Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

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Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

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366 Reviews

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Reviews: 366
Hads: 798
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 20.69%
Wants: 81
Gots: 120 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V. visit their website

Style | ABV
Quadrupel (Quad) |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2001

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 366 | Hads: 798
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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Photo of BGDrock
3.36/5  rDev -17.2%
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

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Photo of seedyone
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap. I admit it. I go for the sweet and this has all the angles going for it...as long as you're 'on the sweet'. Not white sugar sweet, but that raisiny sweet...dates sweet...kind of, but not really that dried fruity sweet. I'm on that in a minute...as long as there is of depth of flavor. I don't want to tarnish or enhance the experience with words that may be misinterperted so I'll just say if you like deep, serious flavors & have the time to savour...make this the one. So stop reading this & order the damn thing already...

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

Murky brown color with practically no head which disappeared in a blink.
Malty pleasant aroma of cinnamon and raisins bagel, vinous liquor, prunes, figs and hard candy.
Delightful and liquorish flavor pineapples, maple syrup, strawberries, molasses, red apples, yellow fruits, cola, bananas, figs, muscatel grapes, anise, desert wine, yeast and licorice. Low in spices, relatively to style. Dry aftertaste with a fruity lingering note.
Medium to full body with appropriate carbonation. Alcohol of 11% abv is unexpectedly absent at first and it has a sticky feeling.
Very complex and also sweet quad. This seems to age well and it works perfectly as a dessert beer (you wouldn’t drink a second bottle...). Call it a sleeping pill or night cap.

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Photo of Big_Beers
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a brown .750 from homebrew store.

smell: ripe fruit, baking spice, heavy on the candy

Taste: sugar coated fruit, candied goodness. I really like this interpretation of a quad. Very sweet like a fine dessert wine.

Mouthfeel: interesting twist between a very wet yet feels dry when the mouth closes. perfect

Overall: I am only saddened that I have not bought this sooner. Makes my fav list for sure

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Photo of John656
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Dark with a reddish hue. Minimal creamy foam head.

S - Yeasty, dark fruits, paint, and prunes.

T - Raisins, molasses, prunes, and brown sugar describe the taste of this beer. The flavour is both complex and strong. There is a taste of booze but it's still smooth on the palate for 11%. Kasteel Donker reminds me of a port or dessert wine in a beer format. I'm generally not a fan of sweeter alcoholic drinks but I respect the elements of this brew.

M - Medium body with creamy mouth feel. Moderate carbonation with a Barley wine-ish texture.

O - This Quad is definitely on the sweeter side with a unassuming punch that finishes as strong as it starts. It may be a touch too sweet to make it an ideal Quad for my taste buds but the deep multitude of flavours still make this a solid beer.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

330 ml bottle purchased from LCBO for $3.30 CDN. Seems like a good deal for what is supposedly a world-class Quad.

Appearance - Opaque dark brown cola color, with red hues. A finger of off-white head is poured and dissipates fairly quickly. Soapy residue left on top of this beer.

Smell - Even when quite cold significant dark fruit and candied fruit aromas. The stereotypical Belgian yeast aroma is present, although subdued. Very sweet smelling like a fresh dessert platter.

Taste - Significant cherry flavor and very sweet overall, especially compared with other Quads Belgian Yeasts and some toasted brown sugar mixed in some sort of rich mixture is also something prevalent on the tongue. Quite delicious and very flavorful even at low temperatures. Significant cola flavors in here as well.

Mouthfeel - Well carbonated and not boozy until the second half of any given sip, which is when you notice that enormous 11% ABV and decide this is a beer to be respected and should be consumed slowly. Bit of a spicy mixture on the back end at low temperatures.

Overall - A very fine quad, maybe not quite in the Westy 12 and Rochefort 10 league but eminently enjoyable and at all times a serious beer that is to be respected and enjoyed. Would gladly pick up another especially at the current price in Ontario.

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Photo of monketeeth
4.51/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Drinking this one out of a Chimay chalice. Hazy dark brown with a 1 finger head that quickly dissipates. Light lacing holds the side nicely when you swirl the glass. Medium thickness, I would not say syrupy but in the ballpark. Very inviting when held up to the light.

S- Maple syrup, assorted dried fruits (figs, dates and prunes in a good way), brown sugar and a very light touch of cinnamon.

T- Taste follows the nose. Pleasantly sweet ,but not cloyingly so, with lots of those dried fruits and a bit of brown sugar and maple syrup. Really reminds me of the fall going into winter with the dried fruit preserves or even a bit like apple butter. Wow!!! I really love this stuff! As it warms the flavors become more pronounced. Light but very pleasant burn on the back end.

M- Smooth and a bit syrupy with that hint of burn on the way down. The alcohol is nicely hidden with just enough to let you know that it is there. Light to medium carbonation. Overall very pleasant.

O- This bottle was aged for 3 yrs. and I must say, I reeeally love this stuff. I've had other bottles of varying years/age and this one was the best. Simply outstanding as a stand alone or a dessert beer. I would not say that this is a "whole bottle in one sitting" beer. Best shared with a friend.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for $3.25

Appearance – Hazy brown colour with an above average size fizzy beige coloured head. It’s hard to make out the carbonation level due to the darkness of the beer and there is some fair lacing. The head lasted for 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell – Malts, caramel/molasses, metallic

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel/molasses, and some yeast. There is also some cola like sweetness and a hint of dark fruits.

Overall – ABV is well hidden and it tastes a little like a barley wine in some ways.. I'd like a little more dark fruit flavour rather than the cola notes, but this is still an excellent brew. Just a little one dimensional. Curious to see how this ages.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at the LCBO 330ml bottle for $3.25. Served at 8deg C in a tulip

A- Opened very well. Nice head, very dark

S- Malty. Metallic smell is pretty harsh

T- Pretty good. Very hot though. To be expected at 11%. roasted malt, almost quadly goodness.

M- Excellent! Very creamy and smooth even with the high ABV.

O- Very good. Will need years and years to simmer down but doubt highly it will ever lose it's hotness.

Food Pairing

This wonderful Donker paired well with... roast beef. Nice root veggies and you have a dinner.


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

From a 330 ml bottle to a chalice.

A: pours a deep brown with red highlights. There is a thin one finger head that breaks quickly and leaves a thin ring of bubbles. Small lacing with a swirl.

S: sweet dark fruits such as figs and prunes are up front. Brown sugar, malts and some yeasts are also present. Very pleasant.

T: much of the nose follows onto the palate. Those dark fruits are dominant but the sweet of brown sugar or candy comes through a bit more too. The malts and yeasts round this out nicely. Alcohol is there but not invasive.

M: medium carbonation with a full body. Very smooth and enjoyable.

O: I would say this beer was a sleeper for me. I wasn't expecting what I got at all. While I know some would call it a touch sweet, I liked the dark fruit profile a great deal. If you like big Belgians I think you will like this.

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Photo of StJamesGate
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Glowing chestnut with steady clingy finger of cappuccino foam that trails.
Deep nose of cinnamon raisin toast, brandy butter, and toffee apples.
Golden sultana and soft caramel up front, some almost-ripe figs, vanilla tones, clove sneaking through with some bruised pears, and a hint of herbal hops at the end.
Slight ginger + bubblegum end and long wood spice linger.
Medium headed towards full, chewy, slight heat.

Huge - loads of residual (candy?) sugar make for a big body, and the fruit-and-sweets flavor notes enhance that. Not far from Backwoods Bastard in terms of big, round, sweetness - fruits are all yellow rather than dark. Yeast and fizz save it from cloying, but only just. Nice to sip slow like some honey-soaked pastry that hurts your teeth, but I wanted something to lift this a bit.

The top of the 2nd tier of quads.

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

From: BInny's, Champaign, IL
Date: Bottled 2012-01-25
Glass: Founders snifter

Though a bit strong with its ethanol presentation, I found myself really enjoying this beer's heavy caramel sweetness and interesting anise and dried fruit mixtures. The mouthfeel was fairly heavy, yet effortlessly foamy and smooth thanks to well-executed carbonation. Overall, a very good, somewhat unique Belgian Quad that hit most of my flavor pleasure zones, a good one to seek out again.

Pours a 1.5cm tall head of tan colored foam, made up of small-sized bubbles that yield a frothy-looking appearance. Foam retention is average, around one minute, fading to a thick ring around the glass and a medium-sized island of thin foam that remains atop the body of the beer for the duration of the session. Lacing is very good, with some large blotches and lines, with smaller dots clinging with some fairly high density to the walls of the glass. Beer's body is a dark brown to black color, with light bringing out orange hues around the perimeter of the beer. Carbonation not visible through the opaque body.

Aroma of sweet, deep caramel and burnt sugar, with strong raisin characters.

Overall flavor of dense caramel sweetness, burnt sugar, anise, prunes, and ethanol; the anise and other(?) phenols I can't describe products of the Belgian yeast, which give this its characteristic flavors. Front of palate picks up heavy caramel sweetness, prunes, moderate anise, mild ethanol, and a hint of roasted barley. Mid-palate of caramel, burnt sugar, cola, prune, anise, and ethanol, all fairly equally well-expressed. Back of palate of slight grape, prune, anise, caramel, cola, mild ethanol Aftertaste of caramel and burnt sugar, slight raisin and prune, faint anise.

Beer is heavy-bodied, with carbonation of medium to medium-low intensity, resulting in a smooth (1/3) and otherwise foamy (2/3) mouthfeel that suits the beer and the style quite well. Ethanol felt as heat in the nostrils and low burn on the palate and back of throat, not surprising for an 11% ABV beer, fairly well-integrated into the overall package. Closes dry, with heavy stickiness on the palate and lips.

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