1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Not Rated.
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

742 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 742
Reviews: 363
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 14.11%
Wants: 72
Gots: 102 | FT: 1
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 (32) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 742 | Reviews: 363
Photo of Kuaff
4.53/5  rDev +10.2%

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.

Photo of don1481
4.54/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

Photo of GIVEMEBACKMYSON
4.54/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Root beer brown, head is minimal, moderate clarity for the color, thought there would be more of a pillowy head for being a Belgian quad, but ok...

Smell is all sugarplums, dates, prunes, and mildly composted apple peels.

Flavor is really quite spellbinding. I'll do my best here... Up front we have sweeet raisin bread, and that is a sort of a leading notion, and the rest comes secondary, different characters stepping forth and bowing back into obscurity, anonymity....moldy wood, green apples that don't ever go tart, nor sweet...unsmoked cigars, maple wood, pecans, sweet and low, juicy fruit gum. It's all in there, you just have to stop drinking and sit for a while between sips. All the while there hangs a notion, almost a threat, that this will be a sour, but it never is.

The noted lack of head comes through in the mouthfeel. It's not bad, but, lacks some of the pillowiness I'd have hoped for. Really, a touch of CO2 is all that is missing from making this a world beater. Of course, it did travel some route to get from Belgium to Anchorage, and who knows how that went for it. There is alot of good here no matter how you slice it. The flavor, in this "sweet quad" is superb.

Photo of afoltz2
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer rates well for me because of the experience that went along with it, which was "Beer School," one Sunday afternoon at the Beer Trappe in Lexington, Ky. I say that not because it reminds me of a good experience, but part of Beer School is learning about the beers you sample, how they are crafted, what distinct flavors, smells, and feels should be, and you get to compare samples from the same class of beer side by side.

I went to Beer School with my cousin Tony, another beer lover, whose taste differs from mine. I prefer stouts and lagers, he prefers witbiers and hefeweizens. We agreed that both the Kasteel Donker had the best flavor and feel among the six that were sampled that day, all of which were bock beers. I brought home several of the ones I liked to increase my sample size, and reconfirmed that the Kasteel was best in class.

For having a high ABV, this brew does not have a strong alcohol taste to it. It was surprisingly smooth, and the roasted malt flavor was strong but not overpowering beginning and end of taste. I drank from the bottle, like a heathen, so I cannot comment on the pour or the color, sadly, and I will drink from proper glassware next time I try one so I can update my review.

In short, if you like bock-style beers, this is definintely one to try and enjoy!

Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured to a New Belgium tulip from a small bottle which says ``bottled on 100506''. The pour is brown, clear, and very dark. Carbonation is low and there is a thin layer of foam on the beer. The nose is quite unique. I haven't encountered a beer like this one before. I get cherries and raisins, then once I start swirling I start to get a little bit of alcohol, a slight sour note, and a strong wine-like component.

The beer is full-bodied and the taste is complex, sweet, and strong. Initially, I get lots of dark fruit, brown sugar, and caramel. There is a slight touch of alcohol warmth, but the real treasure lies at mid-palate. The flavors develop there and take on port-like qualities. It is absolutely delicious. The mouthfeel is viscous and ``chewy''.

What a wonderful beer. It is like drinking a nice glass of port. It's definitely a sipper and not the easiest beer to drink, and I think it could use a bit more carbonation to help stimulate the palate, but that doesn't take away from its great qualities. I wouldn't suggest this to someone new to beers of this caliber. It has a lot of complexity and a lot of power.

Photo of obywan59
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle. You need to peel off the tear strip to get the paper off the top to expose the wired-down cork.

Pours dark brown into my Duvel glass with a 2 1/2 finger head leaving light lacing.

Aroma of tart citrus at first, but then I noticed some sweet maltiness as well.

Oh, wow!! After the tart aroma, I didn't expect it to be so sweet. Taste of dark bitter chocolate and burnt malt with a bit of cherry. Or, perhaps dark dried fruit soaked in rum. Almost candy sweet.

To me it felt a bit lighter than other BSDAs I've tried (except for Mad Elf). This was a good thing, considering the extra sweetness. I think the sweetness, more than the mouthfeel, is what makes it seem almost syrupy. Not cloying.

Excellent sippability. The sweetness definitely slow you down. I think I like this even more than Corsendonk Christmas Ale.

The 11% ABV really fried me!!

Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. Beige head on a hazy deep tudor brown body. Soapy lacing sticks to the glass. Aroma includes candi sugar, brown sugar, dates, overripe banana, some alcohol and raisins. Mouthfeel is thick, tongue coating. Tasting notes are similar to the aroma although the alcohol is not noted on tasting. Very nice quad, as expected from Kasteel.

Photo of Sigmund
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

33 cl bottle, at Les Moules Belgian restaurant in Prague. Served too cold. Beautiful deep brown to ruby colour. Large head which disappears rapidly. Aroma of dark malts, oak, old sherry, spices and leather. Flavour is very malty and sweet with a warming mouthfeel, elements of Christmas spices and old sherry. Very good. Yummy!

Photo of whynot44
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful deep mahogany color with a rather thin tan head that subsides quickly to just a collar but still manages to leave a bit of lace.

The aroma is fruity, sweet, brown sugar, caramel, alcohol. Full bodied, sweet malt, fruit - plums, grapes, more plums, maybe some apples - caramel, vanilla, cognac.

Amazing flavors, sweeter than I normally like but somehow pulls it off without being offensive. Only the barest trace of hops to offset all that sweet fruit and caramel.

Smooth, very nice feel in the mouth, definite warmth in the finish but drinkable. This would be a good desert beer either by itself or accompanying a dark, fruity torte. Great beer.

Photo of marc77
4.56/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Crystal clear deep garnet hue, w/ a head that quickly dissipates into a tight tan ring due to the high apparent alcohol content. Spotty isolated bubble inlands are left. The aroma is dominated by vinous, alcohol soaked dark fruit w/ a contrasting dark caramel and chocolate malt. Hint of dry, coffeeish roasted barley is present as well. Earthy Styrian Goldings hop nose. When combined with the light clove phenol, bubblegum esters and pleasantly peppery alcohol the nose knows this is a potent Belgian. Unfortunately, there's a slight hint of lightstruck derived mercaptans (curse of the green bottle) that prevents the aroma from acheiving greatness. Assertive, molasses like, dark candi sugar sweetness is perceived initially in flavor, then is ceded by a melange of dark, dried fruit including raisin and sugary dates. The dark fruitiness then melds with dark caramel malt, light chocolate and pseudosweet alcohol to lend an overall impression of bourbon soaked chocolate cake. Yeast derived flavors emerge late and mirror their presence in aroma, consisting of clove and mild bubblegum. Ethanol flavors are well controlled, w/ only slight peppery notes percpetible. Hop bitterness is paltry and leaves malt sweetness virtually unhindered, yet sweetness doesn't become cloying, due to this brew's inherent complexity. Moderately bodied, w/ a sugary and dextrinous mouthfeel. Finishes both sweet and lightly roasty, with enveloping alcohol warmth surfacing concomitantly. Kasteel Donker is a tremendously flavorful brew. Although sweet all around in character, the sweetness is multi faceted and contrasted by both yeast esters and mellow dark grain. Considering its strength, the drinkability is supreme. Donker is an oxy moron of a brew-- ballsy and refined. Bottled 8/2001.

Photo of irs
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

holy MF S! this was a gift from a very very very generous friend. bottled on date is 071102. So this is an 8 year old Belgian, and I know he aged it well.
I am so not worthy, this is my first review on BA, but I feel like I just can't just drink something this rare and try to pay some homage to my friend's generosity.
A - looks like Newcastle, warm, moist, medium dark brown with a sweet beige lacing along the glass.
S - Sweet. Feels like walking through ripe honeysuckle, but not...Caramel and butterscotch. I hate very sweet smells, but this is somehow addictive.
T - very sweet. Like a cake infused with brandy, or rum, more like rum, but very intense and sweeter than rum.
M - this is what I like best. its chewy, yet light. it leaves a very nice aftertaste on the palate. Carbonation seems just what it should be for the whole experience.
D - Hard to answer. One is very nice. I wouldn't have two. Two would be awful. For a nice dessert, I think this is wonderful. But just one.

Photo of jdhilt
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

Photo of marburg
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Exceptionally deep and rich in color, the beer is a dark brown leather hue with an off-white head that rapidly disappears, becoming little more than a ring around the glass.

Huge aromas of all sorts of blended varieties of sweetness -- over-ripened fruits, perhaps, more than anything. Very sweet to the taste. Sugary. Dark raisins. Very intense flavor that masks the 11% behind a wall of candy-like flavor.

I had only a tiny scrap of a napkin on which to write notes about this beer, and it's most unfortunate. It's fruity complexities are impressive and very fun. I'm sure there are far more adjectives that one could use to describe this beer. It's aroma and taste are compelling to say the least.

Photo of cro250klr
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It's been a while since I had a Kasteel Brune. Four months to be exact. It was one of our main staples while we were in Belgium. Finally, Kasteel has made it back to northeast Pa. Just in time too, as fall is here and the weather is getting cooler. This has to be one of the best belly warmers on the planet. If you don't like sweet, smooth and malty high abv brews, stay away. I absolutely love strong dark Belgians and this is number three on my all time favorite list. Only a Westy 12 and a Rocheford 10 can give this brew a run for it's money.
The murky apperance in the chalice with it's light tan head is a sight to behold. The sweet fruity aroma and that first alcohol blast just have to be experienced. The yeasty, malty taste reminds me of the sweet dough bread my grandmother used to make. The 11% stands out like a sore thumb but, coupled with the nose and taste, that makes this an amazing beer. When Franklin said, "Beer is proof that God love us and wants us to be happy", he must have been sitting next to a warm fire with a bottle of this liquid ecstacy.

Photo of Boto
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

33cl bottle: This one pours a slightly hazy caramel brown. There was a very small head on mine. The aroma is quite nice. Caramel malt comes through, with some breadiness. Some fruits in there also, possibly raisins and plums. Very full, rich taste. Some candi sugar, plums, breadiness, many others. An exceptional brew.

Photo of adamette
4.57/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of kaiyote
4.58/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of bditty187
4.59/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark brown hue with maroon influences, brightly reddish highlights were the light penetrates it, the beige head reached a modest finger in height but it held like cement. As I quaffed sheets of lace were formed. An impressive sight visually. The aroma wafting from my glass is delightful with tart fruitiness, hints of oak, and toasty malt. I was expecting more, especially in hindsight after I tasted it. The nose lacks the complexities of the palate. Chocolate-coated raisins soaked in brandy aged in oak barrels starts the palate, glorious sweetness settles in and then explodes on the tastebuds, igniting a fire of alcohol, tropical fruit, and traces of pepper. The sweetness is absolutely wonderful, simply perfect. It isn’t cloying and offset perfectly with the bourbon, brandy alcohol heat, then add in the complex fruitiness and WOW! The maltiness is damn near identical to cake. Where did that toffee come from? Apples? The finish is sweet like a chocolate cake soaked in alcohol topped with a tropical fruit jelly spiced with peppery-cloves. Low but playful carbonation, nearly perfect for this beer, the body is slightly fuller than medium, near ideal. The aftertaste is long and wonderful with qualities similar to an aged Barleywine but with so much more. The alcohol potency is not noticeable on the taste, impressive, it is easy to drink but so tasty you want to sip and savor it. As I did. This is seriously one of the best beers I have ever tasted and shockingly I bought it in Nebraska! Lincoln to be exact, I must go get more 750mls to cellar, even if they did run $12 each.

Seek this out.

Photo of Dogbrick
4.59/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at From The Vine monthly beer tasting Oct 13th, 2003: This was probably my favorite beer of the tasting and a pleasant surprise. This is the beer Chimay Bleu wants to be. Pours a brownish-amber color with a medium thick beige head. Lots going on in the aroma - fruit, malt, port wine and caramel. Nicely rich body with a complex blend of malt, grain, chocolate, raisins and spicy alcohol. The finish is sweet toffee and malt. Outstanding.

Photo of Deus1138
4.62/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first time reviewing a beer I had the pleasure off drinking at a bar, rather than my usual at home reviews.

I sampled this brew at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur, GA. Anyone in the metro-Atlanta area that has an affinity for beer should go here. I'll be posting a very complimentary review of their service right after this.

The brew was brought to me in a delightful little bottle along with a Kasteelbier Bruin-Brune goblet. It had gold around the rim...very nice touch.

I'm really not that great at smelling beer. I don't know what it is, because I have a great sense of smell. I just have trouble detecting all of the flavors and subtleties in beers that I see so many of you talk about in your reviews. I'm working on it though. This brew, however, did not challenge my nose one bit. When I poured it into the goblet at half an arm's length away, I could immediately smell plum and sweetness. I couldn't believe the strength of the smell! I usually have to bring a glass right up to my nose and swirl it a little to smell anything. This was incredible!!! It wasn't overwhelming or too much, it was just a very strong smell of incredible sweetness.

The taste was exceptional. Plum, plum, plum, raisin, and sugary sweetness. Smooth on the palate, creamy, and a nice after taste. The alcohol was slightly noticeable. I began to notice it more with each sip. It only SLIGHTLY detracted from the flavor, which by the way, is one of the best and sweetest I have ever had. At 11% abv, it's a sipping beer. I don't know what it would go good with, since it is just so darn good on its own.

If you have the means, get your hands on this beer. I would have ordered another if I didn't have to drive home!

Photo of DarrellK
4.63/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great expression of the style. The pour from the 750ml bottom produced a great foamy head that was quite peresistent and left a classic Belgian lace. Very dark with ruby hints, the aroma was there but not as strong as I might have imagined, mostly sweet and raisiny. Mostly a sweetish malt flavor with some raisin taste with a drying burlap finish. Shae a bottle for desert and you will make a friend, drink it alone and you will be asleep early.

Photo of RodneyFarva
4.63/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle poured into a snifter

a: deep brown, nearly black, with a two finger tan head which took several minutes to dissipate, nice lacing.

s: dark roasted malts, toffee, alcohol heat.

t: malts, bittersweet cocoa, butterscotch and toffee, plums, raisins, a touch of brown sugar, alcohol heat at the end. very rich and smooth. coats the tongue with its richness.

o: splendid, although somewhat sweet quad. alcohol was present but surprisingly, did not end up being a detraction. lots of complexity, and still incredibly smooth.

Photo of jjboesen
4.63/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This superb Belgian was the last beer of 2009 (and the first of 2010); poured from the bomber into a tulip glass, it emits a heaving gusher of head that, once dissipated, becomes a dark ruby liquid impenetrable to light. Splotchy lacing abounds and cakes the glass rim. The nose is pleased by a sweet grape aroma, one which might be considered too cloying. Whatever. The palate is blessed with an aggressively creamy concoction of rich malt and brown sugar. The mouthfeel is warm and doughy, as if the mouth were a bakery. Yummy!

What a great beer! I only wish that the year was as good as it's first beer.

Photo of russpowell
4.64/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aug 04 bottling, bought this because my mind is getting feeble, just reviewed this the other week. Oh well, different batch, so let's compare:

Pours mahogany & murky with a 1 finger off white colored head. Some lacing & head retention

S: Sweet malt & then chocolate & booze as it warms

T: Rich sweet malt & chocolate with a hint of booze up front. Bready notes & caramel & toffee surfaces as it warms, along oakyness & dryness. Finoshes dry with hints of pecans & brandy This actually works for me better than the more mature version.

mF: Syruppy with low carbonation, but enough to bring out some flavors

The 11% is a little more evident, but complexity makes it more drinkable. Talk about your winter warmers! looking back at my review, my instincts were right, this better than the stuff supposedly in its prime

Photo of rkcrozier
4.64/5  rDev +12.9%

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
92 out of 100 based on 742 ratings.