Brother Thelonious | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
1,053 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: 1,053 | Ratings: 3,004
Photo of Goldorak
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled on-tap at Blue Tusk, Syracuse, NY.

Apprearance: Reddish copper colored brew, could have been a bit darker for the style but still fine. The head retention wasn't that great, it died away to form a thin ring. It was served a bit cold.

Smell: Strange mix of smokey, spicy and acidic aromas that reminded me of those all dressed chips they sell here in Quebec, which made my friends chortle. Definately original. Did they use a Belgian yeast for this? Was it barrel aged? As it warmed, it developped more of a corky smell that I liked.

Taste: Carbonation in the low-to-mid range, the smokey flavors come more than anything else. No real sign of spicy yeast flavors, just a bit of acidity that didn't quite make my mouth pucker. Woody, corky flavors are the only characteristics that make it seem like a Belgian ale to me. Not my favorite from this brewery, but interesting.

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Photo of ccrida
3.94/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my St. Feuillien goblet, Brother Thelonious is a dark, muddy brown, with a 2 finger egg shell head that quickly subsided to a thick skim, leaving light lace.

The aroma is very strong, brown sugar and dates, almost a bit like a barelywine on first blush, although you can sense it has that lightness that you look for from a belgian. As it warms, it gets more of that candi sugar and dark fruitiness that I really love from the dark belgians.

The taste is also rather heavy handed, more brown sugar and cured fruits, lots pheonols and dry booze, as well as some astringency before a clean fade to a bitter finish that's very spicy, with black pepper, anise and clove. I emphasize that the fruitiness is more like raisins and a bit sour rather then tart grape or cherry that makes me prefer in beglian darks over dubbels. But this one is better then most IMHO...maybe worthy of a 4.5, but as much I try to score by style, I just don't love it that much...and haven't had nearly as many dubbels as BSDAs to fairly first and benchmark example of the style is the bornem dubbel, which I find to be a bit bland...while I prefer a robust brew, the flavor profile here isn't my favorite, but still enjoyable. Of course, this one gets better as it warms from fridge temp.

The mouthfeel is chewy but with a med-light body.

Overall this is not a bad dubbel, and one of the more true to style examples of the american versions. It's not a style that I tend to overindulge in (perhaps my least favorite of the belgians, which are my favorites overall), so I sip and slow and let it linger.

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Photo of plaid75
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured a rich mahogany hue with a one finger creamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured an upfront sweetness with good yeast esters and dark fruits.

The taste consisted of an even sweetness and a dominant golden raisin flavor. Nice yeast esters and earthy hops as well.

The mouthfeel was full and moderately chewy.

Overall an enjoyable dubbel.

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Photo of ndekke39
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at Bodega in Columbus, Ohio. Poured into a pint glass. Cloudy red with little to no head, although it kept lightly fizzing. Smells of caramel and dark fruit like cherries. Tastes of banana, caramel, toasted barley, no notes of hops. Medium mouthfeel. Higher alcohol means slower sipping. Nice, complex flavors and aromas. Beautiful beer to look at. Would gladly try this one again.

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Photo of Jcdolan
4.32/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

A 750ml corked bottle. Interesting label, a retro monk with a piano key board circle around hit head, also wearing a cool set of shades. Sparked my interest from the start.

Appearance is a beautiful brown almost copper with at least a two finger brown/whitish head that holds strong for some time and laces the glass the entire way down.

Smells of fruit almost a wine smell, with stong a strong alcohol sent. The type of fruit is masked by the strong alcohol presence. Sugary malt is noticable as well.

Taste is of fuite, mainly prune and STRONG warm alcohol.

Mouthfeel is very pleasing, smooth and medium bodied.

This is a weekday sipper. The alcohol is very powerful. All in all a nice beer to enjoy.

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Photo of garbercury
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this beer in 25 oz bottle at the six pack shop at Fatheads in Pittsburgh. D's and the Sharp Edge get a lot of credit and rightfully so, but Fatheads is a great place with terrific beers/food. Definitely worth the stop if you are in the burgh...

I actually really enjoyed this beer a great deal. It poured nicely into my Corsendonk glass.

APPEARANCE-nice brown hue that gets my juices flowing everytime. nice thick head that was a french vanilla in color.
SMELL-definitely had a strong alcohol scent. Little of that plum, pear, fig, air to it also...dont most of them?
TASTE-this is my style of beer to begin with. Any dark belgian style is off to a good start and this did not disappoint. Caramel flavor with a bit of fig? Definitely strong alcohol towards the end but it did not deter me..
MOUTHFEEL-silky and smooth. Worked for me
DRINKABILITY-Lets not kid ourselves, I drank the whole bottle and felt a bit indulgent. However I got over it and did really enjoy it altogether. With this being my first rating, maybe I am going a little overboard with the numbers but hey, its for Thelonius freaking Monk! Dig the bottle by the way, one of the best ever...I have seen hundreds along the way...

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Photo of xgrafcorex
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

the beer itself is very complex in flavor and smell. it was a corked bottle which didn't overflow with foam at first, but it started slowing spilling out after a few seconds. nice head on the beer but it doesn't stay as thick and gets pretty small actually. its a very dark red but doesn't look hazy. it smells fruity and yeasty overall..but there are other spices mixed in there as well that i can't really place. maybe a hint of alcohol.. (9%) the taste is even more complex. its similar..starts out more with the fruity part which mellows out and you can pick up on more of the yeast flavor. once again theres other flavors too here and there that i'm not sure what to liken them to. the flavor is a bit strong, but its very good. not something i would want to drink all night for sure. it was 7.99 for a 750ml bottle, not as expensive as some of the other large corked bottles, but i would say its up there with them in taste.

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Photo of WesWes
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a cloudy brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice, malty scent that boasts of crystal malts and Belgian yeast. It's sweet with the alcohol warmth and a fruity presence; raisons, figs. The taste is decent. It's full of malt flavor especially the crystal malts and a bit of special roast. It has a solid yeast fruitiness with a warm raisony finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good drinking beer. It's a bit too much with the alcohol warmth. It could also use some more body and/or specialty malts. All in all, a fine effort.

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Photo of infestaxion
3.01/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

It has a decent color to it. Darker than a red but not as attractive as other beers. Nice looking head on it that fades rather quickly. The smell is very subtle. Some raison... kind of bread-y. Tastes... malty, alcohol, very little hoppiness at the end. Adequately carbonated, though I prefer the aged beers that have settled down. Feels alright sliding down my tongue. As far as drinkability... I've had way better. I probably won't buy it again, but it's better than a Budweiser.

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Photo of theWrkncacnter
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml corked bottle. Nice loud pop when the cork came off, pours a nice deep amber that's slightly hazy with a decent head that fades to minimal lacing. Smells of raisins and some other fruit scents. Very nice smell, nice and complex. Taste is good, a strong smokey flavor on top with a deep malty flavor, reminds me a lot of smoked salmon, which is definitely a new taste for a beer. Definite belgian-high-alcohol-sweetness going on and fairly rich. Mouthfeel is smooth going down with a nice dry finish, drinkability isn't the greatest just because it's of high alcohol content, but good for a belgian style.

Overall a very good brew, it'd definitely be one I'd pick up again. Loved the smokey flavor. Big props to North Coast Brewing for this one.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Bu11zeye: Poured a deep mahogany color ale with a medium size dirty brown head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with a small touch of dry fruits is quite interesting. Taste of sweet malt is offset by some light dry fruits. Body is quite full with some adequate carbonation and no alcohol was noticeable. I thought it lack some complexities for the style but still very enjoyable nonetheless.

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Photo of woemad
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big-ass caged and corked 750ml bottle purchased at Daanan's in Hayden, Idaho several months ago for $7.99. No freshness date visible. I drank and reviewed this beer while listening to the Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane CD and found it an excellent pairing as the lights flickered ominously during a Spokane thunderstorm.

Poured a dark brown color with a big tan head that took it's time dropping. Lots of lace.

Smell is of sweet malts, spices and an earthy grain scent. Not too far off from authentic Belgians of the style.

The taste starts off with a sweet malty note combined with an earthy, grainy flavor. The taste gets a little more spicy, with a slight hop bitterness coming in. I have to say I'm liking this more than I thought I would.

The mouthfeel is the only area I have to grade down on this beer. It just seems a tad too watery. It could be much worse, but it's the most glaring defect this beer has.

Not a bad US version of a Belgian Dubbel at all, and cheaper than a comparatively-sized bottle of the real thing. I'd definitely drink this again.

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Photo of tonistruth
2.5/5  rDev -34%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- 2 finger off white head with good retent, dark bronzed amber, lacking lace

S- fruity, sweet & spicy alcohol, sweet

T- alcohol present throughout, sweetness rather tame, fruity, dried fruit, hints of cardboard, sugary, simple, alcohol can get harsh awith warmth

M- medium body, but very light on palatte, hagher carbonation barely felt, alcohol burn (especially with warmth)

D- simple for a belgian, bland at times, nothing worthwhile, at least its for a charity

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Photo of Lagaffe74
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It poured a dark brown with a nice retention. Plenty of ripe, dark fruits in the nose such as raisins, ... On the palate, though, quite a medium bodied beer with a thick mouthfeel, which finishes with touches of roasted caramel. Very nice. This one keeps calling you back for more.

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Photo of ski271
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Zeno’s in State College.
A- Dark, hazy ruddy brown with a small, off-white, tight head that diminishes to a ring fairly quickly.
S- Belgian yeast, caramel, raisin and dark fruit
T- Nice bready blend of sweet malt and Belgian yeast. Brown sugar and more dark fruit toward the finish.
M- Medium-full body, smooth texture
D- Seems pretty average at first, and my description so far portrays that initial feeling. But by the time I finished my first half-pint, I was loving it. Not sure why.

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Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Started at first with just a hint of pear funkyness, calling to mind Orval, then blossomed with a broad caramel malt, retaining some of the yeasty Belgian nontes. Moderately sweet, with a full finish. The name is a great play on words, and the beer matches the innovative nature.

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Photo of Hammarby
4.47/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark amber with an offwhite head with yellow tones. Head dissappears quite fast, no lacing.
S: Yeast, pears, caramel, malt, figs, dark berries, dried fruits, toffee, sweet dark bread.
T: Dark chocolate, charcoal, figs, dried fruits, raisins, bitterness, caramel, sweet grapes.
M: Medium body, moderate carboration.
D: Yum! I really like it. This one goes down really easy. The alcohol stays in the background despite the 9%. A beer to sip slowly.

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Photo of jj21
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap in Horse & Plow
Pours Clear, dark amber with a good long-lasting tan head. Malty aromas with some banana and bubblegum. Slight touch of alcohol on the nose and flavor. Nice hop finish but light for a Dubbel. Not a bad beer but it could use a little more Umph to it.

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Photo of rm0312
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 750ml bottle to a Trappist glass - a rich ruby color with a marginal head. A malty citrus aroma as well as some caramel. The caramel came out in the flavor as well along with some vanilla and some fruitiness. I picked up the hoppiness at the end. Smooth and chewable. This is a very good beer - maybe a step below Chimay Blue.

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Photo of jbsteiny
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep dark brown with ruby highlights. Offwhite head dissipated quickly with no retention. Smelled lovely -- stewed fruit (like tsimis, for my jewish bretheren) with a heavy hand of cocoa. Tasted wonderful - not like any other dubbel that I'd ever had -- prunes up front to be sure, and a bit of a yeasty spice, but pure cocoa and alcohol on the finish, like drinking chocolate milk with a shot of jameson. Glad I found this on tap, though seeing the label on the site makes me want to buy a bottle and stick the label on my board.

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Photo of notoriousdav
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rootbeer brown. Tan head dissapates quickly with some lacing. Smells like gingerbread and fermenting dough, very nice on the nose. Tastes of some Belgium sugars, and bread. Phenols come out fast but fade nicely at the end. It really has a typical dubbel taste profile, but for some reason it deosn't seem as balanced as some better examples. I can't put my finger on it, but this beer just doesn't quite live up to it's namesake. Mouthfeel is a little light, which I think contributes to the unbalance. Drinkinbility is fine.

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Photo of beerphilosopher
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, rich burgundy tone, with a bubbly off-white head that dissipates quickly to a thin layer. Appears very effervescent. Spotty lacing in the goblet. The nose is of dark roasted malts, stewed fruits, sweet caramel, and some spice thrown in. Some alcohol in the nose. The palate is what you'd expect from the nose, and carries a very sweet, cloying flavor up front. A combination of the (very) active carbonation, high ABV, and a good, solid hop backbone, turn this brew quite a bit drier quickly, however. The palate is left somewhat decently balanced, but definitely leaning heavily toward the sweet side of things. Not unexpected for a dubbel, but maybe a bit too cloying. Mouthfeel is a tad sharp and biting, with an abundance of carbonation creating a froth in the mouth and revealing an aggressive alcohol burn. This aspect calms down as the beer warms from cellar temperature to ambient a bit. Finish is only semi-dry, with some sweetness lingering too long. Over all, not a bad dubbel, especially considering this is a domestic abbey-style ale. At 9% ABV, this one is no session beer. Worth a try, however, especially if you like the dubbel style. It's no Trappist ...but what else is?

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Photo of atsprings
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a crisp brown that shows a dark ruby when held to light. The aroma is of dried fruits with maple and caramel. The taste is very complex with caramel, dried fruits, some coffee, and a nice slight spiciness to round it out. There is a slight yeast bite and the alcohol is somewhat present. This is a decent beer for the style.

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Photo of Gmann
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured out of a 750ml corked and caged bottle. The beer is a dark ruby color that poured an average tan head that dissipated fairly quick leaving no lacing. The smell is prunes, carob, and a whiff of alcohol. The taste is similar but has more of a roasted backbone to it. The feel is tightly carbonated and a bit watery, finishes a tad bitter and dry. A decent example of a dubbel and worth a try but it doesn't excite.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an oversize goblet.

AP: Deep amber tinged with a rusty brown hue and a rather thin and scattered head with only low to medium carbonation for the style. The Head retention qualities is not up to par for this brew.

Nose: Very sweet malts, big yeast profile, zesty and herbal hop, alcohol, maple syrup. Nicely aromatic.

Flavor: Herbal, Zesty hop and an agressive yeast flavor bust out first and then mellowed by a maple syrup-like malt sweetness; all evened out by a medium alcohol heat and a mildly bitter fin.

Feel: Full bodied, thick and syruppy. But the low carbonation leaves it hanging in limbo without the bite and or clean feel that most brews of this style posses.

DA: This was very enjoyable; although certainly not my favorite of it's kind. This beer was the last to be enjoyed out of my favorite beer vessel, my big oversize least it went out in a blaze of glory as I listened to Thelonious and Coltrane on my record player.

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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.79 out of 5 based on 3,004 ratings.
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