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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

2,346 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,346
Reviews: 944
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 13.76%
Wants: 48
Gots: 209 | 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: 2,346 | Reviews: 944 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of 1759Girl
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%

Appearance: Warm brown hue, like maple syrup. Lively with a light creamy head and a little lacing.
Aroma: Dark chocolate and caramel. Heaven? perhaps.
Taste: tangy start followed by a rush of toasty malt flavor with notes of burnt sugar. The finish goes slightly resiny and then incredibly smooth. Good balance.
Mouthfeel: more effervescent than I expected, but not overly so. Pleasant.
Drinkability: Grab me a four pack and some good jazz and see if I refuse...

1759Girl, Dec 17, 2007
Photo of champ103
4.65/5  rDev +23%

A: A deep cherry red with a good sized head (almost tan in color) that stays all the way down the glass. A little lace as well.
S: Wow! This is great. Complex with ton's of dark fruit (plumbs, raisins). Roasted malt and a hint of dark chocolate. There is also a smoky earthiness in the nose.
T: Again, great. Very similar to the nose, but with more malt. Since I am a malt head I love that. Wonderful.
D: Not bad at all for 9% ABV. A great sipping beer.

I love this beer. North Coast does a great job with this Belgian Dubble. Goes great with some Thelonious Monk music. I recommend "Monks Music", or At Carnegie Hall (with John Coltrane), or Underground, or... well you get the picture. If it has Monks name on it pick it up, including this beer.

champ103, Dec 06, 2007
Photo of williamherbert
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%

Cherry and ruby red appearance. Clear with a flat finger of head. Almost like a dark blush wine, but with carbonation and head. Deep. Formidable.

Aroma is a superdark Belgian ale smell. Smoky, dark aroma. Sweet like a dark grape. Doesn't have the pungent, fizzy smell I expected. Brown sugary rich. Outstanding. Malt is sweet but never ever cloying.

Taste is incredibly dark. Sugary sweet, but balanced with deep roasted malt. Hint of coffee bitterness with brown ale sweetness. Punch of heavy alcohol, which is no surprise since it's 9%. Even more punchy as it warms. Liqueur aftertaste.

Feels fizzy and thick. Bubbly but subdued by smoothness. Would prefer a bit less bubbly, personally. It's really strong and very rich. Sweet and yet also roasted, no mean feat. A Belgian Abbey to the core: good example of the style.

williamherbert, Dec 06, 2007
Photo of smcolw
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%

More red than amber with a slight cloudiness to the brew; impressive continual carbonation that keeps the head solid and slightly rocky. Extensive lace on the glass.

Creamy and sweet malt sugar aroma.

Slight metalic flavor that detracts from an otherwise quality brew. Smooth, creamy body helps. The other flavors include the traditional sweet malty flavor with the Belgian yeast remnants that make the brew distinctive. The aftertaste has a mild sourness to it.

Other than the slight aluminum flavor, this would be a winner. Similar to the traditional Abbeys but just misses.

smcolw, Nov 25, 2007
Photo of tpd975
4/5  rDev +5.8%

A: Nice golden red/brown color with a medium to small head.

S: Nice malty sweetness with hints of toffeee malt and brown sugar.

T: A great malty sweetness with brown sugar added along with hints of toffee and vanilla.

M: Medium bodied with a great malt background.

D: Nice brew

Overall: Nice Beligan brew with tons of flavors. Very nice brew.

tpd975, Nov 18, 2007
Photo of MTNboy
3.25/5  rDev -14%

Appearance- A beautiful redish-brown body lightly carbonation. The head is great golden tan frothy foam with a lot of staying power and some very nice lacing.

Smell- Normal scent for a Belgian style ale but a little faint. Somewhat sweet and malty.

Taste- Sweet and roasted tones are pleasant but the metallic aftertaste is wonderful.

Mouthfeel. Thin for a beer of this style but enjoyable because of the alcohol content and lightness.

Drinkability- Not bad for a evening or late meal.

MTNboy, Nov 18, 2007
Photo of cjgator3
3.93/5  rDev +4%

Corked and caged 750ml bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Pours a dark brown color with a light tan head. The aroma is sweet malt, dark fruits (plums and raisins) yeast and spices. The taste is malt up front with a dry and spicy finish. The mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Overall, this is a very nice Belgian-styled beer produced domestically here in the states. Recommended.

cjgator3, Nov 16, 2007
Photo of ballenc
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%

Sampled at a recent local brewfest - decided to buy a bottle for a more detailed tasting

Pours a hazy, reddish-brown color. Solid/dense bubbly head that is fast to recede and leaves no lacing

Wonderfully aromatic - sweet malts, dried fruits such as figs, raisins, plums and apricots

Flavor of dried fruits - mainly raisins, dates, figs. Slightly on the sweet side with a subtle alcohol bite

Somewhat thick on the tongue - moderate carbonation and a dry yet lingering finish

While I prefer trippels and quads, this dubbel is on the par with some of the better ones I've had - not top of the line but definitely worth a glass or two.

ballenc, Oct 27, 2007
Photo of SMark
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%

This beer was poured at 46º from a 750ml bottle with a cork wired on. There was no date information located on the bottle. It was poured into an approximately 16 ounce goblet from Leinenkugel. There was very little foam but a dollop did last quite a while on the top. Coloring on the beer could best be described as dark brown.

The malt and hops were well blended at first sniff with a somewhat medicinal hint coming through later. This was not to be construed as a detriment.

I first detected chocolate with a slight sweetness and then maybe some tobacco afterwards. Cocoa and smoke seemed to settle in the mouth after the taste settled down.

This was not overbearing and presented a candy like quality in the mouth. It was smooth and rather enjoyable.

A nice effort on the part of North Coast. I keep picking up additional flavors and sensations in the mouth as I continue to sip. Not sure how to describe some of them but I am enjoying myself.

SMark, Oct 24, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%

"If your middle name is Sphere, you're much more likely to become a jazz pianist than...say... an accountant or a dentist."


Darkest honey with a generous infusion of cranberry and orange. I love the color of the beer, and I don't mind the golden ecru color of the cap, but the texture of the foam leaves quite a lot to be desired. It's harsh and unsticky, nothing like the majestic, creamy, rocky caps on Belgian beer. As far as lace, two words come to mind: diddly squat. The score will be a combination of the good and the bad.

The brewery calls Brother Thelonious a Belgian 'Dark Strong Ale', which should correspond to a BSDA on this site. No matter, I've always had trouble telling Belgian dubbels and BSDAs apart. The nose is a wonderful melange of semi-dark fruit (figs and dates), along with dark caramel, spicy clove and an appealing phenolic character that doesn't go overboard. Looks like this one might have the chops to hang with some of the big boys.

This is good stuff that only lacks the dizzingly complexity of the world's best versions. The flavor profile follows the nose, more or less: pureed dates, a hint of raisin paste, a dram of Islay Scotch, sweetened tobacco, a twist of orange peel and a sprinkling of ground clove. The beer is broad rather than deep, but I'm not about to hold that against it because I'm enjoying it so much.

I like the amount of dark candi sugar that has been used because Bro Thel is sweet without being cloyingly sweet. The minor amount of mouthcoating is just right in one sense, but a little more clinginess might result in more flavor linger and a deeper appreciation of what this big brew has to offer. The alcohol has been masked to perfection.

The thing that keeps this offering from the big leagues is the mouthfeel. The body is fine and dandy. The feel of the carbonation is not. Like the head, the mouthfeel is too harsh. A large part of what makes Belgian beer so good is a perfect amount of creamy expansiveness. North Coast would do well to send someone across the pond to learn from the masters before they create their next batch of Belgian-style ale.

I like what Brother Thelonious has to offer. At the risk of beating a dead horse, it does most everything right... except carbonation. Otherwise, it's a jazzy little number that is making my taste buds dance with joy. I consider the $7.59 money well spent and will gladly buy a few more bottles the next time I have the opportunity.

BuckeyeNation, Oct 23, 2007
Photo of ArrogantB
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%

Brown color with a smattering of bubbles at the surface of the beer. The first thing I smell is like chocolate and makes me think of Old Stock. The taste is fruity, like plums, with an almost barleywine flavor. This seems like Old Stock with Belgian yeast….This is a sipper for sure given the ABV. There is some noticeable phenolic flavor but is is not strong enough to detract from the flavor.

ArrogantB, Oct 22, 2007
Photo of JayQue
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%

My only comparison is St Bernadus Prior 8. This is a good beer but not quite up to the St Bernadus standard. Pours a hazy brown color, some light comes through the top of the glass. Big off white head that fades down to a covering of the glass. Lacing does not linger but the initial lacing is a complete curtain-like covering of the sides of the glass. Nose is pretty good, dark fruits, a little astringincy and alcohol. The St Bernadus is more complex. Brother Thelonius has the sweetness and dark fruit (plums and cherries) taste. It is missing the astringency and malty and astringent tastes that wend their wy through other Belgian style beers. Mouthfeel is rich. The alcohol taste is a bit too forward. Drinkability for a Belgian is fairly good...for beers in general, a bit lower based on abv. Would not be a bad introduction to the style, but I would take a St Bernadus over this one every time.

JayQue, Oct 19, 2007
Photo of KAF
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%

I had this at the Autumn Brew Review in Minneapolis, MN. It is also available at The Cellars Wine & Spirits in Roseville in a bottle. Brownish in color with a little head. Quite a complex beer. Brown sugar, dark fruit and a bit of caramel in aroma. Dark fruit and brown sugar in flavor with a hint of alcohol.

KAF, Oct 18, 2007
Photo of radshoesbro
2.85/5  rDev -24.6%

our brother, thelonious. what a guy to name a brew after! if you're not sure where the name comes from you have some serious research to do, cause you're missing out in a huge way! this was definately given this name cause it comes on smooth, but just leaves you all messed up!

pours a deep amber hue with a quaint little head, but fairly minimal lacing. it's better described as "patching." not the best look for a dubbel, but still good nonetheless. looks can be deceiving, so lets go a little deeper. stick my nose in this bad boy and i get that typical abbey smell. honestly, not very intriguing. it reminds me of astringent, and it really isn't what i like smelling when i stick my nose in something i'm about to injest. who knows though, i've been fooled before, maybe it'll taste better than the look and smell. goes down real easy, but honestly doesn't rest in the belly so great. this is basically, not that great of a beer. it's not the worst thing in the world, and it's got the name going for it, so i guess that's something, right?

oh well, at least i've still got a six of ruination and a copy of hard boiled to look forward to! i'll toast to that!

radshoesbro, Oct 17, 2007
Photo of lifeboyq
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%

Poured into a Duvel chalice. Appearance is a translucent deep amber/brownish with average off white head and minimal lacing. Smell is of sugar and dates, pretty one dimensional, some phenols coming through. Taste is quite malty with slight bitterness of figs/dates/sugar (although its not really that complex), fairly thin mouthfeel for a true dubbel. Its a good American Dubbel, but not extraordinary due to thin body and lack of complexity. The alcohol is handled fairly well with only a light phenolic taste coming through. I smile at a 9% dubbel. Overall a thumbs up and a solid beer but nothing I'd seek out like a world class offering. Then again, I wouldnt turn it down and would prefer this over a lot of what other american craft breweries offer.

lifeboyq, Oct 16, 2007
Photo of Bighuge
3.3/5  rDev -12.7%

Looks the part. Thick looking dark auburn tone. Nice cap of dense beige froth. Retention is great as is the lacing. Nice aroma of fudge, raisin, rumcake and dates. Taste is a little hot to start with. Like a fruit punch kind of alcohol feel. Underneath the EtOH are some lighter layers of fudge and bread pudding. Dates and raisins come into the picture, but the alcohol laced fruitiness is king here. Alcoholic bitterness lingers. Has the makings of a pretty good dubel if the heat were kept in check or integrated a little better.

Bighuge, Oct 15, 2007
Photo of sweethome
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%

Pours a deep amber/brown color. Some ruby highlights. Relatively large head that hangs at about an inch for a very long time. The head here is quite full. Beautiful lacing, a tan color and provides nice lace all the way through.

Nose is upfront yeast, bready malts, dried fruits.

The flavor profile is raisins, yeast, pumpernickle bread, more yeast, a bit of candied nuts, dried figs. Yes, sweetness of a double.

A bit on the sweet side, but that is the style. Well done double - wish we had more US beers of this style.

sweethome, Oct 13, 2007
Photo of jtrockchalk
3.15/5  rDev -16.7%

I am usually very impressed with North Coast's Artisian Series, but was disappointed with this offering.

It poured a kind of bland shade of amber brown. Not near the richnness of color I expected. The head was only a finger or so thick with zero retention and zero lacing. This is supposed to be a Belgian Abbey style beer with no head? The smell was of sourdough and cherries with the alcohol noticable right away too. Nice smells but again not as deep or rich as I had hoped. The taste was similar to the smell, but the hops were more pronounced than I expected and the sweetness was very underscored by the alcohol and hops. It was much thinner and drier on the tounge than I expected mostly due to an abundance of hops for the style. Belgian Dubbels are not something I can drink all night anyway, but the upfront alcohol made this one a definite one and done...okay its a 750, so two and done.

Not a bad beer, but if I am looking for this style there are many beers for the money I drink first.

jtrockchalk, Oct 12, 2007
Photo of BeerBelcher
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

I split a bottle of this at the Palm Tavern in Milwaukee. I wasn't extremely impressed with this beer, but it was OK.

This beer poured brown with a bit of red, and with lots of carbonation. Aroma was a bit of chocolate with a lot of cherry. Flavor was of abundant sour cherries. The flavor seemed to me a bit over-exuberant, and reminded me of a big pile of rotting fruit (cherries in this case). Not entirely a bad thing, but hardly superlative either. Mouthfeel was good.

Recommended, but not great.

BeerBelcher, Oct 06, 2007
Photo of Gusler
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%

The beer pours from the caged and corked 750ml brown bottle a hazy mahogany color with a portly white head that is creamy in texture as it slowly fades away; the lace forms a nice concealing blanket upon the glass. Start has a nice malt sweetness, hints of fruit, I say cherries, and also a bit of alcohol, top is light to medium in feel. Finish is prickly in its acidity, the hops present, and the alcohol provides a bitter bite, dry and long lasting aftertaste.

Gusler, Oct 03, 2007
Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
3.3/5  rDev -12.7%

A - Nothing to exciting, decent head with no lacing, amber-brown body.

S - Aroma was sweet, raisin and bubble-gum just explode out of the glass. Actually reminded me a lot the old Extra Classic Bubble Gum. Not much else that I picked up though...

T - A somewhat subdued raisin flavor starts out this drink, with the bubble gum flavor catching up by mid-palate. The finish is a mix of black current and drying hops. Not bad, but does not really remind me of an actual Belgium Dubbel at all...

M - A little watery.... But still very soft, and enjoyable

D - I will say this, were it lacks complexity, it is expressive, and a good mix with food (an Italian veggie dish with more than a little cheese was good).

SammyDavisJrJrJr, Oct 01, 2007
Photo of Beerbuddha
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Appearance- Poured a dark amber color with a thin off white head.

Smell- Very sweet malty taste with hints of hops, figs and dark cherries.

Taste- Same as the smell but with nice warming taste of alcohol.

Mouthfeel- Full body and medium carbonation.

Drinkability- This was a great beer. I shared this one with a friend. It would have been a bit much to drink on my own.

Beerbuddha, Oct 01, 2007
Photo of crayphish
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%

The brew pours a murky reddish brown. A bubbly head quickly worked down to a small thin cap. Modest lacing as the brew is drank. Smell is sweet dry fruits; mostly raisins and cherry. Brown sugar. Bread. Some alcohol definitely noted. Taste brings the raisins and cherry notes on strong. Sweet malt bread and peppery alcohol. The alcohol dominates the mouth, helping the sweetness of the malt and fruit notes from over powering this brew. Still a full mouthfeel, fairly chewy. One bomber was enough, but I enjoyed it.

crayphish, Sep 26, 2007
Photo of tavernjef
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%

Pours out a nice darkened reddish ruddy brown to settle nearly black as blood in the moonlight. Huge soft capping of dull yellow foam sits like an immoveable sponge. Large cutains of lace pull together with a few areas being torn apart into thick blobby strings.

Aroma is a low fade of dark fruits, kinda cherry and raisin with a bit of dry yeasty spice floating about. Unique little spices of pumpkin, apple, plum skins, and cinnamon make some nice noting. Actually became better in character as it warmed up a bit, however; not in its strength.

Flavors are an easy going meld of loosened dark fruity stuff and malt. Fuzzy and textured with skins and bubbles of carbonation tickling the tongue and mellows out well to create a great finishing quality of subtle layers and complexity. The fornt and middle is a bunch of set up yeast and buzz with a bit of plummyness. Then, as the carbonation settles it lets loose with a nice creamy display of chewy breads, cherry, raisin, and thick cake richness. Uniquely active and candied with some solid tastes.

Pretty firm carbonation here that tends to get in the way for the most part of its stay. Its only until the finish where it flattens out and all the character takes place. So with that I found it to be a bit off-putting. Stays pretty full and active, ahhh the finish is what kept me sipping it though. It slightly got better as it warmed and what I recommend serving it at. Warm as it you can take it. 52+ degrees is where I tended to like it much more.

A true sipper of delicate nature. Again, the warmer the better.

tavernjef, Sep 26, 2007
Photo of Mark
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%

As most long time BA's are aware, I do not get the Belgian thing. Never have caught on to them like most of you. I don't like North Coast's Pranqster at all but a co-worker and fellow lover of No. Coast beers urged me to try this. Seeing as I like some jazz and Brother T, I agreed to try it. Not bad! Deep amber or even copper color. familiar Belgian yeast aroma is there but is not overpowering in the taste department. No cloves, no banana, no bubblegum notes either. I can live with this. A bit fruity and a distinct Belgian taste that I could live with. Is sit a staple for me now? No, but I did buy a Brother Thelonious T-Shirt. Will save my remaining bottles for when it gets towards winter.

Mark, Sep 20, 2007
Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,346 ratings.