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Kasteel Donker | Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

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Kasteel DonkerKasteel Donker
BA SCORE
4.12/5
Exceptional
901 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:
#1,881
Reviews:
396
Ratings:
901
pDev:
13.59%
Bros Score:
4.8
 
 
Wants:
102
Gots:
172
Trade:
3
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 901 |  Reviews: 396
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.

 596 characters

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.

 459 characters

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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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked this up last week at Top Hops, having never tried this before. This looked it packed quite a punch and in actuality, it did. Thankfully, there was so much to like about this and for being a strong beer, I actually had to pace myself when it came time to review it. It's exceptionally tasty and smooth, since all of the flavors and the mouthfeel blended seamlessly together.

The pour to this was quite dark, with a cola-like appearance with garnet edges. The head was pretty full and topped by the lacing, which left a spider-web of remnants down the sides of my point glass as I worked my way through this. Lots of candied sugar, brown sugar, and cherry in the nose, reinforced by plum, currant, and fig in the taste. Ya like dark fruit? Look no further. This beer had it all and boy,, did they come into harmony in this bottle. Toss in some dark chocolate, booze, and mead-like sweetness and the result was this doozy of a brew that subtly hit me over the head before I could even finish it. The worst part about it? I ignored the warning signs and kept right on going, because this was so damn good.

Who cares if this wasn't a session beer? You'll want more than one in a sitting anyways. I had the 11.2 oz. bottle that didn't even expire until January but that was more than enough to get a feel for this. Not all quads are created equal and the spice and heavy mouthfeel weren't present here. What resulted was a beer that would be a dessert until itself, unassumingly shoving dinner aside in the process. A must-have for anyone who love Belgian Beers without the seriousness underneath the surface. Really fabulous take on the style!

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Photo of Dzu
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into chalice.
L: Dark red/brown with a weak white foam head.
S: Caramel, dark fruits, raisin.
T: Sweets, plums, complex taste, that i liked.
F: Low cabonation medium body.
O: Veryimpressive quad.

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Photo of AxlSkull
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Antyk
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of FreshHawk
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep mahogany brown. Decent sized white head (less than I was expecting though). A little lace is left but not a whole lot.

S - A bit of sweet spice (cinnamon and nutmeg mostly). Good amount of sweet dark sugar and molasses along with sweet dark fruit. Good amount of malt.

T - Lots of caramel malts with dark candi sugar and molasses. Mixed with that are the dark sweet fruit flavors (raisin, plum, date, fig). Also a good amount of cinnamon and nutmeg. Somewhat like a port, there is also a hint of vanilla. The sweet and fruity flavors were quite prevalent, and it reminded me a lot of a Christmas stollen (raisin/currant sweet bread/cake).

M - Medium body with normal carbonation. Fairly creamy and pretty smooth.

D - Good for the style. Obviously it is a sipper, and the ABV and sweetness will hold this back. However, this would be a great way to cap off a meal or and sip on during a night. Not one that I would have multiple per night, and would probably take a couple days break between them. It is one I will come back to though.

Notes: Really is like a liquid dessert. Lots of dark sweet fruit and sugar. Some may think too much (and at times/moods I would probably agree), but I think overall this is a great beer with lots of good flavors. Memorable one also, definitely worth a try.

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Photo of weeare138
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle corked/caged: 11/03 - cork, Best Before 11/08 on bottle...
Appears a dark, dense mahogany brown with a creamy 2 finger tan foam that settles into a foamy cap that doesn't want to leave. Fine amounts of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, raisins, molasses, nuts, earthy yeast notes, and mild clove and peppery spices. There is also a gentle port wine character to it, along with an aged, and slightly oxidized, cork laden aroma that doesn't detract too much from the overall complexity and beauty of this beer.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas in a mix that is comparible to the best that Belgium has to offer. Lots of caramel and candy flavors entice the palate with sweets, spices, and a gentle alcohol punch that lets you know this is a heavyweight.
Mouthfeel is smooth, medium bodied, warming, complex, mildly bitter towards the cocoa powdery, dry finish.
Opened this with a friend to celebrate the births of my new daughter, and his new son. He stays away from dark beer but this one certainly won him over.

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Kasteel Donker from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 901 ratings
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