Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
Dismiss Notice
Join The Buzz! Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest BeerAdvocate updates delivered to your inbox.

Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Not Rated.
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

366 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 366
Hads: 789
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 13.86%
Wants: 79
Gots: 112 | 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 (33) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Kasteel Donker Alström Bros
Reviews: 366 | Hads: 789
Photo of Erdinger2003
3.38/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is ok, the head dissapates almost completely away, but holds a good sticky lacing.

Smell is spicy and has a pepper smell. Very little flowery smells, with small traces of cloves, nutmeg, burnt sugar and dark fruit.

Sweet and spicy, I really enjoyed the taste. Burnt sugar is thick and overpowering with flavor. Dark fruit, grape taste.

Mouthfeel is creamy and carbonated, pretty smooth.

I would love to drink more of this beer if it was in my area, I would go looking for it. (501 characters)

Photo of tai4ji2x
3.37/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

330ml brown bottle at "beermania", a belgian beer bar in beijing, served in branded chalice.

clear, dark cola w red tint, some head but soon fades to thin ring. minimal lacing.

smells of caramel with phenolic sweetness, something like prune juice. hint of herbal grassiness.

slightly medicinal sweetness on the palate shocks me. again some caramel and candy. faint bitterness. finish starts cloyingly sweet as well, but at least the faint bitterness rounds it out slightly, albeit not enough.

feel is syrupy, with some fluffy carbonation which is otherwise quite gentle. finishes out smoother though.

this thing is just too sweet, without enough other complexities that stand out or even hold their own. maybe passable as a dessert, but even then the medicinal notes might detract from that as well... (806 characters)

Photo of BGDrock
3.36/5  rDev -16.8%
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 (691 characters)

Photo of Naugros
3.35/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Very brown in color with little head to speak of. Not what I expect from a Belgian beer. I'm used to billowy heads, but this did not develop one. Maybe it was the drinking vessel (a chalice) the precluded it. It did however leave nice lacing down the sides of the chalice.

I'm getting pears off of the nose and caramel sweetness and some dried fruit...raisins.

Yep, definitely raisins. You can taste them and they are sweet, very sweet...too sweet for me. The sweetness wrestles the heat of the alcohol to the ground and subdues it, but if you listen closely you can hear the 11% ABV crying "uncle". It's there but masked by the sugars. This is the frou frou drink of Belgian beers...almost schnapps-like.

The body is medium but all the sugar made it feel heavier. I could not perceive the carbonation.

I'm not sure I can finish this beer. I'm afraid that it will give me a headache. I'm not fond of the sugary flavor and maybe it's because I am unfamiliar as to what a donker should taste like. If this indicative of the style then I'll steer clear. I'm now hesitant to try their tripel. (1,093 characters)

Photo of Biscuit033
3.33/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Brown but you could see through it with small white head and OK lacing.

S: Dark fruits and sour cherry hit me immediately and not much else.

T: There is prune, raisins, brown sugar and molasses, tart cherry flavors that add to the sour flavors but very, very sweet.

M: Full body but a bit oily and long tart finish.

D: It is very sweet and not tart enough to balance all of the flavors to drink an entire glass. (418 characters)

Photo of acrawf6
3.32/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out a dark murky brown with a small and disappointing tan head that drops to clumps of big bubbles resting on top.

Smell. A sweet smell with dominant of raisons. Pleasant, but that is all i get

Taste. A heavy sweetness, with more juicy raison flavors. There is also a small spiced and pepperyness to it. The sweetness is fruity with the raisons, and also marrichino cherries. Aftertaste is warming with a sweet and pepper taste, and a tartness at the final end.

Mouthfeel. Body is thick, but not exactly full. Feels like a concentration of a beer, but not all the flavors of a quad. Carbonation seems proper with the beer, but on the lower side.

Overall, one of the sweeter beers i have had. Tasty, but not complex, and one i would really have to be in the mood for to truly enjoy the sweet characteristic. I do like it, but i think the flavor is just too one dimensional, and would much rather many other quads, bsda's, and a few dubbels over this one.

This one really hides the 11% extremely well. (1,010 characters)

Photo of rwathree
3.3/5  rDev -18.3%
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). (1,053 characters)

Photo of RuudJH
3.3/5  rDev -18.3%
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. (267 characters)

Photo of TheHammer
3.3/5  rDev -18.3%
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. (1,504 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
3.29/5  rDev -18.6%
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. (296 characters)

Photo of phishgator
3.27/5  rDev -19.1%
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. (374 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 jdubjacket
3.24/5  rDev -19.8%
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. (491 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 fairdinkum2
3.2/5  rDev -20.8%
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 (376 characters)

Photo of Stunner97
3.2/5  rDev -20.8%
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 (544 characters)

Photo of Oxymoron
3.19/5  rDev -21%
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. (1,273 characters)

Photo of p1nt
3.17/5  rDev -21.5%
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. (778 characters)

Photo of aracauna
3.15/5  rDev -22%
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. (436 characters)

Photo of dedrinker
3.15/5  rDev -22%
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. (546 characters)

Photo of Squelch
3.05/5  rDev -24.5%
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. (273 characters)

Photo of geexploitation
3.05/5  rDev -24.5%
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. (751 characters)

Photo of thierrynantes
3.03/5  rDev -25%
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. (335 characters)

Photo of ThaCreep
2.95/5  rDev -27%
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. (311 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)

Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
90 out of 100 based on 366 ratings.