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.