Author’s Note: It has been five months since my last Beer of the Month nomination. I have been focusing a lot more on homebrew over the past few months, so I haven’t been drinking as much commercial stuff as I have in the past. Either way, that is way too long, and this December I am going to close out 2009 with a beer fury. As Mike Tomlin, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, said after their recent loss to the Ravens, “We will not go gently. We will unleash hell in December.”
North Coast has long been one of my favorite breweries. My love of their beers began with the Old Rasputin Imperial Russian Stout, which I rank right up there with Great Divide’s Yeti as my favorite stouts on the earth. I finally got my hands on one of their legendary beers that I had not yet experienced, Brother Thelonious.
North Coast is a big fan and supporter of jazz music and named Brother Thelonious after famous jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. For each case of Brother Thelonious that they sell, North Coast makes a contribution to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. They are also the official brewery of several jazz festivals, including the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Brother Thelonious is a Belgian-style abbey ale. Much like the musician this beer was named for, this is a smooth, yet complex brew. It’s a dark red ale, and the color forebodes the flavor within. It’s full-bodied, upwards of 9% ABV.
The aroma has fruit and spice all over it. Raisins, prunes and currants all dance together as if in a Sufi whirling ceremony. The finish coats the tongue in a sweet sugary glaze and lingers for many moments, leaving me in a Belgian trance.
I very much enjoy the mellow intensity of this beer. My senses cry out for more, and alas, I shall have another glass.