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Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Not Rated.
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

703 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 703
Reviews: 352
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 14.32%
Wants: 71
Gots: 79 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 703 | Reviews: 352 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of becktone
4.88/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From notes 2-10-09

Eye: Dark brown in color with garnet highlights. Head formation was nice but retention could be better. Lacing is nice-sheets. Color of head is mudslide brown. Texture of it is creamy.

Nose: Faint aroma overall. I get lightly roasted notes as well as a bit of chocolate. Dark fruit is in here as well, rasins mainly. Bready notes as well. Some vinous characers are coming through as well as some oaken character associated with them. Hints at alcohol.

Tongue: Very complex beer, this one. Big on the dark fruit, lots of rasins, some faint chocolate notes. Black cherries...this beer almost gives me the same taste as chocolate covered cherries. Alcohol is noticeable, but helps to balance out the brew, it counters the sweetness. Dark malt really comes through in this one, this is one great beer. One of the best Belgian darks that I've had in quite a while.

Feel and Drinkability: Medium body with moderate delicate tiny carbonation bubbles. Nothing all that special about it really. It does feel just as it should though, I can't see this one feeling any different and having it work as well as what it already is. This is an easy brew to drink and its worth picking up and trying. I know that I'll be going back to it in the near future. Its a great beer that I feel is overlooked.

Photo of oldhippie247
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours basically opaque with just a little ruby-ish hue around the edges when held to a light. Big, fluffy off-white head lingers nicely.

Nose is dark, estery, and definitely Belgian. A little alcohol comes through despite an overall subtle nose that really only features dark fruits such as dates and figs. Something a little artificial in the nose is a bit of drawback.

Smooth mouthfeel that seems to fill out as the beer warms a bit. Again, dark date-like fruits with just the slightest hint of spice (as a substitute for hops it seems), make up the flavor profile. ABV of 11% is well-balanced and does not come across as too boozy.

I really wanted to like this beer because I really like the Rouge from Kasteel, and at first I thought I was going to be disappointed. If tasted cold this beer is less than great, with both nose and palate closed. I would suggest serving this just barely below room temp (NC in mid-March). The nose doesn't open much, but it tastes tons better.

Photo of adamette
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Live Review. Poured from a short stubby ~12 oz. bottle that I purchased at Beers of the World in Rochester, NY last October. Poured into my Samuel Smith pint glass since (going by the name) I thought this was a brown ale (I would have poured it into my 3 Philosopher's snifter instead!).

A Caramel chocolate brown body that glows in front of direct light with a generous but brief (one minute) head that has now dissipated to a single ring around the top.

S Ahhh....that glorious Belgian sweet malt and yeast with a dose of alcohol and oh...so inviting. Great smell appropriate to the style. The sweetness is a dark fruit sweetness like a date or a raisin.

T Yummm...deep dark fruit tastes of dates and raisins follow right into the taste and dominate the first 2/3 of the taste. After that there is the warmth of alcohol and then a return of a more muted dark fruit.

M Oh sooo smooth. It goes down like liquid caramel and the sweet nectar is syrupy sticky.

D Great if it wasn't for the cost and rarity of the beer. Really though I savored every drop and it is quite good in it's style.

Notes: I kept thinking of a Raison d'extra from DFH while drinking this.

Photo of rec
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Disclaimer: like my Pannepot review, this is a recollection of last night's outing to Delirium Cafe, based on my notes.

This beer looks seriously rich. Different variations of black and brown amidst the glass, as if chocolate into coffee. The head is super-creamy and laces all too well.

Heavy malt and dark fruit are the prominent notes on the nose, and unfortunately being in a beer cafe, I couldn't smell much else at that point.

The taste is immediately awesome. It's perhaps the most rich, sugary, syrupy beer I've ever had. Mostly dark fruit, but there is some strong cinnamon and maple syrup flavours coming through, too. It finishes with a bread-like after-taste which helps create some equilibrium after the sugar high. Not recommended for diabetics?

Unfortunately, without trying to take away from the glorious brew this is, one glass was enough - it's just too rich and too thick to be even remotely considered a session beer. And I love thick beer.

Get it, try it, love it. And leave it at 1.

Photo of Brad007
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark reddish-brown color with a one-finger head into my goblet.

Aroma is full of raisin, tart cherry and sweet malt. Seems to have an interesting touch to it.

Taste is full of sweet malt with hints of cherry and raisin upfront. Smooth and lightly chewy. A bit of alcohol burn as well.

Mouthfeel is full of cherry and raisin and the alcohol. Sweet. Tart. Very refreshing.

A refreshing example of the style. A bit too sweet at times but it has enough depth to stand up to other examples. Very drinkable.

Photo of Nick3
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle with a bottled on date of March 28, 2007. Cool artwork on the bottle depicts the brewery I believe. Beer poured into a Kasteel beer glass commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Van Honsebrouck brewery.
Beer is a dark, dark brown with little head. Gorgeous lace envelops the glass as you work your way through the beer. Smell is reminiscent of molasses and anise. Beer is very rich and complex in flavor; molasses, candied sugar, chocolate, portlike. Alcohol makes itself known but is well masked by the strong, rich flavors. Chewy and sticky on the palate; it's one of those beers that you can still taste for minutes after the last sip . . . and it leaves you wanting more. Not for the faint of heart with it's alcohol level but definitely a great sipping beer to be savored. I really liked this beer and will seek it out again. Holds it's own against some of the best strong belgian darks out there. I likened it to St. Bernardus Abt 12.

Photo of lackenhauser
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice ruby brown color with an admirable sized head. Soft peppery aroma with a mild malt note. Huge malty flavor with a moderate caramel sweetness. Very slight hop bite. Mellow dried fruit flavor. Lacks the yeasty/sulfury notes most Belgians exhibit. No trace of alcohol at 11%. Must use quite the clean yeast to ferment. Great body-has a slight creaminess to it. I find this to be a great beer, rather sweet but I like them like that. This would be a great Belgian to turn someone who has never had one on to. Might not be to style but I really like this one.

Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured an almost black body with a constantly there one-finger tan head in a tulip glass. A strong fruit smell, like orange and a little grape (dark fruit), and some hints of sweet and bread malts. A great smoothness is what first struck me with this beer, as there is a balance between the malts (some sweet and bread, little oaky even) and dark/heavy fruits (orange, grape again). A little sticky and syrupy, like there's some molasses in there, but finishes clean with a little bit of a hop prickle on the tongue. A solid beer to sip and relax with as the ABV is well-hidden.

Photo of cswhitehorse
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Donker poured a dark brown with a quarter inch foam head that dissipated quickly. It had a tight bubble pattern that clung to the outside of the drink next to the glass. The lacing was fairly sticky and was wall like.

The smell was fruity and of brown sugar. The fruits were definitely apple dominated with a tinge of sourness. The taste was sweet then sour. You got a good malt taste up front then it was dominated by a fruity apple-nation. The abv is pretty well hidden and isn't too apparent till it hits the throat and leaves a burn. Overall it is a pretty good BSDA.

Photo of giblet
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is a good quality beer. pours nice and full rich body and color. nice head and carbonation. the taste is sweet. maybe a bit too sweet.

not my favorite taste but very good. brown sweet fruit. the abv is noticable but not overpowering. this would be a good sipper by the fire.

suckem up and movem out.

giblet

Photo of TLove
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The appearance is a medium brown, with a light, subtle head and a beautiful consistency all the way though.

Smell is very fruity and strong, reminiscent of a strong dark ale or a quad. The taste rolls over dark fruits, birch wood, and fig on the palate, though the 11% ABV presence is seemingly overwhelming to the initial taste. The complexity of the body is not engulfed by the high ABV and the beer eventually comes into its own after a few more sips.

The mouthfeel is well-laced with a balance of hops, fruit, alcohol, and a wood-induced earthiness. The drinkability and finish are not as well-rounded as I have come to expect from most Belgians, but the complexity and taste speak for themselves.

Photo of matty
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown colored ale with a very rapidly fading head.Aroma is dark fuits.Taste is sugar cane,raisins,plum fig and dark cherries.Alcohol is pretty well hidden in the taste but believe me this is not an ale you would want to play quarters with.Overall a solid ale that I would recommend and purchase again!!

Photo of abents
3.38/5  rDev -18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a midnight black with HUGE tan head, looks amazing.
Smells of dark roasted malts and some fruit. Taste is very sweet with dark fruits abounding. Pretty big alcohol on the finish for me. Really sweet sticky finish. Very creamy feel smooth, but the alcohol and sweetness is a little too much. Very interesting beer very different than a lot of the other "quads" not really my favorite, but fine nonetheless.

Photo of everetends
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle that was recommended to me by AKBelgianBeast. Tracked this down at Green's off Ponce in Atlanta, GA. Served up in a goblet.

A: Pours a really nice, dark, rich brown. On the pour just so much activity in the glass. This wave of lighter brown to white swirls throughout the glass as you pour and as it rests. Just so much movement. The pour yielded a really nice, almost finger of cream colored head that has some really good retention and has some sticky ass lacing. This glass is just saturated with sticky ass lace all over it. Really nice.

S: Smell is mostly just some belgian yeast, heavy, dark malts and some dark fruits. Nothing too mind blowing but solid for sure. There might also be a touch of cinnamon in there as well.

T: Taste is damned good. Yet again heavy belgian yeast presence. Dark, rich, sugary malt comes in next. In the middle you find some dark fruits such as plum and plum skin, raisins, and a touch of banana. These fruits are just full of candied goodnessPancake syrup flavors come out in the end with just a thick but reasonable sweetness. Through all this sweetness comes just a nice and quite beautiful, buttery bready backbone. Just great.

M: Medium to full in body with some nice thickness. Syrupy and slick feel on the palate. ABV is just incredibly well hidden. It is there and quite noticable, but the ABV does not feel at all like it is as high as 11%. Pretty smooth going down. Carbonation is perfect for this beer by adding a bubbly crispness but not taking away from the thickness of the brew. Everything is well represented.

D: This beer goes down pretty damned easy. I kept catching myself taking bigger and bigger "sips" as I went on. I didn't want to get trashed, so I slowed myself about. All categories are solid or higher. This beer is damned good and I have to thank Frank for telling me about it. The price at just $7.50, further helps the drinkability because it doesn't break the bank. Great beer.

Photo of avalon07
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a dark brown color and a semi-thick texture. There was a huge, foamy, long-lasting head and good lacing.

S: Smelled of dark fruit, malt and sugars.

T: A fairly complex taste of figs, raisins, malt and possibly some caramel. The alcohol is barely noticable.

M: A highly carbonated beer with a smooth finish. Full-bodied.

D: This is a solid Belgian beer that's well made and goes down easy despite its high ABV.

Photo of jdhilt
4.58/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a four-finger brown head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Mahogany/brown color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Malty nose. Flavor is caramel, dark fruit, sweet. Clean finish. High ABV is hidden. I need more of these to cellar! Bottled Jul 2007, $4.20 for a 330ml bottle from a Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, ME.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

Photo of Proteus93
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This bottle was simple labeled as "Kasteel Donker" The bottle on both RateBeer and BeerAdvocate is different from what I have in front of me, but the ABV and general description is the same.

A: A deep chestnut brown with some reddish highlights. Head forms nicely but doesn't last incredibly long, leaving a spidery lacing behind.

S: Rich and sweet malts dominate the nose. A little plum and a touch of raisin, but mostly just a toasted malt graininess.

T + M: Quite a sweet maltiness... almost a little syrupy. Though this bottle was brewed in 2007, it's still a little hot at the end of '08. Alcohol is certainly noticable, adding a notable spiciness. Body is a bit thick - almost a touch sticky, with a little bite of carbonation on the tip of the tongue which mellows out with the richer body.

D: The high alcohol content can be a bit overwhelming after a while, and the sweet flavours started to overwhelm my palate as it went down. A good beer, but very intense, and best suited for very slow consumption.

Photo of tr4nc3d
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a brown/redish color with a creamy thick looking two inch head. Good retention, great big amounts of little bubbles on top dancing away leaving lacing on the side of my glass.

Smells like banana bread, cinammon, syrup, dark sugar, figs. Very great smell.

Taste is a smooth creamy caramel like, dark sugar, raisins, plums.

Medium body, smooth, nice amount of carbonation, great taste.

This was a tasty brew, good quad that I could drink again.

Photo of ncbeermonger
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The one I had was left in a cellar for a little over a year.
It was super smooth, and the abv was noticable but not over powering. This Brown style beer leaves others of its kind in the dust!
If you see one of these (in this area that's not so easy!) you should grab it up, put it away and forget about it. When you find it trust me it will make your day!

Photo of PorterLambic
3.65/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice brown with a 1/2" head that drops really quickly.
Smell is malt, yeast and a kriek-like cherry note.
Taste is malt, a light cherry, yeast with a good balance.
A medium-full body, light effervescence, warming of the palate and throat. Quite smooth. Overall, good stuff.

Photo of dnichols
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: It poured a cloudy reddish brown body with a caramel head that stood tall and was slow to recede.

S: It presented aromas of brown sugar and caramel malts with dark fruits (e.g., raisins).

T: It had a rich, creamy caramel and dark sugar body accented with sweet raisins and hints of tart, ripe plums. There were dark biting spices that danced across my tongue. The alcohol was well hidden.

M: It was medium bodied with moderate carbonation and a sweet front with a tart crisp finish. It finished warm and clean.

D: It was a good quadrupel with decent balance and flavor. It ranks behind others in its class but it is a good contender. It is a bit robust for a session brew.

Photo of Cylinsier
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle, labeled "Donker." I'm assuming its the same thing.

The appearance is a really pretty dark brown that appears to be a deep burgundy red when held up to light. The head is very thin, almost nonexistent. Smells good, kind of sugary sweet with maybe hints of caramel and, call me crazy, tobacco. The taste is almost shockingly sweet, too much for me. You can feel the alcohol at the end. The start is like caramel, followed by molasses and dark fruits like figs. Somewhat syrupy, maybe. Feels very smooth like a cognac. The effervescence is subtle. Overall decent drinkability. Great beer, although I personally find it to be too sweet.

Photo of number1bum
4.58/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Part of NEPA BC split #18.

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle, bottled July 07. Pours a dark mahogany, slightly reddish brown, with two fingers of khaki head. Head settles to a thin but full lace and leaves some nice stick.

Smells strongly of tannins, which fades a bit as it warms but never completely goes away. Lots of dark fruits, too, but the tannins give it more of a robust red wine sort of aroma than a beer. Candi sugar and caramel malt sweetness become more prominent as it warms.

I was a little leery of how this one might taste given the tannin aromas, but wow, not only is the taste absent tannins, it is absolutely bursting with delicious malty flavor. Lots of candi sugar sweetness, molasses and brown sugar, caramel, sweet and ripe plums and raisins and other dark fruits. Plenty of yeast character, as well. The sweetness is perfect, never cloying, just delicious.

Body is on the plus side of medium and is not nearly as hefty as might be expected given its strength; attributed to the ample candi sugar, no doubt. It's quite creamy and smooth, just luscious in the mouth.

Wow, this is an amazingly tasty beer. I love it. Rich and complex, tantalizingly sweet. Awesome. I could drink this damn near all night, or at least until the 11% knocked me out.

Photo of Oxymoron
3.23/5  rDev -21.6%
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.

Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
92 out of 100 based on 703 ratings.