1. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,697 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2697
Reviews: 999
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 11.65%

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:
Golden sunset color, fruity hop aroma, biscuity malt flavor, soft body.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-08-2001)
View: Beers (269) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Honker's Ale Alström Bros
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 2,697 | Reviews: 999 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Duxx


4.97/5  rDev +34.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Pours the same color as clover honey with an egg shell white head. The head is minimal only about 1 finger even with a vigorous pour. The head fades leaving some lacing on the glass.

S: Awesome hop aroma but not over powering. The aroma is spicy with a hint of citrus. I thought it was Cascade hops but the Goose Island web site says they use Styrian Goldings hops. I've never used that in my homebrew but I'll try it in my next batch of homebrew because it has a crisp enjoyable hop aroma.

T: For me, a perfect blend of hop bitterness and rich malt. I really like the balance between the two in this beer. The hop bitterness on the back of the palate is really a great finish.

M: Kind of hard to describe because while the beer is fairly thin the mouthfeel is surprisingly creamy.

D: I could always have several of these. Not too sweet, not too bitter. The balance of this beer is "spot on" in my opinion.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2009 01:35:11 | More by Duxx
Photo of Isrealite


4.9/5  rDev +32.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I remember an online class that had an e-book that tracked whether or not you read or listened to the material, and reported it to the instructor. Well, the joke was on him because I learned very little, and drank a very great deal of Honker's Ale while listening. This is definitely Goose Island's best macro brew in my opinion. It is thin yet bitter, and the taste can only be descried as unique, and perfectly balanced. Worth the money every time, and in case you were wondering, I still got an A in the class because this beer really made me relax, and open up my mind to philosophical arguments. Not recommended for math or science class.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2013 09:05:49 | More by Isrealite
Photo of kimbo33


4.88/5  rDev +32.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Almost impossible to pack this much taste into a 4.3% beer! Robust amber flavor comes through and it is fantastic. Smell is nearly perfect, same with the look. Getting very picky to not give this a perfect score.

Very smooth, you can drink a sixer of this one easily.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2012 02:34:39 | More by kimbo33
Photo of marcpal

New Jersey

4.6/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into large pint glass. Thanks to monkeyknife for sending me over several of these.

A: Reddish brown color with a ridiculously thick foam. The bubbles in the head of this one held on nicely and weere huge.

S: Mild buscuit smell with dried malts. The breadiness was tight and the hops were there for sure.

T: Malt and hops made a delicous ESB. The toasted malts and breadiness were matched perfectly with the bitter hops. This was a tasty beer.

M: Dry/toasty.

D: Epitome of a sessionable beer. This went great with Mexican and cant wait to have several more.

Re-reviewed after several more of the 07 batch that Ive gotten through terrific trades. This is among the best session beers that are available, unfortunately not here in NJ yet.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2008 02:35:27 | More by marcpal
Photo of MadScientist

New York

4.6/5  rDev +24.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-19-2012 02:18:55 | More by MadScientist
Photo of WhiteDog2006


4.55/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Tried this beer for the first time out of a bottle, into a frosted mug.
The appearance was good, nice dark copper look, and the head stayed true the whole mug through (remember the mug was frosted).
The smell was average at best. Really had no distinction from other beers of the same color.
The tase was magnifacent! I was sold on that alone (of course it was ice cold...could have had something to do with it).
The drinkability went right along with the tase in my book; I could drink this beer all night.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2007 22:24:59 | More by WhiteDog2006
Photo of tjkurz


4.55/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle poured into pint glass - clear burnt orange/amber with a couple fingers of head. Smell fresh, sense of hops. Malty up front with nice floral hop finish - clean. Mouthfeel decent body, carbed. One of the most drinkable beers in my mind - great with just about anything - I like with pizza. Can drink 3 of these and not get bored - one of my favorites. Bottle brags perfect combination of malts and hops - and I agree.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2008 18:46:24 | More by tjkurz
Photo of twiggamortis420


4.53/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a slightly hazy light orange color with a thick, frothy white head. Retention and lacing are excellent.

Smells pretty damn good. Light, fresh floral and citrus hops. Very soft, fluffy malts and mild fruitiness hinting at papayas and passion fruit. Also has a bit of British minerality to it that helps keep it on track as a bitter.

Wow, this may be one of the ultimate session beers. So smooth and chugable. I dont find it to be all that bitter, but it does have great grassy hop flavor. Malts are there, but they are so soft and silky, the beer just glides down the throat. This would be a mainstay in my fridge if it was available in Tejas.

Serving type: bottle

03-10-2009 23:21:43 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of TastyTaste


4.5/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hazy copper color, that I aggresively poured, and came up with a huge head that filled up my pilsner glass. Smells moderately of hops and citrus. Taste is very smooth and balanced. Tastes pretty close to an IPA, but it is a very good pale, that I could sip on all day.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2004 19:00:12 | More by TastyTaste
Photo of rabsten

West Virginia

4.5/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the Goose Island Summer Ale pack, poured into a pint glass. Red-amber with reddish head of about two fingers. Nice lacing.

Floral hop smell, supported by some caramel malt. Pleasant smell. Very nice.

Tastes like a classic english bitter. Like fresh Old Speckled Hen. Again, very nice. Floral hops balanced with caramel malt.

Feels light on the palate; goes down smooth.

Superbly drinkable beer. I'll pick this up again.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2006 19:49:05 | More by rabsten
Photo of generallee

New York

4.5/5  rDev +22%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-20-2010 02:18:57 | More by generallee
Photo of justintcoons


4.48/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Light amber with 1 finger of head. Excellent clarity and low carbonation.

N: Light fruity notes of cantaloupe, lemon and orange. Sweet caramel and honey.

T: Upfront is caramel and some breadiness with a pear essence. Mid-palate there is cantaloupe and a honey sweetness. Finishes with light hints of lemon and orange citrus. There's also some light grapefruit and grass.

M: Light-medium bodied, creamy, crisp, clean and refreshing.

O: This is a really well put together English Bitter. This could be the session ale to rival all session ales. Fantastic!

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2012 20:30:50 | More by justintcoons
Photo of jayrod20


4.47/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice white head, light orange. Medium and soft moutheel. lagerish ale. Tad of lace left, smartly hopped, acidic bite and over carbonated.Bit of yeast and malt and hops in the aroma, bit of C hop and a little fruity and spicy. Drying aftertaste.

Again a beer too easy to overdue it with happily.

Serving type: on-tap

05-06-2008 02:35:58 | More by jayrod20
Photo of greengorilla


4.47/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass. The color was a light brownish orange with a decent white head and good lacing.

The smell was good with a citris and hoppy scent.

The taste also was good with citris and medium hops presence.

The mouthfeel was smooth.

This beer is very drinkable. I could drink several in a session. This is a beer that I can see myself keeping on hand most of the time.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2009 18:56:07 | More by greengorilla
Photo of feloniousmonk


4.45/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The color is a rosey amber/bronze, and the head is disappointingly short and small. Aroma explodes with hops and suggestions of fruit, with notes of grapefruit, pears, peach, apricot, melons, ...or am I just rambling? It's a tasty blizzard of hops, no matter how flung my imagination! Medium body, soft texture, a wonderful play on the tongue, a whirlwind of hop liveliness. Malt is a perfect match, holding it all together. Refreshing, delicious taste, some toasty, caramel notes showing up in the middle. Is it a pale ale, or more of an amber? Feels like a flavorful version of English bitter, for it would make an excellent session beer for those who don't compromise on taste. This is a delicious American ale, and one that does nothing but incite happiness!

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2003 15:14:55 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of bigbubba


4.45/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A beautiful clear copper-orange with a fizzy white head. The smell is good, but nothing real special. The taste is very pleasant, lightly hopped, pretty dry. Very clean tasting with little aftertaste. Very good for a hot summer day, I'm not sure I would have rated it the same in January. It is well carbonated which helps the otherwise thin mouthfeel. It is extremely easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2004 21:45:53 | More by bigbubba
Photo of neonbrown82


4.45/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is quite the tasty beverage. I first sampled this from a 4 ounce serving and wasn't too impressed with it, but I wanted something a bit light, mildy hoppy, and refreshing to accompany my BBQ. This fit the bill quite well.

Pours to a pale and clear golden/amber color with a light carbonation. The head starts off at about an inch and recedes to a thin film over the liquid. Lacing does not seem to stick to the glass at all.

The smell is zesty and hoppy. It smells a bit similar to amarillo hops, but I don't think that's the only varietal. I could bury my nose in the glass all night, but eventually I'll end up having to drink the beer leaving me with nothing left to smell...

...which isn't that big of a problem, because the taste is equally delicious. Tastes like a mix between cascades and amarillo, perhaps. The malt is somewhat hidden behind the hoppiness, but the beer is not overly bitter by any means. It seems to have the perfect level of bitterness, as a matter of fact. It is bitter enough to satisfy my inner hop head without being so intense that I have to more or less sip the brew like many I2PA's.

The mouthfeel is a bit acidic, but it helps to get a good idea of the taste profile aside from the hops. I do believe I will have to make this my new fall-back session beer. Every beer I've had from Goose Island has been nothing short of exceptional. I highly recommend them, this beer in particular.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2005 04:34:15 | More by neonbrown82
Photo of JudgeRoughneck


4.43/5  rDev +20.1%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

08-04-2006 08:21:08 | More by JudgeRoughneck
Photo of kboett77


4.43/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I really enjoyed this very drinkable, yet remarkably flavorfull beer. I purchased it simply due to amusement at the name. The Hops are balanced wonderfully with the malt in a way that is very satisfing. Often in a beer, I find to much of something and a lack of another. This beer has it all in a form that would keep me ordering round after round. Have a Pint of Bitter, from Chicago!

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2006 14:05:43 | More by kboett77
Photo of steveh


4.43/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Haven't reviewed Honkers in all this time -- to review as an English Bitter, or APA -- that's the question. Bottled on 11/17/08.

A -- Deep, sort of hazy, gold color with a thick, cream colored head.

S -- Mellow balance of piny and citrus hops with some earthiness back. Inviting aroma.

T -- Mellow citrus hops followed by light biscuit malts, finishing in a piny bitterness at the back of the throat.

M -- Light body with a soft mouth-feel.

D -- Outstanding. The Goose web site says this brew is 4.3, BA says 5.0. Not sure where it falls, but it's smooth goin' down.

Updated with a new, 01/05/09 batch. Yum.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2009 22:43:49 | More by steveh
Photo of LauraAlberts

South Carolina

4.43/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Cloudy Mango/Orangey Amber with a fingers worth of head.

Smell: Granny Smith Apples

Taste: slight tartness with a sweetness. Granny Smith Apples/Cinnamon.

Mouthfeel: Rye-Like mouthfeel that dries out the palate for the next sip.

Drinkability: Session. I would if I could, but I have to get this from Chicago friends!

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2009 16:14:14 | More by LauraAlberts
Photo of tugdriver7


4.43/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Perhaps it's the style or the fact that we've been waiting awhile in this part of the country to get Goose Island products... but this was a treat. Gorgeous hazy amber to orange in the glass with a nice tan head. Subtle carbonation that raised a very nicely balanced malt scent to the nose. Flavor was equally balanced, with a soft biscuity flavor that melds into a very subtle hops bitterness for a crisp, dry finish. And the flavor excelled as it warmed. Very drinkable!

Serving type: bottle

08-23-2009 11:22:44 | More by tugdriver7
Photo of Kendo

New York

4.43/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Poured from the growler into a pint glass. Body is light amber with a slight bit of haze and a small whitish head. Some lace left behind.

S: Nice balance between citrusy hops and the malt. So far so good, as ESBs are about balance. Scent becomes a tad bit more floral as it warms.

T: Light malt up front -- almost fruity in its sweetness, but never coming anywhere close to cloying. More bready or biscuity as it warms. Finishes with a semi-dry bitterness with a hint of orange peel and lemon. Again, nice balance.

M: Light-to-medium body with nice creaminess.

D: Excellent. Very sessionable and nicely refined and restrained. It's more of an American version of an ESB given those citrusy hops, but it still retains the balance that the style calls for. I will be getting this again, particularly since the growler was dirt-cheap (I think it was $5.99).

Serving type: growler

07-01-2010 15:36:57 | More by Kendo
Photo of NODAK


4.43/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Aroma is of bit of citrus hoppiness...some sweet and bready malts behind it.

The taste is a very, very drinkable one. Upfront, there's cereal grains that comprise most of the body of the beer. The bitterness from the English hops doesn't start until near the finish, where it does so with a medium to low intensity....it's not all that bitter. After the swallow, the bitterness lingers a tad bit....but there's a good amount of grain that appears in the aftertaste. Highly refreshing.

I hadn't had an English bitter before this, but I must say I'm impressed. It's definitely something a person could down quite a few of, especially with its low ABV.

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2010 00:20:55 | More by NODAK
Photo of mjsheehan08


4.43/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A surprisingly wonderful extra from Brundo4

Huge, billowing white head that sits atop a deep honey colored beer. Sticky lacing slides down the glass and chunks atop the rest of the beer. 

Smells bready and sweet. Really malt present and the sweetness is def the most notable aroma. Floral and citrus hops presence, but not as overpowering like in the American versions hoppy beers. 

Wow. I mean wow this beer tastes amazing. I have been drinking alot of really high ABV beers as of late, and I am just so impressed with how well this beer drinks. Note to self, high ABV doesn't mean more flavor. Super citrusy off the bat, but the bitterness does not follow as hard as I am used to from that flavor. Toasted bread, honey, and maybe a little Carmel apple through in together stands as the malt backbone, and is balanced perfectly by the mild English hop presence. Unbelievable balanced, yet still complex. 

Drinks really easily. Medium body with mild carbonation. The Abv is under 5, and I really wish I had this beer more readily available. Probably the best session style beer I have ever had. 

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2011 22:25:41 | More by mjsheehan08
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 2,697 ratings.