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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 objectivemonkey
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into a chalice, pours a nice ruby tinged mahogany, a creamy half-inch taupe head settles a bit thinner to a good film, leaves nice lacing on the glass. The aroma gives beer soaked dark fruits, pear and apple mostly, slight candied sugars. The taste follows the vague hints in the nose, some nice fruits, sugars, a fair yeasty flair and some nice spices. The mouth has good body, almost non-existant carbonation, a bit of warming... in all, a pretty tasty dubbel.

objectivemonkey, Feb 18, 2008
Photo of jasonjlewis
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Decent 1 1/2 finger head with very nice retention. Ruby red in color.

Smell is of toasty caramel malts, banana, cloves, and coriander. Slightly boozy as well.

Taste is of candy sugar with a caramel malt balance. Banana phenol comes out and adds a fruitiness to the flavor. A little bit overly boozy, but not too bad. Sort of minty and fruity on the finish

A little watery on the finish. A tiny bit astringent as well.Not overly bad.

A decent beer, but a little bit too warming on the alcohol.

jasonjlewis, Feb 17, 2008
Photo of dsa7783
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ML bottle copped caged and corked from Gary's in Madison... "Belgian Style Abbey Ale" on the front logo sticker... pours a dar-brown, ruby-red and mahogany hue, slightly purple with a minimal head that soon receded... smell was very intense and rich, with strong malt aromas that included raisins, plums, and dehydrated fruits... attractive Dubbel taste, true-to-the-style, with noticeable malts, caramel, vanilla, and candy sugar in the flavor that was thick and rich... A very good representation of the style from North Coast... very creamy and thick mouthfeel with good drinkability... very sweet-tasting example full of flavors and character... good stuff from this brewery which usually turns out solid stuff... Recommended...

dsa7783, Feb 16, 2008
Photo of baggio
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage

A: Brownish-red with a minimal lace.

S: Banana, yeast, molasses, sherry, caramel.

T: Nuts, toffee, dark bread, dark cherry, some spices.

M: Very rich and complex with a lively carbonation.

Pretty decent brew. Nothing really earth-shattering but very well balanced and great tasting. Got 2 bottles left and i look forward to drinking them!

baggio, Feb 16, 2008
Photo of tronester
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This dubbel pours an amber brown with a medium tan head. Smell is of ripe apples. Taste is quite malty, with a hint of smokiness, caramel and dough. Mouthfeel is average, carbonation is somewhat prickly. This is a pretty good beer, perhaps isnt very true to the style, but enjoyable none the less.

tronester, Feb 14, 2008
Photo of Chumley
4.4/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A rich thick head that hangs tough on top of the dark caramel colored brew. Tasty, sweet, heavy tongue feel. Has a kick with the aftertaste, the alcohol wraps around your tongue. Squeezes. Over all, nice beer. All the right features, but still there is something that leaves me wanting.

Chumley, Feb 11, 2008
Photo of Onslow
3.13/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

$7 bucks, no way!! ..smell of faint dryed fruits and chocolate ... as it warms the flavour does improve .. dark prune brown colour ..nice on the tongue but aftertaste is 50-50 ... very odd flavour, good if you really try but is not very enjoyable.. this beer is a janky hoopty!!

Onslow, Feb 10, 2008
Photo of stephens101
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm a big fan of jazz, so let's see if I'm a big fan of Brother Thelonius. Pours dark brown with a thick two-finger rumbling cloud of tan head into my "Brother Thelonius" goblet. How fitting. Retention is exceptional. When the head finally decides to fade, a two tiered lacing is left behind. That is, a somewhat thinner layer surrounding the glass sits atop a thicker layer that resided right above the brew. The smell of raisins, white grapes, grain, malt and an undercurrent of sweet syrup makes for intriguing contrasts. Tastes a bit sharper than the nose would lead you to believe, although the end is rounded off. A slight sweetness comes through just before the alcohol heat reveals itself. Dark chocolates and licorice lurk in the shadows. Carbonation is excellent and opens the beer up in your mouth making for a pleasant, almost airy mouth-feel. This is a superbly crafted and very complex beer that is made even better by it's uniqueness. It is quite evident that someone put some effort into this one.

stephens101, Feb 08, 2008
Photo of BMan1113VR
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Labeled 9.4% abv. Aroma is pleasant with a light toasted sensation and moderate piney hops. There was also pear, nutmeg and cinnamon in the aroma. Appearance was nice. Average sized frothy off-white head that played the disappearing act. Color was a very dark amber or brown. The flavor was a bit of a disappointment, salty and sour at first followed by a very strong copper aftertaste. Good attempt at a Belgian strong, but I know that North Coast can do better. According to my dad this is a very good attempt at a common Belgian street ale (although being well traveled, and a great "nose" my dad drinks beer more for pure enjoyment at the moment rather than rating them like he does wine). I don't know, I wasn't of legal age last time I was in Belgium.

BMan1113VR, Feb 07, 2008
Photo of OWSLEY069
4.43/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy deep amber/ copper color with a fluffy tan head. In the aroma, Belgiany candy sugar, dark fruitiness, and a white grape. In the taste, dark cherries, candy sugar sweetness and somewhat white grape sour and dryness. A malty and smooth mouthfeel and a dry white grape aftertaste. Fantastic representation of style, complex, and hides the alcohol.

OWSLEY069, Jan 31, 2008
Photo of slvrmon82
3.93/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - A rich dark brown to amber.

S - Can really smell the dark malts and a lot of other things. Chocolate, lots of roasted barley.

T - Wow. It was a lot of different tastes going on on the palate. It crisp and sweet but dry at the end. Great beer.

M - A little heavier but with some creaminess. Lots of carbonation as well. Very enjoyable.

D - I would definitely drink this beer again.

Shared it with a bunch of friends and they all agreed as well. Definitely a could winters night beer that I will enjoy again and again. Thank you North Coast!!!

slvrmon82, Jan 27, 2008
Photo of Mitchster
4.3/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a 4-pack of this at Merchants. I think it was around $9-10. 9.4% ABV. No sediment, so I'm assuming it's filtered. Pours out to a clear deep mahogany, forming a wimpy yellow head with poor retention and sparse lacing. Carbonation is mild to moderate. The aroma is heavenly...banana nut bread. Lot of spices, phenols, banana, and walnut. Mouthfeel is soft and smooth with a body that belittles many other Dubbles in the world. This is a pretty hefty interpretation of a classic. The taste is excellent as well...it is a recap of all the aromas, with a big malt body, some burnt rubber, burnt orange peel, fruitcake, dark candi sugar, moderate herbal hops with a mild bitterness, and a long aftertaste of tobacco. Cleanly fermented with no appreciable off-flavors. Overall, somewhat sweet, but not too much so.

Hrmm, this is really good. Holds court with one of my favorites, Abbey Ale from New Belgium. This is like it's big brother. A very pleasant brew, just starting to leave me with a pleasant buzz.

Mitchster, Jan 25, 2008
Photo of thebeerdoctor
4.7/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As a fan of jazz, aka American Creative Music, Brother Thelonious is a masterpiece. Purchased in a four pack of 12 ounce bottles, this deep colored dubbel style ale should be approached with respect. To drink more than one of these at a time just means you are seeking inebriation using, or should I say misusing, a very carefully and lovingly created ale, that is indeed a fitting tribute to the musical composer genius who was known as Thelonious Sphere Monk. There is big time complexity here: spicy with dark fruit notes, chocolate, vanilla and plum, to name just a few. Although I did not have a goblet present when I sampled this. I would recommend it as the glassware of choice. An ale to be savored... peacefully.

thebeerdoctor, Jan 25, 2008
Photo of eberkman
3.48/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep, dark red with a one-finger tan head that reduces quickly to a surface cover. Moderate lacing sticking to the sides of my Chimay chalice. Big powerful nose -- dominated by dark raisins, candy sugar, booze and yeast, yeast and more yeast. Pretty overpowering. The taste is an overwhelming sweetness with some candy spices evolving into a fairly sour finish. Interesting but a bit cloying. Nice thick, silky, chewy mouthfeel -- you definitely sense some heft here. But drinkability is a weakness -- waaaay too sweet, even for a dubbel. I'll finish my glass, but I don't have a huge desire to finish the bomber tonight. A rarity.

Not a terrible effort, but I was hoping for better from this brewery. At least the label (like all North Coast labels) is really cool -- the idea of Thelonious as an actual Monk. Cute.

eberkman, Jan 25, 2008
Photo of goldenpeanut
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750ml bottle with cage and cork. Bottle in good condition, poured at 54F into Chimay goblets.

Beer is NOT bottle conditioned, why the cork and cage then? This is odd.

Poured a bright garnet/amber red with a tan head that needed coaxing and settled quickly to a cap of single layer bubbles, only the nucleation points etched into the glass kept the head alive at all.

The initial aroma is slightly oxidized, bottle conditioning would prolong shelf life. Oxidative notes blow out pretty quickly leaving a sugary malt aroma with a Flanders Red like sourness.

Initial thoughts on flavor are that this is like a Flanders Red without the bret sour. The high carbonation level explodes when the beer is "chewed" into a complex flavor of sugar, malt, hops and alcohol. Fermentation character is subdued for a Belgian style ale. Notes of chocolate, black currant and cherries. Could say there is a chocolate - cherry thing going on.

I must comment at this time on the nature of the carbonation...I feel its force carbonated and the lack of lees in the bottle indicate this also. The nature of the carbonation is different than that of natural carbonation in that the bubbles seem coarser and explode more readily than natural carbonation does. This changes the experience of a highly carbonated Belgian beer from one of relative smoothness to coarse gassiness. I think natural carbonation, in the Belgian tradition, would improve this beer greatly.

The finish is short. Hops and malt balance on the sweet side but not in a cloying way. I would prefer a harder hop hit and a longer hop finish to complement the complexity of the malt experienced in the flavor.

All in all not a bad effort in the Belgian arena from an American brewer. I really would like to see more yeast complexity, bottle conditioning and additional bitter hops. I feel the use of a cage and cork for a force carbonated, filtered beer is just a marketing ploy. I cage and cork and bottle condition my Belgians on their side for flavor development, those flavors are missing here.

Since there is no live yeast in this bottle I don't feel it would benefit from aging. The oxidized notes I noticed immediately after pouring confirm this.

If I were judging this beer in a homebrew competition I would add a note that this beer would score better as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale than as a Dubbel. The alcohol is too high for a Dubbel, the body is on the low side and flavor profile is more in line with the Dark Strong.

goldenpeanut, Jan 20, 2008
Photo of OStrungT
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a maple brown color, with a thick, fluffy, tannish yellow head. The head fades slowly, leaving many laces.

This beer has a yeasty earthy aroma. It also smells strongly of raisins. Some plumb aroma is also present. A slight figlike aroma is also present.

This beer tastes much like it smells. Yeasty, with some fruity flavors. I can not taste the 9% alcohol content.

This beer is full bodied. It goes down smooth, leaving a raisinlike aftertaste. It is highly carbonated, fitting style guidelines.

This beer would probably not make the best session beer. The flavor, while not bad, is aggressive, and would become hard to drink after a time. Also, at 9% ABV, drinking many would become a problem.

Overall: This beer is ok. The style is not my favorite, but the beer good for the style.

OStrungT, Jan 18, 2008
Photo of danend
3.45/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a goblet.

Aroma: A good bit of phenolic and alcoholic spiciness. Some sweet malt, figs, prunes and grapes. Has the yeasty character of a tripel, lacking the complexity I seek out in dubbels.

Appearance: Spot on for a dubbel, big thick tan head, deep mahogany, crystal clear.

Flavor: Like the aroma, a good bit of alcoholic spiciness. Some rummy, dark fruit notes in the finish, but very subdued. Almost a citrusy quality, probably attributed to the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Finish is dry, medium bodied, little alcoholic warmth on the way down.

Overall: A nice beer, not an amazing dubbel. The alcohol was a little too prominent, might have done well to age this one for a little longer in the cellar.

danend, Jan 17, 2008
Photo of nas5755
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

caramel follows a slight tint of fruity floral reflections.

Interesting notes of simplicity, a nutty caramel mixture followed the first bits of dried fruit mixed with a slight hints of malty chocolate.

A nice combination of thickness and medium-lite carbonation.

A lovely beer, that I would recommend to anyone searching for something new to try. I will be drinking this again.

Serving type- Bottle

nas5755, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - pours a murky chestnut brown. A light tan head starts at about a finger and slowly falls back to a thin cover.

Aroma - a slight tartness, grainy, a trace of earthy florals in the background. Some brown sugar after it sets up.

Taste - the grain and candi sugar form a flavor that reminds me strongly of tobacco. The sugar has some sweet persuasion all its own, giving the beer a classic Belgian taste. The swallow has quite a noticeable bite to it, part tart and part hop. After some palate adjustment, notes of brown sugar mix in with the tobacco flavor. Overall, a unique and tasty brew with multiple layers of good flavors.

Mouthfeel - full body, spritzy carbonation. Not overkill but close.

Drinkability - an approachable Belgian-style beer. I'd have it again, the flavor is quite unique, beer tasting material even.

brewdlyhooked13, Jan 11, 2008
Photo of AmbsterSchrier
4.72/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Rich, dark...caramel colored head (thought short head retention). Slight reddish tint in certain light.

S- Toasty and slightly spicy sweet.

T- Brown sugar sweet, slightly spiced with a drier finish. Complex flavor, much like Monk's playing.

M- Pleasant and rich. Feels like it has some "consistency" to it.

D- Nice for slow sipping. Goes down smooth, but not a light beer by any means.

Brings to mind the song, "Straight, No Chaser"
I've heard it is better in smaller bottles v. the 750 ml bottles.

AmbsterSchrier, Jan 11, 2008
Photo of HombreWing
4.45/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Corked bottle ...Glass Medium sized Chalice/Goblet.

Eyes: Pour Bright as the day is long. Beautiful Chestnut colour. 3 finger head leaves faster than I would have expected.

Nose: Right out of the bottle there is chocolate ...fades into bready grain some hot alcohol...very little yeast spice...no hop

Tongue: Sweet chocolatey caramely malt subtle nuttiness & toastiness that helps balance. Some yeast spice. No hop. Some Hot alcohol

Texture: Medium body helps hide some alcohol

Overall experience: This beer followed up my meal of Organic: Meatloaf, iron skillet roasted potatoes w/ onions, and a crap load of steamed broccoli. Really helps to settle a big helping. Plenty of beef flavor still hanging around that this beer just compliments :)

HombreWing, Jan 07, 2008
Photo of ColForbinBC
4.28/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into goblet

I must say that I have been anticipating this beer for a long time. I finally bought it about 6 weeks ago and have been waiting for a special day to break it out.

It pours a muddy brown with a reddish hue throughout. The caramel colored head faded rather quickly. I expected more carbonation. No lacing at all.

Wow, what a nose. This beer has a wide range of smells going on. Honey, orange, raisins, dates, candy sugar, and even spicy clove.

The taste mimics what's going on with the nose for the most part. There is an added hint of a scotch whiskey that gives Bro. Thelonious a nice warming alcohol finish.

The mouthfeel is ok, I expected a little more out of a beer that tastes so good. The flavor just doesn't linger like it should.

I usually struggle a little bit with some of the belgians, but this goes down pretty good.

I am very impressed with this offering from North Coast. One of my favorite musicians and possibly the coolest looking bottle art ever.

ColForbinBC, Jan 06, 2008
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown/red color with a good fluffy off white head. The nose is of raisin and belgian yeast and malt. The taste is quite good, moslty dark fruit and belgian yeast with some dark wheat flavors. A good peppery center with an unusual little hop nip on the finish. slightly abrasive mouthfeel and a little bit thin but good overall. good and drinkable for a heavier dubbel. A good american made shot at a dubbel. I like it but it has an american thinness to it. I would say it is defenitely one of the better american brewed dubbels. No lost & found but its up there.

AKBelgianBeast, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of albern
2.25/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I'm giving this one the thumbs down. I was sorely disappointed and was hoping for so much more. The beer pours a nice cloudy, tawny brown, with a caramel consistency, and a smallish head. The head dissipated quickly, no lacing either. The smell is caramelized, yeasty, perhaps a tinge of some fruits, such as apple, rind, and lemon. The beer is medium bodied and then it goes down hill fast. This beer does a terrible number in terms of masking its robust ABV, in fact, I got nothing but harsh, throaty alcoholish burn. The beer had none of the candied sugar fermentation, the sweet yeasty malts of a Belgian, or the complex fruity carbonation and warming notes. This beer just hit all the wrong notes. I drank a small glass and got rid of the rest. What a disappointement. It seemed that they just let this one ferment too long until it carmelized what should have been warming notes, and lost its redeeming Belgian character.

albern, Jan 04, 2008
Photo of Wasatch
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Been sitting on this for a year or so.

Poured into a chalice a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation (awesome pop on opening), nice little fizzy creamy off-white head, some tiny islands and sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is malty, slightly yeasty, some figs, raisins, plums, and caramel. The taste is sweet, malty, slight yeast effect, nice touch of dark fruit, and some caramel. This brew goes down smoothly, the alcohol is hidden very well. Full body, a complex brew. Very drinkable, very tasty, another great brew from North Coast, recommended.

Wasatch, Dec 30, 2007
Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,376 ratings.