Brother Thelonious | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
3,004 Ratings
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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 albern
2.3/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I'm giving this one the thumbs down. I was sorely disappointed and was hoping for so much more. The beer pours a nice cloudy, tawny brown, with a caramel consistency, and a smallish head. The head dissipated quickly, no lacing either. The smell is caramelized, yeasty, perhaps a tinge of some fruits, such as apple, rind, and lemon. The beer is medium bodied and then it goes down hill fast. This beer does a terrible number in terms of masking its robust ABV, in fact, I got nothing but harsh, throaty alcoholish burn. The beer had none of the candied sugar fermentation, the sweet yeasty malts of a Belgian, or the complex fruity carbonation and warming notes. This beer just hit all the wrong notes. I drank a small glass and got rid of the rest. What a disappointement. It seemed that they just let this one ferment too long until it carmelized what should have been warming notes, and lost its redeeming Belgian character.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz. Bottle
Revisit: 4 Apr 2015

It's been awhile since last I've had this brew.

Poured into a chalice a very nice clean/clearn dark rosey color, very nice carbonation, nice little fizzy creamy off-white head, leaves some sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is malty, slightly yeasty, some figs, raisins, plums, and caramel. The taste is sweet, malty, slight yeast effect, nice touch of dark fruit, and some caramel. This brew goes down smoothly, the alcohol is hidden very well. Medium body, a nice little complex brew. Overall very drinkable, very tasty, another great brew from North Coast, recommended. Nice to see it here in UT.


Been sitting on this for a year or so.

Poured into a chalice a nice dark brown color, nice carbonation (awesome pop on opening), nice little fizzy creamy off-white head, some tiny islands and sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is malty, slightly yeasty, some figs, raisins, plums, and caramel. The taste is sweet, malty, slight yeast effect, nice touch of dark fruit, and some caramel. This brew goes down smoothly, the alcohol is hidden very well. Full body, a complex brew. Very drinkable, very tasty, another great brew from North Coast, recommended.

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Photo of beerking1
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have stored this bottle about a year. Pours a red-hued light brown color, with some haze, and a decent head that lasts to the end. Aroma is dark fruits, with some malt and some wood characteristics. Also hints of yeastiness in the nose. Flavor is more dark fruits, some yeastiness and chocolate malt. Hops are apparent, but very subdued. Very well balanced beer in style. Alcohol comes through, but softly. Body is suitably medium to full, with a creamy carbonation. Aftertaste is lingering dark malt and fruit.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz picked up at New Vintage a few weeks ago for about $3... poured into a Kasteel tulip.

Short lasting 1/2" head and little lacing .... clear brown brew with nice red highlites.

Aroma is dried fruits.. raisins and figs mixed with medium caramel and lighter characteristic Belgian yeastiness... could use a little more complexity.. but not bad at all.

Medium mouthfeel and fine/lightly creamy little bubble carbonation. More pronounced yeasty fruitiness than the aroma ... same dried fruit and sweet cherries and a caramels with an appealling cola spiciness finish.

Overall a pretty good attempt at a Dubbel... I am glad the brewers did not "Americanize" this one to the point of diminishing returns... but Brother Thelonious could use more complexity in aroma and flavor and a more full mouthfeel.... that being said, I will buy some more of the 12's to put in the cellar for when I get the urge.

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Photo of bashiba
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a dark cloudy brown with light ruby highlights, big and sticky head.

Smell has some nice cedar and yeast notes with a bit of brown sugar.

Flavor has a strong woody malt backbone with some lightly sweet fruit notes and a decent bit of musty hops to balance it quite well.

Mouthfeel is very creamy with a decent thickness.

Overall a pretty authentic tasting Dubbel from North Coast, nicely done.

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Photo of dogger6253
4.85/5  rDev +28%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours out of the bottle a dark, muddy brown with a huge, mocha head. The head explodes with bubbles constantly as it falls, taking its sweet time down. It hangs to the side of the glass, refusing to ever let go.

Big cherry and cedar scents in this. Pears, grapes, raisins, dates and almonds come through. A nice, fruity tone with bits of earthiness rounding out the aroma.

Everything in the taste comes out just as fresh as in the nose with a little bit of hops and alcohol adding any missing pieces you may have thought were there. Perfect taste.

The body is smooth with a little bit of a carbonation kicking its way to your brain. It really sits well in your mouth as you let the flavors develop and surface. This really is so tasty, so crisp and refreshing. You must take your time with one of these. So much goodness.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle a dark black cherry color with a light beige head with lots of thin lacing.

Beautiful aroma of dark ripe fruits, raisins, and sweet malts.

Tastes of cherries, raisins, sweet malts, caramel and a warming touch from the 9% alcohol.

Medium mouthfeel with an oily slickness to it and a zippy carbonation.

What a joy this beer was too drink. More please.

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Photo of 1759Girl
4.49/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Warm brown hue, like maple syrup. Lively with a light creamy head and a little lacing.
Aroma: Dark chocolate and caramel. Heaven? perhaps.
Taste: tangy start followed by a rush of toasty malt flavor with notes of burnt sugar. The finish goes slightly resiny and then incredibly smooth. Good balance.
Mouthfeel: more effervescent than I expected, but not overly so. Pleasant.
Drinkability: Grab me a four pack and some good jazz and see if I refuse...

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Photo of champ103
4.64/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A deep cherry red with a good sized head (almost tan in color) that stays all the way down the glass. A little lace as well.
S: Wow! This is great. Complex with ton's of dark fruit (plumbs, raisins). Roasted malt and a hint of dark chocolate. There is also a smoky earthiness in the nose.
T: Again, great. Very similar to the nose, but with more malt. Since I am a malt head I love that. Wonderful.
D: Not bad at all for 9% ABV. A great sipping beer.

I love this beer. North Coast does a great job with this Belgian Dubble. Goes great with some Thelonious Monk music. I recommend "Monks Music", or At Carnegie Hall (with John Coltrane), or Underground, or... well you get the picture. If it has Monks name on it pick it up, including this beer.

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Photo of williamherbert
4.19/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cherry and ruby red appearance. Clear with a flat finger of head. Almost like a dark blush wine, but with carbonation and head. Deep. Formidable.

Aroma is a superdark Belgian ale smell. Smoky, dark aroma. Sweet like a dark grape. Doesn't have the pungent, fizzy smell I expected. Brown sugary rich. Outstanding. Malt is sweet but never ever cloying.

Taste is incredibly dark. Sugary sweet, but balanced with deep roasted malt. Hint of coffee bitterness with brown ale sweetness. Punch of heavy alcohol, which is no surprise since it's 9%. Even more punchy as it warms. Liqueur aftertaste.

Feels fizzy and thick. Bubbly but subdued by smoothness. Would prefer a bit less bubbly, personally. It's really strong and very rich. Sweet and yet also roasted, no mean feat. A Belgian Abbey to the core: good example of the style.

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

More red than amber with a slight cloudiness to the brew; impressive continual carbonation that keeps the head solid and slightly rocky. Extensive lace on the glass.

Creamy and sweet malt sugar aroma.

Slight metalic flavor that detracts from an otherwise quality brew. Smooth, creamy body helps. The other flavors include the traditional sweet malty flavor with the Belgian yeast remnants that make the brew distinctive. The aftertaste has a mild sourness to it.

Other than the slight aluminum flavor, this would be a winner. Similar to the traditional Abbeys but just misses.

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Photo of tpd975
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Nice golden red/brown color with a medium to small head.

S: Nice malty sweetness with hints of toffeee malt and brown sugar.

T: A great malty sweetness with brown sugar added along with hints of toffee and vanilla.

M: Medium bodied with a great malt background.

D: Nice brew

Overall: Nice Beligan brew with tons of flavors. Very nice brew.

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Photo of MTNboy
3.28/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance- A beautiful redish-brown body lightly carbonation. The head is great golden tan frothy foam with a lot of staying power and some very nice lacing.

Smell- Normal scent for a Belgian style ale but a little faint. Somewhat sweet and malty.

Taste- Sweet and roasted tones are pleasant but the metallic aftertaste is wonderful.

Mouthfeel. Thin for a beer of this style but enjoyable because of the alcohol content and lightness.

Drinkability- Not bad for a evening or late meal.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.94/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Corked and caged 750ml bottle poured into a St. Bernardus chalice. Pours a dark brown color with a light tan head. The aroma is sweet malt, dark fruits (plums and raisins) yeast and spices. The taste is malt up front with a dry and spicy finish. The mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Overall, this is a very nice Belgian-styled beer produced domestically here in the states. Recommended.

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Photo of ballenc
3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at a recent local brewfest - decided to buy a bottle for a more detailed tasting

Pours a hazy, reddish-brown color. Solid/dense bubbly head that is fast to recede and leaves no lacing

Wonderfully aromatic - sweet malts, dried fruits such as figs, raisins, plums and apricots

Flavor of dried fruits - mainly raisins, dates, figs. Slightly on the sweet side with a subtle alcohol bite

Somewhat thick on the tongue - moderate carbonation and a dry yet lingering finish

While I prefer trippels and quads, this dubbel is on the par with some of the better ones I've had - not top of the line but definitely worth a glass or two.

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Photo of SMark
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was poured at 46º from a 750ml bottle with a cork wired on. There was no date information located on the bottle. It was poured into an approximately 16 ounce goblet from Leinenkugel. There was very little foam but a dollop did last quite a while on the top. Coloring on the beer could best be described as dark brown.

The malt and hops were well blended at first sniff with a somewhat medicinal hint coming through later. This was not to be construed as a detriment.

I first detected chocolate with a slight sweetness and then maybe some tobacco afterwards. Cocoa and smoke seemed to settle in the mouth after the taste settled down.

This was not overbearing and presented a candy like quality in the mouth. It was smooth and rather enjoyable.

A nice effort on the part of North Coast. I keep picking up additional flavors and sensations in the mouth as I continue to sip. Not sure how to describe some of them but I am enjoying myself.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"If your middle name is Sphere, you're much more likely to become a jazz pianist than...say... an accountant or a dentist."


Darkest honey with a generous infusion of cranberry and orange. I love the color of the beer, and I don't mind the golden ecru color of the cap, but the texture of the foam leaves quite a lot to be desired. It's harsh and unsticky, nothing like the majestic, creamy, rocky caps on Belgian beer. As far as lace, two words come to mind: diddly squat. The score will be a combination of the good and the bad.

The brewery calls Brother Thelonious a Belgian 'Dark Strong Ale', which should correspond to a BSDA on this site. No matter, I've always had trouble telling Belgian dubbels and BSDAs apart. The nose is a wonderful melange of semi-dark fruit (figs and dates), along with dark caramel, spicy clove and an appealing phenolic character that doesn't go overboard. Looks like this one might have the chops to hang with some of the big boys.

This is good stuff that only lacks the dizzingly complexity of the world's best versions. The flavor profile follows the nose, more or less: pureed dates, a hint of raisin paste, a dram of Islay Scotch, sweetened tobacco, a twist of orange peel and a sprinkling of ground clove. The beer is broad rather than deep, but I'm not about to hold that against it because I'm enjoying it so much.

I like the amount of dark candi sugar that has been used because Bro Thel is sweet without being cloyingly sweet. The minor amount of mouthcoating is just right in one sense, but a little more clinginess might result in more flavor linger and a deeper appreciation of what this big brew has to offer. The alcohol has been masked to perfection.

The thing that keeps this offering from the big leagues is the mouthfeel. The body is fine and dandy. The feel of the carbonation is not. Like the head, the mouthfeel is too harsh. A large part of what makes Belgian beer so good is a perfect amount of creamy expansiveness. North Coast would do well to send someone across the pond to learn from the masters before they create their next batch of Belgian-style ale.

I like what Brother Thelonious has to offer. At the risk of beating a dead horse, it does most everything right... except carbonation. Otherwise, it's a jazzy little number that is making my taste buds dance with joy. I consider the $7.59 money well spent and will gladly buy a few more bottles the next time I have the opportunity.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown color with a smattering of bubbles at the surface of the beer. The first thing I smell is like chocolate and makes me think of Old Stock. The taste is fruity, like plums, with an almost barleywine flavor. This seems like Old Stock with Belgian yeast….This is a sipper for sure given the ABV. There is some noticeable phenolic flavor but is is not strong enough to detract from the flavor.

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

My only comparison is St Bernadus Prior 8. This is a good beer but not quite up to the St Bernadus standard. Pours a hazy brown color, some light comes through the top of the glass. Big off white head that fades down to a covering of the glass. Lacing does not linger but the initial lacing is a complete curtain-like covering of the sides of the glass. Nose is pretty good, dark fruits, a little astringincy and alcohol. The St Bernadus is more complex. Brother Thelonius has the sweetness and dark fruit (plums and cherries) taste. It is missing the astringency and malty and astringent tastes that wend their wy through other Belgian style beers. Mouthfeel is rich. The alcohol taste is a bit too forward. Drinkability for a Belgian is fairly good...for beers in general, a bit lower based on abv. Would not be a bad introduction to the style, but I would take a St Bernadus over this one every time.

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

I had this at the Autumn Brew Review in Minneapolis, MN. It is also available at The Cellars Wine & Spirits in Roseville in a bottle. Brownish in color with a little head. Quite a complex beer. Brown sugar, dark fruit and a bit of caramel in aroma. Dark fruit and brown sugar in flavor with a hint of alcohol.

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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 lifeboyq
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Duvel chalice. Appearance is a translucent deep amber/brownish with average off white head and minimal lacing. Smell is of sugar and dates, pretty one dimensional, some phenols coming through. Taste is quite malty with slight bitterness of figs/dates/sugar (although its not really that complex), fairly thin mouthfeel for a true dubbel. Its a good American Dubbel, but not extraordinary due to thin body and lack of complexity. The alcohol is handled fairly well with only a light phenolic taste coming through. I smile at a 9% dubbel. Overall a thumbs up and a solid beer but nothing I'd seek out like a world class offering. Then again, I wouldnt turn it down and would prefer this over a lot of what other american craft breweries offer.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.36/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Looks the part. Thick looking dark auburn tone. Nice cap of dense beige froth. Retention is great as is the lacing. Nice aroma of fudge, raisin, rumcake and dates. Taste is a little hot to start with. Like a fruit punch kind of alcohol feel. Underneath the EtOH are some lighter layers of fudge and bread pudding. Dates and raisins come into the picture, but the alcohol laced fruitiness is king here. Alcoholic bitterness lingers. Has the makings of a pretty good dubel if the heat were kept in check or integrated a little better.

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Photo of sweethome
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber/brown color. Some ruby highlights. Relatively large head that hangs at about an inch for a very long time. The head here is quite full. Beautiful lacing, a tan color and provides nice lace all the way through.

Nose is upfront yeast, bready malts, dried fruits.

The flavor profile is raisins, yeast, pumpernickle bread, more yeast, a bit of candied nuts, dried figs. Yes, sweetness of a double.

A bit on the sweet side, but that is the style. Well done double - wish we had more US beers of this style.

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Photo of jtrockchalk
3.17/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I am usually very impressed with North Coast's Artisian Series, but was disappointed with this offering.

It poured a kind of bland shade of amber brown. Not near the richnness of color I expected. The head was only a finger or so thick with zero retention and zero lacing. This is supposed to be a Belgian Abbey style beer with no head? The smell was of sourdough and cherries with the alcohol noticable right away too. Nice smells but again not as deep or rich as I had hoped. The taste was similar to the smell, but the hops were more pronounced than I expected and the sweetness was very underscored by the alcohol and hops. It was much thinner and drier on the tounge than I expected mostly due to an abundance of hops for the style. Belgian Dubbels are not something I can drink all night anyway, but the upfront alcohol made this one a definite one and done...okay its a 750, so two and done.

Not a bad beer, but if I am looking for this style there are many beers for the money I drink first.

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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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