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Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,011 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,011
Hads: 2,850
Avg: 3.78
pDev: 22.49%
Wants: 76
Gots: 524 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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 (25) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Brother Thelonious Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,011 | Hads: 2,850
Photo of constantine_272
3.86/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep brown muddy color. Very low light brown head the fizzled with at soapy rainbow effect and disappeared. Heavy chocolate and boozy aroma with a whole lot of steel smell. Taste is again quite chocolatey with thick booze undertones. Dark earthiness of wet oak and cedar. Just the right amount of hops finishes the big sweet chocolate and heavy booziness. The finish is truly top notch. It's a nice well made beer.

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Photo of Foxybrau
3.66/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Honey brown pour with a pale, airy head. Thin feel with plenty carbonation and strong alcohol finish. More metallic than fruity, but malty and semi-sweet. Overall an easy-drinking copper brew. Highly enjoyable.

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Photo of dawgpound433
3.49/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drank 1.22.15 at Giant eagle from the singles vault.Alcohol not covered up well but assuming it's a strong ale I can let it slide. Bottle shape is unique in a sense, shorter and wider. Smell isn't offputting, but it's not spectacular either. Bitterness is subtle, and I am tasting a good amount of malt throughout. Lacks carbonation but I see that as a good thing.

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Photo of RockAZ
4.64/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Beautiful appearance and great smell of yeast, bread, malt sweetness. Warming beer alcohol-wise, excellent for pairing with foods like steak, mushrooms and potatoes or good bread. Other reviewers mentioned it is a bit thin or as having a one note of sweetness, and I get that too especially cold. Some better Belgian brewed examples of the style are available but I do like this one along with those. This does warm up nicely imho overcoming some of the one note sweetness with vanilla, figs and caramel scents.

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Photo of Apellonious
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a bulbous wine glass.

A - Black with brown and ruby highlights. Pours with little to no head.

S - Interesting. Fig, dark fruit, nuts, vanilla.

T - Dark pale malts, fig, vanilla, raisin, smattering of booze.

M - Slightly sharp on the finish, fairly heavy and gets sticky as it warms.

O - Had a couple bombers of this several years ago, and just getting back around to it. Seems like revisiting past likes is harder these days with all the new releases and new brewers. One of my favorites in this style.

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Photo of kkleu357
4.58/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful ruby red pour. Small big bubble head. Semi sweet bread yeast aroma. Very tasty. Tastes like a real Belgian beer. I usually get this fake taste in American Belgian style beers, but this one tastes authentic. Sweet thick, but not that sticky, malty taste. Similar to a caramel banana dessert. Mild fruit raisin taste. Really enjoy it.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.69/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up in Totowa a few weeks back, having never had this before. This was one of the few singles there that I never bought before and was pleased to read on here that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this went to a good musical cause. With that being said, this was not in the same category as Belgian beers from overseas and while there was enough of a flavor profile here, there was a bit of body and depth missing that kept this from being in a higher echelon.

The pour to this was quite dark - think brown with a hint of plum and just a bit of light that seeped in around the edges.A moderate tan head formed as I poured this out and the lacing was one ring of bubbles that slid down the side of my pint glass after every sip. Not a strong aroma to this but there was enough apple and dates to indicate that this was a Belgian-style brew. Along with yeast, that's what was found in the taste as well. Not a lot of spice, dark fruit, or candied sugar as well and where was the alcohol? I didn't feel warmed up as I worked my way through this and it was surprising how weak this felt from start to finish. Was this flat or just the way the beer was made? Hard to tell with the dark hue but the carbonation could have been a bit more noticeable, on top of everything else. A hint of cloying bread to the mouthfeel saved this from being a true downer while giving me something proverbial to "chew on" as I figured out what was lacking here.

Sure, the booze was here but the whole bottle had to be polished off before I could feel it. While a Belgian-style beer at heart, there was so much missing from this that should have been present from the get-go. I would have called this "The Loneliest Monk" as this was not quite like other Belgian Strong Dark Ales that I've had, and not in a good way. Easily the weakest offering from North Coast and only worth a go for fans of the brewery or of dark beers that handle light - this one hit too many wrong notes to be rated higher in my book.

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Photo of B-J-B
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

Had this again after several years - was not as impressed as I was the first time. It seemed somehow thin, with a trace of the yeasty goodness and malty sweetness of a great Belgian but lacking something. It became quite one-note after awhile.

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Photo of Lard_City
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%

Fruity nose and taste. Slight boozy aftertaste. Flavor profile moves through in a hurry but a lot of different tastes here (citrus, grapes, some roasted malt, maybe even a little mango?). Delightful.

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Photo of dacrza1
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

DATE TASTED: November 6, 2014... GLASSWARE: Duvel tulip... OCCASION: Browns get their one prime-timer tonight, so time to break out the bomber in celebration... APPEARANCE: effervescent off-white bubbles light up an otherwise dark-as-ebony-keys body; two-finger brown head is sudsy and substantial... AROMA: heavy plum and apple early; approximates a red wine with some astringent, brackish notes... PALATE: wow--full-bodied, raking the tongue with a dry finish that demands another sip; warming and hearty; thick and creamy....TASTE: plum indeed, and secondary fruits include apple, pear and lack currants--big and flavorful; stoutish at its finish... OVERALL: a BIG beer that warmly mellows--not as complex as Monk's music, but no argument that it pleases as "Straight No Chaser" might on an autumn night...

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Photo of HighDesertWalrus
4.5/5  rDev +19%

Pours dark brown developing a thin caramel colored head. The aroma is of malt and brown sugar. The flavor is malty, yeasty, a little sweet, but smooth. The alcohol is present but not forward. The finish is slightly dry.
Overall I found this to be a most enjoyable brew.

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Photo of gbarbee
4.75/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I first drank this beer in a steakhouse in Augusta, Georgia. I had a steak dinner that was called "Neptune's Cow" (a filet topped with sauteed shrimp and blue crab sauce). The pairing was perfect.

Appearance: Dark brown
Smell: Hoppy and full-bodied with a hint of honey
Taste: Dark bread like pumpernickel but smooth
Mouthfeel: Smooth
Drinkability: Great beer brewed in the Belgian style.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of HoposaurusRex
3/5  rDev -20.6%

12 oz bottle poured into a chalice...

Appearance: Deep brown with small but persistent tan head.

Aroma: Prune and faint chocolate. I'm also getting some roastiness that seems inappropriate for the style.

Taste: Follows the aroma. Raisins and a hint of chocolate. Roasty bitterness and alcohol were apparent on first sip but subside significantly as it warms. Perhaps a touch too roasty and boozy for the style. Slight acidity.

Mouthfeel: Ester derived perception of sweetness is immediately countered by a very dry finish. Highly effervescent as should be expected. Perhaps some of the acidity is derived from a carbonic acid bite.

Overall: A good attempt at the style, but lacks the well rounded character of the best examples. Booze and slight roastiness compete with (rather than compliment) the fruity esters.

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Photo of leffebrown84th
4.5/5  rDev +19%

Fruity. I tasted plums and fig and maybe other dark fruits. I thought I was drinking a quadrupel. Very good flavor. As for look and smell and color I couldnt care less. Its all about taste.

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Photo of soulpower75
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%

I am a BIG fan of Thelonious' music and the beer is just smooth. It has a warm brown color and a deep malty flavor. It leaves you with bit of a bitter aftertaste kind of like the last note of a Monk tune.

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Photo of Roxie_B
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Looks: Translucent dark maple with amber highlights. Light tan head that falls quickly to lace.
Smell: Sweet, malty, nutty and lightly floral
Taste: Figs, plums and caramel.
Mouthfeel: Creamy but with an unfortunately acidic bite that detracts.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.46/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a tan fluffy and foamy head that dissipates quickly. The beer itself is an opaque ruby red with brown notes. The beer smell is a bit sweet and dark fruity. The notes include plum and raisin. The taste is very similar to the nose with the same dark fruit taste. However, the taste also has a slightly sour note as well. The malt notes also come out in a caramel form that gives it a bit of sweetness with a roasted finish at the end. The mouthfeel is a bit heavy bodied and fairly smooth but feels slightly watery. Overall, an okay bee but not one I'll pick again.

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Photo of avwrite
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%

Heavier than it seems, but still has that belgium sweetness to it. A bit bitter and very malty. It's thick going down. Has a nice smell and a dark color. I imagine it to be a good beer suited for colder weather.

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Photo of lilsmizzul1225
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Appearance: Dark caramel color with a tan head. Resembling a look similar to Coca-Cola (4)

Smell: Caramel and licorice notes come out strong with a bit of spiciness--cinnamon being the strongest like scent but other spices come though; if only mildly. (3.75)

Taste: Very sweet at first but a caramel / brown sugar / molasses sweetness at first and finishing with a yeasty-breadiness. However, the alcohol definitely comes through strongly. Although 9.4% is pretty high, that doesn't necessarily means that it needs to be boozy-tasting. Perhaps a cloudier or thicker beer could downplay the alcohol. (3.5)

Mouthfeel: Light and very carbonated (another Coca-Cola likeness) However, the lightness could be why the booziness is so strong. (3.75)

Overall: Not what I was expecting. The overall strong boozy taste is what brings the drink down. Had the consistency been thicker then the beer would have been a lot better and the complex flavors could really come through. (3.75)

Final Score: 3.75/5

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.48/5  rDev -7.9%

12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark red color. The head is a finger high, and off-white in shade. The texture is creamier than most traditional Belgians, but also retains more poorly as well. Minimal lacing is left behind. (3)

Smell: Letting it warm up, I pick up notes of chocolate, brown sugar, and caramel. The spicy Belgian yeast also exists behind the former. It seems a bit boozy for 9.4%, otherwise it does a decent interpretation of a proper BSDA. (3.5)

Taste: At first, the focus (just like with the nose) is on the sweet malts: there are some nice chocolate notes in particular, with lesser brown sugar and caramel floating around. The back end, natch, reveals bready yeast nicely. The first few sips come off as too boozy, but it calms down once the palate gets used to it. The complexity is there, and so is the restrained sweetness; it just needs more balance to be up there in the stratosphere of the Belgians. Sure the alcohol presence gives it a nuanced depth, but it makes it too harsh at times. (3.5)

Mouthfeel: Very well carbonated, as expected. It's both dry and light for the style - this must be why it seems relatively alcoholic. The booze brings it back down to sipper territory, basically. (3.5)

Overall: This does a lot right. It manages to be both bone-dry and complex all at the same time, it just needs to conceal the booze better. A solid BSDA that's a step below the best Belgians. (3.5)

3.48/5: Really nice BSDA once you look past the booziness

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Photo of kingmaxwell
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

North Coast Brewery's Brother Thelonious is a pretty nice ale. The bottle is attractive with a cork and thick-walled bottle. The label says that some of the proceeds go to The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Poured into a pint glass (I know . . .I know . . .). I did let the beer warm a little bit as suggested by the label. Poured a thick reddish brown with a nice buttery head of foam. As I've drank a little bit the head has faded away leaving almost no lacing.

The smell of the beer in the glass is mellow, an inviting mild boozy scent.

The beer is very friendly -- a sweet chocolate raisin flavor. Not much aftertaste when you drink Brother Thelonious. Just a rich front flavor and then strong alcohol in your belly.

Generally enjoyable, strong beer.

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Photo of nicoleann
4.04/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

This beer has a very nice color, it is pleasing to the eye. It has a Nice reddish color; it almost resembles red wine when put in the light. Brother Thelonious has an Intense nose, but a smoother flavor. Oddly enough it reminds me of Sam Adam's Boston Lager...? It definitely does not taste like a 9.4%

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Photo of arlo19
2.86/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured dark amber into DFH signature glass. Head is very fizzy, and quickly dissipates.

Aroma is OK, grapes, yeasty and some booze.

Mouthfeel is very good, light.

The taste is overpowered, sharp booze. It stays with you. I can pick up a little dark fruit.

Overall, this beer just isn't balanced. It gets a little better as it warms, but still not good.

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Photo of Lucular
3.67/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Update: 12-9-2014: My opinion is almost totally changed since my initial review earlier this year. Brother Thelonious is a good example of a Belgian strong dark ale, nothing mind-blowing, but quite tasty and enjoyable. I won't seek it out now that my original four-pack is gone but I realized I needed to update my review from the initial 2.15 score. Maybe my first bottle was somehow tainted because I don't see how I could have thought it was as bad as my first review said.

Original review: 7-26-2014: Appearance: Poured into a tulip glass. 1/2 inch head disappeared within a couple of minutes. Not bad but still disappointing for the style.

Smell: Bottle said to enjoy at 55 degrees. It was definitely colder than this when I poured, so given the 9.4% abv I was not surprised that the smell of alcohol predominated at first. No matter, I didn't want to drink it quickly so I had no trouble sipping slowly to allow it to warm up a bit. It was around 60 degrees by the time I was done. But it didn't help much--even at warmer temperatures all I could smell was alcohol and some coffee.

Taste: Not surprisingly, my first sips were all alcohol and burnt coffee. As the glass warmed up a bit it improved marginally. Overly sweet with some burnt toffee. Some spices that were overwhelmed by the alcohol. The lack of complexity is hard to believe until you've tasted it for yourself. I could barely detect some dark fruits--figs, raisins maybe?--struggling to come through without much success. This is such a fantastic style and this beer fails completely.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation was about right and at least the alcohol didn't give a burning sensation.

Overall: I'm not sure how I could enjoy this at any temperature.

The worst part is that I didn't even mean to purchase this beer. I bought a four-pack of Three Philosophers--at least that's what the carrier packaging said. I didn't look at the actual bottles at the store, and when I got home, lo and behold I was stuck with four of these. And now I have three more of them to suffer through. I'll update this review if the boozy Brother Thelonious somehow grows on me.

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Photo of Phocion
3.81/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle poured into Westvleteren chalice. Dark cloudy mahogony with a finger of beige head which very quickly drops to a thin crown, but leaves substantial lacing.

Rich malty aroma. Complex caramel and toasted malts combine with an almost toffee-like candi sugar aroma. Strong dark fruity esters; fig, date, black cherry, etc. Lightly phenolic, but more of a black pepper than clove. Slightly alcoholic.

Flavor is sweet, but not cloyingly so. Mostly a combination of malts and candi sugar, along with some well-defined but not quite overpowering alcohol flavors. Very estery and with a bit of spice on the finish. Just a touch of dry, earthy hoppy bitterness as well.

Medium-heavy body and medium-high carbonation, but little "bite." Alcohol content definitely provides a bit of a warming sensation. Silghtly chewy.

Overall, this is a good American attempt at a BSDA. The flavors are all there but it's just lacking a little something. The yeast doesn't quite compare to a good Belgian version of this style, and the finish is a little too dry. On the plus side, I'm a jazz fan and at least the money I spent on this beer is going to a good cause.

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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 1,011 ratings.