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Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Not Rated.
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

Educational use only; do not reuse.

367 Reviews

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Reviews: 367
Hads: 799
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 20.69%
Wants: 81
Gots: 120 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V. visit their website

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 (34) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 367 | Hads: 799
Photo of mmmbeer
2.78/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

11.2 oz. Belgian stubby, with a freshness date of July 2010, served a bit too cold at Michael's Bistro and Taphouse in a small snifter. It pours a clouded brownish/red that is ruby in the light and is topped with a small, light brown head that retains a thin collar. The aroma is quite vinous, sugary sweet, with a blackberry kick. Think Chambord. It is hugely sweet on the palate, very port-like, with pepper, berries, and maybe some hops near the end. The body is medium, yet syrupy thick, with light carbonation and a medium finish. On the plus side, the alcohol is undetectable, but on the negative side, it is way too sweet and a bit difficult to drink, making me wonder as to why it is rated so highly.

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Photo of erok
2.8/5  rDev -31%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A - poured with little head or carbonation. Reddish brown color. I was afraid I had a bad bottle based on the low level of carb.
S - alcohol and fruity sweetness
T - Cloying sweetness - almost port wine-like, a little estery fruitiness, but not as much as I'd like of for a dark belgian. The alcohol is also apparent in the taste. You can tell from the smell and the taste that this beer is in 11% - it's not hidden.
M - Full and syrupy. The sweetness lingers. Little perceptible carbonation.
D - I wouldn't have another.

Bottom line: If you're expecting a Rochefort, Chimay Blue, or St. Bernardus, you'll be quite disappointed. In contrast, if you like some of the sweeter Belgian-style darks/dubbels (Grimbergen comes to mind), you may find this enjoyable. If I brewed this myself, I'd lament the lack of attenuation.

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Photo of Rastacouere
2.8/5  rDev -31%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Big beer. Dark brown with medium white head. All malt aroma of toffee and fruits. The taste is extra sweet. Plums, caramel, malt, grapes. Very vinous, rich and warming, alcohol is very noticeable in the finish. Almost syrupy mouthfeel. It would be interesting to age, but overall I must say I expected much more.

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Photo of Globetrotter
2.83/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased in Antwerp and hand-delivered to Moscow (thanks Marjut and Michael!), this 33cl brown stubby features a big bulge in the neck and a tan and yellow label centered around a drawing of some seventeenth century palace. Ingredients conform to the purity law. Best before 9/09, I opened it on 3/25/05.

Clear but very dark cola like brown hue under a thin 1/2 finger head that fades to collar almost immediately, but then leaves some pretty impressive lace strings along the side. Sweet caramel malt nose, like candy. Mildly carbonated and pretty sticky, basically the consistency of a semi-flat coke (but in a good way...). The opening taste is way too sweet (what? no sugar in here? Ha!), almost like maple syrup. Some hops try to fight their way through the sweetness, and manage to get noticed before falling back into the sugary swamp. The overall impression is way too sweet for me. I can't recommend it.

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Photo of impending
2.84/5  rDev -30%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

33cl into a tulip. Pours a ruddy old rootbeer float dreg. Lowly carbonated. Very minor head subsided quickly.

Aroma is more of a dubbel than a strong dark as it lacks that in your face dark fruits. Solvent alcohol smells strong. The dark fruits are overly ripe, way past their prime.

Dark fruits also do not dominate the taste. Pronounced phenols. Alcohol kicks in very early, too early, and is very warm, boozy, too boozy ;) Full bodied slightly viscous mouthfeel.

At room temp - notes of cough medicine from when I was a kid.

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Photo of AlexLMS
2.92/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Kasteel Brune poured with a very dark brown colour. It was opaque due to its dark colour (no floating sediments). The head was brown, foamy and very low (impaired retention).
The nose was dominated by the alcoholic vinous plus molasses and fruits.
The taste was very sweet and again the alcohol was the dominant feature in the palate with the added presence of molasses and sweet malts. Very light on the hops.
The mouthfeel was unctuous with low carbonation level, obviously strong alcohol and a full body. Lingering sweet warming alcohol aftertaste.

I did not fell in love with this one. Some interesting characteristics but overall it is too sweet for my taste.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.93/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

As noted by others, this is somewhere between a high ABV brown ale and a Belgian quad, but not really either definitively. I was served a bottle of this in Ghent, Belgium. It was poured into a Kasteel goblet; Belgians really take delicate care to utilize proper glassware. In the same bar I reviewed this in, a waitress was ashamed when a customer asked (in Flemish) for the proper glassware, because she realized she had served a beer in the wrong glass. Dropping more eaves than was polite, I noticed that the "wrong glass" was actually a glass from the correct brewer but not the exact beer for the bottle. Respect. Reviewed from notes.

A: Half-finger head; actually thin. Fair retention, especially considering its 11% ABV. Black colour. Perhaps some might call it an extreme dark brown.

Sm: Caramel, nuts, and light alcohol. I was disappointed to discover the alcohol is present even in the smell, which isn't a great sign.

T: Caramel and nut hop body. Complex. Balanced but strangely built for either style (brown & quad). The dark fruit I've come to expect in a quad is missing, replaced by the standard brown ale nutty hops. The effect is confusing, if not jarring, but the beer still tastes good. You get acclimated and it tastes better.

Mf: Nicely coarse and wet. The alcohol is warming, but a bit unwelcome.

Dr: Not good enough to order again at this price. I can't imagine what this costs in countries in which it's an import.


Reviewed again on-draught in SoCal. 2009 vintage.

A: Pours no head at all. Body colour is a caramel-brown. Nontransparent. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Caramalts. Biscuit malts. Brown malt. Residual sugars. Minimal floral hop character. Toffee. Quite sweet. A mild strength aroma.

T: Sweet. Malty, with caramalt, biscuit malt, and brown malts. Simple but enjoyable. Decently balanced for what it is.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Decent carbonation. Good thickness. Suits the flavour profile well.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable, but a bit too sweet and simple. I wouldn't get it again, but I'm glad I revisited it. Liqueur-esque.


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Photo of ThaCreep
2.95/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Chocolate aroma and taste of both toasted bread and dried fruit. In the mouth it is thick, has a taste of port, but more importantly, it is overly loaded with sugar. It feels the sugar granules on the tongue. The taste of alcohol is therefore fairly well hidden and is therefore withdrawn. Unbalanced and heavy.

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Photo of thierrynantes
3.03/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Beer bottle (33cl.), tasted in 1999.

Appearance: glowing brown color, with tan foam head (not persistent).
Smell : fruity aromas.
Taste and mouthfeel: soft palate, taste of Porto and coffee, strong sweet sensations.
Drinkability: a beer in the style strong dark ale, too strong and too sweet.

Review translated from french 6-11-2008.

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Photo of Squelch
3.05/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Ruby red. Slight off white head. No lacing

Smell: Sweet and sugary.

Taste: overly sweet. Boiled too much to get the ABV. Way too much candi sugar. No blance to this beer

Mouthfeel. Cant tell due to the sweetness

Drinkability: I will not have this one again.

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Photo of geexploitation
3.05/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a lovely chocolate brown with ruby tinges and little head. The nose is straightforward quad, with sugary smells, some raw alcohol, and lots of chocolate and some sweet, raisiny fruit notes. On the palate, overly sweet first off, with some definite cloying going on, before a dusty, slightly rough date element comes out. Some creamed-and-sugared coffee toward the end. The finish is long and active but way too sweet, with no balancing hop influence to speak of. Mouthfeel is hot with alcohol and heavy on malts, with little lightness on display. Not that I want my quads to be light, but you gotta have balance somewhere. Overall, this is not a good quad. Too sweet, no balance, and not nearly enough complexity to save things in any way. Pass.

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Photo of aracauna
3.15/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark brown. Actually black from many angles. The biege head is fizzy and weak. The aroma is faint - sweet, slightly citric. Flavor is surprisingly light considering color. Sweet but not cloying. A bit of wood. Don't let it get too warm however as the sweetness grows and becomes sticky. Works well with sweet foods, however. Far from dry in any sense of the term. Far from bad but is a bit wimpy, which lets the sweetness run wild.

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Photo of dedrinker
3.15/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

4+ year old 750ml bottle. Poured dirty - looking like rust and stagnant creek water. Aroma of dusty attic and dry earth. Flavor was sweet stewed dark fruit, with port and sherry notes. I keep my cellar bottles well, and they do not get light, heat, or physical disturbance, but this one must have had all the yeast completely in solution, because it was so cloudy, but without any floaty chunks etc. I have had my fare share of five and six year old Belgian ales, but this one was weird. It just came out all weird looking, but still tasted fine.

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Photo of p1nt
3.17/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

a fresh 750 bottle. happened to be the cheapest 750 in the market, and one I hadn't tried already; I enjoyed the kasteel tripel ok so I thought I'd give it a shot. the beer poured a minimal head which dissipated quickly; had the appearance of flat pepsi, plus a bit of lacing. standard taste/smell for something between a quadrupel and a belgian strong dark ale: overly sweet, raisins, figs, and rather medicinal. body/mouthfeel was much lighter than expected, and offered almost no carbonation - a substantial amount of which I think might have helped balance out the overwhelming sweetness.

I was expecting to enjoy it more as the 11 abv kicked in (like the 120 minute IPA, which went from cough syrup to amazing), but nothing doing - to be honest, I couldn't even finish it.

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Photo of Oxymoron
3.19/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Iron curtain anyone? An aged beer brought from a friends cellar. Pours a mostly hazy dark amber to brown color. The pour was flowing at the start but need help as we went along. Big fizzy head that quickly dissipated and no real lace to speak of.

The nose is sweet with some noticeable Belgian characteristics. Some lighter caramel and melanodian malt aromas. Some very noticeable sugar notes. The yeast is very present with some alcohol heat and some minor yeast. Some plums, figs and rose but also some dank and slight butyric notes as well.

The taste is noticeable sweet and has that noticeable boarder line under attenuated feel. To start the malt has a strong sugary flavor that really is off. Some malt backing with a more kettle caramel flavor/Special B taste. Very muttled malt profile that is just off. The yeast comes out but not as harsh as the nose. A good ester profile with raisins and plums. Some minor butyric notes as well, but not as bad.

The body is a bit cloying with the sweetness. The lack of carbonation might be effecting this. Overall, this is way too sweet for a quad, not even throwing a Belgium quad into the mix. Some off notes in the nose and continue into the taste. Maybe it's some cup of quad, but there are better US version out there.

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Photo of fairdinkum2
3.2/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Loads of sweet malts in this ale. The level of sweetness obscures much of the taste profile, leaving an ale that doesn't really show the complexity or balance of others in this style.

Low carbonation leads to a poor head, even with a vigorous pour, although the ale is attractive in color.

Nothing wrong with the high alcohol content, which is masked by its syrupy character

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Photo of Stunner97
3.2/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance- dark brown and highly carbonated with tan head quickly fading away, see through when held to the light

Smell- very malty nose and lots of raisony and sweet smell, rum

Taste- very malty and sweet, decently long finish, raison, brown sugar, alcohol noticeable,strong flavor and good amount of heat

Mouthfeel- heavy and boozy, a little to much heat

Drinkability- not bad but a little to much alcohol and packs a bit of heavy punch for smooth easy drinking, would have tough time finishing whole bottle but enjoyable flavor overall

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.23/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap 4/5/08 at Pitcher's Pub in Cumberland, RI, served in an over-sized wine glass.

A: The beer is a dark brown color, with a medium off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains caramelized malts, brown sugar, Belgian yeast, dark fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste malty and sweet with flavors of caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit and Belgian yeast up front. There's a mild hops presence and a strong alcohol burn. The after-taste is sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, strong kick, decent representation of style, this one really didn't appeal to me all that well. I've certainly had other strong Belgians that I like better.

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Photo of jdubjacket
3.24/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into two pint glasses. Very mixed feelings about this beer. Pours an opaque dark brown color that looks like murky pond water. Nose is sugar, candy, dried fruit. Taste is VERY sweet. Unfortunately, I could only handle a few sips of this beer. This beer is so sweet, it's nearly undrinkable. I've tried giving this beer a chance two times now, and both times, it's just too alcoholic and too sweet to finish. Not my favorite quad - too sweet to be truly enjoyable.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.25/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a clear brown color ale with a below average head that had some pretty good retention. Aroma is exclusively comprised of roasted malt with some faint alcohol in the back.. Taste is quite simple, which was a bit surprising for this type of beer and consisted of mildly roasted malt with some warm alcohol at the end. Overall, this is not a bad beer but it is lacking complexity.

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Photo of phishgator
3.27/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a Chimay Chalice. Small white head that dissipates quickly. Color is a rich brown with a little amber on the edges. The smell is candi sugar and ripe figs. The taste is sugary sweet! After it warms up the taste isn't as potent. The stickiness of the brew brings down the motuhfeel and drinkability. It will warm you up at the end of the night. A definite sipper.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.29/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Drank from a bottle into a chalice in Brussels at Delirium Cafe.

This beer is very thick but with bad head. Its dark black with a tan oily head. There is some decent lacing.

It smells very much like coffee and caramal, ands tastes the same.

Its pretty good, but you can't drink more than one.

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Photo of rwathree
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
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).

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Photo of RuudJH
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle 33 cl.
Chestnutbrown coloured , creamy thin head, the boozyness is upfront in both the smell and the taste, but nevermind that. It's fruity and malty, but mainly the whole brew is too much sweetness from caramel and candy burnt sugar, to me a bit over the top.

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Photo of TheHammer
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured with a rather lame finger of head that quickly retreated to half a finger, put up a solid fight and then disappeared. The body is a thick molasses colored brown that seems to offer thin carbonation.

Smell: A heavy kick of molasses like malt which seems to be the trademark of the style to a backing of pecans and candied raisins. Warming really helped it come out.

Taste: Very sweet, which I suppose isn't surprising for the style, as the molasses-like malt dominates the beer. Notes of pecans, raisins, berries drown in overwhelming sea of malt. If it wasn't for the heavy alcohol content being noticeable, you could pass it off as some kind of malt soft drink.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation fell flat really quick which was disappointing, but the sweet malt aftertaste doesn't cling, so that is nice. Transitioning is decent I guess, but even though it in no way lingers, you get this sticky sensation as you drink it.

Drinkability: Well, I didn't have any issues getting it down and it settled down nicely in my stomach. The high ABV is concealed very well, and while it's not the most refreshing thing around, I wouldn't turn it down.

Final Thoughts: All in all, I was kinda a bit disappointed by it. I think part of the reason is I saw Donker, and thought Dunkel and was expecting something richer and bitter then something this light and sweet. It's ok, but I get the feeling Quad's are the malt version of IPA, meaning too much of one aspect of the beer dominating the others.

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Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
91 out of 100 based on 367 ratings.