Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Brother Thelonious | North Coast Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
1,031 Reviews
Read the review
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,031 | Ratings: 2,950
Photo of HoodviewBrew
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep brown. Mine had a foamy 3-inch head. I had to pour slow to keep it from spilling.

Smell: Caramel, brown sugar, and fig with some clove spice.

Taste: Malt-driven and fruity, a little acidic with a little bit of booziness though less than it's 9.4% ABV would suggest.

Mouthfeel: Medium to thin body, good carbonation. A little bit of booze bite at the finish.

Overall: This beer was pretty good but I can't say great. It had all the components of a great abbey ale just... muted. Hard to say if I'd buy again at this price point ($10 for 25.4 oz) but I'd grab more if it was on sale for $8 or I could get it in 4- or 6-packs in my area.

 663 characters

Photo of stevoj
4.34/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Hits the mark perfectly. A true Belgian from a US brewery. Wonderfully sharp and bitter with a nice sour smell. Creamy hea dlingers on the surface with lots of sticky lacing.... A pleasant surprise.

 198 characters

Photo of HipCzech
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Serving: 12 fl oz bottle ("PKGD 06092016") poured into a Speigelau beer tulip.

Appearance: Clear mahogany brown with a brief head of khaki foam that leaves whispy streaks.

Smell: Dates, molasses, banana bread and warm spice (clove, cinnamon; as much curry as pie).

Taste: Malt-driven and fruity, warm and spicy. Balancing tart and bitter finish - mulled wine.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, sticky with lively carbonation. Subtle alcohol warmth.

Overall: Not as deep and complex as its Belgian peers, but still full flavored and tasty - always enjoy this one more than expected.

 576 characters

Photo of anon
3.19/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Always up to try a new Belgian brew and the cool weather called for one. Looked at this for a while, decided to give it a go. Pours a deep Ruby hue, finger-width khaki colour head, fizzling down to a small pool of foam, nearly flat with not a trace of lace in the aftermath.

Smell is pretty dark fruit forward, sweet, with notes of caramel and malt. Taste is all dark fruit up front, heavy plum, fig, raisin, nectarine, peaches, red grape juice? Almost artificial flavours, brash sweetness takes over the malts and anything else in this brew. Quite unbalanced.

Surprisingly light bodied, booze isn't quite as strong to me as other reviews seem to pick up, but I really wanted to like this more. Oh well, always worth a shot. Cheers!

 735 characters

Photo of fission523
3.46/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark amber with a thick tan head.

Nose is nutty, malty, and sweet.

Taste follows the nose and adds some sweet fruit. Flavors don't all quite come together.

Overall, enjoyable but forgettable.

 200 characters

Photo of MartyMaltose
4.24/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

If I were rich and having 2-4 pint sessions regularly, this would be on the session about 30% of the time. I've got a 22oz that I'm sipping from a wine glass but honestly this belongs in a pint glass and should push other inferiors off the menu in any place that serves at least 50 beers. Now, I tried this beer about 2 years ago and I thought it sucked. It was like Hibernation Ale with vanilla syrup mixed in back then; barely finishable. Is it possible my tastes have changed that much, or was that just an extreme outlier season? Either way, in 2016 this is malty, sweet, aromatic, and beautiful. And it's pretty hot too...one pint will do you.

 648 characters

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

On draft at local establishment.
Quite a light mouthfeel for such a strong dark ale.
Strong alcohol burn blended with a unique dark fruit sweetness.
I'd be willing to try it again.

 180 characters

Photo of Parksworker
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

L: dark Amber, red look.

S: sweet, strong alcohol smell.

T: strong taste, simi sweet, can taste the alcohol.

F: very light in the mouth, soft, unique beer.

O: not my favorite, feeling a nice buzz, the taste is different, gotta get used to the taste, it's different, but you will feel a nice buzz from this beer!!

 320 characters

Photo of Big_Neezy
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I'm new to the Belgian beer scene as I figured I would let the crowds die down first.

Poured right into a mason jar unlike some of you fancy lads. It pours like my old girlfriends hair with those caramel, tan-like colors with an easy two fingers of froth. I immediately took a sip--STOP RIGHT HERE. Let this beer find itself after you pour it--say 3-5 minutes. That first bitter taste evolves into the sweet malt that the makers wanted to you to experience. It's worth the wait for the dried fruit (fig/raisin or date) flavor.

It's hard to go by my review as I went into this blind. New to Belgians. I enjoyed it but just wasn't ready for it. Perhaps a nice evening, after dinner beer.

 696 characters

Photo of ngusset
4.11/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into Carolus chalice. Nice walnut color, impressive head for such a high percentage. Smells sweet, winey, tangy and floral, which gets exciting right before the scent vanishes. Very malty taste, with a nice sour bite, a bit buttery, roasted notes, alcohol present, like bourbon even. Has good body, a little buttery, with a thin ending somehow, and slightly funky aftertaste. Better than a corporate dubbel from Belgium.

 427 characters

Photo of Squire123
4.41/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Lightly golden tinted brown, small tan cap and lace.

Aroma: Beautifully rich melange of dark bread smeared with dark fruit jam.

Taste: I get dark malt rather than roasted malt, again, bread like with raisins, dark plums, figs, dates, walnuts, and some pleasant yeast notes. Not really spicy, full without being heavy, rich without being cloying, little hop presence, clean finish with lingering aftertaste of luscious flavors.

Texture: Medium full.

Overall: If you like strong dark Belgian Abby styles I believe you will like this.

 553 characters

Photo of KenMiller123
3.87/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This was my first really dark Belgian Ale. I tried an Imperial Stout a few months back and I'm loving dark beers right now. This one was really good. I'm dying to try some Trappist beers right now (so damn expensive!).

L - Dark mahogany color. You can't really see through the glass.

S - Sweet, alcohol, brown sugar

T - It tastes hella good! It's like brown sugar, dark cherries, and whiskey mashed up in a glass. Very slight bitterness.

F - The mouth feel is thick, like heavy cream. There's always that last little bit that settles into a pool of three delicious little drops at the bottom of your glass. You're feeling tipsy from the 9% alcohol, so you tip your glass up and look cross-eyed at the last few drops as they slide down your glass. As they pass your lips and slide onto your tongue, you mutter to yourself - in your best Homer Simpson voice - "mmm... beer..."

 879 characters

Photo of jrsqc7
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I dig this. Fruity and masculine like a candy coloured three pedal hot hatch. Smells like good brown pears and mulch. Not quite balanced but neither is front wheel drive glory. Fun and very reasonably priced.

 209 characters

Photo of dedevajinasi
4.44/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

pours a midnight velvety molten lava, smells of triple hops, black currant, little fig, caramelized citrus, thicker than the average beer, a great choice for someone that is looking to slow it down while enjoying a very tasty beer.


 245 characters

Photo of gandres
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Tap to glass @ North Coast Brewing tap room@ Fort Bragg,CA
Appearance brown, clear, minimal head, tan foam-quickly goes away
Aroma: fruity, strong scent of alcohol
Taste:medium sweetness, medium bitterness,
Palate: full body, thick feel, long finish, lively,average carbonation
Overall: Very good beer, ok to repeat, buy
Drank: April 13, 2016

 344 characters

Photo of vainosuomi
4.06/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: deep, dark reddish brown color. Creamy brown head that dissipates quickly. plenty of sediment.
Smell: Alcohol, brown sugar, dark fruits, hint of some spice, yeast
Taste: Sweet brown sugar and caramel up front, plum and banana, bready malts, alcohol, and a faint hop bitterness.
Feel: Decently carbonated, medium/heavy bodied, alcohol warmth, clean and somewhat astringent finish.

Overall an excellent beer. The sweet malt and sugar flavors seem to dominate; it's not as full and balanced as others in the style.

 519 characters

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

Poured into tulip. Two finger head that dissipated to one finger quickly. Smells of dried fruit, raisins, dates. Caramel. Alcohol is very well hidden. Very good for once in awhile.

 184 characters

Photo of marieli
3.56/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Draft. Poured medium to dark brown amber. Smelled a bit on the neutral side, a little sweet, but not sticky. Very smooth, a bit silky, medium texture. The biggest issue for me is that both the smell and the taste were on the neutral side, not a lot going on. Reminded me a little of North Coast's Old Stock, which I also find to be a bit neutral in flavor, but Brother is at least a step down. Not a bad ale at all, but I prefer more character.

 444 characters

Photo of emerge077
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Mary for this one!
Dark reddish brown, tan foam, long lasting billowing head.
Aromas of dried fruit, nutty malt, Belgian yeast.
Taste is largely the same, dominant yeast with dried fruit esters, nutty malty middle, yeasty aftertaste.
Medium to full bodied, sticky on the lips but not overly sweet.
Overall a good BSDA for the price, though there are better ones out there.

 384 characters

Photo of Lingenbrau
4.18/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful clear deep red with a big rocky tan head. Raisin, prune, and banana dominate aroma as well as flavor with a nice bready sweetness, and a well masked 9.0% alcohol. I'm surprised this doesn't have better reviews. Perhaps because it is not a true Belgian? Cheers!

 274 characters

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

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 1/22/2015. Pours clear dark reddish brown color with 2 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big raisin, prune, fig, cherry, date, banana, pepper, clove, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, toasted dark bread, light nuttiness, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast and dark/bready malt notes; with great strength. Taste of big raisin, prune, fig, cherry, date, banana, pepper, clove, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, toasted dark bread, light nuttiness, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Fair amount of yeast spiciness and light tartness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, prune, fig, cherry, date, banana, pepper, clove, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, toasted dark bread, light nuttiness, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast and dark/bready malt flavors; with a great malt/yeast balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from yeast spice as well. Medium carbonation and medium-full body; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/bready, and lightly slick/sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Belgian strong dark ale. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast and dark/bready malt flavors; and very smooth and easy to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,670 characters

Photo of CheddyChopper
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Look - Crepuscular rays in west facing rear view mirrors color this mahogany with tinges of iron. Smell - The copper residue of subway handles left on your bare hand on a humid New York afternoon in May, and toasted marshmallows soaked for a short time in grain alcohol. Taste - overripe plum and golden grahams, cascading across the palate like Monk's whole tone runs at the end of "Ruby, My Dear" from Thelonious in San Francisco 1957. Feel - Like Monk's pocket: dark, mysterious and swingin' kind of like his dance moves. Overall - Hail Monk! Death to the Non-believers! A highly drinkable abbey ale.

 603 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear, almost opaque deep mahogany in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and moderate garnet red highlights. The beer has a half finger tall fizzy foamy beige head that quickly reduces to a medium sized patch of extremely thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark fruits (cherries and plum) and caramel. Moderate aromas of Belgian yeast with a freshly cracked black pepper notes and hints of banana + bubblegum.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of caramel + dark malts with a slightly heavier than moderate amount of sweetness with distinctive flavors from dark candi sugar. That is followed by strong flavors of dark fruits - initially cherries followed by plum, fig, and raisin. There is a moderate flavor of Belgian yeast with light notes of freshly cracked black pepper and banana. The finish is light to moderate lingering sweetness but not cloying.

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Interesting and a bit thin in the mouthfeel for the BSDA but the alcohol is well hidden and it is fairly easy to drink. Enjoyable with nice complexity to the aroma and flavor.

 1,288 characters

Photo of LennyOvies
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

L- Bright dark brown amber. Frothy tan head with very low retention, fades out quiet fast.
S- Bready, sugar, sweet caramel, ripe banana, dark fruits and licorice.
T- Alcohol upfront, overpowers the other notes. Raisins, brown sugar, yeast, banana and some pumpkin.
F- Light, smooth, slick.
O- Decent brew, the alcohol steps over the rest of the notes which is not a good thing. This even feels more like drinking a strong wine than a beer.

 439 characters

Photo of DesMoinesMike
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I see this at the beer store all the time and I wonder if it's the same bottles. It looks good but the soda-like head disappears in seconds. Smells of plumb and some spice. Taste has notes of plumb, black courant, and banana. The body seems thin and the finish has an oiliness to it. I've had plenty on Belgians and this one just seems off.

 340 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.78 out of 5 based on 2,950 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!