Day Two - North Coast Brewing Co. Brother Thelonious (USA, 9.4%)
Brother Thelonious has been on my 'must drink' list for almost exactly two years. I know this because my dad gave me a copy of Adrian Tierney-Jones' 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die for Christmas in 2014, in which this brew features. I was instantly taken with the label, which features jazz great Thelonious Monk decked out in a habit and holding a foaming chalice of ale. And on top of that, with every bottle sold the brewery makes a donation to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, an organisation offering free jazz education to children all around the world. Despite my keenness to try it, this bottle has been in my possession for about 9 months, consistently pushed aside in favour of something with a more sensible ABV.
I'm glad I saved it for the festive period, anyway, because although it isn't sold as a Christmas beer, it does a lot of the same things. The aroma is pure fruit cake - plums, currants, almonds - and the malt character suggests sticky confectionery - treacle, caramel, a faint suggestion of chocolate - without being exactly sweet. It's boozy in the best way, never burning as you drink but leaving a pleasingly fiery sensation in the chest which is perfect for a chilly winter's evening. It also has a staggeringly long finish, ultimately culminating in a gentle dryness.
I had intended to listen to Monk's Dream, one of my all-time favourite jazz records, whilst drinking this, but instead I opted for the far less classy pairing with not-quite-classic festive farce The Ref, and that's a recipe for a great Christmassy evening in. So good I might do it again next year.