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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
91
outstanding

653 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 653
Reviews: 347
rAvg: 4.1
pDev: 14.39%
Wants: 60
Gots: 63 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Kasteel Donker Alström Bros
Ratings: 653 | Reviews: 347 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of 3toed
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When I first tasted the Kasteel Bruin six years ago, I had a bit of an epiphany. At the time I was on a Belgian Ale kick (specifically Belgian Browns), drawn in by their complexity and depth. I bought the Kasteel Bruin on a whim; it graciously complemented the end of a delightful dinner, pairing well with a desert of Pears in Fig Syrup over Cinnamon couscous. At the end of the meal it was bliss. But, then again, maybe it was the 11% ABV. The beer became a favorite—it was relatively inexpensive ($7) for its intricacies (and heft), and it was always stocked my the choice dispensary in Richmond, VA.

I hadn't come across a bottle in quite sometime (now living in Boston) until this evening, when I happened upon the "Donker", which I had known was it's other moniker, "Bruin". At $10, it was slightly more than what I had paid prior, but it seemed to jive with all other price increases I had become accustomed to. Little else seemed to jive, however.

Appearance: Dark brown/murky amber in light, the dark cream colored head rings the circumference of the glass, creating the thinnest of shoreline. Very minimal head retention, no lacing.

Smell: Figs, roasted malt, oranges, warm fresh baked rye bread, honey and candied fruit.

Taste: Primary / Syrup, bright fruit (lemons, orange), Secondary / Robotissin, Prune Juice; Final / Alcohol, Molasses, Ginger, Fig Pudding.

Mouthfeel: Touches the tongue lightly, but quickly becomes expansive and coating, cloying with alcohol burn.

Overall: This beer is big, full of figs, and stays with you (in several ways...). It's cloying, and somewhat disappointing from my earlier exhalations. I hesitate to write that my palate has changed, or the beer has changed because, looking back I believe that there is a lot to be be said about context—

Firstly, in the past, I paired the drink with desert, which I think is a wise decision. I could also see it going well with a triple cream brie or a dry, sharp cheese. Think of the Donker as a port or desert wine. Drinking it on it's own this evening was like trying to chase cough syrup with my mother's fig pudding. Like Blueberry Pie and Sizzurp. Ugh.

Secondly, it's the middle of the friggin' summer. Unless you are spending 8 hours in a Michigan basement, there is no need to consume a Baltic Porter, an Imperial Stout or a dark quad in July. It's just silly.

Thirdly, I admit, like so many others, I have changed. I've become a hop head. My taste buds seek them out, especially in the sweetest of situations. But, the Bruin offers no light from it's syrupy sludge. It refuses to change with me.

At the risk of sounding prudent, the Donker is sweet indulgence at 11% ABV. Like a still life from the Dutch Masters—it is deep, dark and decadent, sinful, pouring over with color and life. And like the Master's, it's imbalance is overt, with opulence overbearing from the deep... leaving me searching for a bit of light in it's darkest corners.

3toed, Jul 15, 2011
Photo of eric5bellies
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank from my Duvel Tulip.

A - Pours a dark Brown colour with hints of copper. The head is off White and reduces quickly.

S - Sweet aromas of burnt sugars, and spice, malts are present as caramel.

T - Quite sweet sugars up front before some nice burnt caramel kicks in, followed by dark fruits and cherries. The finish is long with spice and booze.

M - Medium carbonation and body.

O - This is another very solid beer from Kasteel and recommended.

eric5bellies, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of djoucy
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poors dark brown with notes of ruby red. Thin tan head that goes away quickly.

Smell: Strong malt sweetness with typical dark fruits and caramel notes. Spiciness also comes strong, probably not from hops though.

Taste: Very sweet with a lite hop bitter sting towards the end. Still, a lot on the malty side, not very balanced. Touches of dates, dark fruits, caramel and molasses. A bit of spices as well.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation. Alcohol warmth. Medium heavy body with creamy texture.

Overall: Quite smooth for the ABV. Will age well. I should keep other bottle for a few more years. A bit too sweet and has an annoying alcohol bite.

djoucy, Jun 19, 2011
Photo of beergirltammy
3.5/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was served this beer at a small bar in Brussels, Belgium. I am a huge lover of dark beers and was really excited to try this. It was poured in the proper glassware and had a very nice mahogany color to it. I got about a 1/2" of head to it, which receded fairly quickly. The smell was surprisingly sweet. I was expecting more of a subdued earthy scent, but this smelled almost like cherry cough syrup. The first sip yielded more of the cough syrup taste, but as I let it roll around in my mouth a bit, I tasted more of a molasses/brown sugar hint. Honestly, I feel as though this is a good beer, but it is hard for me to get past the cough syrup taste of it.

beergirltammy, Jun 07, 2011
Photo of kojevergas
2.94/5  rDev -28.3%
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-

kojevergas, Jun 01, 2011
Photo of Rifugium
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle at Eulogy, Philly, PA

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

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

Rifugium, May 12, 2011
Photo of GuruDel
4.33/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a tulip, split 3 ways.

A: Pours a dark brown. Nice 2 finger off white head that vanished quickly.

S: Dark fruits and booze. Smells sweet, I was worried based off the smell that this wouldnt be enjoyable.

T: WOW what a difference from the smell, a great blend of spice, dark fruit and a good kick from the yeast all hides the booze well. So many flavors it was tough to pin point but really enjoyable. Truely world class.

M: good carbonation, lively on the tongue and easy to enjoy.

O: What a great beer, complex, easy to get and affordable make this a great quad.

GuruDel, Apr 06, 2011
Photo of EkimGram
4.75/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Poured from 11.2oz bottle dated 080407 into large snifter. Colour is a dark espresso brown. Pours a half-inch head, rather bubbly, that died down quickly.

Smell: Dark fruits, roasty, a little boozy, and some mild spice.

Taste: Not what I had expected from the smell. Tame, rather sweet in the way a plum is sweet. The alcohol blends in nicely with the complex flavours of what I sense to a be a little rich, sweet, somewhat roasty, almost a meaty flavour if I may. Very difficult to pick out a single flavour.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, relatively thick yet it has a very nice creamy-velvety characteristic.

Overall: Nothing I have ever drank before with an 11+% ABV has been smoother. Truly a wonderfully crafted beer.

EkimGram, Apr 05, 2011
Photo of Cyberkedi
3.93/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is malty with caramel and bread hints and a noticeable alcohol nip. It pours a dark, slightly hazy mahogany with a thick, fairly persistent pale tan head. Flavor is malty and surprisingly sweet, having tones of honey, caramel and toffee in addition to the malt. Alcohol bite is more subtle than in the aroma. Texture is fairly smooth and fizzy, leaving behind a soft but persistent tingle. Finish is sweet but not cloying, and has a nice alcohol nip to it.

Cyberkedi, Mar 22, 2011
Photo of Metalmonk
4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Love the stubby bottle, it's like I'm drinking a Canadian lager or something...only the pour clearly shows I'm not. This is an ultra-dark brown color, fudge-like and opaque, and the head is a dirty white thing, creamy and long-lasting.

Aroma is dessert-like, also earthy/yeasty, but mostly I'm reminded of chocolate cake, port, fig, chocolate-covered cherries, strong herbal tea, mint leaves, toffee. Alcohol is a faint background trace, which is impressive for any 11% beer.

Taste is rather rich, with plenty of complexity and depth. Not rich or sweet in any detrimental way, it remains even-keeled all the way. Characteristics of brown sugar, caramel, graham cracker, sweet spices / mint / strong herbs, cola, root beer, grape, raisin. Extremely well-controlled alcohol, which acts as a supportive layer, raising all the aforementioned taste impressions up to a lofty height. A mild candy-like finish, although it's a pretty faint finish all around.

Super velvety smooth feel, with an airy yet not limp body. Silky smooth, silky smooth, and silky smooth. There's just no need to describe it otherwise.

As drinkable as any 11% quad is ever going to be. This beer exhibits absolutely amazing balance and does everything right. It also reminds me exactly which country first awakened me to the vast possibilities of beer. Time to refocus my buying habits toward Belgium again. This is superb.

Metalmonk, Mar 17, 2011
Photo of KajII
3.75/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

[Best served in a Trappist glass]

Poured a clear dark brown with a small light brown creamy head that disappeared very quickly and had fair lacing. The aroma was of nutty dark malts and a horse blanket scented yeast with notes of brown sugar, raisons and dried fruit. It tasted sweet, rich and malty with hints of brown sugar at the start but matured into a nice sweet-sour yeasty flavor with notes of dried fruit at the end that left the flavor lasting an average duration on the taste buds. Mouthfeel was medium in body and nice and creamy in texture. Overall a very interesting brew. Sweet yet bold in flavor, which did a great job of concealing the high alcohol content. One definitely worth trying again.

KajII, Mar 09, 2011
Photo of AEK
4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml brown bottle poured into a Kasteel chalice.

A. A deep, clear brown beer with a white head that disappeared rapidly.

S. Vine fruit, port like, sherry.

T. Plenty of port, hessian and liquid malt bread, burnt sugar, overly sweet.

M. Full bodied.

D. This was my ultimate beer then somehow its qualities were not as good as they once were. I noticed on the label that it no longer seems to be re fermented in the bottle and it is noticeable, which is why I have given it lower marks than I would have liked. Still, a mighty barleywine that will keep you good company whilst reading a bed time book.

AEK, Feb 20, 2011
Photo of keepersj12
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Absolutely a beautiful beer. Pours a ruby red with a small head that lays on top throughout. The aroma is fruity with raisins and grapes, maybe some plums. The taste is sweet with the fruits coming through. A very nice burn develops as it warms. The finish is quite lingering and very nice, warming all the way. This is a sipping on a cold night type of beer, not designed for tailgating.

keepersj12, Feb 19, 2011
Photo of Squelch
3.03/5  rDev -26.1%
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.

Squelch, Feb 13, 2011
Photo of rvdoorn
4.95/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1998 vintage. Knowing i really don't like this beer fresh (waaay too sweet with sharp alcohol) i was very curious popping this bottle. Poured into a kasteel beer glass. The beer pours a dark brown colour with no head. Smell is very sweet: dark fruits, figs plums and the typical vintage smell. Taste is still sweet,but much less strong than the fresh one.plums, figs,candy sugar. This beer is so balanced,it is incredible. Very soft mouthfeel,no sharpness at all, liquid silk. Reminds me of a good porto. One of the best vintage beers i ever had!

rvdoorn, Feb 12, 2011
Photo of Msclamogna
4.33/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my first foray into the world of Belgian ales, and I couldn't be happier with my selection. The two reviewers before me were right; it is on the sweet side, but I disagree about it being overly sweet (when I think of overly sweet I think of Dogfish Head's barley wine). This beer would be excellent with a sharp cheddar or a blu cheese.

A full body, with high malt intensity and mild hoppiness.

Once again, this is my first foray into Belgian ales. Two friends had different bottles of Delirium at the same time, and after tasting the other two, I will say that I liked this one the most.

Msclamogna, Feb 12, 2011
Photo of ronniebruner
1.93/5  rDev -52.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

I have to agree with LordAdmNelson. I dont know if I must have got a bad bottle myself... but this did not taste like beer. This tasted like a cheaper bottle of champagne, smells like over sweetened champagne and the abundance of carbonation would lead me to believe this was just a bottle of extra sweet champagne. The aroma is of grapes, definitely no scent of hops, malt or barley. When poured, the color was a golden yellow and did not look too bad, but mixed with the overly strong taste of stale grapes, that severely impacted my score, which is a total shame since I paid $9.99 for a big bottle. Very very disappointing.

ronniebruner, Feb 10, 2011
Photo of LordAdmNelson
1.85/5  rDev -54.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Reading the reviews here makes me think that I got a bad bottle. Until I have another (which I probably won't for a while), I think this post should stand. I am of the opinion that bad bottles reflects the overall quality of the beer's production and thus should be factored into the beer's rating.

Poured a murky brown with minimal head. Nose is all phenols and a fake grape-y-ness. Gross. Taste is the same, this over-sweet, fake awful grape note. Feel is fine, drinkability is zero. Awful, awful, awful. Drainpour.

LordAdmNelson, Feb 09, 2011
Photo of beerpirates
3.6/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

75 cl bottel @ kulminator Antwerp

Vintage 1989 !!!

A: Pours a reddish brown, with no head and no carbonation

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

T: This is à very sweet beer ! Full of residual sugar, the heavy sweetness shocked me a little at first, but I soon got into it. This malt barrage is backed by a large amount of dark fruit, specifically raisin and prune, and also chocolate

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

D: this vintage has had his best years , its not really beer anymore, more like à very sweet port ,
overall, an enjoyable warming beer, or nightcap.

beerpirates, Feb 06, 2011
Photo of Hopfenpeter
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured this beer into my crystal beer mug , the color being dark brown, but held into the light, being very red, almost like a red wine. Little head building , dissipating fast ,but leaving some lacing on the glass.
Smell is dominated by sweet notes like caramel honey and fruits like fig, plum, cherry.
Tasting the beer, the alcohol presence is immediately felt. Sweet caramel and honey up front, followed by by roasted malt flavor in the middle and a nice fruity lingering of plum, fig and dark cherry.
Very smooth sweet beer, with a creamy after feel. Very pleasant!
It is a great beer, which reminds me of doppelbock.
I am glad, I tried this beer!

Hopfenpeter, Feb 04, 2011
Photo of boudreaux
4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on date: 09/09/01. I love a beer that doesn't even bother with letting you know when it should be consumed by.

A: pours dark brown, with barely a touch of amber when held to the light; minimal fizz or head (no doubt due to the high alcohol content), light tan in color; almost looks like a dark red wine

S: definite alcohol notes; also, some Beglian spice notes, almost peppery; complex, rich malty sweetness, with a touch of caramel; dark fruits (raisin, plum, dark cherry) are here; a touch of roasted flavors also show up

T: Reflects the aroma (a great thing!); very sweet and alcoholic, like an overly-sweet wine; a hint of bitterness from the toasted malt; the dark fruits and roasted elements are definitely here; also, a touch of the dark candied flavors; strong, Belgian spices are definitely here as the beer warms

M: surprisingly high carbonation, but still a medium-heavy body; smooth and warming, due to the alcohol

D: A little heavy and spicy for my liking; overall, pretty good drinkability considering the high alcohol content; I don't like wines, so this one's somewhat less drinkable for me

Give me this one on a cold night, sitting in front of a fire. It's definitely a great brew.

boudreaux, Jan 30, 2011
Photo of Robertgc
4.78/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

One of my top three beers. Slight oaky smell. Sweetness is there at first, and all the way through. No bitterness at all. At the right temperature, sort of reminds me of a "flat" coke. In a good way! So smooth, rich and full. Very sweet and rich. very drinkable with a wonderful mouthfeel.

Robertgc, Jan 27, 2011
Photo of auro0006
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a fantastic beer. If aged, it would be even more fantastic.

The color is a dark, almost opaque coffee-brown. The head is a beautiful, creamy tan.

The nose showcases aromas similar to caramel and chocolate. Roasted malts and dark candi sugars are also detected.

The body is velvety and rich.

Flavors of roasted malts are most noticeable as they sweep over the tongue. Dark, dried fruits such as figs, raisins and plums reveal themselves in the center. The creamy, long finish brings out the most of this rich brew.

auro0006, Jan 16, 2011
Photo of AdamBear
3.65/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-dark maroon brown, thin white head

S-very, very sweet belgian sugars. they smell slightly caramelized, medium strength

T-well this is very clean, crisp, and sweet. the alcohol note is present and fairly strong. there's a good mixture of berries and belgian sugars, with the sugars dominating the after-taste.

M-medium carbonation with a slightly dry finish

D-oh boy, the ABV on this one comes in to play. a better one of this style that i've had and i truly do want to have this again. not an easy drinker, but definitely a happy drinker.

AdamBear, Jan 09, 2011
Photo of Brabander
4.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got two of this bottles, each 75 centiliter, from my beerbuddy Apophis666, thanks Sietse!!!

This is a beer which has been bottled in 1999. vintage beer! Poured in my Struise glass on the first day of Christmas the beer looks very good. The head tsays for quit a while. Darkred to brown fluid with no carbonation, that's a pity.

Great taste, sweet smell and sweet in the mouth. This is a well balanced top fermented beer. Dark sugars.

Brabander, Dec 27, 2010
Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
91 out of 100 based on 653 ratings.