taste and enjoy and so within one serving, it is very drinkable. 3.5

Notes: Yep, another great beer from North Coast which I believe that I preferred on tap a while back. I recall that the on tap version (could it have been more fresh?) was more like candy in its malty goodness and I did not recall the bitterness or the burn of alcohol as much. This might be one of the great North American Belgian Dubbels out there (I'm looking in your general direction Unibroue!).

Photo of nerow
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel Tulip.

Coloring is a nice reddish brown, small head that lingers on for the duration of the glass. Smell was dark fruit and sugar, perhaps a bit of yeast. The beer itself was sweeter then I had expected, almost cloyingly so. While there were some delightful fruity flavors which popped out, the depth that I've come to expect from abbey ales wasn't present. The mouthfeel was quite thick, almost syrupy. The drinkability was certainly good, but I expected more from this beer overall.

Photo of bcm119
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark reddish brown, minimal tan head.

Slightly toasty caramel and dark fruit (cherries?) in the aroma. Similar flavors-- currants, black cherry, slightly burnt caramel. Fairly dry, slightly astringent. Alcohol comes through a little bit.`Mouthfeel is a tad thin and lacks the creaminess one expects. Finishes with a little musty yeast. Pretty decent but something was missing for me, possibly a bit more yeasty complexity and/or creamy texture.

Photo of mulder1010
3.42/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750 ML Bottle

A-- A very dark cherry color, thought brandy at first. Got a 1 finger off tan head with no lacing at all. Did not think a lot of carbonation until I to got the taste.

S-- Heavy candied sugar, dark fruits, carmel, roasted malts. Smell is very nice.

T-- Got an immediate warming in first sip. Lots of sugar and carmel in this. Get the figs in the background.

M-- A lot more carbonation than I thought at first. not keen on that. Got more syrupy as it got warmer and it left a bit of a tart taste in my mouth from the cherries.

D-- Interesting Dubbel. Not my style though. Was way too syrupy/ sugary for me. ABV at 9.4 is not a big deal but could use a bit less carmel, sugar and carbonation. Take your time and sip this.

Photo of BevMoAndrew
4.21/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 12oz. bottle at about 35 degrees - Allowed to warm.
Appearance - a clear brown with a ruby tint. The creamy froth shows a light tan.
Smell - Pronounced and elegant. Initially I get the belgian yeast with some caramel/molasses malt, some definite spiciness, a subtle red fruit (Cherry?), and a little bit of raisin/fig. The more that I let this beer warm, the better.
Taste - Great mouthfeel, complex flavor, smooth, and a long finish. There is a little bit of alcohol that is detectible on the back of the throat, but not that bad for a 9.4% abv brew.
Drinkability - Great beer!

Photo of Foxtrot
4.04/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance was different than most Dubbel's. Huge bubbles due to strong carbonation and no lacing.

Aroma is of caramel malts, dates, figs, brown sugar, molasses and all things nice. The aroma is of a textbook Dubbel.

Starts out with peppery yeast accompanied by dark fruits that are the hallmark of all Dubbels, with a nice western touch of light citrus to liven up this dark brew. Brother Thelonious is different than its Belgian counterpart, but has much to offer.

Mouthfeel is good, but a tad less carbonation could do this beer wonders.

Drinkability is decent. I found this beer easy to get into while still being enjoyable.

Photo of longbongsilver
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a few random new things to try recently. Went to grab one as a post-steak nitecap & pulled out this.

Pours a burnt orange-to-red, about 2 inches of white head come up then go away quickly. Faint molasses type smell, plus a bit of apple in behind the hops. Taste follows the smell, albeit less sweet than would think (a good thing, IMO) at first. Goes down with a slight fizz, with which the flavor actually gets more detailed (some grape actually comes up later, and even a note that reminds me of whiskey) as it goes. Oh yeah, then there's the warming from the 9%...

It's fitting that it's named for a jazz legend, as "smooth, yet complex" describes it to a T. What I get from one bottle feels almost like I'm cheating somebody, definitely picking up more.

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

Had on tap at Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia, Maryland as part of Baltimore Beer Week (10/08/2009). Served rather cold in a snifter, but I allowed it to warm slightly.

Appearance: Deep mahogany with a garnet hue that was capped with a slightly off-white one finger head that quickly dissipated.

Smell: Dark fruit consisting of raisins, plums, berries, and candied apples accompanied by molasses and brown sugar.

Taste: Raisins, plums, brown sugar and molasses are all up front with an estery Belgian yeast bringing up the rear. Alcohol is hidden quite well by a moderate sweetness and a faint hint of chocolate. This is one of my favorite American Dubbels.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate to low carbonation with a slightly hot alcohol finish.

Drinkability: Quite good for the style, along the lines of similar quality American Dubbels such as Ommegang Abbey Ale.

Overall this is a well-crafted American Dubbel that captures many of the finer points contained in its Belgian style. Recommended.

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

Poured into a chalice.

A: Deep garnet with nice clarity for a bottle conditioned beer. A fizzy cream cap comes and goes quickly as it retreats to a ring at the edge of the beer. Leaves no lace.

S: Fruity and vinous. Dark fruits dominate. There's a little pepper in the background plus a hint of bubblegum. Alcohol adds a light tingle to the nose.

T: Rather sweet out front. Cherry and red grape are joined by bit of pear and green apple. Bitterness is low and contributes a mild flavor of clove and pepper. Alcohol adds a touch of warmth. Finishes with lingering cherry and clove flavors.

M: The body is light and dry. Carbonation is just about right for this style.

D: This is a nice dubbel overall. My sample was only a year old and felt like it would benefit from a little time in the cellar. A nice nightcap beer.

Photo of scottbrew4u
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a hazy brown color with a tan head that settles rather quickly. Not much lacing on this one.

S: Molasses and brown sugar sweetness with ripe figs, raisins, and a bready toasted malt aroma. Slight burnt tinge. Faint hop spiciness.

T: Brown sugar and raisins up front with a brown bread and molasses malt assault. More complexity comes from the estery yeast. Alcohol is hidden pretty well for it's strength.

M: Medium to full body and almost syrupy with some crisp carbonation.

D: A decent abbey ale from an American brewery. I would not rank it as my favorite though. It is worth trying but I would say it is too strong to be a session ale.

Photo of jnezda
3.03/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Tried this beer on a whim since the beer I was looking for was no longer carried at the establishment where I was eating.

Appearance: Disappointed with the lack of head at all. This could have certainly been fault of the establishment. The color was a deep amber/red color that was very pleasant.

Smell: Dark fruits, raisins and berries dominate the smells along with a sweet sugary undertone.

Taste: Also sweet with hints of dark fruits. The abbey ale flavors come through well although a touch too sweet for my taste. The flavor hides the high ABV content well which I find common in the North Coast beers.

Mouthfeel: Along with the lack of head there was a certain lack of carbonation on this beer. The lack of carbonation made the beer more viscus than most and almost a bit slippery. The beer flavors associated with mouthfeel were all in all very good just lacked carbonation.

Drinkablity: I have enjoyed this beer from a large format bottle a couple times to great extent so this draft experience was over all a let down.

Photo of jbone78
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I finally found a small bottle of this. All the bottles in my area are the big ones. I love the Thelonious Monk label. One of the most cleverly named beers.

A- Poured a beautiful clear Mahogany color with about a fingers worthof head. Not much lace, strange. I bet my chimay glass has some soap residue on it, Damn it!
S- Esters, sugars and candy. Normal Belgian smell.
T- Very sugary, brown/Belgian sugars, chocolate, and alcohol. You can really warm up with this one.
M- Malty. Low carbonation for style that brings out more malt character.
D- I enjoy this one on a now and then basis. i do like it, but there are better American made Dubbels out there.

I still dig the label!

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

I almost feel bad for saying this, but I had this while at Stone Brewery's bar yesterday. One of my friends bought a round and, knowing that I liked abbey ales, decided that this was what I would get.

Definitely a pleasant surprise. As I mentioned, I do like abbey ales, and this is definitely among the best ones that I've tried. I was surprised that this was a dubbel mainly because it tasted so similar to quadrupels I've had in the past.

As a preface, I thought this tasted very similar to Lost Abbey's "Judgment Day" (which is a quadrupel, incidentally), with prominent raisin overtones (and some other dark fruit tastes that worked well).

Appearance - kind of a dank, dark brown; Unfortunately, I can't really comment on the head, as I wasn't there when the beer was poured. What was left when the glass reached my table was a fairly decent tan head...a bit less than a finger's width, I'd like to say.

Aroma - dark fruit for sure. That's the most prominent smell. Also a heavy dose of Belgian candied sugar and some other pleasant spicy aromas.

Taste - The alcohol is well-hidden (I think it's somewhere around 9%, but the exact number escapes me...and, yes, it's 9% (I just checked the description here)) and masked behind the plum/raisin/cherry taste that the aroma foreshadowed. And the sugar comes through quite powerfully too. In a way, the beer is too sweet, but then again, it's an American take on the Belgian style...so, different approaches are always a plus. By no means was it too sweet to drink. On a few sips though, I just didn't feel like I was drinking a beer. All around though, a pretty solid taste!

Mouthfeel - Pretty light on the palate, not too intense, but pretty much right on point. Not as full-bodied as the Rochefort Trappistes ales, but certainly not unpleasant.

Drinkability - Very drinkable. Definitely a dessert beverage of sorts.

I do highly recommend this beer, in addition to other North Coast brews. I'm happy to say that they've delivered another hit!

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

Poured into one of my goblets.
Pours ½ finger of creamy tan head. Decent head retention around the outside of the glass, but hardly any lace left. Color is a dark hazed murky brown.

Aroma: I didn't check the style on this, but I am pretty sure this is a quad, based on the smell. Big dark fruit aroma, raisins, cherries, bready malts, sugar, hints of vanilla. Wow, the aroma is very pleasing.

Taste: A very sweet and almost tart beer. Sour cherries, raisins and other dark dried fruits, vanilla, bready malts, apples, and a little alcohol. This has got to be a quad.

Mouthfeel: rich, smooth, and a little boozy. Full bodied with a medium level of carbonation. Ends with a dry fruit flavored aftertaste. A little too hot for me.

Overall, not a bad beer. I had no idea what I was getting into when I opened, but I did like it. This will be a one and one for me, as it very filling and has a decently high abv. I'd recommend the 12 oz bottle for a single person.

EDIT: Now I see the style is a dubbel, but I am really not seeing how this beer can be a double. I have had a few quads and dubbels and this tastes way more like a quad than a dubbel.

Photo of kingcrowing
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured in a fancy glass.

Pours a deep ruby red color with some dark brown and light amount of head. Smell is very belgian, some raisin and some of your standard Dubbel aromas.

Taste is quite complex. Lots of shit going on here, very typical of a belgian beer. Again this is surprising that this is an American beer. I think it's quite good, and theres not telling it was quite so strong.

Photo of donniecuffs
3.79/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an American pint glass.

A: Dark brown with a thin head that didn't last or lace that well.

S: Sour fruit/cherry, brown sugar, plum, and some woodiness.

T: The taste was a little too sweet/sour from the getgo, but does dissolve into a nice balanced finish.

M: Barely a medium-bodied beer; surprising for a dubbel.

D: The thinner than expected body helps to make this sessionable, but then again the sourness detracts from it.

Photo of david18
3.28/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

They call it a strong dark which makes me think of quad. As a double this is actully much better. it doesn't have enough character to be a quad. In general and ok beer. Very dark color, a little sweet, good carbonation and not to hot alcohol-wise. Get it if you see it.

Photo of Reidrover
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 OZ bottle . Slightly cloudy dark brown ale, with a huge tight,bubbles light brown head. Nice deep roasty,smoky,malty aromas with nice spice showing through..almost reminds me of a Belgian themed Scotch ale. Very malty ,slightly dry flavours, soke too, then dark fruits, spices,coriander,black pepper, demerara sugar, raw, unrefined. Thick,full delicious creamy mouthfeel to this beauty. A vertiable meal in a bottle here. Lovelly beer..I stick to my original view this is like a good Scotch Ale done with belgian yeasts. Very nice.

Photo of ritzkiss
3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle in a trade from BBrianBoogie - thanks dude!

Pours a deep, rich mahogany with a half-finger of honey head that is creamy and luxurious looking. Leaves nice patches of lacing down the glass.

Nose is dark, rich fruits - almost fruitcake. Plums, raisins. A nice blend of sour cherries, a hint of vinegar (Flanders red-ish?).

A bold beer that's dominant notes are dates, raisins, caramel malts, hints of cherry, lots of candied brown sugar to provide a heavy sweet body, slightly vinous, faint "cola" notes. Faint alcohol warming in finish.

This is not a beer to be trifled with. Heavy, sweet body with 9.4% is not a quick drinker - a hefty sipper. Flavors are rich and deep (though not overly complex), though they seem to stand out individually without blending overly harmoniously. I dig the slight funk and sour cherry but overall too sweet for my liking. It's a nice big brew, but certainly not the best in style.

Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,552 ratings.