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Kasteel Donker | Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

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Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker
BA SCORE
4.12/5
Exceptional
904 Ratings
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
Belgium
vanhonsebrouck.be

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2001

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,944
Reviews:
396
Ratings:
904
pDev:
13.35%
Bros Score:
4.8
 
 
Wants:
100
Gots:
174
Trade:
3
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 904 |  Reviews: 396
Reviews by Lungman:
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...?

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More User Reviews:
Photo of don1481
4.54/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

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Photo of Todd
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A "donker" beer, brewed in 1999 (mine was). A dark brown brew. Very rich and malty with a port-like finish. Sweet bliss in a bottle with a shelf life of over 25 years. One of my favourite of the sweet dark beers that I tried when in Belgium (March 2000).

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Photo of Ant777uk
2.67/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

11%..? Nice

Look is kind of dark red, still see through though. Froth goes down very fast.

Aroma is fruity,kind of different and complex.

Taste? OMFG wow. Intense. This is almost like someone has mixed vodka with my Chimay Blue...

No way is it worth 100 as a score. It is not a complex, highly balanced, beautiful taste. But if you value a beer by how strong it is, there are not many more than this...

Chimay Blue is much better than this, give it a try. This reminds me of the extra strong canned beer that we have all tried on the occasion...

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.24/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Bottle dated 2011. Pours a dark mahogany brown with a thin light khaki head that dissipates to patches, with light lacing. Aroma of caramel malt, plums, dates, dark cherries, light oxidation. Flavor follows with sweet caramel malt, candi syrup, plums, dates, raisins and a hint of cherries and mild oxidation. Medium to heavy bodied with moderate carbonation. A sweet, but full flavored quad with all the dark fruit flavors expected. Rich enough to border on an aperitif. This has aged gracefully with just a touch of oxidation that melds well with the fruit and malt. ABV well covered. A great, classic tasting quadrupel.

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Photo of thehyperduck
4.46/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

330 mL bottle from the LCBO; best before Sept 2021 and served slightly chilled.

Pours a foreboding, dark chestnut-brown colour with brick red highlights; at first it appears utterly impenetrable to light, but holding it up to a lamp reveals that the liquid is actually transparent. One finger of smooth, khaki-tinged foam floats atop the surface initially, receding gradually over the next ten minutes or so. The eventual remnants include a creamy collar and cap about half a centimetre high, as well as a nice, thick coating of lace. Each sniff is positively loaded with molasses, caramelized sugars and dark fruits, including fig, date, raisin and prune. The alcohol is also noticeable, but quite well-integrated; the bouquet almost seems to take on the character of sherry or amaretto as it warms.

A delicious strong dark ale - as has already been noted on countless occasions, it is indeed quite saccharine, but despite this fact, I find it to be neither cloying nor tiresome - just delectably rich. Caramelized sugar and treacle are steady background presences, as are vinous notes of red grape and raisin. Dates, figs, black cherries and prunes come to the forefront by mid-sip, giving it a rather fruitcake-like vibe, with subtle hints of herbal licorice root, spice and cola. Finishes with a slight nuttiness, with more of that boozy, sherry-like note that I picked up in the aroma lingering into the sweet aftertaste. On the lighter side of full-bodied, with soft carbonation featuring tiny, fine bubbles that gently agitate the surface of the tongue. A truly satisfying beer to sip and contemplate; I'd say that this 11 oz serving is just about the perfect amount for one person.

Final Grade: 4.46, an A grade. I'll admit that I had my doubts going into this one - I've heard mixed opinions about it in the past - but in my opinion, Kasteel Donker is an absolutely fantastic quadrupel, and easily one of the best Belgian beers I've tried in months. The hefty 11% abv beautifully harmonizes with the commanding, relentless malt bill and its sweet, fruity flavours, while hints of fortified wine and nutty liqueur only add further to the cohesive complexity of this masterpiece. Glad I had the foresight to pick this one for my 1500th review on BA - it's always nice to celebrate that sort of milestone with a memorable brew like this.

 2,346 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
4.11/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours an opaque, though slightly hazy extremely dark reddish amber in color with light amounts of active visible carbonation along the edges of the glass and some faint cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall foamy tan head that reduces to a thick film covering the entire surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of dark malts and dark fruits (raisin and plum) with a light amount of dark Belgian candi sugar sweetness. Hints of spices.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of dark malts with a light to moderate amount of dark Belgian candi sugar sweetness. That is followed by moderate to strong flavors of dark fruits (raisin and plum) and just a hint of spices. Hints of cherry sweetness in the background. Just a hint of bitterness in the finish but it fades pretty quickly leaving a moderate amount of lingering cloying sweetness.

M: Medium to heavy bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly thick/sticky upfront but overall quite smooth.

O: Very enjoyable and quite easy to drink considering the strength. Alcohol is well hidden and I really enjoyed this one, sweet enough to almost be a a dessert.

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Photo of MonkeyBread
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Single 12oz bottle with a bottle on date of June 12, 2012 so this baby got some age on it.

Looks like a standard strong dark Belgian. Dark brown hue.
Smell is booze soaked Carmelized bananas. Brown sugar, big Belgian yeast esthers.
Taste is similar to nose, like Banana's Fosters. This is super sweet. Caramel, dark candi sugar, bananas, booze soaked apples and pears. Low amount of alcohol heat

Overall this has held up well with almost 4 years of age. An after dinner dessert sipper, this is an excellent Belgian Strong Dark Ale as long as you like sweet.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am very impressed with how good this beer is. In a nutshell, it's cotton-candy sweet, fruity tart, spicy warm, and marshmellow textured. It's wonderful from sip to finish. A hearty malt / candy sweetness blends with nuts, figs, dates, and a hint of chocolate. Balanced with aged hops and yeasty esters bring out clove and pepperyness. Full and richly textured without a hint of astringency or heat. Finishes very clean despite so many complex flavors, and a bit dry. This beer ranks up there with the Rocheforts and Abt 12s of the world.

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Photo of threeviews
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured at cellar temperature from a 33cl bottle (Best By: May 2022...packaged 30 May 2017)into the signature, Kasteel stemmed goblet.

A - An aggressive pour yelids a beer that is dark mahogany in color but when set against light, it is more of a deep, ruby red. The head only amounted to 1-finger kahki colored head with little retention. Although the 11% ABV would tend to stiffle head, I have seen other Belgians of this strength create massive tops that last indefinitely. Knowing that this beer does NOT go through referementation in the bottle, the lack of head is understandable and should be a reason that Van Honsebrouck reconsiders using bottle refermentation for ALL of their beers. (4.25)

S - The aroma is a lovely bouquet that includes Milk Chocolate, Caramel, Raisin, Plum, and a hint of Banana. Even when rising above cellar temperature, there is absolutely no alcohol in the nose. (5.0)

T - It is a beautiful Quadruple-style ale with all of the trimmings. It has all of the aromas in the nose with a nice, lingering milk chocolate finish, yet far from cloying. This is an ideal digestif beer on its own or with a rich chocolate or custard-based dessert. (4.75)

M - Medium-Full mouthfeel with a delicate and creamy carbonation which finishes surprisingly dry. Regardless of temperature, the alcohol remains hidden throughout making this dangerously drinkable. However, the pithy flavors and relatively hefty body keep this very much a degustation beer. (4.75)

O - Although the brewery thinks otherwise, Kasteel Donker would benefit from bottle refermentation (in addition to the already 3-week lagering time). Considering the 6.50Euro price for a 4-Pack (in a grocery store), it is an absolute bargain. However, when you see the $20+USD price tag in The States, I think other options exist that are a bit better. This is a well made beer with great consistency but if I am going to spend this type of money, I prefer Kasteel Barista Chocolate Quad. (4.25)

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Photo of tillmac62
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

BOD 2/6/13. Pours a dark garnet that is almost black unless held to light. Outstanding head volume, lacing and retention...considering it's 11% ABV.

Outstanding rich nose of plum, raisin and fig over a solid caramel malt base. Light alcohol notes are present.

Light medium body with a smooth texture. Light carbonation with just a touch of effervescence in the middle and finish.

The flavor profile is almost world class. Reasonable intensity, quite complex and very well balanced. The only flaws are the body is a bit light and the alcohol is not quite covered. The fruits of the nose predominate with sweetness upfront that flows through plum, fig and raisin. The middle brings an alcohol note that intensifies into the finish and also provides a bit of heat. The flavor shifts from the sweet dark fruits noted earlier into a prune that is slightly astringent. Prune and alcohol linger.

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Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a darker shade of borwn with a real nice sticky head thats seems to dissapte quickly,great aroma of raisins and light chocolate with some definent alcohol notes.The raisin seems to be the dominant flavor I get with some syrupy flavors as well.A touch of nuttiness and alcohol makes this a nice warmer,I have alot of bottle to drink yet wish me luck.

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Photo of Popsinc
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark brown pour with a medium tan head. Semi sweet nose. Molasses, grapes & black currant. Light roasted notes as well. Taste wise this brew was ru\ich and sweet...deacdent w/ a port-like grape sweetness. Underlying burnt sugars. Alcohol warmth. Nice lingering flavors. Great combo of fruit and alcohol. The mouthfeel was rich and creamy, sticky and sweet, thick n syrupy. This was quite the decadent, dessert beer. A great cold weather sipper, however, a little too sweet to have several.

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Photo of t2grogan
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of -DF-
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of SIRIUS2
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into chalice style glass.

Pours a syrupy dark brown to near black, very small head that diminishes to a rather dense short layers of off-white foam. Light lacing.

Lots of dark fruit and hints of alcohol. Heavy sweet malts come to mind as you inhale.

I was a bit surprised by the sweetness that envelops the tongue on the first swig. I know this is considered a strong dark ale but it seemed more like a very sweet barley wine. Very sweet and heavy in the mouth, with the strong flavor of fig most present.

This is quite a brew. Rather a bit syrupy for my taste but it doesn't necessarily taste bad. As for the style of a strong dark Belgian ale, I suppose, but it's closer to cough syrup. I did enjoy it overall though and if you are feeling adventurous, give it a shot.

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Photo of danthehopslamman
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of warnerry
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Beaver13
1.88/5  rDev -54.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

750ml bottle, bottled on 070924 (9/24/07?). Pours a murky brown with a small head that quickly goes to a tiny collar.

The aroma is subdued. It has some sweet caramel and toffee malts, some oak, a little dark fruit, and a bit of oxidization and alcohol.

The flavor is very sweet sugary malts and molasses, a little cola and fruit with a big sugary finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and syrupy.

Overall, this is way overly sweet. It's a bit of a treacly mess. As it warms and I get accustomed to the sweetness a little nutty malt and banana come out. So there's some complexity, but the sweetness overwhelms everything and makes it rather unpleasant.

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Photo of Doomcifer
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of JakerLou
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Photo of petewheeler
4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of kaiyote
4.58/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Billolick
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of reitzbrewing
4.73/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

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Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 904 ratings
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