1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $14.99 (US/print only). Offer ends April 30. Subscribe now! (Because great beer deserves great stories AND readers.)

Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Not Rated.
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

748 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 748
Reviews: 364
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 14.11%
Wants: 73
Gots: 101 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (32) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 748 | Reviews: 364
Reviews by Ryanm1:
Photo of Ryanm1
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 ounce cage and cork into a glass. Poured really brown dark in color. Moderate amount of white lacing.

Sweet smell, typical of Belgian quads, tastes of dried dark fruit such as plums, raisins and dates. Thick and syrupy that is a beer that takes a lot of time to finish. The 11 percent abv is noticeable with the smell of alcohol. Also the taste of alcohol is present at the finish similar to a glass of wine. Otherwise the finish was excellent. You can also notice the legs on the glass when finished.

More User Reviews:
Photo of don1481
4.54/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Bottle poured into fancy glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown with a hint of red. Head dies down quickly with no lacing.

Smell: plums, candy sugar, brown sugar, molasses. Yummy.

Taste: very bright plums, raisins, brown sugar. Basically the nose, but with more of a bright bold hit. Catches you off guard. For 11 percent ABV, this is very well hidden.

Mouthfeel: chewy and a bit sticky. Definitely leaves a residual stickiness to it. Sweet aftertaste.

Overall: VERY impressed. I love a good quad and this is up there with the top tier.

Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a darker shade of borwn with a real nice sticky head thats seems to dissapte quickly,great aroma of raisins and light chocolate with some definent alcohol notes.The raisin seems to be the dominant flavor I get with some syrupy flavors as well.A touch of nuttiness and alcohol makes this a nice warmer,I have alot of bottle to drink yet wish me luck.

Photo of Popsinc
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark brown pour with a medium tan head. Semi sweet nose. Molasses, grapes & black currant. Light roasted notes as well. Taste wise this brew was ru\ich and sweet...deacdent w/ a port-like grape sweetness. Underlying burnt sugars. Alcohol warmth. Nice lingering flavors. Great combo of fruit and alcohol. The mouthfeel was rich and creamy, sticky and sweet, thick n syrupy. This was quite the decadent, dessert beer. A great cold weather sipper, however, a little too sweet to have several.

Photo of SIRIUS2
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into chalice style glass.

Pours a syrupy dark brown to near black, very small head that diminishes to a rather dense short layers of off-white foam. Light lacing.

Lots of dark fruit and hints of alcohol. Heavy sweet malts come to mind as you inhale.

I was a bit surprised by the sweetness that envelops the tongue on the first swig. I know this is considered a strong dark ale but it seemed more like a very sweet barley wine. Very sweet and heavy in the mouth, with the strong flavor of fig most present.

This is quite a brew. Rather a bit syrupy for my taste but it doesn't necessarily taste bad. As for the style of a strong dark Belgian ale, I suppose, but it's closer to cough syrup. I did enjoy it overall though and if you are feeling adventurous, give it a shot.

Photo of Todd
4.8/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A "donker" beer, brewed in 1999 (mine was). A dark brown brew. Very rich and malty with a port-like finish. Sweet bliss in a bottle with a shelf life of over 25 years. One of my favourite of the sweet dark beers that I tried when in Belgium (March 2000).

Photo of Beaver13
1.88/5  rDev -54.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

750ml bottle, bottled on 070924 (9/24/07?). Pours a murky brown with a small head that quickly goes to a tiny collar.

The aroma is subdued. It has some sweet caramel and toffee malts, some oak, a little dark fruit, and a bit of oxidization and alcohol.

The flavor is very sweet sugary malts and molasses, a little cola and fruit with a big sugary finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and syrupy.

Overall, this is way overly sweet. It's a bit of a treacly mess. As it warms and I get accustomed to the sweetness a little nutty malt and banana come out. So there's some complexity, but the sweetness overwhelms everything and makes it rather unpleasant.

Photo of Billolick
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a growler purchased at Half Time, pours dark mahogony, seems to be pretty low in carbonation, mellow head, with just minor lacing observed. Nose is nicely glowing with cola, vanilla, bourbon and spice. Strong late night sipper kind of brew. Plenty of dark candi sugars, cola, alcohol, complexity etc to please all the strong beer/quad lovers out there. Character, boldness obviously evident, well worth a try if you like the style, not for everybody, but certaintly for me! A treat and in nice shape on tap/growler.

Photo of jcdiflorio
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Chimay challice from a stubby fire plug looking bottle. A mirky muddy brown with a light tan collar with some very tiny bubbles stringing from the sides of the glass barely visible.Leves somes nice webs of lace down the glass

Sweet dark fruityness lots of prune and currants,carmell candy,butterscotch,earthy with a vinious sweetness. Vey malty and complex

Very sweet overripe dark fruit tastes upfront, some nice boozy tastes with a warming feel.candy sugaryness throughout with some burnt carmell flavors near the finish.Mouthwatering bitterness fading out the end of the taste.

Cloying,with some stickyness yet smooth and suprizing drinkability.

Photo of afoltz2
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer rates well for me because of the experience that went along with it, which was "Beer School," one Sunday afternoon at the Beer Trappe in Lexington, Ky. I say that not because it reminds me of a good experience, but part of Beer School is learning about the beers you sample, how they are crafted, what distinct flavors, smells, and feels should be, and you get to compare samples from the same class of beer side by side.

I went to Beer School with my cousin Tony, another beer lover, whose taste differs from mine. I prefer stouts and lagers, he prefers witbiers and hefeweizens. We agreed that both the Kasteel Donker had the best flavor and feel among the six that were sampled that day, all of which were bock beers. I brought home several of the ones I liked to increase my sample size, and reconfirmed that the Kasteel was best in class.

For having a high ABV, this brew does not have a strong alcohol taste to it. It was surprisingly smooth, and the roasted malt flavor was strong but not overpowering beginning and end of taste. I drank from the bottle, like a heathen, so I cannot comment on the pour or the color, sadly, and I will drink from proper glassware next time I try one so I can update my review.

In short, if you like bock-style beers, this is definintely one to try and enjoy!

Photo of MrMichael
4.97/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A
Very dark. There was a little foam, but it quickly went away

S
Dominated by dark, dried fruit.

T
A little fruity. It was sweeter than I expected, but incredible. There's a little coffee or red wine note as well

M
Smooth with very light carbonation

O
This is one of the best beers I've ever had. The one I had was part of a Belgian sampler and I went out the next day and bought a whole case.

Photo of BGDrock
3.36/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: dark brown, clear body; mocha head fades out quick, but it was poured in a chalice

Aroma: rye bread, tin, caramel, roast malt, dates, banana

Taste & Mouthfeel: super sweet and syrupy, a feel which is accentuated by the low carbonation - it really is like drinking American "maple" syrup; banana, dates, candy sugar dominate, and a whisper of chocolate, breath of alcohol, appear in the finish; kind of like coke or root beer, but without the carbonation

Overall: only barely avoids being cloying, the lack of suds or balance to provide a break from the sweetness hurts the beer's potential - teetering on the edge of being a very good brew; it's difficult to finish the bottle

Photo of rwathree
3.3/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle, poured into a snifter. Had this once before three years ago at a private tasting. I'll admit right away that I remembered a different beer than the one I had last night.

A: Nice, dark brown color, but weak, barely-there head.

S: You can tell right away that this one's going to be sweet. Heavy commingling of brown sugar and raisin.

T: Overwhelmingly sweet at first, which threatens to ruin the beer from the get-go. After I got past that, I could appreciate some of the other elements, especially a pleasant, champagne-like effervescence.

M: For all it's sweetness, it's not an overly thick beer. Nice and rich, and the carbonation is pleasant.

D: On the plus side, the alcohol presence isn't too powerful. But that sweetness makes this hard going down.

I can see this going well with a rich cheesecake or something equally bold and sweet, and maybe it mellows over time. That said, I won't drink this again as a stand-alone beer, and don't think I could get through a 750ml. Not bad, but I'm not likely to revisit this (again).

Photo of DarrellK
4.63/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great expression of the style. The pour from the 750ml bottom produced a great foamy head that was quite peresistent and left a classic Belgian lace. Very dark with ruby hints, the aroma was there but not as strong as I might have imagined, mostly sweet and raisiny. Mostly a sweetish malt flavor with some raisin taste with a drying burlap finish. Shae a bottle for desert and you will make a friend, drink it alone and you will be asleep early.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in an long stemmed chalice)

A- This beer has a smooth creamy head on a dark dense brown thick body. I couldn't tell if there was any visible carbonation but it was low light in the bar.

S- Nice smell of dark sweet malts with notes of prunes and other dried fruit. A hint of molasses in the finish also.

T- This is deep complex flavors but hints of apples and prunes stuck out the most. As it warmed it became more of an apple juice flavor. However there were lots of other flavors like port and brown sugar with some prunes and red wine hints also.

M- Medium-light mouthfeel with a hint of alcohol but it doesn't feel like 11 %

D- This is a good complex malty beer that has great complexity. I happen to meet the brewer after I wrote my review and he said the kegs are all pasteurized but the bottles are still alive and kicking so I will have to try those next.

Photo of pwoods
3.61/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz. stubby 'Duvel' style brown bottle, purchased at Party Source, poured into a chalice.

A: Deep shoe leather pour that's completely opaque. A short fluffy head forms and holds for a bit before falling to a chunky skim. Decent lacing throughout.

S: Alcohol soaked dark fruits dominate most of the aroma. Some sweet caramel malts and maybe a touch of meatiness in the back.

T/M: Alcohol is very present and meets nicely with the dark, plump, pulpy fruits. More of the sweet caramel and light meaty flavor. Has a touch of sour/tart fruit flavor to it but very much an undertone. Still, it's not quite what I want. Body is nearly full but a syrupy feel to it. Lighter carbonation makes for a vinous feel.

D: This would be a very tasty brew if it weren't for that little bit of sour fruit in the back. Still, not terrible, and seems reasonably drinkable for a Quad.

Photo of ImperialStoat
1.42/5  rDev -65.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Ugh. This is like drinking alcoholic, knock-off brand cola.

It retains several elements of the best Quads, such as a smell of certain spices in the nose and a lingering taste of dark fruits (prunes, figs), but the syrupy-sweetness is so overpowering and one dimensional that I found it hard to notice much else.

Avoid.

Photo of dac
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Beeachwood BBQ, Seal Beach, CA. I have also had the bottled version.

Brown in color with a thick tan head which falls into a lace which clings to the sides of the glass.

While waiting for the too cold draught pour to warm up to room temperature cup the belgian
style glass between the hands to warm and enhale the delightful aromas of caramel, brown
sugar, cotton candy, prunes, banana and plethora of other unidentified esters.

Very malty and sweet, but with many complex flavors that are difficult to describe - prune,
raisen, brown sugar, bubblegum. Alcohol of 11%ABV with notable fusel content is impossible
to miss but enhances the experience.

Very drinkable, delicious, addicting. This is a substaintial beer that is excellent by
itself or with a hearty meal. Suitable for sipping after dinner or for breakfast.

Photo of RomanW70
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Pitcher's Pub in Cumberland, RI. Pours dark brown. Nice aroma of dark fruits, brown sugar, and a hint of alcohol. Flavor of dark fruits and brown suagr with a warming alcohol finish. Has a very vneous quality, Quite tasty, but very sweet, which is a little distracting. Underneath the sweetness is a beer with a loy of complexity. I enjoyed the beer, but it's defintely not an everyday beer.

Photo of DiUr
4.31/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown looking, almost black, with a thin beige head that leaves little lacing. Some yeast down there in the glass.

Deep aroma of dark fruits and malt, with a hint of yeast. Grapes, apples and figs. It resembles both the one of English Ales and Port-Red Wines, as complex as it sounds. You can almost smell the cork and wooden barell, and while sweet in the nose it is also slightly acidic, the kind of an old red wine. Alcohol is present.

The taste is very sweet, but quite delicious and somehow balanced. Dark fruits and Port wine, with alcohol noticeable and very little hops.

Thick and sirupy mouthfeel, but with good drinkability.

I don´t like my beers to be so sweet but it was done in a good way, and i learnt to love it while sipping. Had no problem in downing 75 cl., and i would definitely have this nectar again to get deeper in its complexities.

Photo of asabreed
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a wine glass.

Another beer from the cellar, purchased most likely in 2005. Best by date notched at 3/2010.

Appearance: A murky creek water reddish brown color, with some minnow-like bubbles floating to the top. Soapy and fairly quickly dissipating white but kind of off-white head leaves some droplets around the glass.

Smell: Toffee, caramel, and raisins at the forefront, with candied dark fruit, mild chocolate, and earthy and mildly funked up cider vinegar. Some bready, doughy, yeasty malt sweetness too. A bit of cookie cake. Maybe the murkiness of the brew means the yeast has somehow disseminated throughout the bottle before the pour, even though I was careful with it not to disturb the yeast. Heady and complex overall. No real traces of booze either.

Taste: Big up front raisins and toffee, with candied dark fruits and berries. Mild chocolate. Big malt sweetness and some vinous characteristics and sharp apple cider vinegar and rooty earthiness. A bit of nice acidic funk too. Finishes complex, drifting, semi-sweet, and lingering. It also seems like the dissipating alcohol has led it to become more of a cake-like brew than a sometimes particularly boozy Belgian when fresh.

Mouthfeel: The second bottle I've said this about recently, but the carbonation has mellowed out into extremely rich and full creaminess that I'm starting to think happens very nicely with these cellared and aging bottles.

Drinkability: Like good Quads should, I'd imagine, this has certainly gotten better with age, along with being much smoother now. There's still a big sweetness there, and I wonder if that would get even less so as it ages more. I'd imagine this could last much longer in the cellar, but after 4 or 5 years, it's still going strong.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Love the stubby bottle, it's like I'm drinking a Canadian lager or something...only the pour clearly shows I'm not. This is an ultra-dark brown color, fudge-like and opaque, and the head is a dirty white thing, creamy and long-lasting.

Aroma is dessert-like, also earthy/yeasty, but mostly I'm reminded of chocolate cake, port, fig, chocolate-covered cherries, strong herbal tea, mint leaves, toffee. Alcohol is a faint background trace, which is impressive for any 11% beer.

Taste is rather rich, with plenty of complexity and depth. Not rich or sweet in any detrimental way, it remains even-keeled all the way. Characteristics of brown sugar, caramel, graham cracker, sweet spices / mint / strong herbs, cola, root beer, grape, raisin. Extremely well-controlled alcohol, which acts as a supportive layer, raising all the aforementioned taste impressions up to a lofty height. A mild candy-like finish, although it's a pretty faint finish all around.

Super velvety smooth feel, with an airy yet not limp body. Silky smooth, silky smooth, and silky smooth. There's just no need to describe it otherwise.

As drinkable as any 11% quad is ever going to be. This beer exhibits absolutely amazing balance and does everything right. It also reminds me exactly which country first awakened me to the vast possibilities of beer. Time to refocus my buying habits toward Belgium again. This is superb.

Photo of Mar02x
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - A dark brown fluid with some reddish hints. The foam is more beige than off white and transforms quickly till a thin layer.

S - A sweet malty scent mixed with a little yeast.

T - Again a sweet malty flavor with a nice deepness. One can taste this beer is great for aging. There is already some port like tones coming through.

M - A soft to medium carbonation with some alcohol warmth and bitterness in the end. There is noway one can this is a 11% ABV!.

O - An excellent beer! Always good to have a few on you're shelf.

Photo of Spiderhouse
4.87/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A--Monster head with two fingers of tan foam. Amazing retention and very heavy lacing. Best part? Tiny, slow rising bubbles that i have never seen in a beer; mostly, in expensive champagne.

S--Chocolate, warm pumpernickel, heavy spice notes. Never smelled anything like this on a beer. Intoxicating.

T--Semi-sweet baker's chocolate, dark bread, and rich butter. My wife (of Swedish extraction), said this reminded her of "Swedish Christmas". The finish is long and comforting. Pretty damn amazing.

M--Syrupy, but not in a bad way. Emulsified egg whites and cream. Delicious.

D--The high ABV and heavy texture make it hard to repeat, but this is like the great dessert that sends a meal from merely 'good' and into 'unforgettable'. One of the best beer experiences I have ever had.

Served in a brand chalice at Lucky Baldwin's, Pasadena, CA

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled 1/07.

Pours a nice dark brown with major ruby highlights, but somewhat cloudy, not entirely penetrable to light. Ruby highlights are big, and the off white fizzy head hangs around for a minute or two before receding and leaving ok lacing.

Nose contains belgian yeast, dark malts, some dark fruit, slight caramel and some lighter fruits as well.

Taste EXPLODES dark fruit flavor. Plummy raisiny figgy goodness with extremely unique to belgium belgian character. Exactly what I think of when I imagine BSDA/pseudoquady thing. A great and very flavorful brown. Taste starts off lighter with grain and yeast, but quickly develops into rich yet uncloying sweetness of candied fruits. Doesnt have quite the almost buttery richness of some quads, however, a strong yet very tolerable sweetness prevails. the alcohol is unbeleivably slim in the taste profile. The finish is nice and sweet. Sugary residue stays on the lips after each sip. A nice slick finish leads to a sugary plummy aftertaste. wow.

Mouthfeel is pretty much spot on here, there could be a touch lower carbonation, but when I say a touch, I mean VERY slight. Slick on the palate, and rides the tongue right down the palate.

Drinkabiltiy is down right remarkable for the abv. I would have guessed this to be in the 8% range, 9 at most, and that guess would simply be based on the rich flavor. Abv is extaordinarily hidden. Keep in mind the style, so your not going to be sessioning these in 100 degree heat after a sack race at the carnival, but style and abv wise, this one cant be beat for drinkability marks.

Overall a VERY good belgian style brew. Doesnt have the definitive butteriness of a Quad, but it is close, while still showing some other BSDA qualities. This one is sort of a style melder, but the style that it does fit perfectly into, is the one on the label, (funny how that works) which is belgian brown ale. A fantastic beer, one I think is a good cellar candidate for sure, especially with its mighty abv. Drink this one slowly and savor it, let it warm, and dont let the abv get the best of you, and you WILL be pleased. One that will satisfy the craving for the greatest of belgian style freaks. A classic.

to view more.
Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
92 out of 100 based on 748 ratings.