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Brother Thelonious | North Coast Brewing Co.

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very good
1,036 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: 1,036 | Ratings: 2,961
Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of CheddyChopper
3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

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Photo of LennyOvies
3.33/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

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Photo of DesMoinesMike
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of MACrist
4.26/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 6/5/15.
LOOKS: Poured into a snifter. The beer is rustic mahogany, looks filtered, no sediment in glass or bottle. Half inch tan head, gone almost instantly. Great looking carbonation when rocking the glass back and forth. Very slight lacing, gone quickly.
AROMA: Big floral note right away, it has a Familiar 'Dirty Bastard' dried fruit/cherry aroma. Port, sherry, very sweet smelling. Get some yeast, with just a tiny bit of farm-funk-like smell. Raisins, dark candied fruits and sugar. If the alcohol is present it is blended so well with the other flavors that it just works.
TASTE: Wow, first thing that came to mind is cherry cheesecake! Very sweet, but not cloyingly so, dark dried fruit, lots of cherry. Just a slight bit of tartness. Alcohol masked nicely.
MOUTHFEEL: The carbonation is just perfect on this. It really hits you the second you drink it, not overkill, imo. Pretty dry beer all the way through the finish.
OVERALL: It's familiar in mouth feel to other strong dark ales like Chimay Blue. But that big cherry quality makes it a bit different. Very enjoyable beer. Will buy again.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.79 out of 5 based on 2,961 ratings.
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