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Kasteel Donker | Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
91
outstanding
381 Reviews
Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
Belgium | website

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
Reviews:
381
Ratings:
852
Avg:
4.06
pDev:
14.04%
 
 
Wants:
93
Gots:
149
For Trade:
2
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Reviews: 381 | Ratings: 852
Photo of nomad
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 vintage

If ever I could call a beer's appearance murky, this would be a prime instance. Deep chestnut brown color with not a peak of anything else; even staring at the edges barely showed a change in hue. To counter, or round out depending on your opinion, this meal-in-a-glass facade was abundant head and lacing. Thick coats of white sheen plastered both goblets which received this fine beer.

Smell is a strong mirror of the flavor, extremely strong scents of toasty biscuits, dark honey, muted yeastiness, and a sweet hum of base malt. Delicious before it hits my mouth with the same round of flavors - tastes like a fresh loaf of bread drenched in caramel laced with the barest but finest dark chocolate. Bursts sweet and honey-like in the center before slowly fading to a drier finish, but ever so slowly. With time and exposure the abundant sugars calm as the bready malt core takes over. Drinkability is a tough call - the flavors were so pleasing, so soul caressing, though the alcohol and the sweetness were at times pounding. Without some food to match I would think less of this beer in that category.

I enjoyed this beauty from my cellar with a hunk of Callebaut 65% Dark Chocolate, and I could not wish for a better pairing. Instead of an overload of sweetness, the two brought out earthy and savory flavors left and right of center. The Belgians just might know what they are doing, maybe, possibly, you think?

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Photo of dac
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of zaphodchak
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thin whitish head, deep ruby body. Laces decently.

Red wine on the nose, primarily.

Taste contains red wine, brown sugar, caramel, and spice.

Mouthfeel is spicy, perhaps tingly, and not apparently 'fizzy'.

Fantastic for a sweet Belgian bruin - like a Gouden Carolus. Sweet food pairing brings out apple, perhaps prunish tartness.

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Photo of MasterfulIdiot
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Poured into an Ikea snifter. The liquid is dark mahogany - very nearly pitch black, and the pour produces a thick, creamy khaki head that eventually settles down to a film that leaves a good amount of lace.

Aroma is quintessential quad - plums, molasses, bread, little bit of milk chocolate, little bit of booze, and a slight warming character.

Holy crap this tastes incredible, and has a lot more nuance than the nose! Starts out with intense, juicy dark fruit, like there's actual plum juice in there. Then comes in a wonderful cocktail of spices and yeasty flavors that I can't even begin to try to describe precisely. The milk chocolate is more pronounced on the palate, and is a great complement to the other flavors. The booze flavor brings in a weird kind of mintiness that is also wonderful. Finish is ever-so-slightly bitter, quickly followed by an aftertaste of rich, sweet, malty molasses. Really, really, great flavors and balance.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied with moderate carbonation. The beer has a really incredible silkiness and is wonderfully viscous with just enough carbonation to break it up.

Overall, super great - I couldn't imagine something better to drink during a long Northern European winter.

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Photo of BelgiumBill
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served up in a tulip glass. Dark brown nearly black with some garnet highlights when held to the light. A quick beige head that was a bit sticky throughout.

The nose was a sweet malty bready with some dark fruit.

The flavors were dominated by sweet ripened dark fruits such as fig and raisin and banana nut bread. really good! Sometimes I don't care for these overly sweet dark fruit flavor profiles but this one was spot on perfect.

It was smooth and slick in the mouth with well balanced carbonation and only a slight presence of alcohol .

Overall, best quad I've tried yet. Complete package.

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Photo of jhtipton
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up in southern Spain. 750 ml bottle with a best by date of July 2016. Poured into my wine glass and it had a minimal head. Very much a dark fruity small and taste. Not much head but it was light brown head and did lace slightly. Deep brown almost ruby color. Lots of fig cherry sweet dark fruit taste. Definitely a sipper and some warming from the alcohol. Very heavy beer and coats the mouth and throat. Overall a splendid quadruple dark Belgian and will consider packing a few when I leave Spain and will continue to stock this.

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Photo of ncbeermonger
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The one I had was left in a cellar for a little over a year.
It was super smooth, and the abv was noticable but not over powering. This Brown style beer leaves others of its kind in the dust!
If you see one of these (in this area that's not so easy!) you should grab it up, put it away and forget about it. When you find it trust me it will make your day!

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Photo of rye726
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark cherry wood color with a creamy tan head. Good retention and lacing.

Nose is very fruity with lots of plums and sweet cherries. Sweet malts, caramel and earthy Belgian yeast.

Again a big fruity complex malt profile. Starts rich and finishes with strong flavors of sweet pitted fruit. Dark candy, raisins, plums, toffee, caramel and musky yeast. A port like alcohol flavor in the finish.

Thick and silky with ample carbonation. A very complex dark Belgian brew. Has a long shelf life, but I think it is best a around 1 year. I have aged a few for longer, but the sweetness gets out of balance.

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Photo of mickeymac
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It comes in a 750 ml green bottle with a nice looking label. It's caged and corked. The cork says 10-2002, and the back of the bottle says 09-07, apparently the "serve by" date. It pours a beautiful dark brownish-red, sort of a deep cherry. The head comes out strong and fades a bit but leaves a decent trace of lace on the glass. The smell is a very complex combination of ripe fruit and that musty Belgian smell that's so welcoming. The taste is plum and raisin and most certainly on the sweet side, yet without being cloying. The mouthfeel is on the creamy side and makes the experience even more enjoyable. The beer is certainly strong, but the 11% abv does not overwhelm the beer and it's quite drinkable. This is a very nice beer.

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Photo of pkalix
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

dark, thick, not clear through. half-finger head, dissipating to nothing within a minute.
aroma of dark fruit.
taste is dark fruit, sweet malt. too sweet. what the heck did they do to this to make it so sickeningly sweet and yet retain the alcohol? is it a brewed down liqueur?
actually, it's not a bad sipper. maybe that's how i should be approaching this, eh? 11% abv?
i had to give it 4.5's across the board. it's got its ups and downs but this is an enigma. this is special. this a quad and quads are complex. i dont have the patience to evaluate most quads, i just appreciate the ability to drink it and the high abv. i'm a lush, eh? what more can you expect from me? it all comes out here and now. i think i need a good stout after this....

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Photo of magine
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a goblet.

Pours a lively, bubbly dark brown near black with some ruby edging. Lots of bubbles cascading to the top of the glass. Wispy constant carbonated and moving thin island sits atop the brew. Crazy, the ever moving island of bubbles is constantly moving - looks insane. After emptying the full bottle the head now is more present and is nice and creamy and thicker atop the brew. Nice patchy lacing left behind. Good looking brew.

Brew smells of dark fruits, estery Belgian yeasts and sugars, figs, cherries, plums and booze all represented. Good nose.

Brew is very balanced; great carbonation and spice up front, then a smooth creamy middle and drying end. With each sip you crave the next. Sweet flavors; dark fruits, yeasts and mellow maltiness. Barely there booze. Wow this is a tremendous quad.

Wow - tremendous treat here. If you are even remotely interested in Belgian ales you must pick this up if you see it.

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Photo of monketeeth
4.51/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

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Photo of number1bum
4.51/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Part of NEPA BC split #18.

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle, bottled July 07. Pours a dark mahogany, slightly reddish brown, with two fingers of khaki head. Head settles to a thin but full lace and leaves some nice stick.

Smells strongly of tannins, which fades a bit as it warms but never completely goes away. Lots of dark fruits, too, but the tannins give it more of a robust red wine sort of aroma than a beer. Candi sugar and caramel malt sweetness become more prominent as it warms.

I was a little leery of how this one might taste given the tannin aromas, but wow, not only is the taste absent tannins, it is absolutely bursting with delicious malty flavor. Lots of candi sugar sweetness, molasses and brown sugar, caramel, sweet and ripe plums and raisins and other dark fruits. Plenty of yeast character, as well. The sweetness is perfect, never cloying, just delicious.

Body is on the plus side of medium and is not nearly as hefty as might be expected given its strength; attributed to the ample candi sugar, no doubt. It's quite creamy and smooth, just luscious in the mouth.

Wow, this is an amazingly tasty beer. I love it. Rich and complex, tantalizingly sweet. Awesome. I could drink this damn near all night, or at least until the 11% knocked me out.

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Photo of Danny1217
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle, poured into a St. Bernardus goblet.
Pours a very dark brown color - darker than most quads I have tried. The head dissipates rather quickly, but leaves a bit of lacing behind. Kind of disappointing head retention for a Belgian ale.
Smells of molasses, caramel, and some dark fruits. Raisins, cherries, cranberries, and figs. A nice and complex aroma.
First thing I notice when it hits my mouth is the extreme smoothness. The body is a tad light in comparison to some other quads and dark Belgian ales, but not to a point where it hurts the beer. The body is still quite full, actually. The carbonation is fairly light. The taste is somewhat similar to the aroma. Lots of caramel, molasses, and candy sugar sweetness. Lots of dark fruits flavors.

A quad that can stand among the elite abbey and trappist quads of the world.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%

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.

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Photo of don1481
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
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 GIVEMEBACKMYSON
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

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Photo of afoltz2
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
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!

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

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Photo of obywan59
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
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!!

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

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Photo of Sigmund
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
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!

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Photo of whynot44
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

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Photo of marc77
4.56/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

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Photo of irs
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

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Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
91 out of 100 based on 381 ratings.
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