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Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,588 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,588
Reviews: 975
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.46%
Wants: 61
Gots: 341 | FT: 6
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 (21) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,588 | Reviews: 975 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of brdc
3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Small capped bottle, poured into a tulip.

Nice looking, deep red on its way to burgundy color, average tan head with good retention. It should be mentioned this is not the rich, fluffy head commonly seem for the style, hence the lower note.
Brewery calls it strong dark ale, not a dubbel, and as such, grades inch lower.
Nose is a nice blend of sweetish malts, lots of caramel, and some dark fruits.
The body is thinner than expected, and the aroma does not translate all that well into the flavor, which is pleasant but rather simple.
Pleasant, but far from great.

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

12 oz bottle, undated.

Dark brown in color with reddish mahogany tinges. Thin, bubbly, off-white head which dissipates in no time. Nice carbonation, with a bit of haziness.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with a fruity character as well. Ample spice notes. Tastes of malty sweetness and some more fruit - apples and raisins. No hop presence to speak of. Finishes sweet still but a little less so, and leaves a lingering fruit flavor. A slight alcohol warmth left over at the end.

A medium body, bubbly and a somewhat creamy mouthfeel. A good beer, but rather plain and unspectacular mostly.

Photo of CHADMC3
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep walnut brown body with a thin light tan head that quickly disappears leaving only faint traces of lacing sitting atop the beer and its still vigorous carbonation.

Aroma consists of caramel malt, dark fruit, and yeast.

Flavor mirrors the aroma consisting of caramel malt and dark fruit primarily. There is also just a touch of pepper towards the back of the palate.

Rather thin body with medium carbonation, also very smooth.

Pretty tasty brew, nice character, nothing to wear down the senses. One I will certainly revisit.

Photo of BearsOnAcid
2.82/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

So I laid this down in my cellar in '08 and kept meaning to get to it. Today I finally opened it. I have heard it doesn't age well though.

Pours out a nice dull brown. Small head. Pretty ordinary.

The smell was nice. Tobacco, chocolate, caramel, molasses, dried plums, brown sugar, and a hint of soy sauce. I would say this should taste pretty good.

The taste is not as sweet as I expected it to be. There quite a bit of tobacco flavor and some sort of bitter sensation on the back of my tongue. I've had plenty of beers that had harsh flavors and were still good to me, but this one is a little strange. The aftertaste is like I smoked a Marlboro or something.

Mouthfeel is a little watery. Nothing spectacular.

It's okay. I would say never age this though.

Photo of Yojimbo1941
2.55/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Poured from a 1pt 9.4 fl oz bottle into a tuilp glass

A - Dark brown with reddish hues, slightly off-white head which quickly dissipated

S - Dark plums, raisins, a bit of cherry, brown sugar, cinnamon, some dark bread, dates, gingerbread

T - A weird sushi flavor is the first thing I noticed. Odd. Soy sauce? Overripe plums, vinegar, rotten fruit

M - Medium

D - At 9.4% this is not one to session, but relax with, which makes it all the more frustrating that the flavors are off. Maybe I got a bad bottle so I'll hold off posting this review until I've finished my first glass.

Post-first glass:

Gets a bit better taste-wise but I'm still confused by the first impressions. Again, maybe I bought an off-bottle. I'll try it again some time but until then I can't really recommend this beer. I am disappoint.

Photo of Daniellobo
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

While rather unremarkable next to Monk´s figure, it remains a decent US Belgium style brew.

Presentation: 12 oz bottle. Reverential tongue in cheek illustration of Thelonious Monk as a monk, with a keyboard halo, memento mori and holding a cup of the brew. Notes main style and that an unspecified part of the benefits goes to Monk´s Jazz Institute. Lacks date of bottling, and shows Alc. by Vol (9.4%). Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Dark brown pour with a frothy head that shows little retention and lacing.

S - Malty caramel with a spice touch.

T - Sweet malt range, dark fruits, a touch of orange peel, and a faint and characteristic Belgium tone, including a dark soy like memory.

M - Medium body with generous but appropriate carbonation.

D - It a nicely drinkable brew, alcohol is not too prominent, and there is not much to stop its quick enjoyment by way of complexities or richness, which also stop it form being really memorable.

Notes: Great to have a brew named after Monk, and in its design and eccentric imagery resides quite a bit of its attractive. It makes for a good conversation, in particular good to hook up jazz lovers that are not too aware of the diversity of craft brews. Then the brew itself is good enough to provide an enjoyable drinking experience, albeit not too remarkable.

Photo of Zaplt
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

After work early afternoon poured into a tulip from bottle

Appearance - head very light and non existent in second glass. Beautiful deep dark red.

Smell - dark malts - cherry, sweetness, syrup,

Taste - Dark maltiness - a wee bit roasty, fruitiness that's not too overwhelming - definitely a cherry aspect. Dark fruits - a light spiciness as well.

Mouthfeel - More sweet than dry and carbonation is a bit rough, reasonable alcohol presence. Overall an average mouthfeel.

Overall - Decent beer - may be better aged - I definitely enjoyed it and would drink again but would not search for it. Decent job North Coast, you guys brew some good beer.

Photo of blivingston1985
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew was something I've been looking to try for a while now. Seen it around town, just couldn't bring myself to buy it instead of a Chimay or Abt 12. So one day I decided to buy both. Problem solved.

The Brother Thelonious has a nice spicey, fruity smell to it. I smell figs or dates the most. Poured into a goblet. Right away I could tell the head was not going to last. Lots of big bubbles in the foam, which will never last. The lace is also short lived. Within minutes it is all but gone.

The taste of the brew makes up for the few shortcomings. There is plenty of clove, orange peel, and a tobacco. Very tasty. Not much for mouthfeel, but I don't really mind that with this ale. Makes this very drinkable. And at the price it's a bargain. Certainly cheaper than the more famous abbey ales.

Nice job North Coast Brewing, once again.

Photo of tippebrewcrew2
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

North coast
Brother Thelonius
Abbey style
9.4 abv

Drank out of a snifter and a tulip. I drank mine at 55 degrees and I think probably right at 50 would be better. It pours a huge frothy/fizzy lively white head. It has a sparkling body with a beautiful tawny ruby. Light flowers and bread on the nose the follows through to the palate. Also, I got a dark cherry towards the middle and end of the taste. Another good beer from north coast!

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

Coppery and mahogany colored. There is a touch of citrus to lighten up the 9.4%. Sweet and smooth. Heavy banana aromas coming off the creamy tan head. I think this is a great beer to enjoy slowly. Not a great choice on a hot day but a sure keeper. Wasn't expecting the sweetness of the brew to be so strong given the deep color.

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

this brew is awesome. very dark with hop character n malt character that is balanced.... nice head retention with malty aftertaste.

very pungent from the start and very hopped as well but ther brew is well rounded.

i would recommend this brew on bottle for the price, it is worth every penny.

look out for your local jazz/funk band and support musiq in ur area.

thelonious is a genius... so should ur brew drinking

Photo of butti001
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: The beer pours a deep and rich ruby red or auburn color with a lacking head.

Smell: Dark fruits, sweet phenolic belgian spices.

Taste/Feel: Thick and sticky, almost clinging to the walls of your mouth. The belgian malt is sweet and breadlike and could really pair well with foods such as strong cheeses. Subtle hop bittering that does not heed to the sweetness of the malt.

Aftertaste: There is a pleasant aftertaste of ripened and dark fruit with mild alcohol bitterness.

Drinkability: For a beer that is relatively high in alcohol, the alcohol is hidden but does make a brief appearance on the roof of the mouth. Carbonation is right on for the style and makes the beer even more drinkable. Not a session beer due to its high ABV, but a great relaxing or after dinner beer.

Bottom Line: This is most certainly an above average dubbel, but not the best I have ever had. However, I would strongly reccomend this to anyone that enjoys Belgians as much as I do.

Photo of blackjack000
4.94/5  rDev +30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours as a beautiful, dark overripe apricot color. Sits in the glass like a radiant chocolate brown wit fieriness at the edges. The head is a creamy milk and coffee color, with fine bubbles, and leaves thick lacing on the glass.

Smell: Ripe peaches and apricot bathed in melted sugar immediately comes forward. A bit of spiciness lingers up on a trail of sweet alcohol.

Taste/Feel: Soft and sweet apricot on the verge of rotting. The alcohol content gives it a zesty and spicy kick and complements the heavy fruit and thick, sweet malt. The sugariness and fruitiness give the feeling of candied yams. Well balanced with a sour grassiness and young pine needles.

Aftertaste: The sweet maltiness lingers and coats the tongue in a heavy and sticky way. The fruitiness sits and becomes a sour pine woodiness.

Drinkability: Warming and sweet. Heavy hitting and sticky. This is beer is incredibly enjoyable. An excellent beer, because every sip is vibrant and full of taste.

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.

Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,588 ratings.