Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Not Rated.
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

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

778 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 778
Reviews: 367
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 13.83%
Wants: 78
Gots: 108 | FT: 2
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 778 | Reviews: 367
Photo of monketeeth
4.51/5  rDev +9.5%
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.

Photo of MikeGill
3.59/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

1pt 9.4fl.oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Medium opague brown with the faintest trace of a head. Some sticky lacing. Rich bitter chocolate aromas up front along with an oloroso sherry quality. I also picked up something resembling really good root beer.

Felt the carbonation was a tad too low especially for something this strong served in a Champagne-like bottle. Sweet malt dominates producing flavors of chocolate covered fruit along with fresh wild cherries. The subtle bitterness is juxtaposed by big sweetness finishes somewhat boozy reminding me of straight coffee liquor.

Photo of fairdinkum2
3.2/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Loads of sweet malts in this ale. The level of sweetness obscures much of the taste profile, leaving an ale that doesn't really show the complexity or balance of others in this style.

Low carbonation leads to a poor head, even with a vigorous pour, although the ale is attractive in color.

Nothing wrong with the high alcohol content, which is masked by its syrupy character

Photo of rwathree
3.3/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle, poured into a snifter. Had this once before three years ago at a private tasting. I'll admit right away that I remembered a different beer than the one I had last night.

A: Nice, dark brown color, but weak, barely-there head.

S: You can tell right away that this one's going to be sweet. Heavy commingling of brown sugar and raisin.

T: Overwhelmingly sweet at first, which threatens to ruin the beer from the get-go. After I got past that, I could appreciate some of the other elements, especially a pleasant, champagne-like effervescence.

M: For all it's sweetness, it's not an overly thick beer. Nice and rich, and the carbonation is pleasant.

D: On the plus side, the alcohol presence isn't too powerful. But that sweetness makes this hard going down.

I can see this going well with a rich cheesecake or something equally bold and sweet, and maybe it mellows over time. That said, I won't drink this again as a stand-alone beer, and don't think I could get through a 750ml. Not bad, but I'm not likely to revisit this (again).

Photo of Burgieburg
5/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Perfect consistency; rich, sweet taste with a hint of plum...phenomenal beer!

Photo of GuruDel
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

Photo of WTexas
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was introduced to this beer in 2000 by a friend from Maastricht, Netherlands (near the Belgian border) who'd bring it on her visits to Germany. Alas, I was happy to rediscover it at Martin Wine Cellar during a recent trip to New Orleans.

Sampled a 750ml bottle with a "Gebotteld" date of 11-2003. Poured a beautiful dark copper color into my goblet. Left a medium head that quickly dissipated into a heavy lacing. Smelt of caramel, chocolate, and fruits. These aromas became more pronounced as the beer warmed. A pronounced, yet balanced, sweetness that was consistent to the last milliliter. Had an exquisite creaminess which is surprising when one considers the 11% abv. Most certainly drinkable, but probably better enjoyed in sips versus quaffs. I'm pacing myself so my six bottles will last until my trip to Mardi Gras next month when I pick up at least another six bottles. Don't pass this beer by if given an opportunity to sample it. Now if they can only find a Texas distributor.

Photo of wesleyhighley
4.01/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

tough to rate as this is the first barleywine that I've ever had. I don't know if it was the style or just the alcohol in this beer, but it was really tough to swallow at times. I enjoyed everything about this except for the acidic, bitter surge that came to me when I swallowed. other than that, this is a great "sit down and watch a movie" beer

Photo of auro0006
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

Photo of afoltz2
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%
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 Lungman
4.87/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is in a class of its own. I dont know what class, but never had anything like it. Super nice quad that pours a thick ruby black. Taste like a pissed off chocolate cake. Smells like honey and brown sugar. How the 11% is hidden so well I will never know. Mouthfeel is creamy but a bit awkward like a junior prom tongue kiss behind the first base dugout, but unforgettable just the same. This damn beer is so sweet and strong. I don't know what to do with this...?

Photo of Marc_V
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Belgian Beer Shop. Very beautiful dark red brown colour. Thick, creamy beige head that lasts very well. The aroma is malty, dark fruits, sweet, clear alcohol presence. Candy sugar, sweet, vinous, creamy, malty, heart warming. Very complex. Super beer.

Photo of mwalters
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving size: 750ml corked
Glass: stemmed
Temp: 45 degrees

Very malty nose, notes of raisens, prunes and a lil bit of firecracker... weird huh? but interesting.
Mouthfeel is rich full & deep.
The head stays for s few minuted then retreats to a thin clinging haze, but remains throughout the tasting.
Rich typical belgian taste, definately a beer that you want to spend some time with. Would pair great with duck or some kind of wild game. The big malt hits you right away with little or no hop characteristic.
Overall a wonderful beer that I suggest you try. I would love to try this on draft, but most highly suggest getting a 750 if you see one.
Cheers!

Photo of keepersj12
4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

Photo of ImperialStoat
1.42/5  rDev -65.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Ugh. This is like drinking alcoholic, knock-off brand cola.

It retains several elements of the best Quads, such as a smell of certain spices in the nose and a lingering taste of dark fruits (prunes, figs), but the syrupy-sweetness is so overpowering and one dimensional that I found it hard to notice much else.

Avoid.

Photo of dac
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Beeachwood BBQ, Seal Beach, CA. I have also had the bottled version.

Brown in color with a thick tan head which falls into a lace which clings to the sides of the glass.

While waiting for the too cold draught pour to warm up to room temperature cup the belgian
style glass between the hands to warm and enhale the delightful aromas of caramel, brown
sugar, cotton candy, prunes, banana and plethora of other unidentified esters.

Very malty and sweet, but with many complex flavors that are difficult to describe - prune,
raisen, brown sugar, bubblegum. Alcohol of 11%ABV with notable fusel content is impossible
to miss but enhances the experience.

Very drinkable, delicious, addicting. This is a substaintial beer that is excellent by
itself or with a hearty meal. Suitable for sipping after dinner or for breakfast.

Photo of Spiderhouse
4.87/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A--Monster head with two fingers of tan foam. Amazing retention and very heavy lacing. Best part? Tiny, slow rising bubbles that i have never seen in a beer; mostly, in expensive champagne.

S--Chocolate, warm pumpernickel, heavy spice notes. Never smelled anything like this on a beer. Intoxicating.

T--Semi-sweet baker's chocolate, dark bread, and rich butter. My wife (of Swedish extraction), said this reminded her of "Swedish Christmas". The finish is long and comforting. Pretty damn amazing.

M--Syrupy, but not in a bad way. Emulsified egg whites and cream. Delicious.

D--The high ABV and heavy texture make it hard to repeat, but this is like the great dessert that sends a meal from merely 'good' and into 'unforgettable'. One of the best beer experiences I have ever had.

Served in a brand chalice at Lucky Baldwin's, Pasadena, CA

Photo of nycbeerfreak
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Caramel chocolate brown body that has a deep, amber , honey hue to it.

S- Belgian sweet malt and yeast with a dose of alcohol. Great smell appropriate to the style. The sweetness is a dark fruit sweetness like a date or a raisin.

T- Dark fruit tastes of dates and raisins. There is a sweet bread flavor here folks. After that there is the warmth of alcohol and then a return of a more muted dark fruit.

M- It goes down like liquid caramel and the sweet nectar is syrupy sticky.

D- One of the best Quads i have tasted ....end of story

Photo of Big_Beers
4.82/5  rDev +17%
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

Photo of rem5
4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This bottle was a 2004, got it from the dudes over at shoreline beverage. Having it for christmas eve dinner.

While sipping this beer I was eating apricots and salty almonds which really compliment this beer nicely.

A - Dark brown but not completely opaque. Has orange hues. The head dissapated quickly and left very little lacing on the glass. Head was a light tan with little bubbles.

S - Smells somewhat trappist similar to a chimay. I cant place the aroma but you can smell the alc. Nothing spectacular.

T - Sweet tasting. It hides the alcohol very well. Goes down warm on the backend. The taste i cant place either, but I dont taste any specific fruits. Its quite malty but not overly done.

M - Sweet in the beginning to warm going down. While sipping you can smell tickles your nose just adding to the flavor. Very smooth for such high alc.

D - Most definitely a beer to appreciate and sip. I wouldnt want to gulp this one down.

This is my second review, take it easy on me. What is that flavor!?

Photo of John656
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

Photo of erok
2.8/5  rDev -32%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A - poured with little head or carbonation. Reddish brown color. I was afraid I had a bad bottle based on the low level of carb.
S - alcohol and fruity sweetness
T - Cloying sweetness - almost port wine-like, a little estery fruitiness, but not as much as I'd like of for a dark belgian. The alcohol is also apparent in the taste. You can tell from the smell and the taste that this beer is in 11% - it's not hidden.
M - Full and syrupy. The sweetness lingers. Little perceptible carbonation.
D - I wouldn't have another.

Bottom line: If you're expecting a Rochefort, Chimay Blue, or St. Bernardus, you'll be quite disappointed. In contrast, if you like some of the sweeter Belgian-style darks/dubbels (Grimbergen comes to mind), you may find this enjoyable. If I brewed this myself, I'd lament the lack of attenuation.

Photo of akenethon
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: dark brown with reddish tint, almost no foam
S: I can smell the malt, cinnamon, caramel, and alcohol. it is like a wine that has been aged in oak barrels
T: sweet, sweet, but fine. finesse in all aspects. a berry like aftertaste. it must be blackberry or blackcurrant
M: light mouthfeel despite high alcohol. hits the palate with a little bit of alcohol, absolutely lovely
D: I find this beer a bit too sweet for my taste. I may be able to drink a bottle of it, and maybe two if accompanied by food. it has a high alcohol content for long drinking anyway. Would be an excellent replacement for a sweet wine, but not the thing you could drink in a casual manner. You kind of have to set aside your time psyche to admire it.

Photo of stonewall2
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 330ml bottle an almost clear brown with a hint of amber / red....just a hint. Head dissipates quickly. Smells good, inviting, no harshness. I smell candy, malt, and (?)butterscotch. Taste is smooth, smooth...I don't get the alcohol taste that others have noted. I get earthy tones in the taste that I enjoy. Not overly carbonated, this is a quad after all. If you draw some air through your mouth with this one (through your mouth, NOT through the beer, a habit from my wine days) you get a very nice lingering and mildly sweet aftertaste.

4's straight across. This is less expensive than some of the top rated quads, and I think it is worth the price. Very pleasant and drinkable, do not chug at 11% abv.

Photo of JBushEsq
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Chimay glass

A: A very deep dark brown with very red/copper tones around the edges

S: Smells very sweet and malty with the ethonal coming through at the end

T: Sweet with a lot of malt throughout, reminds me a lot of a sweeter red wine

M: I love the sweetness of this beer, but in the mouth, it is almost too sweet, a feeling that gets more pronounced the more you drink

D: A great beer, I'd get it again without a doubt... But I don't think I could have more than one in a sitting

Overall a really tasty complex beer, though it could be too sweet for some.

Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
92 out of 100 based on 778 ratings.