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Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,614 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,614
Reviews: 982
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 13.46%
Wants: 62
Gots: 362 | 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 (20) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,614 | Reviews: 982
Photo of bifrostguard
3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Hazy orange with a quickly disappearing head.

S - Dark fruits, spice, a little alcohol.

T - Same as the smell except a little less potent as one would expect.

M - Medium bodied. Nothing particularly notable.

D - Not bad, but I think a couple would be enough as the flavor is not a full as I would like it for having a higher alcohol content.

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

Very nice foamy head, ambitious bubbles here and there, and head lasted a nice bit. Pretty amber-brown cloudy color. Aroma perfectly matched the taste: whiff of nuttiness (macademia? pecan? yes, pecan) up front then move to creamy caramel and baked, slightly burnt figs. Carbonation very nice: pleasant fizziness that lasted throughout the whole beer tasting. This beer is remarkable. After tasting this and moving to the Bernardus Abt 12, the Bernardus tasted very (though pleasantly) apple cidery. A palate cleanser after the Thelonious.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.14/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours brown with ruby highlights. About a half inch of head on the pour, but it is quickly gone afterwards. Smell is very nice. Very plump, juicy dark fruit. Some ripe dark grapes, plum. There is a lot of yeast flavor in the first sip. Dominates most of the promising notes that are in the smell. Good amount of carbonation and lively bite in the mouthfeel. Easy drinking, but unfortunately more complex in the nose than in the taste.

Photo of Bugsey
4.7/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was huge surprise for me. I just bought one to try it, but couldn't stop thinking about all night long.

The flavor lingers, as does the warmth from the alcohol. Tastes are clean and balanced, yet there is rich maltyness, perfectly sweetened with brown sugar and carmel. Dark fruits, prunes and dates, are also there.

Going to try this one again.

And the label is pretty cool too.

Photo of BretSikkink
4.09/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brown with some lighter, reddish-orange highlights. The head jumps up nicely right away, but I'm afraid is hugely lacking in retention and lacing. I think that this is a big part of being called a Dubbel, so I'm a little mean on the score.

The nose is redolent of dark fruits with caramel and yeast phenolics as well. Pretty good.

Great in the mouth as well, with lots of fig and date sweetness, with some caramel malt for good measure. Slightly smoky, and phenolic clove in the finish.

Pretty damn sweet I have to say, a little too much for me to love. This should translate to a creamy, chewy mouthfeel that I'm just not getting here. It's almost harsh in its carbonation, ripping the flavors away rather than gently scrubbing.

Close but no cigar.

Photo of popery
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This isn't a bad beer by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't particularly enjoy it either. It pours hazy and darkly golden with a light head. It smells ok, fairly fruity with some spiciness. The taste was a bit too sweet for me and there was some sort of off note present. It reminded me of soy sauce in a somewhat unpleasant way. I've never quite had that from a beer, but once I started thinking about soy sauce, it was pretty much all I could taste. Alcohol was definitely present and a bit too strong, so actually it was more like soy sauce that has gone bad and fermented some. That probably sounds worse than I mean, but I didn't enjoy it. I like North Coast's Old Stock Ale, which seems a bit funny with my opinion of this one but it's probably a completely different brewing process. I know very little about brewing. Anyway, the mouthfeel wasn't all that great. The flavor lingered a bit too much and I would've preferred more carbonation. Ultimately, it was not a very drinkable beer due to taste, but it's not a bad beer either. Dubbels and BSD's just aren't really my thing, so far anyway.

Edit: Tried it again on tap at North Coast's taproom. The flavor was much better and lacked any of the bizarre soy sauce notes from my first review. There's complexity in the taste with a lot of fruit and a well-balanced sweetness.

Photo of jcdiflorio
3.41/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle served into a Chimay chalice. Poured a slightly hazed medium coppery color with a rich,creamy light tan head leaving a film of lacing down the glass very lively looking champagne like in apperance.

Delicate aromas with light and dark fruitiness with spice and a touch of yeast. Some notes of bannanas and raisins and chocolate.

The tastes are on the faint side with a tart acidy friutiness,bitter raisins,dusty chocolate nice balance with a drying bitterness thats very tart leaves some chocolate notes lingering. Efferecent feel,the body has a light feel,has some smoothness with not much of an alcohol presence. Goes down nicely with a slight touch of heat.

Photo of notafood
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very dark and cloudy amber/brown, almost opaque. Slight cream colored head with good retention.

Smells very nice, dried fruits, sugar, malts, molasses. Nice and roasty/toasty.

A nice dubbel, not too sweet, complex. Some good malts going on, a little spice. Molasses, caramel, raisins, good dry finish.

A little sticky, but nice, full-bodied. A bitter finish that helps keep the beer moving.

I'd consider having some more of this. I thought it was surprisingly drinkable for a dubbel.

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

Nice dark brown color with lots of tannish white head. A sweet caramel smell with noticeable cherry grape and raisin. Taste is more of the same. Lots of alcohol present. Lots of carbonation. Aftertaste not as pleasant. A slow sipping beer but enjoyable.

Photo of Offa
2.62/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

This is to me another disappointing, rather bland, uninteresting, and one-dimensional abbey ale. Although I have had several that I think are complex and flavourful, many others I've had simply seem bland and one-dimensional and this is one of the worst.

It looks good, a deep reddish-brown and slightly murky with a small but dense, permanent tan had that essentially never shrinks and leaves a very little foamy lace.

The aroma also is nice and promising - fruity, darkly toasty with a hint of chocolate at first that soon weakens to leave a lot of stewed fruit, fermented apples and pears, kulich (sweet Russian easter bread with dried fruit), candied citron, spices bark, hint of grapefruit - clearly alcohoplic and meaty but pleasantly and interestingly so. This is a nice, promising smell.

The taste, though, fails to live up to the look and smell. It is light, zesty, and tart, with bittersweet fruit, tart cranberry juice, cirus, hint of burnt caramel and alcohol, with brief initial promise and complexity. This promptly degrades, however, into complete blandness with merely overly strong, persistent tartness being the main quality, with only very weak hints of cranberry and burnt dried fruit. It rapidly becomes tiresome and boring, the tartness which at first seemed like a nice quality utterly dminates the drink, leaving almost no other taste or character. What compelxity it started out with vanishes and I see no point in drinking this.

Photo of Jmamay22
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brother pops open with some cool gun smoke and I can already smell the dark sugars, fruit and spices. The beer pours a semi cloudy tawny brown with a tan collar. No lacing.

Wow! Smells phenomenal. Prunes, toasted sugar, raisins, and spices fill out this wonderful bouquet.

Tastes similar although less fruit and more spice. The caramel and dark sugar comes through nicely. Finishes with spices and a slight warming effect. Deeply rich and malty.

Mouthfeel is on the heavier side of medium and does a great job imitating the Belgian greats. Large alcohol volume, but mostly absent in the taste and smell. Very drinkable. Underrated brew from an underrated brewery. I should stock this more often. Plan to pair it with steak later this evening.

Photo of GilGarp
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I hadn't seen this North Coast Brewing offering before today but had enjoyed their beers in the past. My friend swears by the Old Rasputen! I was initially attracted to the label and wondered if the name refered to the one and only Thelonious I know. Only now do I make the (obvious) connection between a beer style originally brewed by a monk and a jazz great with the same name. Brother Thelonious has a deep reddish brown color and pours with little head that lingers briefly. The smell is pleasant and familiar to someone who enjoys Belgian beers. The taste is also predictable but in a good way. If I hadn't seen the bottle, I would have assumed only a small group of little old men living in an abbey could create such a brew. A combination of carmel, chocolate and raisins hide the deceptively high alcohol content. I strongly recommend this beer as one of the best American abbey-style beers I've ever had.

edit: re-review

I bought a bottle of this about a year ago when I was first starting to "cellar" beers and figured this was a good candidate being almost 10% and not known for fresh hops.

No date on the bottle. Pops with vigor and pours with just a bit of head. It has a nice redish brown color with good clarity.

Aroma is rich and fruity with a bit of spice.

The flavor is surprisingly strong, full of dark fruits like raisins, figs, plums. Lots of sweetness but balanced with some bitterness on the finish. Nice spicy layer too.

Mouthfeel is good despite high alcohol. The same could be said for drinkability.

I couldn't ask for better results from aging this beer. It makes me wonder what would happen if I bought a case and had one every year until I'm 40. Yikes, that's a scary thought!

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

A: Tawny colored with a slimmer head, about one finger with soda like carbonation and decent lacing.

S: Dark fruits, like plum and figs, beet like sugary malts.

T: Fruits like in the nose, but alcohol infused -- date, plum, fig, raisin. Sweet malts with just a touch of biting yeast.

M: Crispy, medium bodied, pringly alcohol.

D: Not the best of the style, but tasteful none the less. A good American take. Not sessionable, 1-2 and I'd be set.

Photo of tedsox31
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a Duvel goblet. Color is a dark red with a beige-ish head that dissipated quicker than I thought it would. There is some lacing on the glass.

Smell is of dark fruits, sugar, and molasses. Not much of an alcoholic presence.

This tastes to me of raisins and molasses. There is some sugar in there as well, and a small bite of alcohol at the back of the taste.

A syrupy mouthfeel, with a slight bit of carbonation. Pretty smooth, but a bit heavy for my tastes.

A drinkable beer. I like it, but I think this is a beer for sipping slowly throughout an evening. The mouthfeel is just too thick for me to fully enjoy this beer.

Photo of bunnyhustle
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Chimay chalice. Pours mahogany brown but when held to some lighyt there are brilliant ruby highlights. Thick off-white head with good retention and lacing. Smell is off raisin and other dark fruits, perhaps some dark tart cherries with a little alcohol and sweetness. Taste is on par with smell. A Belgian candi sugar malt backing with some dark fruits and bit of earthiness, if thats a word, to it. Mouthfeel was a little thicker than expected. Overall not bad, the high ABV is well hidden and it was a nice slow sipper.

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

I just enjoyed this beer for the first time in a year and it's still just as good as I remember it.

With an even balanced taste, this is definitely one of the best efforts from North America to brew the style and doesn't disappoint.

This is a very good representation and I enjoyed it enough to make it one of my picks at the Andersons.

Photo of PerzentRizen
3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

The Brother's Thelonious is really similar in aroma and drinkability with the Chimay line although its quality is not.

I poured mine a bit cold at around 50 Degrees Fahrenheit. This cuts the alcohol down a bit and as it warms it will definately show through more. I poured from a 750mL bottle into a Duvel glass - I have a trappist, but I decided that since I will be drinking this, a Duvel later, and a few IPA's and I am away from my house so Duvel glass it is. The head was light and foamy then reduced to a fine lace that seems to cling to the sides rather nicely.

The aroma is estery. I can definately tell the yeast is the same used for Belgium trappist/abbey ales. This beer is a convincing copy so far.

The first taste and immediately I find myself transported to a familiar feely of drinking a belgium sour red (rodenbach anyone?). I like the taste, but I think the sour is a little unexpected and this might be what is throwing some off.

The finish is woodsy, almost like fresh wild mushrooms. The hop is the final note and it seems to slither down the throat and I can seemingly taste the hops all the way down to the stomach - its not overpowering just different and again unexpected.

This beer has a lot hidden. I would say that it is good if not great. I will have to buy my buddy and fellow BA something special on my next run. He brought this to my house and had to leave before drinking it 2 weeks ago. I saw it every morning and every afternoon and every night in my refrigerator for 2 weeks - sorry buddy a man can only take so much. I will buy you something good willst in Cincinnatti this November or in Florida this spring or why not both.

Enjoy this one without food - but if you must perhaps a soft goatsmilk cheese and water crackers. PROST!

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

Pours a dark mahogany brown; pretty much opaque with a small, tan head that disappears quickly.

Smells of dark fruits, candied sugars, malt, and a bit of caramel.
Tastes like roasted malt predominantly, with earthy tones, caramelized sugars, dark fruit esters, and metallic phenols.

Nice, thick mouthfeel. Pretty decent beer, but I'd rather stick to real Belgians.

Photo of drpimento
3.89/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this is one the beer closest to a belgian from us of a that I've ever encountered. Bravo! Big foamy frothy textured head and plenty of lace. Soft texture, slightly perfumey. Clear dark rich amber with red highlights. Not too sweet. Great balance. Almost a session considering what it is.

Photo of johnnnniee
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dark amber with a minimal head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is dark fruits, some Belgian inspired spice and a bit of sweetness. Smells like its going to be a sweet beer. Tastes of sweet dried fruits, a bit of pepper, and a touch of alcohol especially as it warms. Full body, sweet sticky mouthfeel, and a bunch of carbonation. Could use some more yeast character imho. Decent brew, not the best dubbel I've ever had, but nice to drink just the same.

Photo of Gehrig
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rich dark raspberry color with a finger of off-white head that fades fast, leaving little lacing. The score is primarily based on a great color and a tolerable head. Excellent nose filled with sweet fruit (cherry, plum), dried fruit (fig, raisin), and spice (pepper, ginger). This smells like Dubbel all the way.

I like the taste, very fruity, rather spicy, a bit peppery as it proceeds, a hint of dark chocolate--good stuff. But a couple things need work. Unlike lots of top-flight Belgians, this lacks effervescence in the second half, conveyed amply and early with the flattening head. This causes problems later. Top shelf Belgians have a rich effervescence that gets the flavors dancing in harmony, that doesn't quit. This fades sooner than it should, resulting in somewhat compromised flavor. I attribute a good deal of this to mouthfeel, which for the good Brother Thelonious is a bit thin, lacking effervescence, and isn't nearly as creamy as Ommegang, the standard bearer for the Dubbel in my humble opinion.

On the whole, definitely quality stuff, well done, and flavorful. A better mouthfeel from more effervescence would do wonders for BT, already a fine representative of the style.

Photo of Jyubei
4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A. Pours a 1 finger off white head on a brown body that appears reddish, like a well aged wine, when it catches the light.

S. Roasted malt and hops, a hint of honey and a slight flowery aroma.

T. Strong roasted malt and hops flavor with almonds and a dessert bread taste ( coffee cake or spiced bread?). Mild alcohol.

M. Sticky and syrupy felling that hangs around the sides of the mouth for a bit.

D. Very pleasant all through and a fine meal beer.

Photo of IronCitySteve
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750ml bottle uncorked at the table.

A: It was dark in the bar, so I will give it my best guess. Looked a dark brown, which was probably copper. Some lacing and a decent off white head.

S: Lots of fruits, bread and alcohol initially hit you. Some spice as well, but only once it warms up a bit.

T: A extremely sweet and fruity dubbel. The alcohol is also present, but not overpowering the other flavors.

M: A rather smooth and sweet presence on the mouth.

D: A very nice dubbel, I could not have had more than 2 in one sitting.

Photo of cvstrickland
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml cork-in-cage bottle opened with a healthy pop!, poured into a chalice yields a deep reddish-brown body crowned with a finger of fine-bubbled ecru foam. The head recedes to a bubbly ring and leaves swatches of lacing on the glass.

The smell of the drink is fruity, bready, and sweet, with notes of pineapple, banana and orange riding a malty backbone.

The taste of the drink is malty, fruity, and nutty, but distinct flavors I recognize from the real world are hard to come by. I understand that it is simply not an adequate description to write, "It tastes like a nice Dubbel.", but it does. If pressed for details of this fine brew's flavor profile, I can offer that a touch of smoky caramel and cocoa roll around in a mélange of dry banana, juicy orange, and toasty grain-flavored brown sugary candy infused with a hint of pineapple. Oxymoronically, there's plenty of sweetness and a persistent dryness. That makes no sense, but it's true. The taste of Brother Thelonious ™ is much more involved and melded together than my paltry oversimplifications, but I'm just working with the tools at hand. It "tastes great". It is not at all "less filling".

Superb feel and drinkability. This is a very nice dubbel I'll be sure to buy again. A quote I liked from the label, "Carpe diem vita brevis"!

Photo of ClavisAurea
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle consumed from a wine glass.

First off, when I opened the bottle, the cork almost shot me in the face. I'm by no means a novice with opening bottles with corks, but this particular one was explosively carbonated.

Appearance: deep copper with a thick head; ample lace on the glass

Smell: caramel and raisins, brown sugar and alcohol

Taste/Mouthfeel: stewed ripe fruit, caramel, plums and brandy, alcoholic finish

More like a fine wine than a beer. Still one of my favorites.

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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 2,614 ratings.