Brother Thelonious | North Coast Brewing Co.

Brother TheloniousBrother Thelonious
Liked This Beer
3.8 w/ 3,037 ratings
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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Ratings: 3,037 |  Reviews: 1,061
Photo of bubseymour
2.17/5  rDev -42.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Appearance - Very scary looking dark and murky with 1 finger large bubbled head that isn't that impressive.

Smell - whole lotta sweet spice. Scary again.

Taste - Horrendous. But then again, Belgian Strong Ales don't work for my palet at all. No hop notes, spicy and boozy. Warming to the belly.

Mouthfeel - The 1 decent point of this beer is that its smooth and creamy.

Overall- This is a very love/hate beer and style I suppose. This isn't a drinkable liquid to me however.

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Photo of mcslain
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle. Pours a gorgeous dark red-brown w a decent head that is gone in a minute. No lacing to speak of.

Aroma of dark fruits and sweetness. Some alcohol on the nose.

Tastes like dark fruits and brown sugar. Some alcohol is clearly present in the taste. Light to medium carbonation w a medium body and slick mouth feel. The candied sugar presence is there but not overwhelming as with some of the style. Some spice and pepper but light to moderate there.

I've read some reviews that refer to this as a dubbel, but is is a Belgian strong dark ale. A good one by my standards. I find this beer to be tasty and highly quaff-able. It is a smooth drinker w a nice kick.

As for its namesake, Thelonius Monk, try 'Alone in San Francisco.' One of my favorite jazz cds. Of course either of the Monk w Coltrane cds is a winner as well. Thanks to North Coast for honoring this great musician.

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Photo of micromaniac129
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a chestnut brown color with hightlights of ruby.
A tan foamy cap that is quite tall is produced but retention is terrible and the foam fades just as fast as it came. Not even a collar. Not even lacing.

Aroma is of dark fruits sweet candied sugar and some phenolic aromatics.

Flavors run similar to the nose with candied sugar dark sweeten fruits, and cloves.

A smooth dry finish with some warming alcohol.

I like this beer it has broad appeal but lacks depth or richness like the top shelve versions.

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Photo of jmerloni
1.5/5  rDev -60.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

A - Dark walnut brown, moderate head that doesn't lace real well and has zero retention. Dull looking, though.

S - Almost nothing here, some grape, cherry, raisin, and other dark fruits. Little maltiness to speak of on the nose. Kinda just smells like rum. And vinegar.

T - Ew. Dark fruits that taste molded. No hops to be spoken of and nothing but nasty white sugar. Wow. I didn't expect this beer to be the disaster that it is.

M - Terrible mouthfeel. Light to medium bodied. Tastes like a skunked beer that's thinned out from a decade of sitting there. I feel like I should stir this shit every time I take a sip because it's so out of whack. The flavors are entirely disparate and not together. The alcohol comes through entirely, and the only thing I can taste on the swallow is vinegar and it stays there.

D - Atrocious beer. Worse than anything I've ever tried. This is a pathetic attempt at the style and a pathetic attempt at a beer. This should be used as a salad dressing or something. I've grown to know and love beer, and this beer is a disaster at its fullest. Worst I've tried to date in a list that includes "Cave Creek Chili Beer" - whatever that is. Don't ever buy this beer - this is awful and I feel insulted that a respected brewery would put this out on the market.

PS: I should note that Ruedrich's Red Seal amber ale is one of the three beers I've ever rated as 5 stars - right next to Pliny The Elder - so it's not like this brewery can't do better than this crap. This is fucking terrible and they should be ashamed of themselves for thinking they can swindle people into buying this just because they price it at 11 dollars a four pack and think they can convince people it's good via the price they set. Pathetic.

PSS: Fuck - I can't believe I have to finish this. Picture the worst wine you've ever drank and imagine drinking a 3 liter bottle in one sitting.

This is embarrassing for this brewery - I can't believe they put this crap out on the market. They should be ashamed of themselves. I don't care if I never taste Ruedrich's Red Seal ever again - this brewery deserves not a cent of my money for putting this beer out. They will never get a cent of my money again. This beer is shameful. I don't support the idea of good breweries putting out shit beers and thinking they can make money off of them just because they have a good reputation and because THEY THINK THEY CAN FOOL PEOPLE BY CHARGING AN INORDINATE AMOUNT FOR IT. Beer drinkers are not fools, North Coast - I'm sorry. I will have no part of giving you another cent. What a joke.

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Photo of 2xHops
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'd like to preface this review with a disclaimer. I have had some belgian ales, but I am trying to think if I have drank any comparables that I can compare this beer to. I can't at this moment, so I realize this may be the first beer in this style I've had.

Let's talk about my first impression, then?

It's certainly dark, and it was served to me in a Chimay glass. Is that good? I don't know. It did smell somewhat sweet to my unrefined nose. The taste was good, but I have to agree with some of other reviewers who said it seems to be quite too sweet. It's the dominant flavor profile: sweet, sweet, and quite malty. It certainly did mask the alcohol fairly well, but it did make me wonder if there should have been a bit more of something else to help counter the sweetness?

Overall, it was a fun beer to try, and if anyone want a strong one, they should try it. Although, I'd have to say, if there was a bomber of this beer, I don't think I can finish a bottle on my own without becoming a bit out of it! 9.4% ABV will do that to you, and if that's your cup of tea, go for it!

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Photo of puboflyons
3.42/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on September 22, 2011. When the caged, corked top is removed there is an abundance of smoky carbonation. The pour is a decent looking reddish-brown but the head dissolves quickly. The aroma tends to remind me more of wine than beer but it has an inviting character with its toast and apricot fruit. The body is around medium. The 9.4% ABV is noticed in the flavor right off and it certainly smacks me across the face with its potentcy. It tends to take over the taste. Complex but dry at the end.

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Photo of agomega
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle served in a goblet.

Appearance: Pours an amber brown color with a large foamy white head. The head evaporates into a thin creamy layer floating on top of the beer. Good lacing.

Smell: The smell is primarily fruity with a strong malt backbone. There is also some faint bready yeast small and slight hints of plums and bananas.

Taste: Strong malty caramel flavor with hints of bread and fruit. Definitely on the sweet side without much bitterness for balance.

Mouthfeel: Creamy smooth mouthfeel with medium carbonation.

Overall: A good beer, especially if you enjoy sweeter beers. My favorite aspect was the mouthfeel which was very creamy and enjoyable. I would be happy to drink more of it, but I'm not sure I would buy it again since it is priced similarly to many other higher caliber Belgian ales.

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Photo of EricMichael
2.93/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Normally, when I review a brew, I do so in a manner that is very professional and structured. This brew makes me feel like it isn't worth the little bit of extra effort, but I feel it's still important to speak my piece.

The appearance was the best part of this brew. A nice copper with an excellent sized head, however one that almost immediately vanishes.

The scent wasn't too bad and maybe because it was on the weaker side. Smelled of toast with a hint of fruit.

First taste, I cringed with how it felt in my mouth. Crazy after-taste and feel in the back of my throat and on my tongue. Very sweet malts. Toast with an apple spread and a whole lot of metal-something that makes my mouth feel like I need to brush my teeth. Unbalanced. The Belgium-style aspects of this beer are what redeem it enough to be worth of a 3.0 for taste, but the feel in my mouth was just bad. I was tempted not to finish it.

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Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours a copper, caramel color with a foamy, creme colored head, not really what you'd expect from a traditional abbey ale.

S: Aroma is sweet, very pleasant but very deep with peaches, apricot, pumpkin, maple syrup and a touch of nutmeg. Not quite pungent, but on its way there.

T/M: Tastes as dark as it appears with raisins, plums, dried apricots, pumpkin spice, candy sweetness, even a bit of smoke in the finish. It has a thicker mouthfeel than a lot of Belgians along with a medium amount of carbonation.

It's a great beer, a little heavier than expected, but still very good. And sweet, very sweet.

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Photo of ikantspel
3.93/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from 12oz bottle into chalice. chilled to 61°

pours a solid dark brown. good carbonation catches up and creates a wonderful head

cant really pinpoint a smell. cocoa/molasses with a hint of plum

pleasing taste and aftertaste. malt and toffee

pretty good for a belgian style abbey ale. although i haven't tried to many at this point in my drinking days i can only hope they're all this good

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Photo of Knapp85
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out as a dark reddish brown color, the head was a cream color and looked pretty fluffy. The smell of the beer had some dark malt aromas giving off a little sweetness and some bready Belgian yeast as well. The taste of the beer has a little bit of dark fruit in the mix along with some earthy notes. The mouthfeel was about average for me on this one, it's smooth but just doesn't wow me. Overall this beer isn't bad, I know a lot of people who love it but I've had it a few times and I still haven't been overly impressed by it.

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Photo of Chaney
2.68/5  rDev -29.5%
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 birdypowder
3.74/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber with some reds mixed in, attractive to look at. Lacing was lacking as was head retention. Clarity was fine.

Aromas of dark fruits particularly raisons. There was also some phenolic spiciness, slightly earthy.

The sweetness is enjoyable with the dark fruits coming through nicely. Some roast pops through and the alcohol is hidden well.

The beer seems to lack a "middle", it rushes to the dry finish which is a bit astringent.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
4.11/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Dark mahogany in color with traces of lighter reds around the edges. 1/4 tan head and ok retention

Smell: Bready yeast and some dark fruits

Taste: Very plum and raisin forward and very heavy on the malt profile which I like. Very light bready notes and traces of caramel on the backend

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation and leaves a sticky feeling in your mouth

Overall: This is one of my favorite American Belgian strong ale's. It's solid in all the areas that it needs to be.

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Photo of Rickythejeweler
3.45/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Deep ruby/garnet, one finger white head, little lacing, carbonation bubbles.

S - Raisons, light brown sugar, plums, mild fruits, little spice in the back.

T - Grapes/raisons, belgian yeast, thats about all I get.

M - Moderate carbonation, dry finish.

O - I was excited about this beer, but unfortunately it did not meet my expectations.

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Photo of mostpoetsdo
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark mahogany, red hues poke through in the light. Thin head dissipates quickly.

S: Lots of tart cherries, sweet raisins, and a raspberry preserves scent. Some spice in there.

T: Jam-like sweetness through dark fruits. A bit hot; spicy alcohol in the aftertaste. Molasses finish, a bit funky. Tart plums.

M: Medium to full body, a bit syrupy; and rough around the edges due to alcohol.

O/D: Maybe this beer needs some time to rest. It was tasty, but not all that enjoyable, if that makes sense.

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Photo of Haybeerman
2.96/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Deep chestnut color. Poured a 2 finger light tan head that dissipated quickly to a broken skim and eventually disappeared. Lace washed down the glass.

S: Candied black cherries and pineapple. Very sweet, almost sugary, malt. Very strange.

T: Wet grain flavor, but tart, sweet fruit still very prominent. Bourbon-soaked black cherries. Sweet and warm, finishes dry. Taste tires quickly.

M: Light body. Moderate carbonation. Carbonation fits the beer well and finish is nice and dry, but it can't compensate the sweet, dull taste.

O: More like a malt liquor with residual sweetness and big alcohol burn.

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Photo of match1112
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a:pours a dark caramel color with dark red highlights and little head that doesnt stick around long.

s: malts and dark fruits.

t: more malts dark fruit and caramel.

m: filling with a creamy malty feel.

o: worth the try, wouldnt turn down a free one but probably wont buy again anytime soon.

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Photo of jbphoto88
2.74/5  rDev -27.9%
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 scottfrie
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap in Lodi. This would have been served in a frozen pint glass but I asked the bartender if I could have two half-full pours in one of their snifters, and he obliged.

A: Served a very dark mahogany red with a thin light tan head that faded into a thin collar leaving a few wisps of lacing down the glass.
S: Very fruity with notes of dark cherries, raisins and other dark fruits, and a bit of caramel.
T: Follows the nose with syrupy flavors of dark fruits, cherry juice, sweet caramel, toffee, rum soaked raisin bread, a hint of cinnamon and cocoa, and maybe a touch of nutmeg. I get a faint hint of tobacco in the finish.
M: Medium-thick body, soft carbonation with a bit of warming alcohol in the finish that’s really pleasant and works well with the rich flavors of this beer.
O: Maybe not a benchmark of the style but this beer is a real pleasure to drink, and I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve had it.

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Photo of MEsoJD
2.65/5  rDev -30.3%
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 Nerudamann
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass.

Look - a deep brown color with about half a finger's worth of medium tan-colored foam that dissipates somewhat quickly.

Smell - sweet, a bit biscuity maybe, and malty with a hint of a spice maybe.

Taste and Mouthfeel - indeed malty, but also definitely with a warming mouthfeel and spiciness. Finishes with a slight musky feeling toward the back of the throat. Texture is pretty well balanced, although maybe a very slight bit more toward the watery side.

Overall - pretty decent brew, and fairly interesting in taste. Not the most interesting that I've tasted or that you'll find, but still captivating enough.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Alibi Room in Vancouver.

A: 1/4" mocha head that left a nice lacing over inviting cola coloured liquid.

S: Sweet, malts, yeast, and fruit.

T: Boozy with a malty and fruit finish.

M: Thick viscosity with a medium level of fine carbonation

O: Not as drinkable as it could be as it doesn't hide the alcohol very well.

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Photo of capeannbass36
2.42/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Cork was a pain to open...then just a pop.

A- Pours a dark ruby mahogony with a one finger tan head that fades quickly....although the lacing hangs around for awhile.

S- Sweet malt, almost too sweet.

T- Oh my god....this is too sicky sweet. Feel like a little kid rejecting some nasty childhood medicine. Horrid. Forced two more sips down, for a total of 3. Dumped this one.

M- Somewhat slick and oily.

O- Perhaps this was a bad bottle?? I tried tweaking my review...can't....I am shocked at how bad this was.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.69/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark copper with a large, fading head.
Nose shows rich sweet malt by the truckload: caramel, golden syrup, milk chocolate, raisins and prunes are all quite noticeable. The hops are also rather potent (for the style) with resinous pine and soft tropical fruit apparent. Nice stuff.
In the way of flavours similar malty characters are first up, with lots of brown sugar and dried fruit at the forefront. However, soon after this is trampled by piney hops and strong, hot alcohol. Quite a dissapointing finish.
Carbonation could be higher, body thicker.

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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 66.7% out of 100 with 3,037 ratings
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