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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 LordAdmNelson
4.09/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a very dark red-brown with small head (strange for a Belgian-style brew) with some lacing. Looks like a dubbel except for the head.

S- Definitely not like anything I've smelled. Spicy, boozy, actually really good IMO. Big rum raisin presence. A bit of citrus. Big aroma.

T- More rum raisin, clove, a bit of alcohol. Sweet. Cloves and alcohol combine to give it a spicy kick, with the raisin giving it sweetness and a little depth. Nothing too deep, but tasty.

M- Smooth and creamy. A little over-carbonated, IMO, but pretty good.

D- A bit boozy, but tasty. A good sipper.

Photo of GRG1313
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Found in 12oz bottles and gave it a try having passed by, for some reason, the larger bottles.

Pours a dark copper red/brown with a lovely thick off white head.

Nice nose of malted fruit-cooked bananas and hints of tangerine peel and gives way to smells of big, rich cherries.

Flavors are a bit short and quick but nice. Flavors of roasted grain, cooked fruit, malt and bananas with some carmel and toffee and with an overwhelming cherry back palate and character.
Has a nice acidic character or bright fruit, almost more like wine than beer.

Sweet fruity finish that is not unpleasant but a bit of a "soda pop" character all around; perhaps too much of a cherry character; may not be all that food friendly. Just my opinion, as always.

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

This beer poured a beautiful ruby red with a small head. The smell is some dark fruitness of some raisins and maybe plums. The taste starts off with some malt that gives way to a lot of different fruits including banana and plums that give away to a little alcohol heat on the back end. The mouthfeel is slightly thick with some pleasant warming from the alcohol. You can tell that there's some punch behind this beer, but it doesn't really hurt the drinkability that much. I'm glad I finally got around to trying it out.

Photo of callmescraps
2.93/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Buddy decided to give this a bid. He was buying, so I agreed.

Appearance - Very dark. Almost black. But secretly a very deep ruby red color. Plenty of nice cocoa colored head. Lacing was not very impressive.

Smell - Raisins. Some dark fruits as well. Maybe some plum. A little bit of cherry. Also some bitter chocolate, possibly. Still, lots of raisin.

Taste - Raisin. Seriously. There's some cherry as well, and maybe a little fruit. But mostly it's raisin. My buddy gave up, said it was "raisin juice" which may have been a little harsh, but wasn't terribly far off the mark. Just not balanced enough.

Mouthfeel - A little thin. It sips very easily, not a ton of body or carb. Disappeared.

Drinkability - Split it, didn't want any more. Ended up having some of my buddy's, due to the raisin effect. Quite sweet.

This was an interesting beer. Frankly, not the best. Didn't have good body or enough complex flavor. That sweet raisin taste just won't go away. Even stuck around to mess up the BCS I had afterward.

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

Served on-tap at TDR Exton in a tulip 10z glass

Pours a deep oak brown, with beautiful amber highlights. A quickly dissipating inch of off-white head

Lots of dark fruit - plums, raisin, tropical notes. A sweet malt backing.

The flavor follows the nose perfectly. The fruit and malt play off one another very well.

A big beer - the alcohol is there, the beer is rich, sweet and deep. A few at a time, no more - but do not get me wrong - a fantastic beer

Photo of rapidsequence
4.27/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle, corked and caged

Appearance: Nice dark amber. Nice head forms, then quickly goes away, unfortunately.

Smell: Sweet, brown sugary, and raisins.

Taste: Caramel, dark fruit, definitely "belgiany". Theres a slight bitter cherry tang, almost like cough syrup (I mean that in the best possible way). Can't say I can't taste the booze.

Mouthfeel: Plenty carbonated, a little sharp up front, not at all watery. Nice syrupy feel after.

Drinkability: Probably should share this bomber, but I'm selfish. ABV is not low and not unnoticable at all.

Overall, its quite good. Comparable to Ommengang Abbey Ale in my opinion. A little pricier though.

Photo of damienblack
4.52/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a medium brown that is almost amber, standard tan head, decent lacing left. Smell is nice rich candi sugar, raisiiny fruit. Taste is much of the same. Sweet belgian sugars, a bit of hearty yeastiness, and a deep dark-fruit raisiny-ness. It's a lot heartier than most of the other dubbel's I've tried, it is almost what you see from Strong Dark Ales in terms of substance. Bold belgian flavours, buoyed by just the right levels of carbonation and stickiness. Drinks absolutely exceptionally and easily, to the point of being dangerously so. Despite the short reviews, this is probably the best American dubbel's I've experienced so far, and it definitely holds its own with the Belgians.

Photo of wyattshotmaker
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured into an ommegang chalice,this beer is a beautiful deep brown with a half inch head that is here to stay apparently.

smell is of belgian candi sugar,dark fruit,slight bit of milk chocolate.slight bit of banana in the finish.

mmmm...dark fruity esters,belgian dark candi sweetness,with a slightly dry finish.at 9%,where's the alcohol?

i'm still amazed by the head on this beer.this head is in it to win it.

pretty effervescent.this beer is very easy to drink.pretty dangerous.

anyways,i also love the name and label of this beer.

Photo of beveritt
4.58/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Poured from a stubby 12 oz brown bottle into a Duvel chalice. I have been looking for this one for awhile and couldn't seem to find it easily. Managed to pick it up at a recent trip to Indiana. Label depicts a profile of Thelonious Monk holding a chalice of beer a sporting a piano keyboard halo. No freshness date.

Appearance: Pours with 2 fingers of medium tan head. This settles slowly, eventually collapsing to a large island of foam in the middle of the glass and wisps here and there. Nice, thick lacing coverage remains. The beer itself is dark brown with shades of burnished copper and just on the verge of being opaque. No sediment in the bottle.

Smell: Strong aroma of tart cherries, lemon zest, and a candy apple sweetness.

Taste: Nutty flavor upfront with bready/yeasty malt undertones. Hints of cherries and figs in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Average to a little higher than average carbonation level, perfect for the style. Body is incredibly thick and mouthcoating.

Drinkability: A truly classic example of the style. Rich and complex; displays incredible depth. I wish it were more easily available.

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

One of the cooler labels I have seen in awhile. The beer is a Dubbel that is pretty in your face with the dark fruits and yeastiness. A couple years in the cellar might tame the upfront notes but really this is very good US dubbel. The beer is quite drinkable though slightly sweet and the big mouthfeel is part of its over the top charm. I will buy again and put in the cellar for future tastings

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

Pours a clear, dark ruby with light reddish brown highlights. Thin tan head that completely disappears.
Malty aromas. Mostly dark fruit and some alcohol. Brown sugar and hints of dark chocolate. Suggestions of grassy hops.
Lots of dark fruit in the flavor too. Raisins and dark cherries, prunes. Toffee and hints of dark chocolate. Again, only a suggestion of hops.
Full bodied with a fair bit of carbonation.
Nicely drinkable. At 9%, it's definitely a sipper.
North Coast is one of my favorite breweries and this is one of their better beers.

Photo of cnally
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

brilliant corners! monk's dream! these are things of legend...this beer, maybe not to that level.

cloudy brown color in the beer. majestic tan two finger head holds a little lacing.

caramel malt and nothing else in the aroma.

the flavor is a deep malty caramel and vanilla. good flavor of grain and toasted nuts.

full, sticky, thick feel...kind of overdone.

the sum > the parts. highly lovable as a whole, even if the individual aspects may be slightly less than perfect.

Photo of SeattleAdam
3.49/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours and settles into a reddish brown color. A lot of light tan head that fades very quickly. No real lacing to speak of after each sip. In fact, I think my glass is getting cleaner as I drink this beer!

S- A fruity nose, for sure. Apples, pears, figs and a little bit of cherry picking up, too.

T- Apples and pears in the middle with that classic Belgium yeast profile. Sour, too. A nice malt character with no real hop flavor to speak of. Previous reviewer noted that subtle cherry taste that I'm picking up as well. Nice touch. It's all about the middle for me with this beer as the taste kind of fades after swallowing. I can't really note any lingering flavors.

M- I think it's bit over carbonated. It's a little fizzy, for lack of a better word. It feels really light.

D- It's tasty that for sure. Far from boring, too, but just a little too thin for me. And damn! Watch out for the ABV (9.4%)! Sneaky bastard. I'm glad I'm at the end of this review because 3/4 of the way through the bottle and I'm feeling quite buzzed. I do feel this is a very decent American attempt at a Belgium Abbey. I would not go out of my way to pick one of up again but wouldn't say no if offered a glass at a tasting, or something.

Photo of MusicaleMike
3.81/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Listening to Charles Gounod's "St. Cecilia Mass" and doing a review for new beer Sunday. 12 oz. bottle poured into a wide-bodied glass with a narrow opening. No freshness date indicated on the bottle. I have been celaring this for only a few months.

A: This beer pours with a modest tan head consisting of tight bubbles. But it seems that the head dies as quickly as I can turn around and put the bottle into recycling. It really did a poor job of sticking around, eventually leaving nothing on top. The body itself is a muddy cherry brown color. When held up to the light, it shows off a beautiful purple red hue. Other than that though, I am wondering where the head is?

S: The smell is restrained. No hop presence, which is fine. It shows off its malt and yeast characters. I notice notes of cherry, caramel, toast and figs, with a slightly sour tinge.

T: Sweet up front with notes of caramel and butterscotch. There is a pleasing cherry flavor at the back of the throat, which is followed by a bready malt aftertaste. The finish has a whiskey malt-like quality. The alcohol is there, but it is extremely subdued and very well hidden. It rears its ugly head more towards the end of the glass. The beer is not overtly sweet; it's balanced by hop bitterness (without the flavor) and alcohol. I detect notes of raisins and dried cherries.

M: The carbonation is very active, almost to the point of being "spritzy." The beer is full-bodied, though the carbonation makes it feel fluffy. Very good mouthfeel and definitely to style.

D: It is easy to polish off a 12 oz. bottle. However, watch out for that high alcohol content. It can sneak up pretty quickly. It is interesting enough that I would drink it again, but I am not sure I would want two in the same night.

Photo of seand
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a large red wine glass.

A: Dark translucent brown, with about a finger of off white head which disappears quickly. Not much lacing.

S: Sweet, hints of raisin.

T: Nice. Sweet, rich. The alcohol is present but not overpowering.

M: Medium to heavy. Gains a bit of nice stickiness as it warms.

D: Drinks fairly easily, but the ABV and sweetness mean I wouldn't want to go through too much at a time.

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

120z bottle, no freshness date, poured into chalice.

Pours a deep ruby-purple, fairly clear, with a few lazy bubbles ascending. Head is a light tan, fairly large at first, but dissipates to a thin ring around the glass fairly soon. Only a few dots of lace left.

Aromas of raisin, gobs of alcohol, and a nice sweetness that toes the line between candy and caramel.

Taste is a remarkably nice, dark, malty beer; heavy on the alcohol, but never overpowering, balanced by the sweetness from caramels and butterscotch, complimented by dark cherry and raisin tastes.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, slightly sticky and chewy, with a mildly astringent finish. Carbonation is light.

A very nice beer to sip on a cool night. Tasty, though its strength and rich sweetness will keep me to one a night.

Photo of caddybuyer
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured at cellar temperature from a caged and corked 750 into a chalice.

A-Pours and attractive veiled red with a tan head that settles fairly rapidly but continues to be fed by the carbonation

S-A sweet-sour funkiness with some grains and sugared dates. Not what I was expecting, but certainly interesting.

T-Frothy slick sugared dates open for the sweet malts. Alcohol is present, but typical for the style and is in the background, adding rather than detracting, like it should. None of the sour funk in the nose carries through to the taste. The only drawback on taste, would be a slightly metallic note in the finish, like the metallic taste that the nose implies when drinking out of a can. I just can't place it.

M-Well balanced mouthfeel overall a bit sticky as is to be expected, with the foamy mouthfeel opener.

D-This is pretty drinkable, and I'm happy to polish off the 750.

Cool label, with Brother T enjoying what looks like a quad on the label. The namesake brew pours a bit lighter and redder and with slightly less head, even at cellar temperature. Another Belgian style that has been lingering in my cellar for awhile. Glad I cracked it open, and I'll probably pick up another at some point, although there are others of the style that I'd probably go for first. Pretty decent beer overall though.

Photo of claytri
4.3/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a dark amber with an off white head. The aroma was of malt and raisins. The taste was of sweet malt mixed with raisins, and some medicinal undertones. The feel was heavy and wet. This was a very nice beer on a cold winters evening. Just what I'm normally looking for in a dubbel.

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

pour into orval chalice, pours a deep regal brown with sublte amber undertones and a slightly off-white head

subtle malty aromas of caramel, spices, roasted malt, slight breadiness and a dash of fruit

smooth sweet malt upfront with caramel and roasted notes dominating, slight fruitiness with cherry and raspberry and slight raisins on the finish. subtle spice throughout similar to cloves or nutmeg.

medium bodied without the sugary notes overpowering, just right mixing in with the subtle and light fruit and spice notes. solid finish with a bit more sweetness and a dash of hop notes

a very smooth and delicious beer. the malt body is medium body yet not overpowering or too sugary and very smooth for the alcohol. very enjoyable to drink

Photo of Frosty80
4.23/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color: pours med brown. sits clear, dark copper/amber-brown

Smell: dark fruit. caramelized sugar. alcohol obvious but hides behind sweetness. has a spiciness to it - almost like a beef bouillon smell

Taste: mirrors the bouqet for the most part. alcohol is more obvious. spicy, slightly alcoholic finish with just a hint of yeast. finish eventually offers a fruity, sweet presence

Mouthfeel: med body. moderate carbonation

Notes: not too familiar with abbeys yet, but if they are anything liek this ill be happy. very flavorful and unique. i like NC. delicious.

Photo of wiseguy142
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I always saw this in the beer store and was like "Wow, that label is awesome." Then I got jonesin for some strong, Belgian goodness and I couldn't resist.

Poured into a Duvel tulip. Pours a medium muddy brown with an off-white head that fizzles down a little too soon. I think I served it too cold so it's probably my fault.

Aroma is a bit sour and grainy.. very unique. A slight amount of fruit and wood. The yeast aroma is actually very subdued- it actually adds to the aroma instead of overwhelming it.

First thing I notice is the mouthfeel. Carbonation hits me almost immediately and persists throughout the sip. Medium to light bodied... actually surprising light for the amount of stuff that's going on in there.

Just a very slight hint of chocolate malt and a delicate yeast contribution to the flavor. Really almost no alcohol taste even though it's 9%. A little fruity tartness towards the end. Very cleanly fermented and unimposing.

I was initially going to give the taste a 3.5, but as it warms up I'm picking up a lot more honey/licorice. Makes it a little less drinkable, but in a good way in that it's a lot more complex beer that comes together very well.

Overall, a very nice beer. Unfortunately for me it doesn't stand out really enough to warrant me buying more.. I like a little more hazelnut or cherry in this style and this just seems a little neutral... I think maybe buying the 750 would help entice me to have more. But Three Philosophers beats this hands down.

Photo of CHickman
4.29/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Good Brother starts out with a reddish brown color and follows with a sweet bready smell that has a touch a caramel; right off the bat you can sense the alcohol strength. Only slight carbonation with a sweet malty taste mixed with some spice; there is a fruity taste that I couldn't distinguish, and it finishes very dry which I liked.

It is a very good impression of a Belgian Style Abbey Ale, but the yeast funk had slight metallic taste (like a fishing lure) towards the end of each sip which was strong. Glad to read other reviewers experienced the strange slight metallic taste, but overall this was a very good and well balanced strong beer that has a nice kick to it.

Photo of amneziak
3.47/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Brother Thelonious pours a murky brownish orange color with a small amount of light tan head. There is a moderate amount of lacing with pretty good head retention. Probably one of the least pleasing looking beers I've seen, though. Let's hope things improve.

Smell: Somewhat pungent upfront with dried brown fruit components like raisins, figs, and chewy dates. In addition to having a somewhat strange coffee-like presence, there is also a pretty good amount of alcohol on the nose. Way off in the back room I also get a bit of funk that comes out of this - not like brettanomyces funky, but just a little baby funk.

Taste: Lip-smacking! First impressions are important, and I like the first drink. This is a lot better than I had expected, however the malt makes this one a bit sweeter than maybe it should be. It also takes it a bit too close to taking on some coffee components. All this may sound weird, but it's not as bad as it sounds. In fact, I'm digging this one quite a bit.

Mouthfeel: Like most craft beers that have been corked and caged, this one has a good amount of carbonation on the tongue. It's also got a nice amount of bitterness and just the faintest amount of sourness. It's still in the medium-bodied range, but I could see this one going heavy really quickly. Overall, though, it's very balanced with a touch of dryness on the palate.

Overall: If I had to describe this beer in one word it would be unique. A bomber is just too much for one setting. I'd much rather have shared this one and had something else to sample in an evening. North Coast make some really good beers; their Old Rasputin is tops. This one, though, is just okay for me dog (Randy Jackson reference).

Photo of loren01
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown cola color. Small white fizzy head. No lace down the glass
S: Smell is sweet and malty, brown sugar as well as slightly fruity
T: Taste is much like the smell, sweet and malty, figs, ETOH is pretty well hidden
M: Mouthfeel is medium to heavy, good amount of carbonation
D: Drinkablity is pretty good, you don't notice the alcohol so much in the taste but it is a nice warming beer that goes down maybe a bit too easy. Would try this again for sure.

Photo of bamadog
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Finally giving a Belgian-style a try, and I'm not disappointed. I think this is a pretty solid one to start with and I hope to try some from the country of origin soon to see what I may have missed with this one. Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a snifter (it's the closest thing to a chalice that I have, sorry!).

Appearance: Poured a very deep ruby/amber; started with a solid, thick and frothy 1 and 1/2 finger head that was off-white (a little tan and a little red in there) that quickly faded to a thin skin with a thicker ring around the surface; moderate carbonation that is interesting to look at on the surface (looks like little geysers bubbling up); the swirl brings gives the head a whole new life and it appears once again -- there is also an oily film that slides smoothly back down the glass.

Smell: Strong scents of fermented deep dark fruits (grapes, dates, prunes?); a sweet malty backing is present as well and there is a pretty significant presence of alcohol creeping up in there as well.

Taste: Wow. For my first Belgian-style, I'm not disappointed. The sweet dark fruits are very present (see above for the potential ones I'm picking up); a nice malty backing; alcohol is definitely present, but masked very well for a 9% ABV; slightly metallic/coppery taste is present as well. Overall pretty solid, I would say.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth (especially for as much carbonation is present - but it's a unique kind of carbonation -- very small bubbles that seems mild), a sticky coating at first that quickly dries; alcohol is more present on the breath and it warms nicely in the chest and stomach.

Drinkability: Moderate; great flavors are present, but the sweetness of the dark fruit is going to take some getting used to on my part; also, it's a little sneaky how that alcohol creeps up on you. Pretty solid overall though and great gateway into what I hope will become a potential favorite style.

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