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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 roblowther
3.89/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml corked & caged, a good start. Can Northcoast beat the rap that all CA breweries add enough hops that their styles should have the extension "/IPA". We'll see...
Pours a clear brownish red with a thin tan head that dissipates quickly leaving no appreciable lacing. The smell is rum-soaked fruits, oranges & raisins. Phenols add highlights. Good...
The taste is creamy and malty. None of the fruits come through really. Nice smoky aftertaste with a dry finish that smacks of cloves. Nice sweetness to the brew, it does indeed taste like a dubbel! Not the complexity I'd like to see but not the hop assault I feared, either! The mouthfeel is crisp & smooth, but a bit watery, at least for something so malty. The drinkability is good. Alcohol warmth lets you know its there without beating you about the head & shoulders. The finish isn't too dry & the start isn't too sweet. Nice. Overall, a fine beer & one I'd buy again on occasion.

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Was anxious to try this, and I finally found one at the Raleigh, NC Whole Foods. It's good, but not as great as some of the hype led me to believe...

Pours a caramel-ruby color, with a foamy tan head on top. Small bits of lace are revealed as the glass empties.

Smells of toffee, raisin, plum, other dark fruits, toasted grain, yeast.

Flavor of pumpernickel, coarse grain, rough bitter hops, balanced by big dark fruits, toasted rye cracker, caramel, and alcohol warmth. Earthy yeast in the background. As it warms, bigger fruit elements emerge (cherry and prune). As nice as all that sounds, it seemed that something was missing...wasn't as satisfying or together as many authentic Belgian dubbels, although I did enjoy it for what it does have to offer.

A big hearty flavor, not smooth or soft, a bit wild, reminds me of homebrew in some ways. A nice experience, but tough to get a feel for it...I'd like the opportunity to try another against this first one. Maybe on-tap is the way to go next time.

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Photo of joeskirkie
4.5/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big ol 750 mL bottle. I can't find any kind of bottled date but I'm not too concerned.

In the chalice it's a mostly opaque brown with ruby and caramel highlights when held to the light. Nice head, about as thick as my thumb, and laced pretty well.

The nose has some cherry, bread (banana bread, actually) chocolate, and a bit of a spice to it, like nutmeg. I absolutely love it.

Chocolate first on the tongue, then banana bread, then some more chocolate with cherry hints. It's like a dessert but its not too heavy.

It's a good medium body, not too heavy; I'm actually quite refreshed by it.

This one may have helped sway my choice of favorite style. I'll have to move one into my beginner cellar.

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Photo of wagenvolks
4.32/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber into a chalice.

The Monk pours a gorgeous deep amber hue with a thick beige head that recedes quickly leaving light lacing. Creeping in around the edges is some ruby red, giving depth to the dark tea-colored dubbel. The aroma is both complex and enticing: big fruit presence up front with notes of raisin, plum, and prune. Alcohol esters show up sharply with a deeper inhale. Even further still are smoky bacon hints, some biscuity malt notes, and sassafrass.

Fruit dominates the palate upon the first swig, as pear, prune, and cranberry are complemented with a big alcohol presence. The alcohol gives the tongue a nice workout, but it doesn't overpower the flavor. As it warms, a huge malty backbone balances well with a touch of spicy hops. The mouthfeel is dry, smooth, crisp, and mellow as Thelonious himself. A great fruity finish caps this one off, as well as a bit of bitterness. Overall, this is a tasty, aromatic, and very smooth-drinking dubbel. Another amazing offer from the rarely-disappointing North Cost.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Initially pours a pretty cloudy dark garnet color with a small 1/8" head of tan bubbles after a careful pour. The head settles pretty quickly and ends up as a small ring within a minute. There are some bubbles rising slowly to the top, but they don't maintain the head. There is very little lacing left on the glass after drinking the beer.

Aroma: When I first poured it, I got a bit of roast and a whole bunch of fruit characteristic of the Belgian yeast running warm during the primary fermentation. As the beer sits for a little bit, these aromatics change and the malty sweetness is coming out a lot more. Getting deeper into the aroma gives way to some dark caramel, a dry toasty aromatic malt character, as well as some evident peppery spice from the alcohol.

Taste: The flavor is really fruity like the aroma first suggested. The yeast esters are the first and primary thing you notice, but the malt is definitely a big part of the flavor as well. It doesn't take long for the alcohol to show up and spice things up quite a bit. There is some balance to the sweetness that comes from hops, but they are not a dominant part of the flavor. The alcohol warms up the throat all the way to the belly after the sip and it stays with you for quite some time. The low carbonation makes it come across your palate a bit heavy and it would benefit from some more.

Opinion: This beer is pretty decent. It is quite fruity for my taste, as I like my Dubbels a bit closer to the malt profile of a Bock. This one reminds me more of how homebrewed examples taste. The malt is a bit raw here, and this beer would probably benefit from a bit more ageing. There is nothing wrong with this beer, but it isn't one of my absolute favorites. I would drink it again if someone else was passing it around, but I doubt I will buy another bottle.

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Photo of khiasmus
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Kkipple for this bottle.

A- Hazy burnt sienna with a finger of tan head that settles to a mild lacing on top and a ring in a few moments. Head retention, and the fairly dense haziness, are the only problems with the appearance.

S- Mmmm. Wow. What a killer nose. Dark cherries, raisins, maybe a hint of banana, a bit of pepper, some clove, nutmeg, molasses, brown sugar, coriander, Charleston sweetgrass, some alcohol.

T- Malty and tons of spice, including pepper and clove. Overall very sweet, with notes of dates, banana, raisin, cane sugar, faint light yeast, and with a lot of phenolic and estery spice. The finish is smooth and spicy, but remains sweet all the way down.

M- Medium-high carbonation, with a full, chewy body and some lingering dryness and warmth from the alcohol.

D- It's so good. Do yourself a favor and try this beer. North Coast has succeeded in making a dubbel many Belgians would be jealous of.

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Photo of saintwarrick
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark amber with a decent head that laces the glass with solid carbonation. Aroma is dark fruits, cherries, prunes, plums and raisins while the taste reflects that with dark chocolate covered cherries and raisins; eventually shows a little fruitcake taste as it warms. It's a sipper with a dark, heavy flavor like and old red wine. I like some of the lighter Belgian ales more, but this is a solid dark Belgian though I have Rochefort ranked ahead of this brew.

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Photo of kkipple
3.52/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured this into my trusty Tripel Karmeliet goblet, and the verdict is that this is a pretty stylistically correct dubbel -- it's a lusty ruby-red that appears dark brown till you hold it to the light, with a dense, foamy tan head that takes a while to settle down to a nice frothy cap. Little lacing.

Ya remember what your grandma's fruitcake smells like? That molasses-y, salty, pumpernickel smell full of raisins and dates? I feel like there's a lump of fruitcake at the bottom of this beer, making it dense and difficult. This has more malt and roast character than any dubbel I've had previously, and the (expected) fruit is darker as well -- think black currants or rum raisins and prunes. The alcohol comes out the more this beer warms, eventually knocking your nose about a bit. I like the smell, but it's a bit darker than anticipated. If I didn't know better, I'd think they scorched the bottom of the tun while brewing this...

After such a deep, lush smell, Brother T disappoints in the final stretch. The flavor is recongizeable as a dubbel, but is too burnt and roasty. Sweet prunes, noticeable alcohol, dense malt and a hint of sour fruit (cherry?) are at the forefront. A roasted, damp and slightly sour finish rounds it off.

Brother Thelonious isn't a bad beer, but is far from being one of my favorites. Points to North Coast for thinking outside the box and doing something interesting with the style. Try if you like Dubbels, or jazz music.

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Photo of Goldorak
3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled on-tap at Blue Tusk, Syracuse, NY.

Apprearance: Reddish copper colored brew, could have been a bit darker for the style but still fine. The head retention wasn't that great, it died away to form a thin ring. It was served a bit cold.

Smell: Strange mix of smokey, spicy and acidic aromas that reminded me of those all dressed chips they sell here in Quebec, which made my friends chortle. Definately original. Did they use a Belgian yeast for this? Was it barrel aged? As it warmed, it developped more of a corky smell that I liked.

Taste: Carbonation in the low-to-mid range, the smokey flavors come more than anything else. No real sign of spicy yeast flavors, just a bit of acidity that didn't quite make my mouth pucker. Woody, corky flavors are the only characteristics that make it seem like a Belgian ale to me. Not my favorite from this brewery, but interesting.

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Photo of ccrida
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my St. Feuillien goblet, Brother Thelonious is a dark, muddy brown, with a 2 finger egg shell head that quickly subsided to a thick skim, leaving light lace.

The aroma is very strong, brown sugar and dates, almost a bit like a barelywine on first blush, although you can sense it has that lightness that you look for from a belgian. As it warms, it gets more of that candi sugar and dark fruitiness that I really love from the dark belgians.

The taste is also rather heavy handed, more brown sugar and cured fruits, lots pheonols and dry booze, as well as some astringency before a clean fade to a bitter finish that's very spicy, with black pepper, anise and clove. I emphasize that the fruitiness is more like raisins and a bit sour rather then tart grape or cherry that makes me prefer in beglian darks over dubbels. But this one is better then most IMHO...maybe worthy of a 4.5, but as much I try to score by style, I just don't love it that much...and haven't had nearly as many dubbels as BSDAs to fairly judge...my first and benchmark example of the style is the bornem dubbel, which I find to be a bit bland...while I prefer a robust brew, the flavor profile here isn't my favorite, but still enjoyable. Of course, this one gets better as it warms from fridge temp.

The mouthfeel is chewy but with a med-light body.

Overall this is not a bad dubbel, and one of the more true to style examples of the american versions. It's not a style that I tend to overindulge in (perhaps my least favorite of the belgians, which are my favorites overall), so I sip and slow and let it linger.

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Photo of plaid75
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured a rich mahogany hue with a one finger creamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured an upfront sweetness with good yeast esters and dark fruits.

The taste consisted of an even sweetness and a dominant golden raisin flavor. Nice yeast esters and earthy hops as well.

The mouthfeel was full and moderately chewy.

Overall an enjoyable dubbel.

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Photo of ndekke39
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at Bodega in Columbus, Ohio. Poured into a pint glass. Cloudy red with little to no head, although it kept lightly fizzing. Smells of caramel and dark fruit like cherries. Tastes of banana, caramel, toasted barley, no notes of hops. Medium mouthfeel. Higher alcohol means slower sipping. Nice, complex flavors and aromas. Beautiful beer to look at. Would gladly try this one again.

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Photo of Jcdolan
4.32/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

A 750ml corked bottle. Interesting label, a retro monk with a piano key board circle around hit head, also wearing a cool set of shades. Sparked my interest from the start.

Appearance is a beautiful brown almost copper with at least a two finger brown/whitish head that holds strong for some time and laces the glass the entire way down.

Smells of fruit almost a wine smell, with stong a strong alcohol sent. The type of fruit is masked by the strong alcohol presence. Sugary malt is noticable as well.

Taste is of fuite, mainly prune and STRONG warm alcohol.

Mouthfeel is very pleasing, smooth and medium bodied.

This is a weekday sipper. The alcohol is very powerful. All in all a nice beer to enjoy.

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Photo of garbercury
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this beer in 25 oz bottle at the six pack shop at Fatheads in Pittsburgh. D's and the Sharp Edge get a lot of credit and rightfully so, but Fatheads is a great place with terrific beers/food. Definitely worth the stop if you are in the burgh...

I actually really enjoyed this beer a great deal. It poured nicely into my Corsendonk glass.

APPEARANCE-nice brown hue that gets my juices flowing everytime. nice thick head that was a french vanilla in color.
SMELL-definitely had a strong alcohol scent. Little of that plum, pear, fig, air to it also...dont most of them?
TASTE-this is my style of beer to begin with. Any dark belgian style is off to a good start and this did not disappoint. Caramel flavor with a bit of fig? Definitely strong alcohol towards the end but it did not deter me..
MOUTHFEEL-silky and smooth. Worked for me
DRINKABILITY-Lets not kid ourselves, I drank the whole bottle and felt a bit indulgent. However I got over it and did really enjoy it altogether. With this being my first rating, maybe I am going a little overboard with the numbers but hey, its for Thelonius freaking Monk! Dig the bottle by the way, one of the best ever...I have seen hundreds along the way...

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Photo of xgrafcorex
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

the beer itself is very complex in flavor and smell. it was a corked bottle which didn't overflow with foam at first, but it started slowing spilling out after a few seconds. nice head on the beer but it doesn't stay as thick and gets pretty small actually. its a very dark red but doesn't look hazy. it smells fruity and yeasty overall..but there are other spices mixed in there as well that i can't really place. maybe a hint of alcohol.. (9%) the taste is even more complex. its similar..starts out more with the fruity part which mellows out and you can pick up on more of the yeast flavor. once again theres other flavors too here and there that i'm not sure what to liken them to. the flavor is a bit strong, but its very good. not something i would want to drink all night for sure. it was 7.99 for a 750ml bottle, not as expensive as some of the other large corked bottles, but i would say its up there with them in taste.

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Photo of WesWes
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a cloudy brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice, malty scent that boasts of crystal malts and Belgian yeast. It's sweet with the alcohol warmth and a fruity presence; raisons, figs. The taste is decent. It's full of malt flavor especially the crystal malts and a bit of special roast. It has a solid yeast fruitiness with a warm raisony finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking beer. It's a bit too much with the alcohol warmth. It could also use some more body and/or specialty malts. All in all, a fine effort.

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Photo of infestaxion
3.01/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

It has a decent color to it. Darker than a red but not as attractive as other beers. Nice looking head on it that fades rather quickly. The smell is very subtle. Some raison... kind of bread-y. Tastes... malty, alcohol, very little hoppiness at the end. Adequately carbonated, though I prefer the aged beers that have settled down. Feels alright sliding down my tongue. As far as drinkability... I've had way better. I probably won't buy it again, but it's better than a Budweiser.

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Photo of theWrkncacnter
3.87/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml corked bottle. Nice loud pop when the cork came off, pours a nice deep amber that's slightly hazy with a decent head that fades to minimal lacing. Smells of raisins and some other fruit scents. Very nice smell, nice and complex. Taste is good, a strong smokey flavor on top with a deep malty flavor, reminds me a lot of smoked salmon, which is definitely a new taste for a beer. Definite belgian-high-alcohol-sweetness going on and fairly rich. Mouthfeel is smooth going down with a nice dry finish, drinkability isn't the greatest just because it's of high alcohol content, but good for a belgian style.

Overall a very good brew, it'd definitely be one I'd pick up again. Loved the smokey flavor. Big props to North Coast Brewing for this one.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Bu11zeye: Poured a deep mahogany color ale with a medium size dirty brown head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with a small touch of dry fruits is quite interesting. Taste of sweet malt is offset by some light dry fruits. Body is quite full with some adequate carbonation and no alcohol was noticeable. I thought it lack some complexities for the style but still very enjoyable nonetheless.

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Photo of woemad
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big-ass caged and corked 750ml bottle purchased at Daanan's in Hayden, Idaho several months ago for $7.99. No freshness date visible. I drank and reviewed this beer while listening to the Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane CD and found it an excellent pairing as the lights flickered ominously during a Spokane thunderstorm.

Poured a dark brown color with a big tan head that took it's time dropping. Lots of lace.

Smell is of sweet malts, spices and an earthy grain scent. Not too far off from authentic Belgians of the style.

The taste starts off with a sweet malty note combined with an earthy, grainy flavor. The taste gets a little more spicy, with a slight hop bitterness coming in. I have to say I'm liking this more than I thought I would.

The mouthfeel is the only area I have to grade down on this beer. It just seems a tad too watery. It could be much worse, but it's the most glaring defect this beer has.

Not a bad US version of a Belgian Dubbel at all, and cheaper than a comparatively-sized bottle of the real thing. I'd definitely drink this again.

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Photo of tonistruth
2.5/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- 2 finger off white head with good retent, dark bronzed amber, lacking lace

S- fruity, sweet & spicy alcohol, sweet

T- alcohol present throughout, sweetness rather tame, fruity, dried fruit, hints of cardboard, sugary, simple, alcohol can get harsh awith warmth

M- medium body, but very light on palatte, hagher carbonation barely felt, alcohol burn (especially with warmth)

D- simple for a belgian, bland at times, nothing worthwhile, at least its for a charity

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Photo of Lagaffe74
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It poured a dark brown with a nice retention. Plenty of ripe, dark fruits in the nose such as raisins, ... On the palate, though, quite a medium bodied beer with a thick mouthfeel, which finishes with touches of roasted caramel. Very nice. This one keeps calling you back for more.

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Photo of ski271
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Zeno’s in State College.
A- Dark, hazy ruddy brown with a small, off-white, tight head that diminishes to a ring fairly quickly.
S- Belgian yeast, caramel, raisin and dark fruit
T- Nice bready blend of sweet malt and Belgian yeast. Brown sugar and more dark fruit toward the finish.
M- Medium-full body, smooth texture
D- Seems pretty average at first, and my description so far portrays that initial feeling. But by the time I finished my first half-pint, I was loving it. Not sure why.

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Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Started at first with just a hint of pear funkyness, calling to mind Orval, then blossomed with a broad caramel malt, retaining some of the yeasty Belgian nontes. Moderately sweet, with a full finish. The name is a great play on words, and the beer matches the innovative nature.

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Photo of Hammarby
4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark amber with an offwhite head with yellow tones. Head dissappears quite fast, no lacing.
S: Yeast, pears, caramel, malt, figs, dark berries, dried fruits, toffee, sweet dark bread.
T: Dark chocolate, charcoal, figs, dried fruits, raisins, bitterness, caramel, sweet grapes.
M: Medium body, moderate carboration.
D: Yum! I really like it. This one goes down really easy. The alcohol stays in the background despite the 9%. A beer to sip slowly.

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