Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tasting notes - Brother Thelonius

Oh brother, thou art yummy. Just as I was in the midst of writing up another "reward offered" post for the newest in must-have releases, Des walks in with a surprise bottle of the object of my desires - North Coast's newest addition to their Belgian-inspired beauties, the dark strong Brother Thelonius. A compositional hero and certainly one of the most individually powerful voices in American music from the past century, it's about time for Monk to be canonized with such a reverent, meticulously crafted namesake as the folks up in Ft. Bragg have done.

Straight to the point - to the point, no fakin'.
Pouring a robust mahogany with hints of red, with the fine carbonation and tight-knit head that's the hallmark of 750mL bottle-conditioning, it definitely owes much to the hallowed abbey ale tradition. Unlike many of its dubbel cousins, however, the aroma isn't a muddy wash of fruity, banana-y yeast phenolics. Instead, it has a precise, unfussy character that shows off a clean fermentation with a nose that's all spice and dark berries, against a malty backdrop of chocolate, toffee and toast. While its profile opens up a bit as it warms up to reveal its 9% soul, its complexity is delivered with such purposeful intent, it seems wholly appropriate in honor of its subject (of course I'd like to believe that Brilliant Corners was piped into the brewhouse while fermentation was underway).
It's also nice to know that a portion of the proceeds from all Brother T-related merchandise (complete with obligatory "Straight, No Chaser" inscription) goes to benefit the Monk Institute, a jazz education and outreach program whose mission is "to offer the world's most promising young musicians college level training by America's jazz masters and to present public school-based jazz education programs for young people around the world." It's a cause that I'm more than delighted to support, even if helping out means having to buy a few cases of the stuff.

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