Kasteel Donker | Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

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Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker
BA SCORE
4.12/5
Exceptional
921 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:
#2,097
Reviews:
405
Ratings:
921
pDev:
13.35%
Bros Score:
4.8
 
 
Wants:
99
Gots:
177
Trade:
3
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 921 |  Reviews: 405
Photo of Treyliff
4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz chubby bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled 2/6/13

A- pours a deep brown color with a ruby hue, small foamy off-white head reduces to leave a ring around the edge

S- dark fruity aromas of black cherry, raisin, date, plum & fig. Fresh brown bread with hints of caramel, candied sugar, brown sugar, licorice & alcohol

T- lots of sweet malt up front with flavors of candied Belgian sugar, brown sugar & molasses. Dark fruits kick in mid-palate with flavors of cherry juice, plum & fig. Bready brown malt adds fruit-cake-like flavor, more sweetness on the finish with more dark fruit on the linger

M- viscous body with low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a slightly chewy warming finish

O- this is definitely a sipper that drinks more like a dessert port, this would be a fine choice for an after dinner drink

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Photo of polloenfuego
4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From a 330 ml bottle to a chalice.

A: pours a deep brown with red highlights. There is a thin one finger head that breaks quickly and leaves a thin ring of bubbles. Small lacing with a swirl.

S: sweet dark fruits such as figs and prunes are up front. Brown sugar, malts and some yeasts are also present. Very pleasant.

T: much of the nose follows onto the palate. Those dark fruits are dominant but the sweet of brown sugar or candy comes through a bit more too. The malts and yeasts round this out nicely. Alcohol is there but not invasive.

M: medium carbonation with a full body. Very smooth and enjoyable.

O: I would say this beer was a sleeper for me. I wasn't expecting what I got at all. While I know some would call it a touch sweet, I liked the dark fruit profile a great deal. If you like big Belgians I think you will like this.

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Photo of 2GOOFY
4.34/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bonbini26
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a reddish brown, with a thick tan-orange head, that's the best I can describe it, which lasts forever, though the bubbles are a little too fizzy in the beginning.

S: Smells heavily of raw brown sugar and prunes, raisins and figs.

T: This may be the sweetest beer I have ever had. Full of residual sugar, the heavy sweetness shocked me a little at first, but I soon got into it. This malt barrage is backed by a large amount of dark fruit, specifically raisin and prune, and also what good be a bit of almond brittle, and Mission fig.

M: Thick and rich, almost syrupy, a little cloying at times, warming as well, there is a definite alcohol burn on the first sip.

D: An interesting beer, I've heard this described as a Belgian Barleywine, and I can understand why, though Quadrupel seems to fit it well as a style on this site. A very good beer, sweet and warming, the smell and taste could use a bit more "oomph," but overall, an enjoyable warming beer, or nightcap.

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

Great colour, deep brown-red with some bubbles visible when hold against the light. One finger beige head that quickly disappeared.
Caramel aroma. Bitter-sweet taste, it was leaving me with a taste of bubblegum after each sip. The high ABV is not at all noticeable, good. Carbonation is balanced. Medium thick on palate.

A truly great beer!

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

This beer poured a very dark amber, almost black color and formed a small light tan bubbly head that coated the glass with lace as it subsided. A medium amount of carbonation is present. An aroma of malt, caramel and coffee with a hint of the alcohol present. A flavor of malt, caramel, raisins and dark fruit with a hint of chocolate. The body is fairly light with a sweet finish. Not a bad beer that hides it's alcohol level well.

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Photo of BenBreeg
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Brewski
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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.

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Photo of Gusler
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Some how I’ve over looked this beer sitting on a shelf in my favorite beer palace, till a friend pointed out this was the “Donker”, not the “Blonde”, so always read the fine print.

The beer as it shoves off from the bottle pours a pellucid deep garnet color, the head mastodonic in size, the texture creamy, and the color a winsome tan, as it slowly erodes, the laces forms a tight seal upon the glass. Nose has a significant yeast aroma, sweet caramel, hints of fusel alcohol, a real sniffer this one, start is quite sweet, nice malt presence, and the top is moderate in its feel upon the palate. Finish has a potent acidity, the hops stinging in their spiciness, the aftertaste quite dry and sweet, with a definite tummy warming sensation from the 11 percent ABV, a quaffable brew tis’ true.

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Photo of mJJJJJJJ
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Brian700
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a reddish/brown color with an off-white head almost a light brown.

The aroma was sweet with a dark fruit presence, raisins, figs, dates. Very enticing to say the least.

The flavor follows the nose, there is some malty sweetness with the presence of dark fruit again, dates, figs, raisins and such. There is also some alcohol warming in the end.

The mouthfeel is full bodied with moderate carbonation.

This is a pretty drinkable beer but is 11ABV so be carefull and don't hurt yourself.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This may well have been my first "Eureka" revelations in the world of beer.
It came on November 18, 2009 at a cafe in Ghent. We were sitting at an outside table on a quiet plaza containing a church. The sun -- however low it was -- provided enough heat to sit outside. As the setting sun's shadow covered me, the minimal heat was replaced by this quad; called a Bruin in the Flanders part of Belgium. Since I am not writing a novel and you are not reading one, I'll cut that experience short.

When I got home, I did something I have done for no other beer during the course of my 62 years: I bought a case... and I am a better man for it.

So consistent was this case over five years that I cannot change my previous rating based on this current one, the final beer in that case. (I hoped the case would last ten years.) The disappointing part is that this ale is still improving; still melding its flavors, still complexing its dark fruits, still getting sweeter without getting syrupy. In brief, this is still a great quad.

For a more temperate opinion. listen to someone who knows.
MJ's 1999 "Guide" gave the quad we now call "Donker" 3 of 4 stars... (I roughly adjust his rating as about 12% less than my effusiveness.)

Donker and its tripel brethren are not so much as reviewed in his "Great Beers of Belgium", as he tells the story of his repartee' with the owner of Van Honsebrouck. Very hilarious material. If you can get the book, I recommend it... but particularly this passage.

Bottom-line: if you haven't tried this quad, buy it.... and you won't go wrong... particularly if you end up buying a case.

A fresher 4 pack was bought in August 2016 and I just Had one (in lieu of dessert.) I concur with buying a case: it is best to let this Donker age. It becomes graceful, which is better than I can say for us in what is supposed to be an important election year.

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Photo of BobZ
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml Bottle
Poured into Rochefort Chalice

Appearance: Deep reddish brown, nice light tan head, a good amount of lacing.

Smell: Wow, really nice nose with a caramel sweetness and very complex undertones.

Taste: delicious beer, deep complexity, but malty sweetness is the dominant characteristic. Not "overly" sweet just truly great flavor.

Mouth feel: Very smooth, but may tend to coat the palate a little too much.

Drinkability: Drinkable, but due to the sweetness and tendency to coat the mouth, this beer may be best when coupled with some other dark ales (like Unibroue La Terrible) in a session.

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Photo of Msclamogna
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my first foray into the world of Belgian ales, and I couldn't be happier with my selection. The two reviewers before me were right; it is on the sweet side, but I disagree about it being overly sweet (when I think of overly sweet I think of Dogfish Head's barley wine). This beer would be excellent with a sharp cheddar or a blu cheese.

A full body, with high malt intensity and mild hoppiness.

Once again, this is my first foray into Belgian ales. Two friends had different bottles of Delirium at the same time, and after tasting the other two, I will say that I liked this one the most.

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Photo of NickThePyro
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of kdevilliers
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

From the corked, caged 2011 750 ml bottle. Sampled on September 28, 2016.

The pour is a gorgeous looking mahogany brown with little to no head but decent clarity despite being as dark as it is.

Oh my. Sweet malt notes on the nose along with a wooden and musty cellar character. No booze on the nose at all for 11%. Very mellow on the alcohol front.

The body is smooth as silk with a medium to full texture.

The sweet caramel malts define the flavor. Not the Belgian yeast, Belgian spice, or booze. Yet it is mellow and easy to enjoy despite its ABV size. Aging has done this one wonders.

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Photo of Sweffin
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

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 Brad007
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark reddish-brown color with a one-finger head into my goblet.

Aroma is full of raisin, tart cherry and sweet malt. Seems to have an interesting touch to it.

Taste is full of sweet malt with hints of cherry and raisin upfront. Smooth and lightly chewy. A bit of alcohol burn as well.

Mouthfeel is full of cherry and raisin and the alcohol. Sweet. Tart. Very refreshing.

A refreshing example of the style. A bit too sweet at times but it has enough depth to stand up to other examples. Very drinkable.

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Photo of dreadnatty08
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not a ton of carbonation (surprising) brings forth a very dark, cloudy amber colored beer with just a half inch of off-white head that soon falls to a trace. Aromas are a mix of spicy phenolics, dark fruits, bright alcohol and a touch of toasty malt notes. On the palate, it is a very rich, thick Belgian with tons of malty flavors, minimal carbonation and a pretty sweet finish. Overall, it's a bit different than most BSDA, but I like how they presented it.

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Photo of zeff80
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

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Photo of biegaman
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At first glance 'brune' seems about all there is to this beer but a birds-eye inspection reveals a universe of colour swirling about the glass. In both reflection and rim there is cognac-like amber, Bordeaux-like red, and rich roasted coffee brown. If this sample is proper indication, expect to see as much head as the Atacama dessert does rain.

I don't need to read the label to know that this is strong; each and every of the eleven percent alcohol is present and accounted for. Still, this potent fog hardly makes breathing more difficult, instead it makes it so much more pleasurable: notes of dark sugar and toffee, anisette, dried cherries, figs, dates and plums reward each breath.

It's a marvel how such disparate things as figs and yeast, barley malt and dates can end up tasting so much alike. When we use to the term 'fruity' in describing beer flavours it is most often a suggestive, nuanced term. Not in this case. The taste is exactly as I'd imagine a blend of macerated figs, dates, dark cherries and pomegranates.

It is like dark fruits were pressed through a sieve, their juices distilled and then the distillate was blended back in with the puree as well as some additional juices. This has the lush, plumpness of perfectly ripened, in season fruits as well as their intense, potent, concentrated spirits. It has as much depth and complexity as any single malt, spirit or wine.

The beer's heightened flavours and fervent potency definitely lend it to a snifter. Often times more can be better with these toothsome, sensual Belgian ales but I'm happy this came in the 33cl bottle because a 75cl one would simply be overkill. It's needless to have more than one glass to appreciate a beer so exorbitant and gratifying.

This is one of those ales that inspires people to make the claim that 'beer is more sophisticated than wine'. While wishing to keep myself out of that discussion, I'll admit, Kasteel Bruin certainly helps out their argument - it really does transcend the world of malted beverages. Any first-rate, self-respecting beer cellar will keep this in stock.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

25.4oz dark green bottle. Bottled on date stamped on back label.
Poured into an Allagash tulip glass.
The color is a deep leathery brown color with a thin beige head and some sticky trailing lace.
Nice rich smells of chocolate malt, molasses, dark rum, resinous hops and banana bread all blend together.
The flavors lean heavily towards the malt end of the spectrum. Figs, dates, doughy brown bread and rum cake are deep and rich. Resinous and citrusy hops temper the sweetness somewhat. Velvety rummy alcoholic notes are quite present.
The body is fairly heavy and slightly oily (in a good way).
For such a heavy brew, it's very gulpable, and that could prove dangerous.
Donker is a funny name.

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Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 921 ratings