Size: 330 ml
ABV: 11 %
Kasteel means ‘castle’ in Flemish, and is a direct reference to the U-shaped building that sits proudly on the label. The present castle dates back to 1736, however there has been a castle on this site going all the way back to 1075 when Robert de Fries, the Count of Flanders, built a square fortress on the ruins of an old monastery in the town of Ingelmunster.
The luxurious residence has changed hands many times since it left the hands of the Counts of Flanders in the 14th Century. There followed 200 years of ownership between the Dukes of Burgundy and various other German and French families, until following the Battle of Ingelmunster in 1580, the German colonel Otto van Plotho, who was a mercenary fighting for the French, inherited the fiefdom. It was during this time that the various battles in the town ended up with the Castle completely destroyed and thus the most recent incarnation.
The castle ended up back in French hands in 1825 when the Count of Montblanc inherited the castle due to the 9th generation of van Plotho’s becoming heirless. The castle managed to survive both World Wars, including the first, when it was suddenly commandeered by German troops who stationed themselves there for the duration. The Montblancs managed to keep overall control, and this wealthy family stayed on until 1986 when Baroness Mathilde de Meaux, the widow of the last of the Montblancs decided she had outgrown it. A public sale was conducted and a couple of brothers – Luc and Marc Van Honsebrouck won the bidding rights to the castle. The same Van Honsebrouck family who are the current brewers of the Kasteel beer – a nice tidy end to how this beer got its name.
The Kasteel Donker itself is a bit of a beast of a beer at 11%. I had drunk this a few years ago in London when I first started work and always remember it being extremely sweet. The beer looked majestic on pouring – chestnut brown with a rigid head and the first taste was excruciatingly sweet, proving nothing had changed at all. It had to be the sweetest beer I had drunk yet, even more so than the Mongozo Banaan (#1) on the very first step of this journey. It certainly wasn’t unpleasant, but the cloying nature and the caramelised residue it left on your teeth certainly meant it was never going to attain the highest score of the brown beers.
(Post-Script) – To continue the story of the castle at Ingelmunster, including a recent fire, please read Kasteel Triple (#181).