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Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Not Rated.
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

Educational use only; do not reuse.

368 Reviews

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Reviews: 368
Hads: 802
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 20.69%
Wants: 81
Gots: 121 | 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: 368 | Hads: 802
Photo of Ant777uk
2.67/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

11%..? Nice

Look is kind of dark red, still see through though. Froth goes down very fast.

Aroma is fruity,kind of different and complex.

Taste? OMFG wow. Intense. This is almost like someone has mixed vodka with my Chimay Blue...

No way is it worth 100 as a score. It is not a complex, highly balanced, beautiful taste. But if you value a beer by how strong it is, there are not many more than this...

Chimay Blue is much better than this, give it a try. This reminds me of the extra strong canned beer that we have all tried on the occasion...

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Photo of biboergosum
4.04/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml, caged, corked, and black foiled bottle. Y'know, 'Donker' just plain sounds better than 'dark', doesn't it?

This beer pours a clear, dark (sigh) red-brick brown colour, with two fingers of puffy, finely foamy, and yet fizzy beige head, which leaves a bit of thick promontory lace in places around the glass as it lazily sinks away.

It smells of semi-sweet, grainy caramel malt, phenolic yeast, dark (Christ, there I go again!) middle-eastern fruit (figs, dates, raisins etc), an indistinct earthy mustiness, ethereal savoury spice, and a certainly perfumed floral and slightly herbal bitterness. The taste is rather sweet caramel and toffee malt, some separate Belgian candi sugar, middling yeast, a more robust black (hah!) orchard fruitiness (plum, prune, red grapes and dates), sedate musty measures, and a boozed-up floral, herbal, and weedy bitterness equal to that in the nose.

The bubbles are pretty low-key in their lilting and caressing frothiness, the body a solid medium-heavy weight for the style, and generally smooth and creamy, only the hovering, yet benevolent alcohol having any truck here, it would seem. It finishes still fairly sweet, but not overly cloying or tongue-scrapingly so.

Yep, it's 'donker', and sweet, but in a deftly moderated sense, which you tend to get from the better purveyors of these upper-end Belgian offerings. While not standing right beside the pinnacle of said hallmarks, Kasteel Donker is at least playing in the same ballpark, just waiting for its (maybe long overdue) call-up.

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Photo of alexanderplatz
2.01/5  rDev -50.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 1.25 | overall: 1.5

Too cloyingly sweet. Combined with low carbonation the result is an unpleasantly syrupy beverage. Tasted worse and worse as the glass wore on. One dimensional and uninteresting. If it had been a blind taste test you could have convinced me it was a novice home brew. Made through half a glass before I decided to drain pour the rest.

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Photo of tillmac62
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

BOD 2/6/13. Pours a dark garnet that is almost black unless held to light. Outstanding head volume, lacing and retention...considering it's 11% ABV.

Outstanding rich nose of plum, raisin and fig over a solid caramel malt base. Light alcohol notes are present.

Light medium body with a smooth texture. Light carbonation with just a touch of effervescence in the middle and finish.

The flavor profile is almost world class. Reasonable intensity, quite complex and very well balanced. The only flaws are the body is a bit light and the alcohol is not quite covered. The fruits of the nose predominate with sweetness upfront that flows through plum, fig and raisin. The middle brings an alcohol note that intensifies into the finish and also provides a bit of heat. The flavor shifts from the sweet dark fruits noted earlier into a prune that is slightly astringent. Prune and alcohol linger.

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Photo of kevinlater
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle into goblet. over a year old i think. enjoyed on july 3, 2015. paired with a rib steak

a: transparent-ish deep crimson with under a finger of bone-hued head. really cool

s: sweet fig and raisin, some date-like notes, plums, sweet alcohol. very vinous

t: follows the nose. full of sweet raisin and plum. lesser notes of figs and dates. again, very vinous overall. slight alcohol presence

m: medium mouthfeel, plenty of subtly bubbly carbonation

o: as you can tell by this review, it's a very sweet beer. not for everyone, but a real treat for me. went well with the steak

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
4.24/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours from the 750 ml ( 25 oz) bottle a very dark amber with a smallish tan head. The taste is malty and complex on the tongue. Easy to drink. Beware!

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.11/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of brureview
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured in a moa snifter. Served at 54°F 12°C as suggested on the bottle.

Perhaps 54° is a bit warm to start for quad. I should've started at about 50° 10°C. The beer poured a dark black-brown color with a one finger head.

The aroma was weaker than expected. Hints of fig, plum, and fruit.
The beer was bottled about 2 years ago. Perhaps this affected the taste profile.
I have cellared some quads only to find that the aroma/taste diminished.

MF malty and smooth.

Taste: deep plum, fig, chocolate:excellent and complex. However, I was thinking that if I had a fresher bottle perhaps the taste would be more pronounced. I am not sure if the beer is aged before it is distributed.

The alcohol is deceiving in this beer- I hardly taste it. It's one of the easiest drinking quads I have tasted.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.34/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz chubby bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled 2/6/13

A- pours a deep brown color with a ruby hue, small foamy off-white head reduces to leave a ring around the edge

S- dark fruity aromas of black cherry, raisin, date, plum & fig. Fresh brown bread with hints of caramel, candied sugar, brown sugar, licorice & alcohol

T- lots of sweet malt up front with flavors of candied Belgian sugar, brown sugar & molasses. Dark fruits kick in mid-palate with flavors of cherry juice, plum & fig. Bready brown malt adds fruit-cake-like flavor, more sweetness on the finish with more dark fruit on the linger

M- viscous body with low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a slightly chewy warming finish

O- this is definitely a sipper that drinks more like a dessert port, this would be a fine choice for an after dinner drink

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Photo of drmeto
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

-hard on the edge between very sweet and too sweet
-brown sugar and toffee notes dominating
-slight dark fruit and Banana notes
-clear toasted malt character on the backend
-slightly boozy as it warms up
-slightly undercarbonated
-toasty and slightly alcoholic finish

good, but the sweetness almost kills it for me

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Photo of Dentist666
4.04/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip.
Very dark brown beer with thin tan head. Thick smell of dark fruits, molasses, licorice, toffee, caramel. Taste is sweet, surprisingly, not very alcoholic, candy sugar, plums, sticky. Light carbonation, still drinkable, despite high ABV.

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Photo of ajm5108
3.84/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A lot of sweet grape musk on the nose. It almost smells like fresh grape jam. The wine grape carries over to the flavor, mixing with some sweet malt, dark molasses and cola. Unexpected for a quad, but very solid and easy to drink for such abv.

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Photo of interzen
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

330ml bottle poured into a tulip glass

Look: Deep, dark brown - no haze, cloudiness or floaties and a tan head which settles down to a uniform foam cap. No lacing at all.

Smell: Sweet, very sweet. Loads of dark, roasted malt aromas with more than a hint of molasses and burnt sugar - faint hints of dark, stewed fruit: think prunes, raisins, that kind of thing. If there's anything else there, then it's pretty much hammered into submission.

Taste: Tastes like it smells - if it were any sweeter you'd probably have sugar crystallising out on your teeth. The 'plumminess' is a bit more forward in the taste but still manages to be overwhelmed by the taste of candi sugar and molasses.

Feel: It even feels sweet, whatever that means. Almost overbearingly cloying - a bit heavy for my tastes: any more than a 330 and I'd be struggling. That said, the ABV is pretty well hidden - even the alcohol can't get past the sweetness.

Overall: Kasteel Donker forms an integral part of one of my favourite beers, Kasteel Rouge, so it was interesting to get the opportunity to try it on its own. I think I'll stick to the cherrified version - Donker on its own is just too damned heavy and sweet for my personal tastes. As an 'every now and again' thing, this makes a nice change (and hell, you can't beat a good quadrupel) but it's hard going for 'regular' drinking.

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Photo of superspak
4.24/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

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Photo of pigpen892
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a dark brown heading to maroon with little or no head, promising a boozy Belgian quad. Smelled like raisins, currants, and dark, sticky fruit in general. Tasted like a tawny port -- rich, sweet and booze on the front fading to fruit on the finish. Had a silky smooth feel perfect for the sweet alcohol. Overall one of the best, most balanced, beers I've tried even if one of the sweetest.

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Photo of TastyAdventure
3.64/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Extremely sweet. I was a little disappointed, because the taste of sugar so overwhelming that it's hard to taste much else. I'll say the alcohol is well hidden....
This is a sweet tooth beer, and i don't really have a sweet tooth..

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.88/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark brown with a hint of read in there. Nice head but it dissipated quickly and there was no lacing on the glass. The smell jumps out as you pour, the dark fruits are the first thing you notice, mostly raisin, there seems to be a little cherry and definitely the candy. You pick up a hint of the alcohol in the smell. Then the taste, wow, unbelievable. Taste is similar to smell but bigger and even more complex. It is very sweet up front, you get the candy and the raisin is what I would call thick, but not out of whack. I still am getting the cherry, kinda like wine which I almost never drink so could not quantify, and something along the caramel/toffee that I can't make out. Although maybe just the candy that comes across creamy. The alcohol is there but you do not notice it until you think about it. Extremely tasty, complex, but oddly it all works. It is sticky in you mouth, almost syrupy but it really works. You are licking the sweetness of your lips, outstanding. Overall this was an extremely interesting and quality quad that I am shocked is not getting more pub. Good day and it was a victory beer, victory is good.

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Photo of don1481
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

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Photo of DiUr
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%

Bottled February 19th, 2013. Love the styling on the bottle, cage, and cork! Cellar temperature in my cute little tulip glass.

A respectable two to three-finger tan head diminishes to a stable, soft sheet of froth fed by carbonation bubbles, which are visibly numerous. The color is stunning. A deep, dark crimson or garnet that looks almost purple to me (and I'm fond of purple).

The aroma is a classic Belgian bouquet of dark fruit, caramel, fruitcake, a bit of sherry, and vinous grape-like notes. A little earthy and musty (in a good way). Magnificent.

Flavors follow the aroma's set-up perfectly. Terrifically fruity (think raisins, plums, apples, and grapes), a little spicy (cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, among others maybe), and a little bit of pleasant port-like booziness. And it has that unmistakable sweet Belgian yeastiness I love. Some caramel, nuttiness and bread hang out in the finish. Overall, quite sweet!

Its body is effervescent and substantial, as befits a quad.

An outstanding specimen of a Belgian ale.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.24/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Trappistes Rochefort glass.

Deep chestnut brown and red, with a swirling top of middle carbonation. Very little head creation, and leaving a faint fine tan collar on the edges. Love this swirling effect.

Huge fig note aromas. Thick raisin, hints of dry nutmeg, and very clean sensing. Not even boozy hot. Very impressive. A bit of a one note angle, but an extremely good one on the bouquet.

Palate hits with a very nice control, but extremely syrupy feel. Thick raisin syrup and fig notes, with a mild sense of brown sugar. Big full mouth coating effect in the palate, and almost nutty aftertaste. Big on the sweetness but goes more to true fruit than something artifical and overly sugary. Hints toward purple juiced grape a bit too.

Overall a very solid off the radar quad, but just a bit too sweet for my tastes.

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Photo of MasterfulIdiot
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Poured into an Ikea snifter. The liquid is dark mahogany - very nearly pitch black, and the pour produces a thick, creamy khaki head that eventually settles down to a film that leaves a good amount of lace.

Aroma is quintessential quad - plums, molasses, bread, little bit of milk chocolate, little bit of booze, and a slight warming character.

Holy crap this tastes incredible, and has a lot more nuance than the nose! Starts out with intense, juicy dark fruit, like there's actual plum juice in there. Then comes in a wonderful cocktail of spices and yeasty flavors that I can't even begin to try to describe precisely. The milk chocolate is more pronounced on the palate, and is a great complement to the other flavors. The booze flavor brings in a weird kind of mintiness that is also wonderful. Finish is ever-so-slightly bitter, quickly followed by an aftertaste of rich, sweet, malty molasses. Really, really, great flavors and balance.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied with moderate carbonation. The beer has a really incredible silkiness and is wonderfully viscous with just enough carbonation to break it up.

Overall, super great - I couldn't imagine something better to drink during a long Northern European winter.

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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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Photo of BeerDrinkersWorldTour
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%

Appearance – As black as your boot this is probably one of the darkest beers I have ever come across. It seems to swallow light like a black hole. Little evidence of carbon

Smell – Roasted malts with caramel and dates or figs, I always get those two mixed up.

Taste – Very sweet, almost syrup like. Liquorice and figs with desert wine.

Mouthfeel – Pretty full in the mouth. I was surprised to find little evidence of the alcohol in the mouthfeel but it has a sticky finish.

Overall – A really good beer although in my opinion not as good as Golden Draak. At 11% it is not to be trifled with. You had better treat this one like a Trappist beer and leave it to one bottle a day. It hits you first at the back of the tongue and it is definitely quite sweet. I find it quite similar to toffee but beyond that there is not much to say. If you like them sweet then this is a good beer for you.

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Photo of MartzMimic
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a Kasteel goblet at Taste of Belgium in Palm Beach, Aruba. Pours a dark reddish brown with only the slightest creamy ivory head. It dissipates quickly, leaving minimal lacing. The aroma reminds me of prune, but the sweetness is very evident in the nose. The taste follows the aroma. Prunes, plum and raisins with lots of caramel sweetness. Medium mouth, but the way it slides off the tongue gives it a light feel. It's certainly different from the other quads I've tried, but it is so very good. I wish I could find this one closer to home.

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Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
91 out of 100 based on 368 ratings.