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Brother Thelonious | North Coast Brewing Co.

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1,031 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: 1,031 | Ratings: 2,950
Photo of Bighuge
3.36/5  rDev -11.1%
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 +4.5%
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 -16.1%
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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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I split a bottle of this at the Palm Tavern in Milwaukee. I wasn't extremely impressed with this beer, but it was OK.

This beer poured brown with a bit of red, and with lots of carbonation. Aroma was a bit of chocolate with a lot of cherry. Flavor was of abundant sour cherries. The flavor seemed to me a bit over-exuberant, and reminded me of a big pile of rotting fruit (cherries in this case). Not entirely a bad thing, but hardly superlative either. Mouthfeel was good.

Recommended, but not great.

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Photo of Gusler
3.84/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer pours from the caged and corked 750ml brown bottle a hazy mahogany color with a portly white head that is creamy in texture as it slowly fades away; the lace forms a nice concealing blanket upon the glass. Start has a nice malt sweetness, hints of fruit, I say cherries, and also a bit of alcohol, top is light to medium in feel. Finish is prickly in its acidity, the hops present, and the alcohol provides a bitter bite, dry and long lasting aftertaste.

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Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
3.32/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Nothing to exciting, decent head with no lacing, amber-brown body.

S - Aroma was sweet, raisin and bubble-gum just explode out of the glass. Actually reminded me a lot the old Extra Classic Bubble Gum. Not much else that I picked up though...

T - A somewhat subdued raisin flavor starts out this drink, with the bubble gum flavor catching up by mid-palate. The finish is a mix of black current and drying hops. Not bad, but does not really remind me of an actual Belgium Dubbel at all...

M - A little watery.... But still very soft, and enjoyable

D - I will say this, were it lacks complexity, it is expressive, and a good mix with food (an Italian veggie dish with more than a little cheese was good).

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Photo of Beerbuddha
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Poured a dark amber color with a thin off white head.

Smell- Very sweet malty taste with hints of hops, figs and dark cherries.

Taste- Same as the smell but with nice warming taste of alcohol.

Mouthfeel- Full body and medium carbonation.

Drinkability- This was a great beer. I shared this one with a friend. It would have been a bit much to drink on my own.

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Photo of crayphish
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The brew pours a murky reddish brown. A bubbly head quickly worked down to a small thin cap. Modest lacing as the brew is drank. Smell is sweet dry fruits; mostly raisins and cherry. Brown sugar. Bread. Some alcohol definitely noted. Taste brings the raisins and cherry notes on strong. Sweet malt bread and peppery alcohol. The alcohol dominates the mouth, helping the sweetness of the malt and fruit notes from over powering this brew. Still a full mouthfeel, fairly chewy. One bomber was enough, but I enjoyed it.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.89/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice darkened reddish ruddy brown to settle nearly black as blood in the moonlight. Huge soft capping of dull yellow foam sits like an immoveable sponge. Large cutains of lace pull together with a few areas being torn apart into thick blobby strings.

Aroma is a low fade of dark fruits, kinda cherry and raisin with a bit of dry yeasty spice floating about. Unique little spices of pumpkin, apple, plum skins, and cinnamon make some nice noting. Actually became better in character as it warmed up a bit, however; not in its strength.

Flavors are an easy going meld of loosened dark fruity stuff and malt. Fuzzy and textured with skins and bubbles of carbonation tickling the tongue and mellows out well to create a great finishing quality of subtle layers and complexity. The fornt and middle is a bunch of set up yeast and buzz with a bit of plummyness. Then, as the carbonation settles it lets loose with a nice creamy display of chewy breads, cherry, raisin, and thick cake richness. Uniquely active and candied with some solid tastes.

Pretty firm carbonation here that tends to get in the way for the most part of its stay. Its only until the finish where it flattens out and all the character takes place. So with that I found it to be a bit off-putting. Stays pretty full and active, ahhh the finish is what kept me sipping it though. It slightly got better as it warmed and what I recommend serving it at. Warm as it you can take it. 52+ degrees is where I tended to like it much more.

A true sipper of delicate nature. Again, the warmer the better.

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Photo of Mark
3.84/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

As most long time BA's are aware, I do not get the Belgian thing. Never have caught on to them like most of you. I don't like North Coast's Pranqster at all but a co-worker and fellow lover of No. Coast beers urged me to try this. Seeing as I like some jazz and Brother T, I agreed to try it. Not bad! Deep amber or even copper color. familiar Belgian yeast aroma is there but is not overpowering in the taste department. No cloves, no banana, no bubblegum notes either. I can live with this. A bit fruity and a distinct Belgian taste that I could live with. Is sit a staple for me now? No, but I did buy a Brother Thelonious T-Shirt. Will save my remaining bottles for when it gets towards winter.

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Photo of dnichols
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I first enjoyed a Brother at Jazz Alley in Seattle while having a prime rib dinner and listening to Taj Mahal. While my dinner companions shared a bottle of not so outstanding wine I was blown away by how well the Brother went with dinner. For this review, I poured a corked and caged 750 ml bottle into a chilled challis.

A: The Monk pours a deep garnet murky brown. There was a slight caramel head that dissipated quickly living a modest cover of small bubbles on the surface of the beer and a meek lacing.

S: Enticing spiciness of nutmeg and malty sweetness. Some ripe bing cherries, figs, and a hint of alcohol that warms on the back side of each swig.

T: The taste is dominated on the front side by caramel, figs and a bit of black pepper. This finish is spicy alcohol with a modest bitterness that mingles with residual sweetness.

M: Full-bodied and creamy with a zip resulting from its moderate carbonation and a warm alcohol glow at the finish.

D: A superb American dubbel. I have pleasant residual memories from my experience at Jazz Alley, however, this beer stands the test of time. The taste is solid making it a sure bet for a domestic dubbel.

Comment: I keep The Monk in my stash. It complements a New York Strip dinner, jazz and the company of good friends.

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Photo of Floydster
3.08/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pint at Naja's place in Redondo Beach

Pour was pretty light brown with a silky white head of about one half inch in height

Taste was odd for a double because it was way more sour than sweet

Smell had a little vinegar too, which is more common of wild and sour ales

Drinkability was pretty good even though there was a high alcohol content

One of North Coast's best

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Photo of KevPet84
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer is one I love personally, but like many other reviewers don't find it a good exapmle of a dubble. I love the taste and the sweetness with the mounthfeel much like a cream stout. The appearance is where the beer falls a little short of a good. The head doesn't hold up well and is small with decent lacing.
The smell is sweet fruits and some mild spice in the back.
The taste is what I love about the beer. It is sweet fruits upfront with a slight sour notes that are quickly masked by toast and then finishes with that caramel flavors that coat the mouth.
The mouthfeel I love, but it is a little to heavy for the dubble style, more of just a belgium dark strong ale.Still a great beer, and it is wonderful with a medium bodied cigar.

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Photo of atigerlife
3.45/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with lighter highlights. Think light brown head that dissipates rather quickly. Decent lacing.

Aroma is quite strong alcohol presence, dark fruits and sweet dark coffee in the background [seemed strange for the style].

Taste was quite sweet, dark fruits and some dark chocolate undertones.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied and rather lifeless. Flat.

Overall, I give North Coast kudos for making a decent dubble. Seemed too sweet and lacking in complexity of a great dubbel, but a decent effort.

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Photo of xymyl
4.42/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vibrant deep mahogany red with a thin tan head that stays at about a quarter inch,and good lacing. Highly carbonated and easy to stir the head back up again.

Nose is sweet and spicy with brown sugar, plumb, banana, licorice, smoke and slight latex notes. A lot of other stuff going on, but I'll move on...

Taste is sweet up front with strong cherry and plumbs and a spiciness carried along by the alcohol. Caramel and bready bicsuit notes eventually release some huge pepper at the finish. There is a lot more going on here but I'm going to kick back and listen to some Miles Davis, that's right, Miles. When I find a Miles beer I'll listen to Sonny and when I find a Sonny beer, then, THEN I'll listen to Thelonious.

Medium full in body. I heard bad things, but this is very much my speed. Need to try and get more. Nice!

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Photo of udubdawg
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle

Pours a nice clear mohagany color, with a quickly receding yellowish tan head. Lacing is very intricate at first but within the first third of a glass is done. Looks pretty inticing.

The spice and fruit made me think of sweet and sour sauce at first sniff, but as I delve further I detect a lot of carmelized sugar, some plum and other dark fruit, and a lot of alcohol. Overall quite vinous.

Pretty tasty, but it takes a bit to get over the alcohol - it is quite strong. However instead of increasingly warming the mouth I find I get used to it. Maybe this is a good local anaesthetic! Otherwise it is sweet and fruity, with a bready malt background. I find that by the time I pour a second glass that I'm thankful for the alcohol which has beaten back what I expect would otherwise be a cloyingly sweet brew.

Overall carbonation is a bit high especially at first, which I suppose made the initial alcohol sting seem a bit worse. A little thin, and a little harsh, but nothing to really complain about. A little more body would go well with all this warmth and general sipping nature.

recorked and finished a few hours later - while a glass was enjoyable, the overall drinkability isn't terribly high.

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Photo of phishgator
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 ML bottle into a chalice glass. The deep ruby is thick looking and the head is a tight carbonation of white and a tint of red. The aroma is a slight raisin, plum, sour fruit. The flavor is close to a dubbel; the sourness and malty sweetness mix well. Body is medium to heavy; very slick coating of the palate. One bottle is all I would want and probably out of a 12 OZ. Worth a try and someone may find this exceptional.

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Photo of jwc215
3.37/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours medium brown with a thin head that soon becomes pond-scummy. Some, but not much, trailing lace slides down the glass.

The smell is of sweet dark malt and prunes with a light peppery spice.

The taste is of sweet malt - caramelish with biscuity/bready yeast as it warms. Sugar candy dominates the dark prune-like fruitiness. Peppery spiciness is in a warming finish.

The body is light-to-medium. Pretty smooth for an aggressive abv.

Too sweet without much else, for me. Worth splitting with a friend, and for a good cause. A decent stab at the style, but put it next to an authentic Belgian dubbel...and, well...

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Photo of MrBen
4.55/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

If you're looking for a straightforward Belgian, this is a fine choice. Nothing too complex here, but you get loads of the sweet and estery goodness that make for an enjoyable dubbel.

Pours a rusty tan color with moderate head and lacing. Fruity, sweet nose, silky mouthfeel, and very drinkable. The beer's 9% ABV is hidden pretty well under a cloak of traditional Belgian flavors. A very nice beer, indeed.

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Photo of acrawf6
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a dark brown amber with a tan head.

Smell. Very sweet, scents of molassis, little bit of chocolate and raisons. Sweet and fruity, with the fruit aromas being more of a preservative smell, currents and figs are what i get the most.

Taste. It has a very strong earthy taste to it with the yeasty flavors. Not as sweet as the aroma, but still sweet. After a few sips, the fruit flavors come out for me that are a fresher taste of fruits than other dubbels have. Raisons and prunes are the biggest flavors i get. I taste no real presence of alcohol, but it is warming as i swallow. Aftertaste is creamy and i get a more roasted maltiness that is a little smokey. There is a little bit of a pepperiness after the swallow.

Mouthfeel. Body is at a nice and medium/slightly full. Lots of carbonation, and a good balance.

Overall, I like this one. It has nice flavors and a good level of drinkability to make this one to really enjoy. I certainly like it, and plan to get more, but not before others in the style...i think there is better for the same price.

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Photo of roblowther
3.89/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml corked & caged, a good start. Can Northcoast beat the rap that all CA breweries add enough hops that their styles should have the extension "/IPA". We'll see...
Pours a clear brownish red with a thin tan head that dissipates quickly leaving no appreciable lacing. The smell is rum-soaked fruits, oranges & raisins. Phenols add highlights. Good...
The taste is creamy and malty. None of the fruits come through really. Nice smoky aftertaste with a dry finish that smacks of cloves. Nice sweetness to the brew, it does indeed taste like a dubbel! Not the complexity I'd like to see but not the hop assault I feared, either! The mouthfeel is crisp & smooth, but a bit watery, at least for something so malty. The drinkability is good. Alcohol warmth lets you know its there without beating you about the head & shoulders. The finish isn't too dry & the start isn't too sweet. Nice. Overall, a fine beer & one I'd buy again on occasion.

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Was anxious to try this, and I finally found one at the Raleigh, NC Whole Foods. It's good, but not as great as some of the hype led me to believe...

Pours a caramel-ruby color, with a foamy tan head on top. Small bits of lace are revealed as the glass empties.

Smells of toffee, raisin, plum, other dark fruits, toasted grain, yeast.

Flavor of pumpernickel, coarse grain, rough bitter hops, balanced by big dark fruits, toasted rye cracker, caramel, and alcohol warmth. Earthy yeast in the background. As it warms, bigger fruit elements emerge (cherry and prune). As nice as all that sounds, it seemed that something was missing...wasn't as satisfying or together as many authentic Belgian dubbels, although I did enjoy it for what it does have to offer.

A big hearty flavor, not smooth or soft, a bit wild, reminds me of homebrew in some ways. A nice experience, but tough to get a feel for it...I'd like the opportunity to try another against this first one. Maybe on-tap is the way to go next time.

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Photo of joeskirkie
4.5/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big ol 750 mL bottle. I can't find any kind of bottled date but I'm not too concerned.

In the chalice it's a mostly opaque brown with ruby and caramel highlights when held to the light. Nice head, about as thick as my thumb, and laced pretty well.

The nose has some cherry, bread (banana bread, actually) chocolate, and a bit of a spice to it, like nutmeg. I absolutely love it.

Chocolate first on the tongue, then banana bread, then some more chocolate with cherry hints. It's like a dessert but its not too heavy.

It's a good medium body, not too heavy; I'm actually quite refreshed by it.

This one may have helped sway my choice of favorite style. I'll have to move one into my beginner cellar.

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Photo of wagenvolks
4.32/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber into a chalice.

The Monk pours a gorgeous deep amber hue with a thick beige head that recedes quickly leaving light lacing. Creeping in around the edges is some ruby red, giving depth to the dark tea-colored dubbel. The aroma is both complex and enticing: big fruit presence up front with notes of raisin, plum, and prune. Alcohol esters show up sharply with a deeper inhale. Even further still are smoky bacon hints, some biscuity malt notes, and sassafrass.

Fruit dominates the palate upon the first swig, as pear, prune, and cranberry are complemented with a big alcohol presence. The alcohol gives the tongue a nice workout, but it doesn't overpower the flavor. As it warms, a huge malty backbone balances well with a touch of spicy hops. The mouthfeel is dry, smooth, crisp, and mellow as Thelonious himself. A great fruity finish caps this one off, as well as a bit of bitterness. Overall, this is a tasty, aromatic, and very smooth-drinking dubbel. Another amazing offer from the rarely-disappointing North Cost.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Initially pours a pretty cloudy dark garnet color with a small 1/8" head of tan bubbles after a careful pour. The head settles pretty quickly and ends up as a small ring within a minute. There are some bubbles rising slowly to the top, but they don't maintain the head. There is very little lacing left on the glass after drinking the beer.

Aroma: When I first poured it, I got a bit of roast and a whole bunch of fruit characteristic of the Belgian yeast running warm during the primary fermentation. As the beer sits for a little bit, these aromatics change and the malty sweetness is coming out a lot more. Getting deeper into the aroma gives way to some dark caramel, a dry toasty aromatic malt character, as well as some evident peppery spice from the alcohol.

Taste: The flavor is really fruity like the aroma first suggested. The yeast esters are the first and primary thing you notice, but the malt is definitely a big part of the flavor as well. It doesn't take long for the alcohol to show up and spice things up quite a bit. There is some balance to the sweetness that comes from hops, but they are not a dominant part of the flavor. The alcohol warms up the throat all the way to the belly after the sip and it stays with you for quite some time. The low carbonation makes it come across your palate a bit heavy and it would benefit from some more.

Opinion: This beer is pretty decent. It is quite fruity for my taste, as I like my Dubbels a bit closer to the malt profile of a Bock. This one reminds me more of how homebrewed examples taste. The malt is a bit raw here, and this beer would probably benefit from a bit more ageing. There is nothing wrong with this beer, but it isn't one of my absolute favorites. I would drink it again if someone else was passing it around, but I doubt I will buy another bottle.

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Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.78 out of 5 based on 2,950 ratings.
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