Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,559 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,559
Reviews: 1,072
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 12.05%
Wants: 74
Gots: 498 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  4.30% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-08-2001

Golden sunset color, fruity hop aroma, biscuity malt flavor, soft body.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,559 | Reviews: 1,072
Reviews by Hanby:
Photo of Hanby
4.06/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Light brown with a finger of lingering off-white head.

S- Caramel and malt. There was not a strong alcohol smell.

T- Very smooth taste of caramel and malt, with a hint of citrus. It's really easy drinking. Again, not much alcohol taste or bite.

M- Good carbonation. Nothing extraordinary.

O- I liked Honker's Ale a lot, and will definitely go back to it. Goose Island has gained a devoted fan. Honker's is a very good tasting ale for smooth drinking. Nothing too strong here.
I think it'd be an ideal Autumn or Winter beer.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I drank this alot back in the day and was dumbfounded to see it on tap at a local restaurant here in Greensboro,what..how..when?Anyways poured into a standard pint glass a clear copper/amber with a thinner but well sustained head atop.Aromas of nutty malt with light caramel sweetness,there is a subtle leafy hop note as well.True to style it's malt driven with a mix of nutty and sweet biscuit malt with underlying leafy hops that show up more in the finish.An easy drinking bitter that I used to drink alot of back in Michigan,Iam still trying to find out how it got here in North Carolina.

Photo of tectactoe
3.54/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a solid amber color with some burnt orange highlights streaming across it. The beer is super hazy and opaque for the most part, just a little bit of light is allowed to peek through. A creamy, eggshell-colored head forms on the top and leaves some generous lacing in its wake.

Aroma is super malty and gives off a slew melted caramel, toasted nuts, and lightly boozy toffee. Earthy aromas are derived from the hops, which also lend a slight leafy character. Though many people compliment this beer's excellent balance, the aromas shows much favor on the malt side of things. Some other aroma I'm getting include candied barley and very subtle brown sugar. Smells heavier than 4.3% ABV, and there are a surprisingly large amount of things going on, that it's almost hard to pick them all out.

The body on this is quite watery and light - it hits first with a mild nuttiness, much less sweet than perceived in the aroma. Light toffee and caramel combines immediately with a touch of hop earthiness; dirt, grass, toast, and faint wood in the background. Bitterness is actually pretty low, retaining drinkability well. There's a mild, woodsy musk flavor in the middle, that dries out the palate for a brief moment. The aftertaste is heavy with caramel covered toast and roasted nuts. A pretty specific descriptor, but that's the best I could come up with. Near the end of the brew, the finish starts having a heavier yeast flavor with some more wet wood notes.

Definitely packs a good amount of shit into a little 4.3% ABV beer, no doubt about that. It's drinkable and goes down easily, though I would have liked the aroma and flavor to synchronize a little better.

Photo of ExtraStout
2.88/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Had this on tap in Cedar's @ Foxwood's Casino.

Appearance: A fine looking ale without any outsanding characteristics.
Smell: Very lightly malty.
Taste: Was not offensive but somewhat watery and malty, this beer is not overwhelming.
Mouthfeel: Easy in the mouth and going down but too thin.
Drinkabilty: This beer will bore me after a few sips.

Photo of MadScientist
4.62/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer is a light copper with a warm light red glow and brillant clarity. It has a half an inch of off-white head with a decently log retention.

There is a soft carmel malt aroma with a light fruitiness and a low hops aroma. The hops so mostly floral and a slight hint of lemon. A light malt of graham crackers shows up after a few moments.

A moderate bitterness with a moderately high fruit esters mostly of peach and mild lemon but not the strong American hops citrus flavor. There is a little bit of malt support in there but this is defiantly a bitter beer with a dry finish.

It has medium light body with a medium-low carbonation.

Beers like this can lead the way in the session beer revolution. Don't get me wrong, I still love my imperial fill in the blank palate wreckers but it's great to have a flavorful beer at a reasonable alcohol level too.

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.42/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Chances are, you've had a beer like this before, but you shouldn't mind having another. Under a big, lovely creamy head, we have here a simple, balanced ale with a light, smooth, and lively character that borders on lager territory. Nose is ripe with classic British ale esters, a dusting of spicy hop, and a whiff of crystal caramel goodness. Taste brings more of the same but hops play a suprisinly forward role. Kind of like a maltier version of Sam Adams Boston Lager. This is a bit over carbed to be true to style I think but still very drinkable.

Photo of sgoodship
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Hazy apple cider color. Head dissipated to nothing very quickly.

S: Basic english bitter smell. Caramel malt, sourness and some hop.

M: Full side of medium bodied. Medium carbonation.

T: Floral hop and bready caramel malt. A little thin in the finish.

D: I think this is a solid beer. Goose Island makes great beers. In full disclosure, I no longer enjoy English Bitters. They just taste too generic. Maybe it's because I drank so much of them in the UK growing up. I have nothing against beers that aren't big but this beer does absolutely nothing for me and I routinely avoid it on tap - even though it is often one of the few craft beers available in macro bars. My wife really likes it, so maybe it is just me.

Photo of Kidshelleen51
3.16/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

They call this a brew in the style of an English Bitter. Having had many pints of bitter across many pubs in the south and middle of England, I don't think it compares. For me, it's a bit too malty to be considered a pint of bitter. It's not a bad beer by any means but I find it more like a brown ale than anything else. And since I'm a true IPA guy this beer left me disappointed.

Photo of BJ1833
4.02/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5


Appearance: Thick white three-finger head. Hazy copper body with visible floating sediment (decanted entire bottle into pint glass).

Aroma: Sweet malt smell with sipcy, citrusy-hop aromas.

Taste: Biscuit-like malt flavors. A unrecognizable spice-like flavor present. Well balanced hop bitterness makes this refreshing and easy to drink.

Overall: Very tasty. My favorite from the Goose Island brewery. A great pale ale.

Photo of skybluewater
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12-oz bottle from a Pub Pak, freshness date "011705". Pours a very average amber color. Grapefruit dominates in the smell. Taste is of pink grapefruit. Mouthfeel is a bit thin (as is with most Goose Island beers, IMO).

Nevertheless, this is a good choice as a session ale, another average but highly drinkable Goose Island brew. Nothing really special, but you could drink it all night if you had to.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.12/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden amber pour with hints of red and a bubbly off white head. Quite a nice aroma on this one...citric hoppiness mixes with some piney tones and a nice sweetness. I'm impressed.

Crisp, sweet caramel and pale malts meld with some nice citric and slightly piney hop flavors. A bit of bready flavor along with some nice bitterness on the way down. A nice showing from Goose Island.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with some nice carbonation. This is an APA that I could easily session...it rivals my favorite SNPA. I dunno why I didn't try this one earlier!

Photo of blitz134
3.91/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been looking forward to this tasting. This beer was my first craft beer a couple of years back and I'm sure my preferences have changed substantially since then.

Clear caramel colored body, lots of carbonation bubbles rise to the surface to support an off-white head. Initially this was about 1" thick but held at 1/2" for quite a while. Nice lacing grips the glass on the way down.

Bread and biscuit malts really come through in the aroma as expected. Herbal and grassy hops work in nicely as well. A touch of caramelization is evident towards the end of a whiff.

Nice biscuit character to start with and then the crispness from the carbonation is evident. Finishes earthy and herbal with a strong dark bread maltiness like a bitter should. Flavor lingers for a bit with a fair amount of bitterness. Good mouthfeel for the style, nearing medium body.

A nicely done ESB that seems true to the style. I can see why the hops were a bit over the top when I first had this a while back; I don't think I was quite accustomed to the English style hop yet.

Photo of 3HovsepiansBrews
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - A clear orange/copper with a cream head and lace.

S - Some roasted malts and caramel notes.

T - Hints of fruitiness from the hops, but mostly caramel from the grain bill. The finish is really nice and refreshing.

M - Medium bodied and medium carbonation.

O- Overall, this is a solid beer. The taste is pretty good and it is very very drinkable. The body is nice and the carbonation is also refreshing. It is easy to throw back a few of these in a session.

Photo of Todd
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A hazy orange-y amber beer with a thick, creamy, white foam head that retains quite well.

Aroma is citrusy, grapefruit-like, rindy with strong notes of fresh grain.

Crisp and dry from the get go, followed by a flash of citrus hop flavour, salt, hop spice and a woody/earthy/herbal-like character. Body is light, thin. Grain flavours, bitty mouthfeel. Malt sweetness is low, but there's a toasted flavour that pulls what little sweetness there is to the front for a brief moment. This then turns into a distinct fresh bready/biscuit character that fades into the finish ... which is full of hop residuals, some oils and a dry grainy feel.

Just a bit too thin for my liking and slightly unbalanced in the malt department, however this a decent ale and a very enjoyable one at that. It's flaw (in my book) also makes it quite unique ... so I guess that's not bad thing at all. I'd simply recommend letting the beer warm up a bit to get a more diserable malt character.

Summary: Yep, I like this beer.

Photo of generallee
4.48/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The label has a brief description and a "bottled on" date but no ABV%.

Appearance: On top of a nice orange amber body sits a good two finger tall eggshell colored foam head. The head hangs on well and makes cool lace patterns on the glass.

Smell: The aroma has a nice sweet maltiness with caramel and a good balance of citrus hops.

Taste/Palate: Up first there is a simple bready maltiness with some mild caramel like sweetness and light toasted grain with faint hints of fruitiness. This is balanced by pleasant citrus and leafy hop bitterness. The medium body has a smooth feel and drinks easily.

Notes: This is just a strait up tasty ale with great drinkability.

Photo of bishopdc0
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nices ambe with a decent head form leaves a laces

The aroma is malty pale and grains and a slight citrus

The taste is mainly pale and crystal malts it starts with carbonation leads into a pale and crytal malt flavor. The crystal quickly diminiahes to make a pale citrus taste present itself

All in all slightly above average

Photo of Duster72
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a clear copper color into pint glass. Little to no lacing. Taste is predominantly carmel malts with hints of citrus and spice. Undernotes of overroasted malts are slightly out of character. Very crisp and clean. Not my favorite, but fine enough.

Photo of Jason
3.86/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz brown twist off long neck bottle with a “Best When Consumed By” date on the back label.

Appearance: Bright pale copper colour with a thing head delicious looking off white lace.

Smell: Slight malty aroma with hints of caramel and toasted husk, touch of woody hop in there also.

Taste: Moderately bodied with a smooth mouth feel that gets joggled from the dryness. Soft toasted malt flavours surround the taste buds, touch of caramel within the short lived sweetness. Hops give an even woody and citric twang and give the brew a near perfect balance. Big drying finish with toasted grain and a fermented malt twang comes to the tongue in a clean way.

Notes: American session beer? I think so, pretty damn good if I do say so myself. Light enough to go down easy but right the right amount of flavour to be able to hold up against bar snack and the like.

Photo of tjthresh
2.58/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Honker's Ale is one of the beers that got me interested in drinking craft beer. These day I consider it pretty middle of the road. Light hop flavor and aroma. Light malt sweetness, and light on the bitterness. Everything about this beer anymore is pretty uninspiring, yet good enough for a everyday staple beer.

Photo of merlin48
4.07/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours into a pils glass a clear, bronze, amber color. Ivory head is 2cm, and quickly drops into scattered patches of sheet and glob lacing. Aroma is of clean, citrusy hops. Mouthfeel has lively carbonation and a moderate hop bite. The westcoast style hops are more restrained in the taste, but pine and lemonrind are still in charge here. There is caramel malt sweetness underneath, to lend a pleasant balance. Overall, one of the better session ales around.

Photo of Billolick
4.01/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle tried, comes with freshness dating, pours clear, medium honey/almond with an off white medium tight head, that shows good retentive powers. leaves well scattered, fine , sticky lacing. nice looking beer. Nose veers towards the piney hop side. This is, as advertized, a well balanced, flavorful ale. Very pleasant quaffer, fine sessioner, nothing too exciting, but surely a decent, crowd pleasing brew. I have yet to drink anything from Goose Island that has been anything less then top rate and to style. Well done.

Photo of warriorsoul
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Eyedrinkale for this one...
Pours a clear copper color with two fingers of off-white head...a decent amount of thick lacing forms with outstanding cling.
Spiced up hops with a generous balance of sweet malt...nothing over the top in the nose, but peeking my interest.
The taste is smooth and enjoyable...a generous hop bite yet not overly bitter as I was expecting...perhaps due to the fact that it is a couple months past it's prime.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and the carbonation is perfect...could easily throw back a number of these with no effort.
My first experience with Goose Island and a good one at that...looking forward to trying a few more of their offerings in the future.

Photo of nem2006
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a clear, reddish with great carbonation and a small head. The head did not last long, but left great lacing on the side of the glass.

It had a sharp smell from the hops with a slight sweetness from the malts. I thought I caught a hint of apples.

Light-bodied, with a slightly sweet start, followed by a surprisingly smooth bitter finish.

I enjoyed the bitterness from the Honker's Ale because it was not too overpowering and did not sit heavy on the tongue.

Photo of tigg924
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 1/3 inch head, high carbonation, dark gold in color, clear

Smell: toffee, some hops and grain as well

Taste: pine and citrus hops, tea, and toffee

Mouthfeel: sweetish start with a slightly bitter end, high carbonation, medium body

Drinkability: An above average and dry English bitter. One of the better offerings I have had from Goose Island so far and good for the style. Overall, this is a beer I probably will not pick up again, but if you like the style I would get a six.

Photo of LyonsHead
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: dark orange with yellow hues, big white head that stick around about half the drink. good lacing throughout

S: slight malty aroma, no real malty sweetness. There is a pronounced moderate fruity character here (raisons, red apples, and grapes)

T: there is a caramel sweetness in the background, hiding behind some darker fruit notes. Decently firm hop bitterness, with a citrus as well as grassy hop flavor. Balance leans towards the bitterness but not overwhelming; some nice fruity esters. There is a pretty good english yeast character on display

M: medium body, moderately dry finish with some resinous hop character hanging around. mildly astringent but not bad

D: Pretty good all around, nothing to write home about but I could definitely drink a couple. Its an enjoyable pint that goes down easy, the moderate dry finish leaves you wanting another sip

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,559 ratings.