Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Not Rated.
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

363 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

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Reviews: 363
Hads: 784
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 13.61%
Wants: 79
Gots: 109 | 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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 363 | Hads: 784
Photo of Sammy
4.44/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A high quality brew that pleasantly surprisingly made the LCBO Fall list. Its only drawback is the knockout alcohol punch. Georgeous brown, barleywine and quality yeast aroma. Great taste in my favorite style. Hops, fruit and sugary malt. Good night! (250 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.66/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 1/25/12.

Pours an almost opaque crimson-brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, dark fruit, spice, and alcohol aromas. Taste is much the same with super sweet dark fruit and alcohol flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but it's very sweet and sugary, even for the style. (586 characters)

Photo of metter98
4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer poured very dark amber (near black) into a snifter glass. A thin layer of white bubbles covered the surface and there's a moderate level of carbonation.
S: There are aromas of malty sweetness with some hints of dark fruits in the nose.
T: The taste is complex and has a lot of overall sweetness along with flavors of candi sugar, raisins and plums.
M: It feels medium- to heavy bodied on the palate and a bit a bit thick but smooth.
D: For such a strong beer, you don't really taste the alcohol. This is very drinkable and I would definitely have another. (567 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.62/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear but dark, tawny color with a surprisingly modest head for a Belgian; splashes of lace

Smell: Shortbread cookies and dates

Taste: Starts out with a swweet raisin and date praline flavor with and increasing sweetness the blossoms after the swallow; a lot of vanilla and rum raisin flavors on the finish, with underlying woody tones

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick body with moderate carbonation; warming on the finish from the alcohol

Drinkability: Really a bit too cloying for my taste; compared to the top quads this lacks the complexity that the great ones have (587 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.27/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am very impressed with how good this beer is. In a nutshell, it's cotton-candy sweet, fruity tart, spicy warm, and marshmellow textured. It's wonderful from sip to finish. A hearty malt / candy sweetness blends with nuts, figs, dates, and a hint of chocolate. Balanced with aged hops and yeasty esters bring out clove and pepperyness. Full and richly textured without a hint of astringency or heat. Finishes very clean despite so many complex flavors, and a bit dry. This beer ranks up there with the Rocheforts and Abt 12s of the world. (539 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.25/5  rDev -19.6%
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. (384 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark chestnut brown that becomes a combination of ruby red and burnt orange when early morning sunshine is allowed entry. The caramel nougat colored crown filled almost half the chalice on the pour and has an attractive, whipped mousse-like texture. It's pretty sticky too, as evidenced by an impressive array of delicate lace.

The nose is classic Belgian strong dark ale. There's quite a bit of medium-dark fruitiness and even more yeasty spiciness (that favors clove and black pepper). This offering is not going to be a shrinking violet when it comes to flavor intensity, that much is certain.

Kasteel Blond and Kasteel Rouge are excellent examples of their respective styles. Kasteel Donker is merely good. It tastes as if the brewers were a little too heavy-handed with the dark candy sugar. It also lacks the complexity that the best Belgian ales deliver in spades.

Specifics include dark caramel, figs and dates macerated in blackstrap molasses, a hint of anise, and generous pinches of black pepper and ground clove. Less sugary sweetness would have resulted in better beer. An ABV of 11.0% is difficult to bury without a trace, but the brewers did a reasonably good job. A subtle warming sensation is great for this time of year.

The mouthfeel is slightly too syrupy and doesn't have the expansive creamiliciousness that is expected for a Belgian ale. More numerous and better quality bubbles would have gone a long way toward keeping this characteristic from being the low-light of this experience.

Kasteel Donker (which is the exact same beer as Kasteelbier Bruin-Brune) is pretty good stuff. That said, there's definite room for improvement. Belgian beer is like ice cream and cheesecake. Even the less than spectacular ones are pretty damn good. (1,763 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.29/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured an opaque, dark, dark brown color with a thick, khaki-colored head of foam. It was long lasting and left patchy lace on the glass.

S -It smelled of raisin, currants and other dried fruits. Good roasty malt aroma with some caramel notes.

T - Great dried fruit flavor - mostly plum, raisin, apple and currants. Good sweet maltiness with a touch of caramel and chocolate.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth with some alcohol warmth. A medium to full bodied beer with a somewhat dry finish.

D - This is a very tasty quadrupel. It is certainly worth a try, especially on tap. (585 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
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. (355 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.67/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Carefully poured from the lees, its clear mahogany body rests gently beneath a short, creamy head of light tan foam as very tiny bubbles steadily rise up to support it. The head drops shortly to a wide collar and lacy surface covering, but also leaves some wide rings of sticky lace about the glass. The nose welcomes you with a delicious combination of chocolate covered raisins and caramel splashed with sweet red wine and backed by some earthy and leafy hops. As it warms some candyish - and also peppery - yeast character comes into play adding greatly to its complexity. The body is medium/light, and combines with its very fine, natural carbonation from bottle-conditioning to leave it just lightly zesty on the tongue before fading smoothly away. The vinous character of the nose is immediately recognized in the flavor along with assorted dark fruits (plum/prune, dates), a soft note of chocolate, and a sweet light caramel that morphs into a harsher note of molasses that's less refined and a bit edgy at the finish (due in part to alcohol, and in part bitterness). It lingers with some alcohol that fades to reveal the true hop bitterness; then some candy sweetness (bubblegum); and finally a last note of caramel that's charged with delicate clove-like spiciness. Quite complex, rich and flavorful! And although the alcohol could be slightly more restrained, its sweetness is impeccably balanced and never interferes or build on the palate. An impressive brew that's well worth seeking out! (1,501 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.23/5  rDev -20%
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. (797 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.64/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aug 04 bottling, bought this because my mind is getting feeble, just reviewed this the other week. Oh well, different batch, so let's compare:

Pours mahogany & murky with a 1 finger off white colored head. Some lacing & head retention

S: Sweet malt & then chocolate & booze as it warms

T: Rich sweet malt & chocolate with a hint of booze up front. Bready notes & caramel & toffee surfaces as it warms, along oakyness & dryness. Finoshes dry with hints of pecans & brandy This actually works for me better than the more mature version.

mF: Syruppy with low carbonation, but enough to bring out some flavors

The 11% is a little more evident, but complexity makes it more drinkable. Talk about your winter warmers! looking back at my review, my instincts were right, this better than the stuff supposedly in its prime (829 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
3.88/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle at Eulogy, Philly, PA

Also known as Kasteel Bruin. From the name, I thought this was a brown ale. But it's actually something between a dark strong ale and a quad, and is labelled as the latter by BA.

Poured a dark semi-hazy brown with just a bit of head that receded to a film of bubbles. Caramel malts and peppery spice in the aroma, and distinct alcohol. Similar taste with sweet malts and Belgian sugar, slight molasses, and some dark fruits also noticeable; not as much spice as I detected in the aroma. Medium-heavy body with some carbonation, pretty drinkable, but a bit strong. (605 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
2.93/5  rDev -27.5%
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.

C-

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.

C- (2,106 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.53/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beautiful off-white head of three fingers. Lots of lace. The color of the brew is brown where light barely shines through. Attractive.

Farmlike smells; earthy and dark. Some crystal and chocolate malt aromas.

Sweeter than I expected. Strongly malty. Notable alcohol warmth. The body is warming (from the alcohol strength) and thick. The carbonation is relatively light for the creaminess. I don't detect any hop or any other balancing ingredient.

This is an easy beer with which to get snookered. It's subtle and powerful. It isn't a beer with complexity. (565 characters)

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.75/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A rich dark brown color, more reddish in light, below a large creamy head. Nose is very sweet, with notes of toffee, cream, nuts, and a particular toasty character. Hints of spices, cloves, anise. Soft, spicy, and warm on the palate, with a lush and lasting finish. ABV unknown to me, but it's starting to deliver now. Perfect consolation on this freezing cold late January Minnesota afternoon. Full-bodied, tangy, hugely characterful, and an ever-unfolding delight to drink. Much like a hybrid of brandy and a candy bar! Delicious, delightful, d'lovely!
Mine was served in a Scaldis glass, which ably did the trick.

11-02-03
Above review from a tap sampling at Bryant Lake Bowl. Just had a 750ml bottled I'd been saving, this one labeled as "Donker-Foncee", and I echo my previous statements: this is one incredible brew. Just wish I could find more bottles around here! (876 characters)

Photo of superspak
4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into chalice, bottled on 4/16/2007. Pours clear dark reddish brown color with a small fairly dense khaki head with poor retention, that reduces to nothing fairly quickly. No glass lacing and some slight streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, prune, fig, date, caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, molasses, light chocolate, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, prune, fig, date, caramel, toffee, toast, molasses, brown sugar, light chocolate, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Light earthy yeast spice on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, prune, fig, date, caramel, toffee, toast, molasses, brown sugar, light chocolate, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast flavors; with a great malt/yeast balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome Belgian Quadrupel style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the huge ABV. A highly enjoyable offering. (1,435 characters)

Photo of jwc215
4.07/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark brown with a thin, dissipating head.

The smell is of brown sugar and toffee. Some banana-like fruitiness in the back mingles with the dark maltiness.

The taste is sweet - brown sugar upfront. Complexities arise as it progresses: dark friuts - plum/prune/raisins and licorice. Sherry-like with some earthiness. Sweet, rainsiny finish.

Full-bodied, it is almost sticky/cloying, but has a nice, velvety texture.

The sweetness and abv slow this one down, but it is a nice, complex, dark Belgian brew that is very nice to sip on. (547 characters)

Photo of dbrauneis
4.11/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours an opaque, though slightly hazy extremely dark reddish amber in color with light amounts of active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and some faint cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall foamy tan head that reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark malts and dark fruits (raisin and plum) with a light amount of dark Belgian candi sugar sweetness. Hints of spices.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of dark malts with a light to moderate amount of dark Belgian candi sugar sweetness. That is followed by moderate to strong flavors of dark fruits (raisin and plum) and just a hint of spices. Hints of cherry sweetness in the background. Just a hint of bitterness in the finish but it fades pretty quickly leaving a moderate amount of lingering cloying sweetness.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly thick/sticky upfront but overall quite smooth.

O: Very enjoyable and quite easy to drink considering the strength. Alcohol is well hidden and I really enjoyed this one, sweet enough to almost be a a dessert. (1,216 characters)

Photo of WesWes
4.35/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a brown color with a thick frothy cream colored head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with a dry, yet fruity Belgian yeast aroma. The scent is sweet and creamy; very nice. The taste is great. It has a very smooth and rich malty flavor with a sweet and warm finish. It is full of flavor and malt complexity. The mouthfeel is excellent as well. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn good beer. It is full of flavor and aroma; a great drinker. (569 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared by CesiumBrews. Thanks Caleb!

Hooray Belgium.

The beer is chestnut brown with crimson highlights, sporting nearly an inch of beige head. The aroma offers dark fruits, yeast, malt, alcohol, brown sugar. The taste follows suit, with the 11% abv well hidden. Sweet, but not cloying. Thick body with moderate carbonation. Palate coating and a tad syrupy. Notes of nuts (clever alliteration, n'est pas?), perhaps almonds. Brown sugar, spices, perhaps nutmeg. a solid quad. I would definitely have this again. (512 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.93/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer was served to me in an interesting goblet with the beer logo on the side. A dark, dark brown beer with an initial (though not long lasting) tan creamy head. The beer is quite sweet with lots of caramel notes. A bit of toffee as well, and a finish that is lightly bitter. The bitter seems to be as much from the high alcohol as from the hops. It has quite a thick body that gently caresses and coats the mouth in it soothing embrace. This is quite a good beer, A dark contemplative brew that is great as a rainy Belgian afternoon snack. (545 characters)

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

11.2 oz. Belgian-style stubby bottle,

A: Pours a reddish brown, with a thick tan-orange head, that's the best I can describe it, which lasts forever, though the bubbles are a little too fizzy in the beginning.

S: Smells heavily of raw brown sugar and prunes, raisins and figs.

T: This may be the sweetest beer I have ever had. Full of residual sugar, the heavy sweetness shocked me a little at first, but I soon got into it. This malt barrage is backed by a large amount of dark fruit, specifically raisin and prune, and also what could be a bit of almond brittle, and Mission fig.

M: Thick and rich, almost syrupy, a little cloying at times, warming as well, there is a definite alcohol burn on the first sip.

D: An interesting beer, I've heard this described as a Belgian Barleywine, and I can understand why, though Quadrupel seems to fit it well as a style on this site. A very good beer, sweet and warming, the smell and taste could use a bit more "oomph," but overall, an enjoyable warming beer, or nightcap. (1,019 characters)

Photo of Billolick
4.42/5  rDev +9.4%
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. (520 characters)

Photo of BlackHaddock
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep joy, another beer presented to me to pour by my daughter at her Belgian beer and food night.

Poured into the lovely correct goblet style glass with the castle design on the base of the glass stem. The glass really sets it off nicely.

Very dark, almost forbodingly dark, with a rich biege head, wonderful. Held up to the light you can see it is clear and clean, even though it is so dark in apperance.

The whole experience was good, the aroma was a dark chocolate cake mix with currents, the taste not far off the same.

Rich and smooth feel to it, very drinkable even at 11%, we polished off 4 (small) bottles on the night. (631 characters)

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Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
90 out of 100 based on 363 ratings.