Hats off to North Coast Brewing and their nod to jazz legend Thelonious Monk with their North Coast Brother Thelonious Belgian-style Abbey Ale, poured a chestnut amber hue into the glass with a large, frothy off-white head. The nose was led by stewed fruit, burnt caramel, spiced cloves, herbal tea, and soft banana notes.
North Coast Brother Thelonious stayed true to the nose upon drinking, with figs, dates, raisins, and peaty Scotch opening the palette before settling into earthier notes of tobacco, tea, and orange peel. The ale gained a phenolic characteristic as it warmed, with bananas and clove coming through and giving way to candi sugar, which added a touch of sweetness to the experience. As the ale faded it left a sticky, dried fruit aftertaste with heat that lingered long after the last sip.
North Coast Brother Thelonious Abbey Ale is an interesting American take on the abbey-style ale, and hits most of the right notes. Despite the complexity of the ale, it is missing some of the depth and range from the traditional Belgian style it mimics, and there is a notable lack of creaminess exacerbated by slight over-carbonation. Minor gripes for an otherwise excellent beer.