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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

2,515 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,515
Reviews: 959
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.72%
Wants: 57
Gots: 281 | 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)
View: Beers (21) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,515 | Reviews: 959 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Mitchster
4.3/5  rDev +13.5%
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.

Photo of thebeerdoctor
4.7/5  rDev +24%
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.

Photo of eberkman
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

Photo of goldenpeanut
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

Photo of OStrungT
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Photo of danend
3.45/5  rDev -9%
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.

Photo of nas5755
4/5  rDev +5.5%
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

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.13/5  rDev +9%
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.

Photo of AmbsterSchrier
4.72/5  rDev +24.5%
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.

Photo of HombreWing
4.45/5  rDev +17.4%
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 :)

Photo of ColForbinBC
4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
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.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

Photo of albern
2.25/5  rDev -40.6%
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.

Photo of Wasatch
3.98/5  rDev +5%
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.

Photo of beerking1
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have stored this bottle about a year. Pours a red-hued light brown color, with some haze, and a decent head that lasts to the end. Aroma is dark fruits, with some malt and some wood characteristics. Also hints of yeastiness in the nose. Flavor is more dark fruits, some yeastiness and chocolate malt. Hops are apparent, but very subdued. Very well balanced beer in style. Alcohol comes through, but softly. Body is suitably medium to full, with a creamy carbonation. Aftertaste is lingering dark malt and fruit.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz picked up at New Vintage a few weeks ago for about $3... poured into a Kasteel tulip.

Short lasting 1/2" head and little lacing .... clear brown brew with nice red highlites.

Aroma is dried fruits.. raisins and figs mixed with medium caramel and lighter characteristic Belgian yeastiness... could use a little more complexity.. but not bad at all.

Medium mouthfeel and fine/lightly creamy little bubble carbonation. More pronounced yeasty fruitiness than the aroma ... same dried fruit and sweet cherries and a caramels with an appealling cola spiciness finish.

Overall a pretty good attempt at a Dubbel... I am glad the brewers did not "Americanize" this one to the point of diminishing returns... but Brother Thelonious could use more complexity in aroma and flavor and a more full mouthfeel.... that being said, I will buy some more of the 12's to put in the cellar for when I get the urge.

Photo of bashiba
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a dark cloudy brown with light ruby highlights, big and sticky head.

Smell has some nice cedar and yeast notes with a bit of brown sugar.

Flavor has a strong woody malt backbone with some lightly sweet fruit notes and a decent bit of musty hops to balance it quite well.

Mouthfeel is very creamy with a decent thickness.

Overall a pretty authentic tasting Dubbel from North Coast, nicely done.

Photo of dogger6253
4.88/5  rDev +28.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours out of the bottle a dark, muddy brown with a huge, mocha head. The head explodes with bubbles constantly as it falls, taking its sweet time down. It hangs to the side of the glass, refusing to ever let go.

Big cherry and cedar scents in this. Pears, grapes, raisins, dates and almonds come through. A nice, fruity tone with bits of earthiness rounding out the aroma.

Everything in the taste comes out just as fresh as in the nose with a little bit of hops and alcohol adding any missing pieces you may have thought were there. Perfect taste.

The body is smooth with a little bit of a carbonation kicking its way to your brain. It really sits well in your mouth as you let the flavors develop and surface. This really is so tasty, so crisp and refreshing. You must take your time with one of these. So much goodness.

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle a dark black cherry color with a light beige head with lots of thin lacing.

Beautiful aroma of dark ripe fruits, raisins, and sweet malts.

Tastes of cherries, raisins, sweet malts, caramel and a warming touch from the 9% alcohol.

Medium mouthfeel with an oily slickness to it and a zippy carbonation.

What a joy this beer was too drink. More please.

Photo of 1759Girl
4.47/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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...

Photo of champ103
4.65/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of williamherbert
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

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

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.

Photo of tpd975
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of MTNboy
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 2,515 ratings.