Brother Thelonious

The great jazz musician Thelonious Sphere Monk. Known for his dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists. His  unorthodoxies on the piano remind me of the unorthodoxies of his namesake beer. But as his piano work influenced jazz for decades to come, this beer just reminds you where differences can go wrong.

You see, North Coast’s Brother Thelonious is nominally a Belgian Strong Dark. It definitely smells like the dark fruits and malts you are expecting from a strong dark, but when you taste it, there is something… missing. Usually a strong dark is attacking the senses from every direction, and you have this feeling that it is everything that beer can be. This falls flat. There is a bit of spice, and a bit more brown sugar. There is malt. There is fermented fruit. There is plenty of tartness, and just a memory of bitterness. Don’t get me wrong, it is still smooth and tasty, just compared to “everything a beer can be,” it doesn’t hold up.

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Red Eye Coffee Porter

The nuptials are over, and do you know what means? Time for beer! A special beer from Two Brothers, part of their Retro Series. As part of two Brother’s 15th Anniversary in 2012 they re-released 15 of their earlier beers. The Red Eye Coffee Porter was first brewed in the Spring of 2009 and due to popular acclaim was temporarily brought back in the fall of 2009. Now it is back as part of this special offering. It is a great example of American Beer recipe ingenuity. Take some rye, which is popular in German Brews, take a Porter from England, Americanize it, and throw in some coffee beans, not technically traditional in Porter, but we don’t take kindly to tradition in these parts.

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The days of summer are ending and that means no more ice cream shops, but fear not, take a sniff of this beer and you will be taken right back there. Take a sip. Yes I know. You still think that you are in the ice cream shop. I had to bring you back to reality, but you aren’t. Your probably sitting at home, but you are drinking Red Eye Coffee Porter and that is good.

You would kind of expect more bitterness from so dark a beer, but it is a big beer and the hops are downplayed, but as the beer warms up, the bitterness along with the spiciness from the rye really comes forward and rounds it out nicely.

The carbonation is very low, which is immediately noticeable as soon as you start pouring. The off-white head is small and does not last long. The lacing does not last on the glass. On the other hand, the body is big, real big. All of this contributes to the milk-shake like consistency of the beer. The color is of very dark brown, virtually black, and no light can make it through. This beer is thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m wishing that the beer wasn’t a limited release.

What should you pair this with you might ask? I paired it with the Great Gatsby movie, but your morning Wheaties (assuming you don’t have anywhere else to go after a 9.2% ABV beer)  would be an equally appropriate for this Coffee Porter.

Founders Breakfast Stout for Breakfast?

What other time are you suppose to drink a Breakfast Stout?

It’s made with two different kinds of coffee, and there is a distinct coffee flavor.  It is very smooth, and tastes a lot like this particular Nicaraguan coffee that I enjoy (if you threw in a little chocolate and Irish cream). It is bitter, it is smooth, and it is massive in both body and alcohol. It certainly made my subsequent trip to Target a bit more interesting. I bet it would go great with a bowl of oatmeal.  I had no oatmeal, I instead had delicious doughnuts.

The first doughnut was sweet and intensely chocolate. It probably was a little too sweet to pair with the beer. I did think it improved the doughnut by cutting through the cloying sweetness. Fruit Loops covered the other doughnut. It tasted much better. Maybe that picture on the label is trying to tell you something. The fruit loop doughnut was a better balanced doughnut in general, and I enjoyed it a lot more. There is a reason you drink coffee with donuts, this is just a modern interpretation.