Kasteel Donker - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

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Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

363 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 363
Hads: 784
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 13.61%
Wants: 79
Gots: 109 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 363 | Hads: 784
Photo of rwathree
3.3/5  rDev -18.3%
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). (1,053 characters)

Photo of GuruDel
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
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. (595 characters)

Photo of WTexas
4.35/5  rDev +7.7%
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. (993 characters)

Photo of wesleyhighley
4.01/5  rDev -0.7%
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 (346 characters)

Photo of auro0006
3.9/5  rDev -3.5%
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. (529 characters)

Photo of afoltz2
4.55/5  rDev +12.6%
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! (1,314 characters)

Photo of Lungman
4.87/5  rDev +20.5%
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...? (471 characters)

Photo of Marc_V
4.38/5  rDev +8.4%
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. (263 characters)

Photo of mwalters
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
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! (656 characters)

Photo of keepersj12
4.06/5  rDev +0.5%
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. (388 characters)

Photo of ImperialStoat
1.42/5  rDev -64.9%
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. (322 characters)

Photo of dac
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%
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. (836 characters)

Photo of Spiderhouse
4.87/5  rDev +20.5%
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 (844 characters)

Photo of nycbeerfreak
4.4/5  rDev +8.9%
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 (540 characters)

Photo of Big_Beers
4.82/5  rDev +19.3%
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 (410 characters)

Photo of rem5
4.41/5  rDev +9.2%
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!? (1,024 characters)

Photo of John656
3.88/5  rDev -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. (795 characters)

Photo of erok
2.8/5  rDev -30.7%
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. (820 characters)

Photo of akenethon
4.37/5  rDev +8.2%
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. (725 characters)

Photo of stonewall2
4/5  rDev -1%
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. (722 characters)

Photo of JBushEsq
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
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. (578 characters)

Photo of MrMichael
4.97/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A
Very dark. There was a little foam, but it quickly went away

S
Dominated by dark, dried fruit.

T
A little fruity. It was sweeter than I expected, but incredible. There's a little coffee or red wine note as well

M
Smooth with very light carbonation

O
This is one of the best beers I've ever had. The one I had was part of a Belgian sampler and I went out the next day and bought a whole case. (397 characters)

Photo of gauchebag
4.4/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at a new joint in town, got it because of high abv. It poured a very chestnut brown with a finger of mocha-ish colored head. It smelled fruity and sweet, nothing too discernible though. It tasted predominantly of caramel and burnt sugar to me, I didn't get any of the fruity notes from the smell, it basically came across as a super-alcoholy Sugar Daddy (which I'm going to say is a good thing.)

The abv was hardly detectable and I didn't give it too much time to warm up as the serving size was only 0.25 L but I greatly enjoyed it and would have had another if I didn't have to go back to work. It was very very easy to drink and I definitely felt a bit of hazy glow after even such a small amount which was pleasing as it usually takes a lot to get me there.

I'll be going back for more for sure. (817 characters)

Photo of djoucy
4.09/5  rDev +1.2%
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. (655 characters)

Photo of Robertgc
4.75/5  rDev +17.6%
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. (289 characters)

Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
90 out of 100 based on 363 ratings.