Beerthirst August 9, 2015 Comments Off on ? BROTHER THELONIUS & THE LE MERLES – BIG HITS, SMALL FORMAT ?


North Coast Brewing isn’t just an institution within the US and Northern California craft beer scenes, the ties they have made between themselves and the local jazz community runs extremely deep as well! From being the soul brewery partner for the longest running jazz festival in the world – Monterey Jazz Festival since as far back as 2006. They are a big supporter of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazzproviding proceeds from every case of Brother Thelonius Belgian Style Abbey Ale sold to the school and allowing the jazz education to reach new heights. If that wasn’t already enough, they are also proud sponsors of the following jazz events that happen throughout the year – Newport Jazz Festival, San Francisco Jazz festivals, American Jazz Museum’s 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival, Portland Jazz FestivalOregon Coast Jazz Party, Northamptom Jazz Festival, Montclair Jazz Festival, Jazz House Kids, Mendocino Music Festival, Mendocino Coast Jazz Society and Redwood Jazz Alliance. So we can see their passion for both craft beer and jazz is influential Tweet This.

Now back to the primary vision of the brewery and making some of their world class Belgian-style recipes in the portfolio, we take a closer look at Le Merle, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale named to celebrate brewmaster Mike Ruedrich’s wife and her continued support since the brewery has been up and running. This beer is not to be taken lightly, the awareness that comes along with it is quite intriguing and if you’ve yet to have you palate make acquaintances with said beer, we suggest you change that as soon as possible. 

This day and age, everyone seems to be looking for ” what’s new?? ”  while leaving other products behind in the process that have established their knowledge along the way. So it seems fitting to look upon some craft beers that have brought us this far and to where we are, with that, we wanted to pay homeage to these quintessential crafted brews as we now have access to 355ml 4 packs since previously only seeing 750ml bottles in our local market. We hope that your are just excited as us to hear this news and will spread the word amongst craft enthusiasts – new and old. Cheers!

IMG_1451*** no bees were hurt in this photo session ***

North Coast Brewing  Co – Brother Thelonius Belgian Style Abbey Ale – Rate Beer – 96 Beer Advocate – 85 Untappd – 3.86

ABV – 9.4% IBUs – 32 Availability – 4 x 355ml & 750ml

Silver Medal – 2006 World Beer Championships

Before even cracking into this beer, you have to acknowledge, that’s one beautiful label. Continuing on with North Coast’s adherence to using local talent, they knew there was one local artist to reach out to – Eduardo Smissen. Essentially. this is his painting and interpretation of Thelonious Monk which went on to win a Gold Medal in the Creativity Category from the Beverage Testing Institute’s World Beer Championships Packaging Competition. You may also notice the banner near the bottom of the bottle, this is actually North Coast Brewing’s motto – “Carpe Diem Vita Brevis”—”Life is short, seize the day”. With that bit of knowledge let’s taste the beer.

Brother Thelonious pours offs a rich, dark and deep mahogany with a head that’s cappuccino-esque. With this warm breeze today, gentle wafts of the nose make it’s way to the senses – complex dark fruits like dates, figs, raisins, pomegranate, hints of leathery tobacco, sweet honeysuckle, yeasty esters……some body grab a cigar for this one! Pleasant carbonation with a big and heavy mouth feel. On the palate you’ll find sweet smoky molasses, booze soaked plums, toasted biscuits, a lovely bittering to off set the dark sugars and an amazing warming sensation that reminds me of being a kid and enjoying a big cup of hot chocolate on a Fall evening. The balance on this beer is unbelievable and magical, yes it’s 9.4 ABV, so be aware. If I had a library filled with leather bound books, over-sized couches and a smoking jacket – this would be my drink of choice……seeing that I don’t, this is still my drink of choice. This beer will take you to new worlds, making you feel as if you’re a king…or queen and drinking the most sought after beverage around. Elegance!

Food pairing – a hearty beef stew with rustic root vegetables, a crusty french loaf of bread and baked figs with crumbled goat cheese, honey and chopped pistachios for dessert. 


North Coast Brewing  Co – Le Merle Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale – Rate Beer – 95 Beer Advocate – 88 Untappd – 3.74

ABV – 7.9% IBUs – 26 Availability – 4 x 355ml & 750ml

Gold Medals – 2012 Brussels Beer Challenge & 2006 World Beer Championships

Moving away from the darker style and into something more on the refreshing scale, though keeping that Belgian-style theme however. Something to sip on after a hard day’s work out on the field, nothing quite like a Saison-style to do the trick. Though I still have some yard work to do today, one before and after is ok, right?! Le Merle ( the blackbird ) is that beer people talk about, the one that went to Brussels and won Gold, remember North Coast hails from California…….in the US…….that says quite a bit about the quality of product they are crafting doesn’t it. Let’s take a look for ourselves.

Le Merle bolsters a straw-like haze when poured off with a soft tumbling white head. On the nose you’ll find some horse blanket from the barnyard, floral notes with some spice, some bright tropical pineapple, papaya, tart apples as well. Low carbonation with a resinous body and a big mouth fell. Across the palate –  freshly cut green apples, some thick apricot notes, present fruity Belgian yeast strains, candied sugar, some slight grainy malts, a quaint tang moving through to a great bittering profile before everything dries out on the finish. This beer has a lot of different levels to it, complexity yet very balanced. I can only imagine working in the Wallonia area in Belgium and only being able to drink 5 gallons per day of a refreshing beer style, granted I doubt they would have been as delicious as this gem right here.

Food pairing – prawn ceviche with papaya and pineapple, roasted citrus glazed chicken., fresh salad greens with gouda, for dessert – amaretto soaked lady fingers, fresh custard topped with apricots and roasted almonds.

Brussels Beer Challenge Gold Medal
Your beer is really amazing and you deserve your gold medal in a truly classic Belgian style.”

–Luc De Raedemaeker, co-founder and tasting director, Brussels Beer Challenge

“More than a serious beer—it is outstanding…. Dizzying, appetizing, refreshing.”

–The Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson

“Best Cult Brew”

–SF Weekly 2010

“A heavenly American Saison—Highly Recommended”

–Celebrator Beer News



These North Coast Brewing Co products and more are available at most of these fine private liquor stores.

For updates on these products and more, follow us on Twitter and  Facebook


For updates on these products and more, follow us on Twitter ( Calgary, Edmonton ) and Facebook.

Keep those tastes buds quenched!!!

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