Tag Archives: North Coast

Brother Thelonious



Brother Thelonious is the perfect marriage of Belgian ale and jazz. I love Belgian beer, and I love jazz, so North Coast Brewing’s Brother Thelonious, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale named after jazz great Thelonious Monk has a special place in my heart. This beer pours a rich dark golden brown with a champagne-like head that doesn’t hang around very long. The nose is mild and Belgian in character, with some apricot, plum, and yeast notes. The middle ticks all the right boxes but with flavors that are brighter and less subtle than you’d often see in a traditional Belgian offering. It’s fruity and malty with plum, cherry, and vanilla. These are the things you’d expect from a prototypical Belgian Strong Dark Ale, though there’s a bit of artificiality to it, as if the cherry were of the maraschino variety rather than picked fresh off a tree, for instance. The alcohol (9.4% ABV) comes through strongly in the finish giving it some heat, and there’s a bit of prune in there at the end as well. ¬†All of the characteristics are right, but the execution here is just a bit off. This is a fun beer and I enjoy it for the marketing tie-in with jazz and the style they’ve chosen, but it’s not what I’d want to use to introduce someone to the Belgian Strong Dark Ale style. North Coast Brewing is an outstanding brewery, and they have some amazing beers, but this isn’t one of their best.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Old Rasputin


An American classic. Old Rasputin is a Russian Imperial Stout from the master brewers of California’s North Coast Brewing Co. Widely recognized as a world class beer, this was one of the first craft beers I was introduced to, and it was instrumental in building my interest in the wide world of beers outside of the macros. The head is a heavy, sticky dark brown that reminds me of frothing motor oil. The beer is not quite pitch black, but close. Hold it up to a white light and you can see the tiniest hint of dark red luminescence. The nose is bready with coffee and chocolate. The middle is quite bitter and dry, with burnt coffee and cocoa in the fore. That transitions quickly into a sweet finish with chocolate syrup dominating. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a substantial presence at 9% ABV, though it doesn’t materially affect the flavor, perhaps just adding a bit of effervescence right at the tail end of the finish. This beer is a universally recognized timeless classic, and even if it isn’t your style, is a beer that every craft beer aficionado should try at least once so as to understand what makes up a truly exceptional Russian Imperial Stout.

I give it a 4.8 out of 5.