Brother Thelonious | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
1,050 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
Reviews: 1,050 | Ratings: 2,997
Photo of Strike00
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L: pours dark ruby with a darker head
S: the smell is of dark fruit, Belgian yeast and alcohol. With the fruit being the most prominent
T: Prune and raisin are very evident. The Belgian yeast is underneath but not that strong. Warm Alcohol rounds it out. Very tasty.
F: medium bodied with solid consistent carbonation.

O: Very good. Falls a bit short of some other Belgians but still well worth the drink and at a couple bucks cheaper per bottle than most other Belgian style ales with this strength. Is missing a lot of the Belgian Yeast Flavor.

 557 characters

Photo of EMH73
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a two finger head. Tastes of dark malts and fruits, not overly complex. I really don't see this as a Belgian style Ale, but it is a good beer.

 166 characters

Photo of flyingpig
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

355ml Bottle from Good Spirits Wine & Beer (£3.50):
This one was quite a nice Belgian style beer that was quite sweet with plenty dark fruits & malts coming through on top of a smooth, medium body. It went down a lot easier than one might expect & was very enjoyable with a rich, complex taste & warming feel to it but it falls short of some of the better Belgian brewed beers of the style if I'm honest.

 405 characters

Photo of kalosjakar
3.09/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Dark amber with a tight bubbled head. Cellar temperature.

Smells of figs, raisins, plums?, malt, alcohol.

Taste is heavy malt, plums, not as much complexity as I hoped. If its there, im not picking up on it.

Was expecting more. The look of the beer in the glass is the best part. And it does look purty.

 311 characters

Photo of joeseppy
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice garnet pour with a generous fluffy merengue head. Aroma of prune/date. Banana and apricot emerge. Flavour of deep malt and scant cider vinegar. Prune and spice. Charred oak. Medium body with residual sugars. Lasting flavor with steady carbonation. Mild bitterness. Been seeing this for years and I've been in a Belgium mood so I pulled the trigger. Nice quaff to spend time with. This drinks very easy, abv is not in your face. Would buy agin.

 460 characters

Photo of Motleydrunk56
3.81/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a firestone glass. Pour is a brownish color. Kind of a fruity smell with maybe a touch of cinnamon. Taste is a lot like the smell. Fruit maybe raisons mixed with cinnamon. All in all it`s not a bad beer. Don't know if I would buy it again because nothing jumps out at me.Middle of the road brew.

 320 characters

Photo of JackieKu
3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle.

A: Dark brown. Poured with 2 fingers high of head.
S: Slightly caramel. Slightly grapefruit.
T: Toffee. Biscuits. Moderate malty, sweetness, and bitterness. Dry and medium finish.
M: Full bodied. Very creamy.
O: Not quite similar to Belgian Trappist samples, the fruity and spices are almost not found. It's flavorful and delicious however.

 355 characters

Photo of FriedSlug
3.52/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a clear deep amber color with an off-white head that clung to the edges. Left a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is yeasty and smells of molasses, brown sugar, raisins and booze. The taste is completely molasses and brown sugar with yeast, spices and breadiness. As a Belgian ale I just felt that the flavor was just off from other beers of this style.

 362 characters

Photo of Zombiedust66
4.7/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

I was very impressed with this one. Plus, being a jazz guy, I was into it just from the label. It poured easy, showing a dark amber color with a slight head to top it off. Right off, you can smell the fruit (banana). The taste isn't too heavy and actually quite enjoyable with the alcohol hidden in the background. No strong bite, just great flavors (dark malts, fruit and slight floral). The feel was smooth and easy. Sitting at a 9.4%, this is a great sipping beer. I had it with a vegan pizza. Went well together.

 516 characters

Photo of jeffm13
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A reddish amber in color, with a good Belgian (nutty, banana) flavor. In my opinion, Brother Thelonius is one of the better domestic Belgian ales. Recommended.

 160 characters

Photo of hman43
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

 181 characters

Photo of jopezu
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%
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.

 744 characters

Photo of DrSpaceman
3.79/5  rDev 0%
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.

 299 characters

Photo of FLima
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

 1,155 characters

Photo of mchegash
3.89/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

 989 characters

Photo of Safa1
4.13/5  rDev +9%
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.

 264 characters

Photo of dd43
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

 509 characters

Photo of thomda11
3.46/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

 204 characters

Photo of hophead723
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

 1,638 characters

Photo of hopphead31415
4.39/5  rDev +15.8%
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!

 1,999 characters

Photo of Tripel_Threat
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

 320 characters

Photo of drmeto
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
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

 416 characters

Photo of Catracho5
4.16/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

 715 characters

Photo of oceanman907
3.29/5  rDev -13.2%
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.

 487 characters

Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.94/5  rDev +4%
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.

 813 characters

Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.79 out of 5 based on 2,997 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.