Kasteel Donker | Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

BA SCORE
90
outstanding
887 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
Ratings:
887
Reviews:
392
Avg:
4.06
pDev:
13.79%
 
 
Wants:
101
Gots:
163
For Trade:
2
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 887 |  Reviews: 392
Photo of biboergosum
4.04/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml, caged, corked, and black foiled bottle. Y'know, 'donker' just plain sounds better than 'dark', doesn't it?

This beer pours a clear, dark (sigh) red-brick brown colour, with two fingers of puffy, finely foamy, and yet fizzy beige head, which leaves a bit of thick promontory lace in places around the glass as it lazily sinks away.

It smells of semi-sweet, grainy caramel malt, phenolic yeast, dark (Christ, there I go again!) middle-eastern fruit (figs, dates, raisins etc), an indistinct earthy mustiness, ethereal savoury spice, and a certainly perfumed floral and slightly herbal bitterness. The taste is rather sweet caramel and toffee malt, some separate Belgian candi sugar, middling yeast, a more robust black (hah!) orchard fruitiness (plum, prune, red grapes and dates), sedate musty measures, and a boozed-up floral, herbal, and weedy bitterness equal to that in the nose.

The bubbles are pretty low-key in their lilting and caressing frothiness, the body a solid medium-heavy weight for the style, and generally smooth and creamy, only the hovering, yet benevolent alcohol having any truck here, it would seem. It finishes still fairly sweet, but not overly cloying or tongue-scrapingly so.

Yep, it's 'donker', and sweet, but in a deftly moderated sense, which you tend to get from the better purveyors of these upper-end Belgian offerings. While not standing right beside the pinnacle of said hallmarks, Kasteel Donker is at least playing in the same ballpark, just waiting for its (maybe long overdue) call-up.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.93/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 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.

C-

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.

C-

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Photo of brentk56
3.62/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear but dark, tawny color with a surprisingly modest head for a Belgian; splashes of lace

Smell: Shortbread cookies and dates

Taste: Starts out with a swweet raisin and date praline flavor with and increasing sweetness the blossoms after the swallow; a lot of vanilla and rum raisin flavors on the finish, with underlying woody tones

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick body with moderate carbonation; warming on the finish from the alcohol

Drinkability: Really a bit too cloying for my taste; compared to the top quads this lacks the complexity that the great ones have

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.25/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a clear brown color ale with a below average head that had some pretty good retention. Aroma is exclusively comprised of roasted malt with some faint alcohol in the back.. Taste is quite simple, which was a bit surprising for this type of beer and consisted of mildly roasted malt with some warm alcohol at the end. Overall, this is not a bad beer but it is lacking complexity.

 384 characters

Photo of LXIXME
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Photo of zeff80
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured an opaque, dark, dark brown color with a thick, khaki-colored head of foam. It was long lasting and left patchy lace on the glass.

S -It smelled of raisin, currants and other dried fruits. Good roasty malt aroma with some caramel notes.

T - Great dried fruit flavor - mostly plum, raisin, apple and currants. Good sweet maltiness with a touch of caramel and chocolate.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth with some alcohol warmth. A medium to full bodied beer with a somewhat dry finish.

D - This is a very tasty quadrupel. It is certainly worth a try, especially on tap.

 585 characters

Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of dmorgan310
4.14/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of superspak
4.24/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into chalice, bottled on 4/16/2007. Pours clear dark reddish brown color with a small fairly dense khaki head with poor retention, that reduces to nothing fairly quickly. No glass lacing and some slight streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, prune, fig, date, caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, molasses, light chocolate, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, prune, fig, date, caramel, toffee, toast, molasses, brown sugar, light chocolate, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Light earthy yeast spice on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, prune, fig, date, caramel, toffee, toast, molasses, brown sugar, light chocolate, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast flavors; with a great malt/yeast balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome Belgian Quadrupel style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the huge ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

 1,435 characters

Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

 355 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.67/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Carefully poured from the lees, its clear mahogany body rests gently beneath a short, creamy head of light tan foam as very tiny bubbles steadily rise up to support it. The head drops shortly to a wide collar and lacy surface covering, but also leaves some wide rings of sticky lace about the glass. The nose welcomes you with a delicious combination of chocolate covered raisins and caramel splashed with sweet red wine and backed by some earthy and leafy hops. As it warms some candyish - and also peppery - yeast character comes into play adding greatly to its complexity. The body is medium/light, and combines with its very fine, natural carbonation from bottle-conditioning to leave it just lightly zesty on the tongue before fading smoothly away. The vinous character of the nose is immediately recognized in the flavor along with assorted dark fruits (plum/prune, dates), a soft note of chocolate, and a sweet light caramel that morphs into a harsher note of molasses that's less refined and a bit edgy at the finish (due in part to alcohol, and in part bitterness). It lingers with some alcohol that fades to reveal the true hop bitterness; then some candy sweetness (bubblegum); and finally a last note of caramel that's charged with delicate clove-like spiciness. Quite complex, rich and flavorful! And although the alcohol could be slightly more restrained, its sweetness is impeccably balanced and never interferes or build on the palate. An impressive brew that's well worth seeking out!

 1,501 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.23/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap 4/5/08 at Pitcher's Pub in Cumberland, RI, served in an over-sized wine glass.

A: The beer is a dark brown color, with a medium off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains caramelized malts, brown sugar, Belgian yeast, dark fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste malty and sweet with flavors of caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit and Belgian yeast up front. There's a mild hops presence and a strong alcohol burn. The after-taste is sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, strong kick, decent representation of style, this one really didn't appeal to me all that well. I've certainly had other strong Belgians that I like better.

 797 characters

Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -26.1%

Photo of dbrauneis
4.11/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

 1,216 characters

Photo of Rifugium
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle at Eulogy, Philly, PA

Also known as Kasteel Bruin. From the name, I thought this was a brown ale. But it's actually something between a dark strong ale and a quad, and is labelled as the latter by BA.

Poured a dark semi-hazy brown with just a bit of head that receded to a film of bubbles. Caramel malts and peppery spice in the aroma, and distinct alcohol. Similar taste with sweet malts and Belgian sugar, slight molasses, and some dark fruits also noticeable; not as much spice as I detected in the aroma. Medium-heavy body with some carbonation, pretty drinkable, but a bit strong.

 605 characters

Photo of dcmchew
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of Ciocanelu
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of russpowell
4.64/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aug 04 bottling, bought this because my mind is getting feeble, just reviewed this the other week. Oh well, different batch, so let's compare:

Pours mahogany & murky with a 1 finger off white colored head. Some lacing & head retention

S: Sweet malt & then chocolate & booze as it warms

T: Rich sweet malt & chocolate with a hint of booze up front. Bready notes & caramel & toffee surfaces as it warms, along oakyness & dryness. Finoshes dry with hints of pecans & brandy This actually works for me better than the more mature version.

mF: Syruppy with low carbonation, but enough to bring out some flavors

The 11% is a little more evident, but complexity makes it more drinkable. Talk about your winter warmers! looking back at my review, my instincts were right, this better than the stuff supposedly in its prime

 829 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark chestnut brown that becomes a combination of ruby red and burnt orange when early morning sunshine is allowed entry. The caramel nougat colored crown filled almost half the chalice on the pour and has an attractive, whipped mousse-like texture. It's pretty sticky too, as evidenced by an impressive array of delicate lace.

The nose is classic Belgian strong dark ale. There's quite a bit of medium-dark fruitiness and even more yeasty spiciness (that favors clove and black pepper). This offering is not going to be a shrinking violet when it comes to flavor intensity, that much is certain.

Kasteel Blond and Kasteel Rouge are excellent examples of their respective styles. Kasteel Donker is merely good. It tastes as if the brewers were a little too heavy-handed with the dark candy sugar. It also lacks the complexity that the best Belgian ales deliver in spades.

Specifics include dark caramel, figs and dates macerated in blackstrap molasses, a hint of anise, and generous pinches of black pepper and ground clove. Less sugary sweetness would have resulted in better beer. An ABV of 11.0% is difficult to bury without a trace, but the brewers did a reasonably good job. A subtle warming sensation is great for this time of year.

The mouthfeel is slightly too syrupy and doesn't have the expansive creamiliciousness that is expected for a Belgian ale. More numerous and better quality bubbles would have gone a long way toward keeping this characteristic from being the low-light of this experience.

Kasteel Donker (which is the exact same beer as Kasteelbier Bruin-Brune) is pretty good stuff. That said, there's definite room for improvement. Belgian beer is like ice cream and cheesecake. Even the less than spectacular ones are pretty damn good.

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Photo of smcolw
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

 565 characters

Photo of smithj4
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of atrocity
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%

Photo of ZEB89
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Gkruszewski
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of atlbravsrno1
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%

Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
4.06 out of 5 based on 887 ratings.
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