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Brother Thelonious - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

988 Reviews

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Reviews: 988
Hads: 2,735
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 12.17%
Wants: 70
Gots: 446 | FT: 6
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 (25) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 988 | Hads: 2,735
Photo of grub
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

quarterly tasting party feb 21/07 with northyorksammy, Derek, crwills, biegaman and me (grub). everyone threw in a few bottles and we had an interesting mix of beer. Derek contributed this one, so thanks derek!

corked and caged 750ml bottle.

pours a deep red-brown with a thin dark yellow head that drops fast and leaves no lace.

aroma is nice. earthy with a bit of alcohol. bit of dark fruit, cherries in particular. bit of chocolate.

taste is ok. caramel and dark chocolate. fruity. moderate bitterness. alcohol. sweet cola-like character. hint of spice.

mouthfeel is good. nice medium body with a good moderate carbonation level.

drinkability is ok. alcohol is a bit high and a touch too sweet. (715 characters)

Photo of ericj551
4.18/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brother Thelonious pours a beautiful deep ruby/crimson with a light off-white head. Smell is a slight sour maltiness with a hint of toasted grains, fruity with some damp and citrusy hops. Taste is rich and malty. Lots of fruity esters with a nice resiny hop bitterness and flavor more than balancing out the malts. Its sweet, but not overly so for 9% abv. Alcohol is apparent but doesn't really detract from the beer overall. Nice hints of darker malts as well. There is a bit of yeasty flavor, as well as the same slight sourness from the aroma. I really enjoyed this beer and I'll be sure to grab it again when I can afford it. (629 characters)

Photo of allengarvin
4.21/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel glass, this makes an absolutely pour: dark reddish-tinted mahogany with a huge, rocky head head of foam--nearly 3 inches. Nose is a bit light--malty, with fruity esters--but not rich. Delightful flavor, though: toffee, bread-crust malt, with a huge fruitiness (ripe cherries, soaked and cooked raisins). Alcohol is only lightly apparent by the warming at the finish. Good bodied, medium-light for the strength, as appropriate for the style. (460 characters)

Photo of jdhilt
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a two-fingered light tan head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Hazy red/amber color. Light-medium carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Raisin nose. Starts as sweet raisin/maple, hints of the high ABV with a prickly finish. 750ml bottle gift from Boston, MA area. (274 characters)

Photo of Morris729
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy dark burgundy color with a foamy beige head that recedes into a moderate lace. Nose is fruity cherry and plum along with some brown sugar and spicy alcohol. Taste begins with sweet maple syrup and dark fruit along with some bready yeast. There are more subdued flavors of chocolate and banana towards the middle of the taste. A dry and spicy alcohol flavor comes across towards the finish. Enjoyable enough now, but I’d be curious to see how this develops with a little aging. (490 characters)

Photo of velo343
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - A deep mahogany, full white head that disappeared quickly.

Smell - Lots of alcohol and fruity esters, a bit of raisin, pear, and fig. There's a faint smell of phenols, most notably cloves.

Taste - First thing that's apparent is the high carbonation of the beer, which brings out the presence of the alcohol with a pronounced sharpness. A lot of dark fruit taste, like raisins and figs. Also some toasted malts and a hint of chocolate as well.

Drinkability - The high carbonation really gives this a distinct taste unlike every other belgian dark. Has all the typical flavors with very good balance. Really enjoyable. (640 characters)

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.87/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

$8 from Holling's Head Deli in CA.

Pours a thick cloudy haze of churned mahagony topped with a settled beige frothy cap. Lacks any lace residue left behind in the galss.

Nose is a bright dark fruit of plum, fig and dates with a bit of baked bread. Full aromatic scents roll off the glass followed by a pinch of port wine aromas.

First swigs: Mashed up dark fruits of ripe banana, dates and spice cake. A touch of cocoa, molasses and cola. Interesting flavors open up. Bitter baker's chocolate mingles its way in there. A red wine vinous flavor breaks out in the middle. Minor gripe is that this one falls off fast and leaves a tad bit of a harsh solvent finish with a brash ending. If not for that, this would really shine.

Feel is a full bodied dubbel aspects with a dry dusty finish. Warmth on the palate. As far as a Belgie Strongie, this is a little messy.

Last swigs: 9.0% ABV. Wow! Well hidden until the end. I wish that this finished with a sweeter doughy finish but the harsh finish didn't make the grade. (1,029 characters)

Photo of peabody
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a really reddish black opaque liquid with two fingers of tan suds that stay with the chalice leaving lots of lacing around the rim.
Smell is raisin/grapefruit hints and just a little malt and the very present yeast. Sugar and caramel combine to make this almost smell like a root beer.
First taste is sugar and then the alcohol makes it's presence known. Just a hint of coffee and spice but the toasted malt and sweet alcohol burn seem to be the strongest flavors here.
Mouthfeel is pretty clean but the lack of carbonation seems to make this a dull watery experience.
You really wouldn't want this as a session beer. And you might not want it again because there are so many great belgians from belgium, why mess with perfection. (744 characters)

Photo of jjayjaye
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a dark ruby color with orange hue. A tan head fades slowly. It's clear with noticeable effervescent.

An aggressive sweet raisin aroma and the presence of alcohol over malt.

A medium body and lively mouthfeel. Alcohol dominants before the sweet malt flavor and the warmth runs all the way down.

No attempt to hide any of the 9% and the distraction makes it less drinkable to me. Cool label. (406 characters)

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

Picked up a bomber from AJ's in late October for 7.59.

Beer poured a deep mahogany with an off white head that is hanging in well. Nose is sticky sweet malts and candies as well as hints of dark fruits. Taste is of candied sugar, malts, dark fruits. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth. Overall drinkability is good as the brewer did a nice job of masking the abv. This is not far from being an awesome beer but it lacks the true belgian yeast that would make it great. But it is definitely a nice beer and worthy of a try. (519 characters)

Photo of BlindPig
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Thick tan head on a clear deep amber body.
S- Dubbel fruits come through first. Light yeast smell. Some candy cherries and a nice malt back bone.
T- Nice balance between all the flavors. Good amount of fruits that linger with the big malt flavor. Has hints of caramel in it. Light amount of grass hops are in it to give it a nice balance with the big malt flavor and leaves a light lingering bitterness on the tongue. A nice calm warming in back of throat from the alcohol.
M- Medium to full body with low carbonation.
D- It is a nice brew. As it warms I like it more and more. I had this beer when I first started getting into beer and thought it was really bad. I bought it again to just see how things have changed and already in this short of period I have come to really like this. (794 characters)

Photo of Minkybut
3.24/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

After wrestling the cork out for 10 minutes, poured into a tumbler at 48 degrees. beer was auburne colored with a good head that had fine little bubbles. Beer smelled like fresh bread with a fruity apricote kinda taste. Beer would have been better tasting but strong alcohole afterburn was overpowering. (303 characters)

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

A really good attempt at packaging of this product. The cork and tie-down, the label, and 750 mil bottle all make a convencing Belgian look; even with a bit of sarcasm in the image. Pours a rich, rust color with a 50% haze and good head retention. Very sweet in the nose--some of malts, some of complimentary grains, sugars, and fruity esters. Tastes very sweet with barley malts, candy sugars, wheat malt, and an underlying confectionate sugar flavor. Balanced with a mild hop bitterness, alcoholic bite, and fruitcake variety. Still, lacking the complexity and true Belgian yeast characters. Not as tart or pepery as I like in true Belgian varieties. Just not funky enough. The feel is nearly sticky-sweet, rich, and full; helped out with some alcohol thinning, but remains very sweet well into the aftertaste. Overall, a fine brew, but cannot compete with the Belgian greats, especially for the price. (904 characters)

Photo of paulthebeerguru
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured the first glass of the 750ml Brother Thelonius into a Caracole snifter. The beer poured a mahogany color and left a very thin layer of amber head atop a rather fragrant brew. The aromas are of citrus and carmel/toffee, this beer has that distinctive Belgian abbey ale fragrance. After the first sip, I could not help to say “WOW!” The glass has a very light layer of lacing. Brother Thelonius has a very distinct bing cherry overtones followed by the typical sweetness found in most dark Belgian ales. The 9% alcohol content is masked temporarily by the cherry flavors, but it is definitely present. My over all opinion of the North Coast Brewery is that they are amazing for an American brewery. I have been an avid fan of Red Seal Ale and Pranqster for several years, but this beer just put North Coast into my top ten favorite breweries. This beer comes highly recommended from me. (895 characters)

Photo of rkuhnel
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I think North Coast or at least my local Coop is getting rich off of this one. I paid $6.35 for a 750 corked and caged bottle of this while a four pack of the same breweries North Coast PranQster Belgian was only $6.85. They tasted very similar, the biggest difference being the higher alcohol content of Brother Thelonious. Poured a rich ruby red color and left a nice tan head and nice rings of lacing as it slowly settled. Nose is of yeast, flowers, malts, and hops, with banana.. Palate is of alcohol, and flavor is sweet and light hops which makes it really clean tasting and easy to drink. Finish is stongly of alcohol with a slight bitterness in the finish. Good brew and while I like it I can suggest saving a bunch of money like I said in the beginning of this review . Buy a botte of each and blind taste them as I did and you willl see what I mean. (859 characters)

Photo of wavz
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark rose chocolate color with a nice but not overwhelming head. Sticks around for a bit but not as much as many other beers in the same style.

S- Chocolate, coffee, strawberries and hints of spices.

T- Chocolate has to be the defining character of this abby style beer. There are other flavors at work here, strawberries spices, coffee, a slight bit of orange, and malts.

M- much smoother then most beers of this style. Carbonation is not as heavy as most of this style, and this is great for this beer. You could almost describe this as creamy.

D- If I could find this beer in my neck of the woods more often I would gladly pick it up weekly. Get on it distributors!

Wavz (692 characters)

Photo of bjoyce12
2.92/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Serving: 750ML bottle. Poured a very dark amber with a thin, wispy head than quickly dissipated. Not a good sign; my preference is for belgian style ales to have good carbonation. The aroma is very strong with fermented fruits prominent, especially fig and date. Undertones of molasses and brown sugar. My first impression upon tasting was one of cough syrup. Overwhelming sweetness accompanied by a syrupy aftertaste. Very thick with a heavy-handed syrupiness. The 9% ABV contributes to my(not so fond)memories of taking Robitussin as a kid.

The thick sweetness detracts from the mouthfeel and drinkability. This is an ale that you almost have to pair with strongly seasoned food, or as an after-dinner in lieu of dessert. Not what I was looking for, but it may have its place. (782 characters)

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

Bottle Inspection: Bottle lists 9% abv., the art work suggests a chalice, and a note that $2 of the sale goes to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Aroma: Some rum, figs, brown sugar, cotton candy, and mild spices that might be peppery hops or yeast driven.

Appearance: Dark ruby brown glass that shows clarity when backlit. Thin cover lasted the night, but little lace to show for it.

Flavor: Mirrors the aroma. A Belgian yeast characteristic is a bit more prominent, especially after it warms. While there are a lot of flavors, they all blend very nicely into a complete package of dark fruit, very mild spices, and a little alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation but not flat. Medium body and a slight slickness.

Overall Impression: A perfect way to spend MLK day frozen into my house by an ice storm. A fire, some smooth R&B, and a banned and misunderstood beer (beer currently banned for sale by the TABC due to some label issue, I believe the abv tested out slightly differently). A toast to Dr. King and our continued struggle to the promised land. (1,079 characters)

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle

Pours a hazed chestnut brown with a thick & creamy tan head that maintains. Nice lacing on the glass.

Aroma is sweet an malty upfront leading into a nice breadiness and a distinct fruity raisin smell.

Sweet and malty upfront with mild bready and yeaty tones. Nice dark fruity flavors before it finishes sweet and malty as it started. Very flavorful, but sweetness is borderline cloying.

Full body, a little syrupy. Ample carbonation.

A decent Belgian strong ale, but the sweetness hinders the drinkability. Good one to try, but not a regular in the rotation. (586 characters)

Photo of bradford
2.61/5  rDev -31%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This beer looked really good coming out of the bottle into my La Fin Du Monde tulip. Nice head retention, solid lacing and a real nice brown copper hue. The smell was quite pungent with a lot of alcohol in the nose. Taste left a bit to be desired. I liked the initial taste, and then the alcohol hit. The burn was a bit too much for my liking and the mouthfeel was too strong with alcohol. I let the beer warm up a bit thinking I could get more of the underlying taste, but to no avail. I am a huge fan of North Coast, but this beer was just too abrasive for me. I took my time with this beer and eventually had to give the rest to my roommate. A decent beer, but not up to par from what I expected from North Coast. Although I don't feel bad paying 8 bucks for since partial proceeds from this beer go to charity. Worth a try but nothing worthy of seeking out. (861 characters)

Photo of bort11
4.02/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml corked bottle poured into a tulip glass. The first pour had a large tan head that receded to a mild cap and lace. The second poured did not have much of a head to it. The color was a hazy ruddy brown, with a polished mahogany notes when held to the light.
Smell is also warm with muted spices and a bit of an alcohol burn in the back of the nose. Taste is very complex and well blended. It's hard to pick out a dominant flavor because everything is so well blended. There is some mulled spice, hardwood resins, dried fruit, and a pleasant alcohol warmth.
Mouthfeel is medium to light with mild carbonation. Still pretty smooth. Due to the complexity of the flavor, I wouldn't want too much at once. It would be a sensory overload. Still very good. I think I would want to stash a few away for later. Plus the label is absolutely gorgeous. (847 characters)

Photo of cabsandking
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a good looking dark brown and hazy with some garnet hue when held to light. Thin tan head and nothing mentionable. Aromas of raisons, dark fruits, and sour cherries mingle with some faint marshmallow like sweetness between whiffs of alcohol and phenolic esters. The taste starts off general with roasted malts, medium tart dark fruits, and some character, but soon moves into deeper complexities. Emerging are notes of raisons, plums, soft spice, smooth nutty malts, and the background buttery and toffeish. Increasing towards the end are spicy hop characters. Very even, syrupy mouthfeel and little carbonation. The finish has residual hop characters with some sweet malty plum and raison. Nice complexities here and am looking forward to finding another. (762 characters)

Photo of Fugazme
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looking out at the Chicago skyline at night...

Pours a slight hazy dark brown... Nice 1/2", off-white head... good lacing.

Aroma is quite good... bready, fig, molasses, smoke and tobacco... a touch of Turkish apricot? Berry...

Whisky/toffee/yeasty flavors on the tongue... bready... fennel... very sweet. Complex, but not exceptionally so... a touch cloying. (368 characters)

Photo of jaluria
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark amber/ruby brown color and somewhat murky. A fluffy, cream colored head dissipates quickly. A touch of lacing is left behind. The surface is covered in semi-large bubbles and a thin film. Aromas of bread, honey, cream, plums, and dates. The taste follows the nose with a creamy and smooth texture. Subtle hops with a strong malt presence. Candy and juicy fruit dominated flavors. Warming alcohol sensation rounds out session. (439 characters)

Photo of ChillMike
4.14/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a opaque reddish brown color with a medium sized off white head that recedes quickly and doesn't leave much of hint it was ever there. Wonderful smell of chocolaty malts, brown sugar, and a mix of spices. Very chocolaty flavor, with a strong presents of malts, a hint of hops however it seems to be just a background flavor. There is also hints of plum/raisins and nice spices to help with this one. Carbonation and the such are quite right and it feels nice and warm headed down. Overall a very drinkable beer my only real complaint is an aesthetic one and even then it isn't that bad. (592 characters)

Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 988 ratings.