Brother Thelonious | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
1,046 Reviews
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Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious

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

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: 1,046 | Ratings: 2,988
Photo of cbl2
2.56/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

$7.99 750 mL 9.00% No best by date.


Poured with vigor this dark brown ale with hints of ruby produces a quarter inch of tan foam that rapidly settles in my chalice.


Malty sweet, but punctuated by an odor of rotten wood and alcohol.


Coarse biting mouthfeel, there really isn't much more to this beer. Once the carbonation settles all that is left is a mildly bitter, mildly sweet bland mess.

I feel bad for the Thelonious Monk institute of Jazz which is associated with this beer, and only receives $2 for every CASE of this swill sold. I'll finish the bottle, but I won't be trying this again anytime soon.

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Photo of jsh420
2.58/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

pours cloudy dark amber orange with a 1+ figner head that left no lacing

smells of dark fruit and the strangest thing hot sauce??

taste is a little better then the nose - brown sugar dark fruit malts but there is still some flavor that is way off and i cant put a finger on it - not a good example of the style

mouthfeel is right - medium body with good carb

drinkability is not good - off flavors - maybe a got a bad bottle but it will be a while before i buy another

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Photo of n2185
2.58/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a clear mahogany even when the bottle is swirled (no yeast?) with a meager one finger of off-white head that completely vanishes with no lacing.

S: Some spicy notes followed by some bubblegum and banana aromas. There are some slight dark fruit and yeast notes towards the finish along with a bit of an alcohol aroma.

T: Slight spice flavors at first followed by some bubblegum flavors. The finish has a light breadiness with some dark fruit notes and a noticeable alcohol burn.

M: Medium body with low-ish carbonation, this beer isn't too thick and sweet at least, but it needs more carbonation to give it a crisp feel.

O: A pretty unimpressive BSDA. It's all around just bland, ugly, and has very little carbonation for a style that should have a lot.

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Photo of SteveKay
2.58/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Definitely not a Belgian strong ale. Absent are the strong yeasty malty flavors and it lacks the sweetness. Color was very dark. Not especially full bodied. Somewhat thin mouth feel. It was drinkable after it warmed up bit. I will try something else next time.

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Photo of Armand
2.6/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a chilled pint from Oggis. One overpriced beers due to the ABV. Big deal. I'd pass on this one.

A: Pours a very dark brown. There is a small light tan head which fades quickly.

S: Smells primarily of caramel malts, raisins, and sweet fruit.

T: Raisin, and caramel, sweet liqour due to the ABV, with a citrus note that I don't car for too much.

M: Syrupy and overall too much to sit back and enjoy. Didn't car for this one too much. Even for the ABV I had to down it quick like you would a BMC

O: Too harsh and strong to enjoy.

Serving type: draft

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Photo of bradford
2.61/5  rDev -31.1%
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.

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Photo of chugalug06
2.61/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Big tan thick bubbly head. Very carbonated. No lacing to speak of... Brew is the color of figs.

S - Unadventurous scent. Missing a lot of Belgian influences... Very clovey and spiced. There's something hidden in the background too, it's not working.

T/M - To start this brew is WAY over carbonated... There's some funky flavors going on too, causing a rubber taste upon the finish. The spice in not nearly Belgian enough, and the yeast doesn't do anything for the brew. Heat is well hidden, but the body is much too thin for consideration of style. Very dry for an abbey...

O - A well miss on style. This brew is mildly sessionable (except for the ABV) and drinks (somewhat) well. But there is some weird scents and off flavors that draw you away. Not recommended.

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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.

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Photo of MEsoJD
2.65/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: Dark brown with a slight red tint. Head dissipated fast.

S: Dark fruits and sweet malt.

T: Noticeably sweet and clear alcohol presence. Aftertaste is peculiar, tart, and not satisfying.

M: Medium body and carbonation. fizzy....

O: Very disappointed with this one. I can't find anything satisfying with this beer. It's too sweet, tart, and intruding carbonation. I will defiantly wouldn't recommend and won't be buying another bottle. Rather go for a chimay [blue].

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Photo of baos
2.65/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12 oz into Barilla jar.

A: Deep copper color with quite a bit of clarity for a Belgian style ale. Mediocre head retention and decent lacing.

S: Vanilla spiced rum.

T: a bit on the boozy side. Kind of tastes like a cross between spiced rum and cheap whiskey. I though it would grow on me or get better with warmth but it actually got a little more bitter and cheap booze tasting. Other than the bad after taste the initial candy sugar and nice hop bite is pretty yummy but it goes down hill quick. Elmer's glue and cheap whiskey aftertaste.

M: The high water mark of this one.

D: I'm glad I didn't get a sixer. It just has too much of a bad aftertaste. This beer needs some balance.

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Photo of Chaney
2.68/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Since I'm a working professional musician, I have a lot of fondness for the idea of this beer. "Supporting Jazz Education." Awesome!

A: Maybe a slight bit of red through the dark brown madness, but not a helluva lot. A slight, semi-dangerous, solid white head (maybe a 1/4 finger or so) that clung to the glass in a ridiculous way.

S: Tons of banana upfront. I always seem to get that in the center of Belgium funk for some reason. Brown sugar, a hint of butterscotch, and quite a bit of malt.... ala Scotch Ale.

T: Pretty sugary and Belgian-y... sipper for sure! Lots of brown sugar, toffee candy lingering on the front, middle, and back ends. There is nothing really refreshing about this one on any level.

M: Certainly not very drinkable IMO. The carbonation was low, yet appropriate and the lacing was moderate. The sugar content, however, was off the charts!

O: Sort of a blah Belgian, with a very saturated sugar content. I liken this to eating a mallow creme dessert during the fall season. I friggin hate those things! However, this is slightly better.

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Photo of cmmprez
2.7/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Deep dark amber with decent head pour. Head doesn't retain too well.

Smell: Malty sweetness. Hop presence definitely there.

Taste: Flavor hits mid-palate then dissipates. There is a collision of citrus and bitterness that is accentuated by the effervecence. I use the word collision as the two flavors really never mix into a single voice and seem to be at odds with one another. However, its all fleeting as the bubbles, citrus, and bitterness all go away to leave a poor finish.

Mouthfeel: It lacks significant weight and body to impress. It has little viscosity for such a strong ale. If there was more here, the taste might linger on the palate and give something more.

Final Thoughts: I think it smells and looks better then it tastes. There are better Strong Dark Ales out there. On an interesting note, for every case of this sold, North Coast is donating several dollars to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. I suppose that's why the price is as high as it is for a disappointing beer like this.

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Photo of KingEdward
2.72/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured this beer out of a bottle into a chimay glass and the result was a head that disappeared very fast. The smell was of dark fruits and maybe a little olive brine. The taste was sour, of brine, liquor, and bitter hops. The mouth feel is good, silky with good carbonation. This beer had no lacing to be seen. The color is mahogany as stated above in its beer advocate description. I was very disappointed in this brew its not worth the price i paid.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
2.73/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle split with sourbatchkid.

A- a good finger of tan head from a hard pour. Chestnut brown in color with a deep orange glow.

S- big sweet malts and a spiced fruit cake.

T- sweet for sure with the spices right on its tail. A slight bitter hit with some fruit.

M- medium to light body with a above average carb.

D- well there are a lot of dubbels out there and this one kinda misses the mark. Not bad but not great.

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Photo of jbphoto88
2.74/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a giant bottle, corked and caged. The brother flows quite nicely with a thick yellow khaki head and a clear dark red. The beer is a rich deep color and is quite the looker but the head settles very fast and stunts the overall look.

The nose is slightly deceptive and not great for the style. It has a fruity cherry scent and a pineapple IPA-ish bouquet. There isn't much of a malt base and it mostly smells too sweet. Kind of disappointing.

The taste rebounds with hints of the elusive grain but still has a dominate tart fruit flavor. Think a light booze soaked cherry with a musty yeast flavor. The flavor isn't really offensive but it's dull, boring and redundant.

The mouthfeel is by far the best part with a fine champaign like carbonation and a great dry finish. However the mouthfeel being great doesn't make up for a lackluster taste. This beer is a solid pass if you ever see it. A shame because I love the rest of north coast's lineup that I've tried.

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Photo of teromous
2.74/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A: Dark red-brown body with a fizzy tan head. Lots of carbonation. The head fades far too fast, much like a cola, and leaves no lacing on the glass.

S: Alcohol comes to the nose immediately, followed by sweet malty scents. Just a hint of date.

T: Forward on malt flavors, very strong malt flavor. A bit of roasted flavor in there. Some very faint Belgian characteristic flavors. Pencil eraser.

M: The mouthfeel is fairly lacking. It feels very thin and highly undercarbonated.

O: Overall I was not impressed by the beer. I would recommend against it. There are just far too many good beers out there to waste time with something half-done.

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Photo of bbluemzbeer
2.75/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

This is just an ok. It dies not have quite the flavor I was expecting. It is not real bad, just nothing to write special. For the high price I was expecting more, Everything was just average. l will not buy again

Appearance: Mahogany color with some red
Smell- Bready with fruit.

Taste- . Very strong bready malt, with some dark fruit. It is not much balance to it,

Mouthful- mouth was bread taste sticks. It is rather unpleasant.

Overall; It doe not match up with Chimmey . It is just an average beer foir high price.

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Photo of Ryan_Graham
2.76/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

A: dark brown 2-3 finger head.

S: light caramel malty smell.

T: strong citrusy taste hits you right away. Heavy malt sticks to the back of your tongue.

M: you can taste the carbonation throughout your sip. The aftertaste is very strong.

O: it's a 9.4% beer that drinks like a 9.4% alcohol beer. Very spicy (meaning I can REALLY taste the alcohol). Doesn't go down smooth at all. I wouldn't buy again.

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Photo of BearsOnAcid
2.82/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

So I laid this down in my cellar in '08 and kept meaning to get to it. Today I finally opened it. I have heard it doesn't age well though.

Pours out a nice dull brown. Small head. Pretty ordinary.

The smell was nice. Tobacco, chocolate, caramel, molasses, dried plums, brown sugar, and a hint of soy sauce. I would say this should taste pretty good.

The taste is not as sweet as I expected it to be. There quite a bit of tobacco flavor and some sort of bitter sensation on the back of my tongue. I've had plenty of beers that had harsh flavors and were still good to me, but this one is a little strange. The aftertaste is like I smoked a Marlboro or something.

Mouthfeel is a little watery. Nothing spectacular.

It's okay. I would say never age this though.

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Photo of radshoesbro
2.82/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

our brother, thelonious. what a guy to name a brew after! if you're not sure where the name comes from you have some serious research to do, cause you're missing out in a huge way! this was definately given this name cause it comes on smooth, but just leaves you all messed up!

pours a deep amber hue with a quaint little head, but fairly minimal lacing. it's better described as "patching." not the best look for a dubbel, but still good nonetheless. looks can be deceiving, so lets go a little deeper. stick my nose in this bad boy and i get that typical abbey smell. honestly, not very intriguing. it reminds me of astringent, and it really isn't what i like smelling when i stick my nose in something i'm about to injest. who knows though, i've been fooled before, maybe it'll taste better than the look and smell. goes down real easy, but honestly doesn't rest in the belly so great. this is basically, not that great of a beer. it's not the worst thing in the world, and it's got the name going for it, so i guess that's something, right?

oh well, at least i've still got a six of ruination and a copy of hard boiled to look forward to! i'll toast to that!

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Photo of Blackwolf
2.83/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into oversized wineglass

A- Poured a red/brown murky body with a tan head, which held very little retention. No lacing on the glass either.

S- Dark fruits, yeast (and a lot of it), some brown sugar, a little bit of caramel and roasted malt. There is also a heavy note of alcohol in it too. Very powerful aroma, but I am not too sure if I like that.

T- Sweet roasted malt, caramelized sugar, dark fruit, lots of funky yeast and tons of alcohol. Again, a bit overwhelming, but manageable.

MF- medium body, medium carbonation, sticky... Very bittersweet flavoring left on the palate, and some warming effect. For a belgian, I would expect more.

O- I really like Northcoast, but I have to admit, this was not very impressive or well balanced to me. So many things could be different about this belgian, but it is a manageable beer. Personally, for the style, I doubt I would make my rounds to this again.

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Photo of Zraly
2.83/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a Dogfish Head goblet. Decent lacing to a murky ruby-brown all with an off-white/tan head. Smells like a bag of raisins macerated in wort.

Raisins. If you like raisins, I think this might be your choice of beverage. Aroma and taste of raisins (in case you missed my memo). Because of this heavy one-note, there is a distinct wine-like quality to this ale. There are notes of brown sugar and honey, too, but the raisin note overwhelms a bit upfront. Semi-sweet and a touch sour. Medium bodied. Slight hint of spice in the finish, as well as a momentary cherry note, but maybe not enough to balance out the flavor of...raisins.

This is a bit one dimensional to me. Once the finish comes around, I hope for something more to kick in or to let my palate down a bit slow, but to no avail. Not bad, but not great. I think there are better interpretations to style.

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Photo of kgullatt
2.83/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was ok. I was excited about trying it but a bit let down. Didn't have quite the flavor I was expecting. Not bad, just nothing to write home about. Everything was average, shared it on Christmas with my uncle and we both had the same reaction to it. I won't buy it again because I'll be trying to find another Belgian SDA I like better

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Photo of largadeer
2.86/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

750ml bottle. It's a dark but beautifully clear crimson red. The head is off-white, fairly lasting. It smells like fried bananas, raisins, bubblegum and licorice candy.

Flavors are similar, banana especially, sweet and overripe. There's a bit of cocoa that only enhances the sweetness, along with raisin, date, iron - the dried, concentrated fruit flavors are intense. It's not a terribly rich beer, but it is overly sweet, and the yeast strain fails to impress.

I've had this beer several times over the years, and it's never made a strong impression on me. Merely an OK example of the style.

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Photo of arlo19
2.86/5  rDev -24.5%
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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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.79 out of 5 based on 2,988 ratings.
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