Review of North Coast Brother Thelonious

10 Aug
Today, I have a craft beer that I have been eagerly waiting to try for some time.  It’s the Brother Thelonious.  A Belgian Style Abbey Ale brewed by the North Coast Brewing Company located in Fort Bragg, California.

I have read some mixed reviews of this beer.  Some have not been very favorable, but of the North Coast brews I’ve tried so far, they have all seemed to be well made and worthwhile, so I’m hoping for the best.   

The description from the website,, had this to say about the Brother Thelonious. 
Like a Belgian “Dark Strong Ale”, the beer is rich and robust with an ABV of 9.3%.  The package is a 750 ml bottle with a traditional cork and wire finish or 12 oz. 4 packs and features a label picturing the jazz master himself. 
Well…. not much to go on there.
My sample came in a 12 oz. bottle and has an ABV of 9.3%.
This brew poured a dark burgundy, deep reddish/brown color.  Some ruby highlights glistened at the bottom of the snifter.  A nice, full, creamy, tight, khaki colored head was formed from an easy pour.  I thought the retention time was somewhat of a disappointment.  It didn’t stick around nearly as long as I thought it might.  The head quickly settled to a creamy ring with a slight film.  With that being said, the lacing that was left behind was more than adequate.  
The aroma brought forth some proper dark, fruity tones of figs, dates and cherries.  I even detected a fragrance of well ripened bananas.  A definitive alcohol note was noticed along with a very yeasty/bready smell.  Some sugary caramel and spicy cloves started to make their way to the forefront as the brew acclimated to room temperature.  I thought the aroma was more than satisfactory.  Well balanced, forthcoming and complex.  Tons of stuff going on here.
As I sipped on the Brother Thelonious I noticed a strong fig profile.  Sweet cherries and raisins aided by a bit of caramel and even a touch of cinnamon took care of my sweet tooth.  After a few moments, the yeast and clove savors really started to take hold in the taste.  They removed some of the sharpness from the sweetness and helped create a more well rounded and “smooth” taste.  The alcohol flavoring was there, but it didn’t seem to be as noticeable in the taste as it was in the aroma.  Again, well balanced, complex and harmonious. 
This beer had a sturdy, medium mouthfeel.  It was smooth, dry and a bit chewy.  It covered the palate very well and left enough flavor behind for me to enjoy between sips.  A very smooth, soothing alcohol warmth was felt, but it was none too “hot” or distracting. 
This is, without question, a very solid brew in my opinion.  I found it to be good all around.  Plenty of flavor and aroma for most any craft beer enthusiast.  It’s not highly drinkable however.  I started to become somewhat full and bloated as I neared the end of the drink.  It would probably be more of an after dinner “sipper” for me.  Now, I don’t necessarily think that it is the best Abbey I’ve ever had, but it’s nowhere near the worst.  Either way it’s worth a try if you can obtain it. 
Have you guys ever tried the Brother Thelonious?  What did you think of it?  
Please feel free to leave a comment if you wish.  
Thanks, as always, for reading.  
Score:  3.85 out of 5
Grade:  B+ 
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Posted by on August 10, 2011 in Country: USA, North Coast


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