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Honker's Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

1,095 Reviews
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Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States | website

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Golden sunset color, fruity hop aroma, biscuity malt flavor, soft body.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-08-2001

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,095 | Ratings: 3,785
Reviews by PGVG:
Photo of PGVG
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%

More User Reviews:
Photo of mikesgroove
3.98/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this one up when I was in Ohio and brought it back down with me along with pretty much the rest of the lineup. I had forgotten they were in the fridge, and when I cleaned it out the other day I found this. Enjoyed it with dinner last night. The twelve ounce bottle was served slightly chilled and poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Poured a nice dark amber color, with some nice reddish tints to it as well. Good two inch plus head of frothy white foam that hung around for a good few minutes before finally settling down into a thin film across the top that lasted throughout the session. Good side glass lacing and some nice carbonation throughout the glass.

Smell - The aroma was nice and malty. Pleasing aroma of caramel and nuts that blended in with an earthy and bitter hoppiness. Some nice light undertones of candy like sweetness as well mixing down and covering the grain like base.

Taste - The flavor was damn good I have to say. Crisp, and rich with a good dry and bitter finish, Started out with a good rush of caramel and morphed into a kind of wet hay like flavor which drew out some cereal and bready malts giving the middle a sort of biscuit like flavor. Nice hint of some slight fruit in there, maybe a touch of grapes as well.

Mouthfeel - Very nice medium bodied ale. Good carbonation and a fuller then expected feel to it. No thinness of lack of body here, this was very tight and a fine ale.

Drinkability - An outstanding session ale. Good semi sweet, semi bitter profile seamlessly melded into the malted base. I could have had another and another and another. Really a solid all night brew.

Overall this was one of my first experiences with the style and I have to say I am very impressed. I would still prefer my IPA's however this was very nice indeed. I would have no issue at all trying this again any day!

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Photo of IrishTank
4.16/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Refreshing with a little bit of a bite. I would drink it again. Forced to drink the rest of the beer at 8:00am because my wife got into my beer frig because she needed a beer to make corned beef & cabbage with a beer in it. I quickly grabbed the beer from her after she poored half of it in the crock pot and drank it before she could waste the rest.

 350 characters

Photo of HamdenHector
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: crystal clear; 1 finger off white head that receded to a wispy cap; sheets of lacing;

S: brown sugar; malt sweetness; earthy hops;

T: nicely balanced; earthy hops with toffee sweetness; light bitterness with a bit of caramel sweetness on the finish;

M; medium bodied; moderate, creamy carbonation;

O: would have liked a bit more bitterness;

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Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

 592 characters

Photo of davemarc87
4/5  rDev +7%

Photo of mojohawk21
3/5  rDev -19.8%

Photo of Turbo
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of tectactoe
3.54/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

 1,670 characters

Photo of ExtraStout
2.88/5  rDev -23%
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.

 348 characters

Photo of t2grogan
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of OhioBobcat
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of MadScientist
4.62/5  rDev +23.5%
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.

 862 characters

Photo of jono0101
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%

Photo of MaxT
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.42/5  rDev +18.2%
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.

 552 characters

Photo of Tiernan
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of GreaseShark
4/5  rDev +7%

Photo of tbryan5
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of ajkiser12
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of sgoodship
3.55/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

 721 characters

Photo of SkiBum22
1/5  rDev -73.3%

Photo of Kidshelleen51
3.16/5  rDev -15.5%
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.

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Photo of BJ1833
4.02/5  rDev +7.5%
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.

 445 characters

Photo of skybluewater
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,095 ratings.