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Brother Thelonious | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
1,020 Reviews
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Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
"Vital Statistics

Style: Belgian Style Strong Dark
Color: Dark mahogany
ABV: 9.4%
Bitterness: 32 IBU's"

Added by sloejams on 05-04-2006

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Reviews: 1,020 | Ratings: 2,894
Photo of hman43
4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

It pours amber in color. The aromas contain sweet Dark fruits, floral aromas with a bit of lemon and hints of yeast. It has a yeast, bread, sweet floral flavors with hints of lemon.

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

pours a dark, murky ruby mahogany with a medium head. nose; banana bread, raisin, and caramel. taste; hard to pin down, but plenty - toasted malt, light bitter hop, toffee, plum, fig, brown sugar, belgian yeast, light banana, and a spicy, boozy nip on the end. medium carbonation and a slightly thin mouthfeel. not sure what's up with the middling disdain for this brew is here on beeradvocate, but i've had plenty of dubbels and abbeys straight from belgium that aren't this good. aside from the slightly light body, this is very much a great example of the style. the 9.4% abv is tucked in nicely, and the nose & taste profile roam nicely over the expected areas. i like it! kudos to north coast for such a great and diverse line-up.

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Photo of DrSpaceman
3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours opaque ruby, topped with thick off white head with good retention. Smell is tart, with a hint of bubblegum that increases as the beer warms. Taste is strong of dark candi sugar, spices, and dark fruit. Body is thick, and pairs well with the flavor profile. Very enjoyable, never disappointing.

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

I couldn’t resist putting the Monk on the speakers; his interpretation of Caravan will sure do it. Saved with the proper cellaring time.
Brown orangish color with a thick beige head with great retention.
Nice aroma with notes of prunes, cream chocolate, mint, figs, cocoa, cloves and Italian bread. It improved after warming up; good this big bottle is just for me.
Flavor with notes of prunes, mint, dark chocolate, Belgian peppery yeast, cinnamon, grape juice or even a hint of vinegar, cloves, floral and herbal hops, nutmeg, bread crust, raisins, a bit of candi sugar, orange marmalade, bubblegum, licorice and some vanilla. Dry aftertaste with a low to medium bitterness and a residual peppery note.
Medium towards full smooth body with appropriate carbonation with tiny bubbles. Alcohol of 9.4% abv is superbly well hidden.
Flavorful, well balanced (not overly sweet with enough hops), not bold, but easy to drink Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Very good, but still a somewhat short of the traditional top Trappist such as St. B, Westy and Rochfort, but what do you expect? You sure should have no complains. One advice, let it warm at room temperature.

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Photo of mchegash
3.89/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance - 4.5/5
Pours a deep, beautiful, luscious red with a large amount of tan foam which dissipates eventually to just a very thin layer on the surface.

Smell - 3.5/5
Belgian yeastiness and spices, nothing too complex or unique, but a decent aroma.

Taste - 4/5
Belgian Yeast and spice as in a Belgian golden ale, but much weaker in flavor to other similar Belgians. Some light sweet caramelized sugar candy flavors, as in a Tripel or Quad. Tastes a little too watery, I would have liked more flavor. Also a little metallic, but that might just be my tongue or glass or something, rather than the beer. Overall this tastes like a mix between a golden Belgian (eg. "la fin du monde"), and a darker and more candy-like triple or quad

Mouthfeel - 3.75/5
Medium body, medium-light carbonation, has a relatively nice feel overall.

Overall - 4/5
Overall this is a decent beer. I would prefer other Belgians such as La Fin Du Monde over this any day, but this is still a fairly good one.

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Photo of Safa1
4.13/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Copper color. Slight metal feel. I didn't notice the alcohol taste but it's a strong ale so your results may vary depending on how many strong beers you drink. It's an above average beer with a decent abv. Like all beer. Try it once regardless of what anyone says.

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Photo of dd43
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

My take on this beer: it's a dubbel on steroids, amping up the ABV and malt backbone to a Belgian strong dark. I get a bouquet of banana, cinnamon, and raisin/dried plum. Mouthfeel is on the sticky and mouth coating side, which comes on stronger as the beer warms. Pretty big hit of caramel and especially Belgian candied sugar in the flavor along with these aroma descriptors. There is a touch of hop bitterness at the tail end. I like this beer to have a pint but I'm not running out to pick up a four pack.

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Photo of thomda11
3.46/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad beer, but not great either. The predominant flavor of the beer--dark fruit and dark malt--is quite good, but there is a noticeable alcohol taste that doesn't mesh well with the rest of the beer.

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Photo of hophead723
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Look: This beer has a deep ruby red body when held to the light similar to an Irish Red, with a dark appearance in general. The head was small but the beer was ice cold and poured gently so I could have changed that. It did, however, leave solid lacing.

Smell: Largely malt forward aroma with some toffee, a touch of bourbon, caramel, mild grassy hops (likely noble varieties), and a hint of yeast-derived banana. Although somewhat delicate, the aroma prove expressive and full of unique character.

Taste: I get a plethora of Thanksgiving-like flavors such as candied yams, dark fruits such as plum and dates, plus a touch of brown sugar. The taste is mostly malt-derived and possesses attributes of a stout or porter. An Abbey should have more yeast derived flavors and aromas but I am not deterred by this due to the quality of the brew, and the size as well. This beer sports an impressive 9.4% ABV, perfect for breakfast. I just woke up and this brew was the first thing to touch my stomach.

Feel: Slick, sticky, somewhat smooth, and mildly lingering with a sugary but not overwhelming coating. It is taught and dry at the beginning but becomes juicy at the end followed by a mildly astringent bite from the subdued hops.

Overall: This is a great beer, but I actually like a lot of other Abbey Ales better than this one. This is exceptional quality stuff but most Abbey Ales possess a yeast-derived character that is coaxed from a complex brewing process. This feels like a porter with a lot of in-your-face maltyness and toasted roasty goodness. But regardless, this 9.4% beast is good for any time of day and almost any season.

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Photo of hopphead31415
4.39/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Wow! This beer is the first that I have tried by the North Coast Brewing Company. And I’m off to a good start with this brewery. Additionally, this variety is akin to a unicorn, being very hard to find. A Belgian Style Abbey Ale is hard to find, but especially one that has such an amount of intensity and awesomeness and has a robust 9.4% ABV.

Look-I must say that with almost 120 reviews, I haven’t seen a beer that has this color and quality. It pours a clear amber color that is such a deep mahogany with intense hues of red that are beautiful to behold. The head is a tan off-white and is silky and foamy. The lacing, like its namesake, is as soft as silk.

Smell-I smell figs, caramel, toffee, raisins, plums, banana, cinnamon, Belgian yeast, bread, and nutmeg. With a list like that, imagine what I’ll TASTE!

Taste-The taste is reliable, because it follows the nose and is so perfectly executed. I taste banana first (which I didn’t expect, because banana is weak on the nose). I then get raisins, plum, figs, sugar-dusted cherries, vanilla, nutmeg, bread pudding, some slight grassy hops, and then a noticeable bite from the augmented alcohol which cuts the sweetness and tampers the palate.

Mouthfeel-The mouthfeel is silky smooth, with tiny effervescence from the mild carbonation, and is medium to full-bodied. The alcohol warms up as the traditional abbey ale flavors ebb and flow on the tongue. It has a slightly dry finish with a lingering alcohol bite that complements the dark fruity esters and aromas.

Overall-I was absolutely blown away by this elixir and I fear that I’ll over rate it due to its soothing effects as the warmth spreads throughout my limbs with each satisfying gulp. However, rest assured that if you were to drink a bottle of this beauty poured into a nice glass, you would come to the same conclusion. I’m not sure what the “Bros” were smoking when they gave this one a ridiculously low review. Nobody is perfect, but this beer is. Cheers!

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Photo of Tripel_Threat
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Smooth and oily, the good Brother gives off an immediate aroma of slightly underbaked banana bread, dark dried fruits and booze. The taste is more fruity with candi sugar on top, with Belgian yeast flavors (banana, spice) underneath, and below everything a tingle of booze. Not too shabby, but not worth the price point.

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Photo of drmeto
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

-pours a clear ruby with a small to medium,quickly dissipating,foamy,beige head
-low to medium carbonation visible
-plums,raisins,figs,caramel,toffee,spicy,slight banana
-medium to high carbonation
-light to medium body
-alcohol warmth
I was surprised at how close this comes to Belgian Dark strong ales.
Comparetively this lacked a bit of body

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Photo of Catracho5
4.16/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Mahogany, no head after a few minutes, but was tan when there, no lacing, no carbonation, looks really good when held up to the light, has some nice dark red hues around the edges.

A: Belgian yeast, brown sugar, bananas, dark fruits, smells pretty good, alcohol is slightly noticeable.

T: Belgian yeast, spice, brown sugar, dark fruits, finishes dry, slight bitter at the end, has some decent depth to it.

M: Spice, balanced carbonation, medium mouthfeel.

O: This is good, great Belgian yeast flavors and aromas, some complexity and depth, nice balanced carbonation on the mouthfeel, a sipping beer, it is a little hot as it warms, but overall an outstanding beer.

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Photo of oceanman907
3.29/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

This beer has a fantastic look; a ruddy dark Amber with a frothy tan head, smell is dominated by strong spicy barley, brown sugar and some faint traces applesauce and spice. The flavor follows along the same lines but with a bit more spice and roasted malt. The beer follows the look and feel of a classic Belgian dubbel, but the flavor lacks a strong yeast components. Alcohol is well hidden though, not my favorite from north coast even though I have let is cellar for 12 months or so.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A : Pours a beautiful cranberry coffee red color, with a giant 3-finger beige head. It leaves whisps and licks of lacing as it recedes. The body is about 80% opaque.

S : Pumpernickel, rye bread, with toasted and baked crusts. Fig, plum, raisin. A little bit of spiced bubblegum and clove. A decadent aroma.

T : Hop and alcohol burn right at the front. But shortly after there is bubblegum, yeast, pumpkin pie. Dark rye bread, some clove and plant. Burnt flavors and hop trump over everything at the finish. Alcohol burn as well.

F : Buzzing and electric carbonation, mildly creamy, and sticky. Ends semi-dry.

O : I'd have this again, but it's not better than New Belgium's Abbey. It has a substantial alcohol presence that sort of steamrolls the whole thing, but the flavors are present and they are good.

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Photo of lakemarkham
3.52/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle.

Pours a dark brown that turns into a good-looking ruby red against the light. Mine didn't pour with much head, but what I got lingered. The legs were spare.

Hit my nose with a strong nutty aroma, and a little bit of caramel. Not a super dark taste: flavors mostly agreed with the scent, plus a bit of medium fruit--not quite as dark as prunes or fig, but maybe banana--and strong enough of an alcohol bite on the end to mention.

The feel was fine for an ale, but nothing to write home about. In fact, that's a good way to describe the beer as a whole. Wouldn't turn it down, but wouldn't fight over it either.

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

12-oz bottle into Belgian ale glass

A - 3 fingers medium tan head over a transparent body of ruby/mahogany high in visible carbonation

S - cloves, banana/tropical fruit, touch of funk, caramel sweetness, cinnamon, light grains

T - cloves, tropical fruit, caramel sweetness, peppery spice, metallic and earthy notes in the finish

M - slick medium body, medium carbonation

O - An OK Belgian.

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Photo of Gajo74
3.91/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark and nearly opaque mahogany/brown that becomes clearer towards the end of the drink. A moderate head quickly dissipates into an ultra thin broken ring like lace that bubbles quietly over spots of the glasses' circumference. Milky and creamy aroma, mild phenols, dark slightly tart fruit and mild phenols are apparent in both aroma and taste. The alcohol content is masked well but clearly there. Low hop content; there is very little bitterness in this one. Creamy feel, wet finish, medium bodied and almost full. The carbonation tingles in the cheeks but is moderate to low and practically disappears towards the end.
Overall, I enjoyed it although it was not the best of the style. I meant to drink it while listening to Thelonious Monk, however, I was so digging the Ahmad Jamal album I was listening to before, that I forgot to switch.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.86/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at The World Store outside of Birmingham Alabama for $4.00 for a 12oz bottle. Served at 4deg C in a tulip. Taken from the cellar with 18mths on it.

A- Opens well and pours next to no head that is gone in seconds. Super dark brown color and unfiltered

S- Clove, cinnamon and caramel. Very nice

T- A bit light considering the smell. Almost a dubell which is a nice style by my book. Just a hint of sour off this girl.

O- Pretty good blend but light and a bit lacking of body. Nice to try but will not again as there are some better brews out there in this style but California is coming along in this department

Food Pairing

This nice brew went well with...... BBQ'd hamburgers. Top 'em how you like 'em!


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

A consistent beer that you can find in most stores. I expected a little more from North Coast but, maybe my taste buds were expecting something different. I would pick up another bottle if it was my only alternative.

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Photo of DrPyser
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A very interesting beer unlike the ales I usually enjoy. I'm a fan of Thelonious Monk as well as Belgian-style beers so even though it's not from a local brewery I picked it up. Very thick flavor, rich and malty, great mouth feel. Not a casual quaffing beer but more like a cognac - best when enjoyed slowly.

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Photo of Briscoe88
4.63/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very nice color. Smooth velvety feel as hits the tongue with a nice Belgium finish. Very enjoyable beer with a deceptively strong content. Taste like more!

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Photo of ahemahem
4.58/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my type: Strong, dark, fizzy and Belgian-style. If those are not your preferred descriptors then you may not go for this, but I love it. At the end of the week I will sometimes knock down the big one, during the week, the small one.

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Photo of arvidkoval
3.51/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

L- Deep ruby red, white.

S- banana, booze, a hint of vinegar.

T- bubble gum, booze, kinda winey.

F- kinda watery, yet bubbly.

O- eh. Not very memorable.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from the 750 ml bottle in a snifter. Named after one of the greats of jazz, and a personal favorite along with Brubeck whom I was fortunate enough to see in concert.
Brother Thelonious pours a deep reddish brown with a moderate off white head of foam that dissipates to a thick ring and light lacing. Nose of raisins, light brown sugar and caramel, earthy ester powered yeasty goodness, some roasted grain notes, and strong alcohol. Flavors are lightly sweet to the front and sides with a spiciness to the rear from mildly bittering hops blending in nicely with the earthy Belgian yeast. Sweet malts, raisins, and brown sugar are lightly overpowered by the spiciness of the yeast and a mild hop bitterness. The ale finishes lightly dry with a muted sweet aftertaste, and lively carbonated mouth feel. Very nice. The Monk would of been impressed.


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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 1,020 ratings.