In observance of the most angrily contentious Hugo Awards in recent memory, if not history, I'm purposefully not watching the live stream so as to not completely lose my faith in humanity. Instead, I'm drinking a beer and sharing the experience with you. I've long had my eye on Brother Thelonius Belgian Style Abbey Ale from North Coast Brewing Company, and yesterday I pulled the trigger, picking up a bottle. There's something about uncorking a big, complex Belgian that builds the anticipation. The process of drinking one is more wine-like than polling open a brewski, and that ambiance tends to make Belgians more of a luxurious, indulgent experience. For me at any rate.
First off, the beer pours a rich, clear mahogany color. Very pretty. The head is creamy, sand-colored, and while it doesn't grow very high, it persists for quite a while (30 minutes as I type this). The scent is strong on malts, as expected, but also toffee, vanilla and a hint of chocolate. Mouthfeel is rich and well-rounded, with excellent body for this beer's 9.4 percent alcohol content. The flavor is upfront with molasses and coffee overtones. There's a mild bitterness toward the back (hops?) and dark, sour cherries. The aftertaste is almost citrusy. This is a very dense flavor profile, not broad or expansive. It's complex, but very compact, concentrated. My favorite Belgians have a flavor profile that's expansive, bigger than the bottle that contained them, as it were. This one's the opposite of that, concentrated. This doesn't make Brother Thelonius a bad brew, but it's not amongst my favorites. As with all big Belgians, the flavors are richer and more rewarding as it approaches room temperature.
Overall, it's a solid effort. Not bad, but not great. Definitely a middle of the pack example of the basic Belgian abbey ale. Would drink again without a problem, but probably wouldn't seek it out.
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