Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
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Ratings: 633 | Reviews: 345 | Display Reviews Only:
3.53/5 rDev -13.9%
Beautiful off-white head of three fingers. Lots of lace. The color of the brew is brown where light barely shines through. Attractive.
Farmlike smells; earthy and dark. Some crystal and chocolate malt aromas.
Sweeter than I expected. Strongly malty. Notable alcohol warmth. The body is warming (from the alcohol strength) and thick. The carbonation is relatively light for the creaminess. I don't detect any hop or any other balancing ingredient.
This is an easy beer with which to get snookered. It's subtle and powerful. It isn't a beer with complexity.
08-02-2008 22:44:12 | More by smcolw
3.9/5 rDev -4.9%
11.2 oz. Belgian-style stubby bottle,
A: Pours a reddish brown, with a thick tan-orange head, that's the best I can describe it, which lasts forever, though the bubbles are a little too fizzy in the beginning.
S: Smells heavily of raw brown sugar and prunes, raisins and figs.
T: This may be the sweetest beer I have ever had. 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 what could be a bit of almond brittle, and Mission fig.
M: Thick and rich, almost syrupy, a little cloying at times, warming as well, there is a definite alcohol burn on the first sip.
D: An interesting beer, I've heard this described as a Belgian Barleywine, and I can understand why, though Quadrupel seems to fit it well as a style on this site. A very good beer, sweet and warming, the smell and taste could use a bit more "oomph," but overall, an enjoyable warming beer, or nightcap.
11-18-2007 21:06:38 | More by Halcyondays
United Kingdom (England)
4.03/5 rDev -1.7%
Deep joy, another beer presented to me to pour by my daughter at her Belgian beer and food night.
Poured into the lovely correct goblet style glass with the castle design on the base of the glass stem. The glass really sets it off nicely.
Very dark, almost forbodingly dark, with a rich biege head, wonderful. Held up to the light you can see it is clear and clean, even though it is so dark in apperance.
The whole experience was good, the aroma was a dark chocolate cake mix with currents, the taste not far off the same.
Rich and smooth feel to it, very drinkable even at 11%, we polished off 4 (small) bottles on the night.
01-31-2008 18:21:14 | More by BlackHaddock
2.94/5 rDev -28.3%
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.
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.
06-01-2011 16:45:11 | More by kojevergas
4.3/5 rDev +4.9%
750ml bottle corked/caged: 11/03 - cork, Best Before 11/08 on bottle...
Appears a dark, dense mahogany brown with a creamy 2 finger tan foam that settles into a foamy cap that doesn't want to leave. Fine amounts of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, raisins, molasses, nuts, earthy yeast notes, and mild clove and peppery spices. There is also a gentle port wine character to it, along with an aged, and slightly oxidized, cork laden aroma that doesn't detract too much from the overall complexity and beauty of this beer.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas in a mix that is comparible to the best that Belgium has to offer. Lots of caramel and candy flavors entice the palate with sweets, spices, and a gentle alcohol punch that lets you know this is a heavyweight.
Mouthfeel is smooth, medium bodied, warming, complex, mildly bitter towards the cocoa powdery, dry finish.
Opened this with a friend to celebrate the births of my new daughter, and his new son. He stays away from dark beer but this one certainly won him over.
09-04-2006 16:13:05 | More by weeare138
4.15/5 rDev +1.2%
Poured from a dusty green bottle - thanks to a friend - of an unknown vintage, the bottle has a 08-2009 marking on it.
Right after the pour I get a slightly musty aroma, like it's been laid on its side and absorbed a little cork, or seen a little oak. Dark fruits also dominate with plum and date aromas and a little clove around the edges.
The appearance is a hazy brown with a quickly disappearing (acceptable for an 11% brew) tan head that leaves a little lacing. The flavor reminds me vaguely of plum wine for the smooth esters. I'm also tasting white grape and blueberry with the plum and dates. There's also a slight spiciness that could come from either noble hops of yeast phenols, either way they add a nice subtle layer.
Overall, this is a very good beer and incredibly smooth for the strength, but it doesn't quite have the awe-inspiring complexity of the great quads. Still, very much worth trying.
06-17-2008 21:19:34 | More by tempest
4.43/5 rDev +8%
From a growler purchased at Half Time, pours dark mahogony, seems to be pretty low in carbonation, mellow head, with just minor lacing observed. Nose is nicely glowing with cola, vanilla, bourbon and spice. Strong late night sipper kind of brew. Plenty of dark candi sugars, cola, alcohol, complexity etc to please all the strong beer/quad lovers out there. Character, boldness obviously evident, well worth a try if you like the style, not for everybody, but certaintly for me! A treat and in nice shape on tap/growler.
06-07-2007 04:06:33 | More by Billolick
4.47/5 rDev +9%
(Served in an long stemmed chalice)
A- This beer has a smooth creamy head on a dark dense brown thick body. I couldn't tell if there was any visible carbonation but it was low light in the bar.
S- Nice smell of dark sweet malts with notes of prunes and other dried fruit. A hint of molasses in the finish also.
T- This is deep complex flavors but hints of apples and prunes stuck out the most. As it warmed it became more of an apple juice flavor. However there were lots of other flavors like port and brown sugar with some prunes and red wine hints also.
M- Medium-light mouthfeel with a hint of alcohol but it doesn't feel like 11 %
D- This is a good complex malty beer that has great complexity. I happen to meet the brewer after I wrote my review and he said the kegs are all pasteurized but the bottles are still alive and kicking so I will have to try those next.
10-12-2005 23:46:06 | More by rhoadsrage
4.58/5 rDev +11.7%
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.
01-06-2009 23:58:33 | More by jdhilt
4.33/5 rDev +5.6%
11.2 ounce bottle into chalice, bottled on 090901. Pours fairly clear super dark brown color with a small off white head that recedes quickly to a ring of lace. Small amounts of spotty glass lacing; with slight carbonation streaming up from the bottom. Aromas of big raisin, grape, prune, molasses, caramel, candi sugar, red wine, bread, and slight yeast spiciness. Some nice and well balanced aromas with good strength. Taste of big raisin, grape, prune, caramel, molasses, pear, apple, toffee, candi sugar, bread, red wine, earth, and slight yeast spiciness. Lingering notes of raisin, prune, molasses, caramel, bread, toffee, and earth on the finish for a good bit. Very sweet with minimal spiciness; but it is not cloying at all. Fantastic flavor balance and good complexity. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a nice creamy and fairly slick mouthfeel. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a very slight warming noticed on the finish. Overall this is a fantastic Belgian quad! Big flavors with good balance and complexity; and very smooth to sip on for being 11%. Loved this one, and will get it again sometime.
06-01-2012 03:13:34 | More by superspak
District of Columbia
4.18/5 rDev +2%
Shared by CesiumBrews. Thanks Caleb!
The beer is chestnut brown with crimson highlights, sporting nearly an inch of beige head. The aroma offers dark fruits, yeast, malt, alcohol, brown sugar. The taste follows suit, with the 11% abv well hidden. Sweet, but not cloying. Thick body with moderate carbonation. Palate coating and a tad syrupy. Notes of nuts (clever alliteration, n'est pas?), perhaps almonds. Brown sugar, spices, perhaps nutmeg. a solid quad. I would definitely have this again.
10-10-2012 23:37:44 | More by Huhzubendah
4.3/5 rDev +4.9%
At first glance 'brune' seems about all there is to this beer but a birds-eye inspection reveals a universe of colour swirling about the glass. In both reflection and rim there is cognac-like amber, Bordeaux-like red, and rich roasted coffee brown. If this sample is proper indication, expect to see as much head as the Atacama dessert does rain.
I don't need to read the label to know that this is strong; each and every of the eleven percent alcohol is present and accounted for. Still, this potent fog hardly makes breathing more difficult, instead it makes it so much more pleasurable: notes of dark sugar and toffee, anisette, dried cherries, figs, dates and plums reward each breath.
It's a marvel how such disparate things as figs and yeast, barley malt and dates can end up tasting so much alike. When we use to the term 'fruity' in describing beer flavours it is most often a suggestive, nuanced term. Not in this case. The taste is exactly as I'd imagine a blend of macerated figs, dates, dark cherries and pomegranates.
It is like dark fruits were pressed through a sieve, their juices distilled and then the distillate was blended back in with the puree as well as some additional juices. This has the lush, plumpness of perfectly ripened, in season fruits as well as their intense, potent, concentrated spirits. It has as much depth and complexity as any single malt, spirit or wine.
The beer's heightened flavours and fervent potency definitely lend it to a snifter. Often times more can be better with these toothsome, sensual Belgian ales but I'm happy this came in the 33cl bottle because a 75cl one would simply be overkill. It's needless to have more than one glass to appreciate a beer so exorbitant and gratifying.
This is one of those ales that inspires people to make the claim that 'beer is more sophisticated than wine'. While wishing to keep myself out of that discussion, I'll admit, Kasteel Bruin certainly helps out their argument - it really does transcend the world of malted beverages. Any first-rate, self-respecting beer cellar will keep this in stock.
05-28-2010 16:54:39 | More by biegaman
3.4/5 rDev -17.1%
A: Poured a bright, and vibrant cranberry-sherry color with a thin creamy khaki colored head which quickly gave way leaving a thin, broken film lacing on the way down.
S: very vinous, tart grapes and berries with some noticeable alcohol.
T: sweet sugary malt with vinous grapes, tart berries and a big tart alcohol flavor. There was a big acidity with a wine like nature. Ripe fruit and sugar plums were detected before finishing with a warming tart alcohol finish. Overall a sweet, very acidic, vinous drink that drank more like a sherry or wine then beer. Good overall, but probably wouldn't be interested in buying again.
M: light, very vinous, smooth with sweet sugary malt and tart berries followed by a big tart alcohol finish on the swallow.
D: A nice drink overall, but definitely a slow sipper and the bomber will take a while to get through. The alcohol was noticeable but was halfway through the bottle before I read the 11.0% abv which soon made sense. A good drink I thought but more wine then beer which sways me not to try again.
09-02-2008 23:25:32 | More by beerthulhu
1.63/5 rDev -60.2%
Only beer I've had that got progressively worse and undrinkable as time went on. Pours a dark mahogany brown, lots of off white head and lacing. Smells is sweet malt, alcohol, and dark fruits. Taste is horribly sweet, dark cherries, and overpowering alcohol. The mouthfeel was the only pleasant thing about this beer, the carbonation was good. This beer is only good for cooking, it tasted like brown sugar mixed with rubbing alcohol, and this was a bottle that had been aged for 7 months at my house. Insanely one dimensional, it burns from the alcohol. Not recommended at all, horrible. It took all my willpower to force it down and not throw this out.
06-25-2005 17:54:08 | More by Viggo
3.53/5 rDev -13.9%
Appearance: Very nice dark chestnut brown with deep amber and red highlights. This was topped by a thin lacing of light brown foam that showed a little stickage and good retention.
Smell: Big roasted malt aroma with some alcohol, dried fruit, tobacco, and floral/perfumy hops. Nice complexity and balance.
Taste: A little too sweet for my taste. Maltiness is quite strong with a good deal of cherry-like fruitiness. Not much in the way of bitterness to balance the sweetness. The finish is quite long, with a spicy phenols and alcohol becoming prominent.
Mouthfeel: Full body and viscous, with lots of unfermented sugars. Low carbonation. In fact, it leaves a sticky residue on the lips. Alcohol warmth is noticeable on the tongue and at the back of the throat.
Drinkability: The syrupy sweetness makes it difficult to get through a whole bottle by myself. The aroma and flavours are quite pleasant, but I just can't get over the sweetness...
330 mL short brown bottle with best before date stamped on the rear label.
02-01-2005 02:24:03 | More by DrJay
3.83/5 rDev -6.6%
Pours a dark brown color. 1/2 inch head of a pale tan color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malt, hops, citrus, tart malt, and slight roasted malt. Fits the style of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol, sweet malt, slight hops, caramel, slight tart malt, yeast, and slight cherry. Overall, good body, but noticeably strong alcohol dominates.
02-08-2010 19:42:50 | More by Tone
British Columbia (Canada)
4.38/5 rDev +6.8%
Unfortunately, this is the first Belgian "Quadrupel" I've had the pleasure of tasting, though the style-lines are a little fuzzy.
It's not as carbonated as a Belgian Dark (similar to how a tripel compares to a Belgium Blonde).
It certainly has some more alcohol taste than a Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue / Blauw), which is classed as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.
Anyway, the appearance is that of a dark malt syrup. Denser and not as bubbly as the Chimay Blue.
Aroma is dominated by sweet malt, with some port-like undertones.
Taste is very complex. The alcohol strength leaves a distinct taste, similar to a tripel. It could be described as Chimay Blue, taken to a higher level (a little more flavour, a lot more alcohol).
Mouthfeel was full, like a concentrated Belgium Brune.
Drinkability is a tough descriptor, this is a must for any serious beer-geek, but it is certainly not a session beer!
Perfect for a night-cap.
07-13-2005 16:23:44 | More by Derek
4.33/5 rDev +5.6%
Some how Ive over looked this beer sitting on a shelf in my favorite beer palace, till a friend pointed out this was the Donker, not the Blonde, so always read the fine print.
The beer as it shoves off from the bottle pours a pellucid deep garnet color, the head mastodonic in size, the texture creamy, and the color a winsome tan, as it slowly erodes, the laces forms a tight seal upon the glass. Nose has a significant yeast aroma, sweet caramel, hints of fusel alcohol, a real sniffer this one, start is quite sweet, nice malt presence, and the top is moderate in its feel upon the palate. Finish has a potent acidity, the hops stinging in their spiciness, the aftertaste quite dry and sweet, with a definite tummy warming sensation from the 11 percent ABV, a quaffable brew tis true.
02-03-2004 23:43:36 | More by Gusler
4.33/5 rDev +5.6%
Pours a dark reddish-brown color with a one-finger head into my goblet.
Aroma is full of raisin, tart cherry and sweet malt. Seems to have an interesting touch to it.
Taste is full of sweet malt with hints of cherry and raisin upfront. Smooth and lightly chewy. A bit of alcohol burn as well.
Mouthfeel is full of cherry and raisin and the alcohol. Sweet. Tart. Very refreshing.
A refreshing example of the style. A bit too sweet at times but it has enough depth to stand up to other examples. Very drinkable.
03-12-2009 02:24:38 | More by Brad007
4.22/5 rDev +2.9%
11.2oz stub, post-mussels at dr granville moores
cell phone notes
appearance: very dark mahogany with moderate garnet tint. maybe a faux purple shade. almost no head to speak of
smell: big and sweet - booze soaked plum, fig, hot caramel, big candied sugars
taste: pretty original belgian dark - big emphasis on brown sugar, alcohol infused plum, sugar coated raisin, caramel swirls, peppery alcohol.
mouthfeel: sweet and smooth, on the full end of the body scale
drinkability: good enuff
06-21-2009 14:58:43 | More by dirtylou
3.4/5 rDev -17.1%
Bottle into a tumbler, in Amsterdam. Dark ruddy brown, small light tan head, scattered lace.
Smell is kind of acrid, nut liqueur like maltiness that doesn't hint of the extreme sweet alcohol blasts that for comes the first sip.
Taste is very hot, sweet, alcoholic but not fusels, cleaner, not very phenolic, intense focus
Mouthfeel is sticky syrup and coats the back of the throat, with a lighter body.
Drinkability is OK, not this beers strong suit, as it is so intense you must sip slowy. The kind of beer you need to sip with water. An extreme quad, and must try for lovers of the style. A bit too much for me here though to love.
10-05-2009 17:42:33 | More by ccrida
Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
91 out of 100 based on 633 ratings.