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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: 3,787
Photo of mandrakes
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look: beautiful amber color, transparent, without sediments; good foam formation with low/moderate persistence;
Smell: imposing and pretty good smell, yeasted and fruited hopped, floral notes;
Taste: little bitter, persistent aftertaste with pepper/spicy and honey notes, balanced alcohol;
Feel: low carbonation; soft and light English Bitter Ale;
Overall: a great beer with nice drinkability 3,5+/5+. Obs: beautiful bottlecap.

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Photo of goodbeer4cheap
4.48/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Was my favorite beer for over a decade and lost it's place on the palate's top choice a year before it was purchased by Inbev. Within 3 years of the sell it was difficult to find. 12 packs disappeared ages ago. I still consider it one of the best sessionable and lower calorie beer choices. I actually prefer to age it a bit. 2-3 years at a slowly up and down temperature level in my basement in a dead freezer. Aging used to be incouraged on the Christmas Ale at the time which was always just an ESB version of Honkers Ale. The aging turns into a more lovable beer. Poured from a bottle a golden brown color, good carbonation and 3/4" head. Aroma- sweet malt and fruity. Taste- malt forward, hops on the subtile on the back end. Feel- smooth but nothing special a slight dry feel. Overall the lack of beers in the local area and nation as a whole ignoring this style is alarming.

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Photo of Squire123
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear light gold, white cap and good lacing.

Aroma: Something light yeast bread about it, a bit of hops.

Taste: Good flavor for a low ABV brew, tasty, caramely malty, not a whole lot but what's there counts. Malt carries with hops riding along. The darker malts used have a touch more roastiness than I would choose for this type beer. The roast bitterness carries through the finish leaving a slightly bitter aftertaste. Or that could be hops as well but the bitter note if off putting.

Texture: Medium body, good heft to it.

Overall: Good example of what can be done with a mild brew. If I were calorie counting this would certainly be on the list.

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Photo of PhilsPils
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at GI in O'Hare Airport. Clear, coppery color and a decent off-white head. Some hops on the nose but more a faint yeasty/bready aroma. The taste is bitter at first but the caramelly malts quickly sweeten it up. Very well balanced malt-to hops and a nice, fruity ale taste. Very full-flavored for such a modest ABV. We were on our way to London and in the days following, I had a few better but many worse. Good effort from Goose Island.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.17/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Clear copper with a big, lightweight off-white head that never gives up the fight.

Not much aroma wafts off this foam, with some floral, crisp lager-like notes faintly present, and some banana sugar as it warms.

It might sound heavy, but some nutty, caramel notes are refreshing and light, with a little raisin and light roast coffee supporting them. Bready and toasty qualities are present as well.

Dry finish, bitter, yet sweet.

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Photo of kevofficiel
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Goose Island Honker's Ale

Look: Amber golden color. Medium carbonation

Smell: Very Malty

Taste: Lots of malt, goes down really easily. For a 4,3% beer this has a lots of flavor

Feel: Goes down really easily, super drinkable

Overeall would I recommend it ? Sure, you wanna drink a light beer this is the one to go, much better than coors light bud light and miller light

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Photo of VincentGR
3.57/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: Red/Gold copper color. Average head that fades into a constant layer of bubbles.

S: Fruity hop smell (a little grapefruit) with smooth caramelized sugar malt aroma. A tiny beet of yeast smell upon pour, but nothing unplesant.

T: Rich malty flavor that dries into a caramel note. Fruity flavors also present, but dominated by the malt.

F: Light carbonation that fades quikly to leaves a sugary taste with a bit of biterness.

O: Nice, easy to drink, beer that has a dominant malt flavor. Color is little ordinary, but it seems more golden under certain ligh condition. Could have been a bit more carbonated for a richer mouthfeel.

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Photo of jaypaul522
3.94/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a golden color, with a nice malt and hop blend of flavors. Taste is very smooth and strong - this is good tasting ale. The body is medium, and drinkability is excellent. Good beer with a meal.

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Photo of CHickman
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours clear copper color with a 1-2 finger foamy beige colored head that faded slowly and left decent spotty lacing.

Smells of toasted grains, light yeast, floral hops, caramel, light lemon zest and cardboard. Earthy notes come out along with some citrus and blend in well with the malt base. Smells nice but very basic and nothing really jumps out - it's a very even smelling brew with equal parts hops and malts.

Tastes very much like it smells with sweet malt, caramel, toasted grains, yeast, floral hops, lemon zest, tea leaf, a little grapefruit bunch of earthy notes. Some more pronounced fruity flavors come out but can't get past the malt base, so like the aroma it's a very even tasting with equal parts hops and just a little stronger malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel is light and almost smooth, with mild carbonation, a hint of bitterness and a malty/grainy sweetness that trails off with toffee or caramel and a semi-dry feel.

Overall it's a good basic beer and seems to fit the English Bitter style quite well.

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Photo of Obake21
3.94/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First review:

L = Nice clear amber
S = You can smell the hops up front, but the malt comes through nicely.
T = Enough malt to balance out the hops. Very nice especially since I am not such a hop fan. I liked this one a lot.
F = Pretty dry. Not too much of an aftertaste. Should go well with a meal.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear copper color with a bit of beige head. Aroma has some sweet malts, honey and sweet orange. Taste starts really balanced, malty, fruity with a touch of caramel. It gets bitter towards the finish making for an overall really balanced taste profile. Medium body with crisp carbonation. Quite tasty for the low ABV but also very drinkable.

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Photo of beersareonme
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

For a straight up ale, this is a winner through & through. Superb taste, tingle and depth. My personal preference with this one... the colder the better. Tried on tap @ Sociable in Brantford ON.

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Photo of moofthedog
3.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bought on clearance at target (A six pack for 4 bucks!) Bottle date of aug 2015.

Appearance: Nice amber color. Lacing isn't too serious but that's ok.
Aroma: Hops hit the nose rather hard. Some malty-sweetness comes through but I mostly get hops.
Taste: This is where I was pleasantly surprised. Malty sweetness hits the tongue, balanced out rather well with the bitterness of the hops. But not too bitter at 30 IBU's. Biscuity, caramel-y.
Mouthfeel: The maltiness is great when it's in your mouth, but leaves kind of dry for me. This is kind of a bummer because I enjoy the maltiness sticking around a bit. Moderate carbonation, obviously not too watery.

Overall: Better than expected. If it was on tap, I'd definitely give it a shot. It could be improved greatly by reducing the dryness in my opinion.

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Photo of stevoj
2.83/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

On tap while going through Chicago. Clear dark amber with small off white head. Aroma is subdued due to very cold serving temps. Taste is nutty, caramel , toffee . No finish.

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Photo of davidperez
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a nonic pint, it pours a dark, golden orange, clear. A one-inch nice slightly tanned head with very good retention, that fades out leaving a thin layer of foam.

Not very aromatic, but you get malty tones and a little bit of citric, herbal hoppiness, caramel, and hints of diacetyl.

The taste is bitter upfront, but quickly the malty sweetness comes in to balance the flavor. Caramel, and a little bit herbal/spicy. The aftertaste holds a mix of both bitterness and sweetness.

Overall this is a very nice beer, you should give it a try.

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Photo of jeffdr123
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Sweet, fruity beer with enough hops and malt to keep it interesting. Just an English bitter should be. And pretty. A lovely copper with lots of lacing. Mary Lou likes the aftertaste better than most beers. Had it on tap at Bogey's in Venice.

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Photo of JPNesker
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mad decent macro spin on a trad English bitter. Pours fresh from the can. What my GF calls the "Goosy" Hop (as in particular to GI brews) leads to a full on malt bomb finish in yer mouth. Gotta say -- Pleasantly Surprised

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Photo of Mike_Aguirre
4.27/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours deep copper with a slightly tanned foam head, filtered. Aroma is of malts, caramel, some molasses and very little earthy hops. Taste is clean, refreshing, malty and slightly bitter, no hops. Nice beer.

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Photo of Haydn-Juby
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: An extremely clear deep amber color. One finger of creamy looking dense head. Lacing was okay. Retention was great.

S: Mild nose of slightly floral hops, mild bready yeastiness, faint touch of caramel.

T: The epitome of balance. The malt is sweet and reminiscent of caramel and fresh bread. The hops come through to tie everything together and are floral and spicey. Maybe a bit of citrus as well. Fairly clean and ester profile is minimal. Pleasantly sweet.

F: Carbonation seems to be on the lower end, which would be appropriate given that it's an English style. Body is creamy and moderately thick. It's not too filling, however.

O: a really great session beer. While it's easy drinking, it still has enough complexity to keep me wanting to comeback for more. Highly recommend to someone who believes Americans can't make great English styles!

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Photo of wanderingspirit
4.31/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very satisfying, sessional beer, a good example of an English bitter with caramel, light toffee balanced by a slight hop. Not enough of this style here and this is a go to when I desire a bitter.

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Photo of CalebM
3.96/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The bottled on date has been smudged off, but it's relatively new stock from the store I go to. Poured into a pub glass on 12/18/15 (that's warm season here in Florida). First English Bitter ever, so here goes!

Look: Copper color, smallish head.
Smell: Freshly baked light bread--like the kind you dip in soup. Malty, wheaty, tiniest bit of herbs. Someone on here said "figs"--I believe you, but I'll have to train my nose for that one.
Taste: Upfront is the malt and wheatiness from the nose. Very mild--the hops make a pretty casual appearance near the end.
Feel: Low carbonation done right. To me, the mouthfeel pulls together the flavors very well. You gulp one sip down and let your mouth water for sec.

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Photo of Catracho5
3.52/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a pint glass

A: Pours a honey orange with a white head, no head retention, slight lacing, lots of carbonation, beer is clear, looks very thin.

A: Biscuits, bread, malts, slight caramel, not getting any hop notes at all, smells like a lager.

T: Like the nose, it's biscuits, bread, malts, hint of hops at the front, quickly fades into the other notes, it's definitely easy to drink, aftertaste is of biscuits, bread, slight honey, it's okay.

M: Light bodied, dry finish.

O: I did not really want to like this beer because it's owned by AB but it's good, missing some hop notes but the bottle is six months old, it's very easy to drink, balanced, not popping with flavor, a middle of the road beer to me, doesn't impress but doesn't disappoint.

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Photo of Myotus
3.55/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle (bottled on 03Jun15) into a nonic pint glass. Consumed on 12Nov15.
LOOK: Pours with a half finger's worth of white foam that shrivels down into a line after 35 seconds. Copper in color. Rising bubbles are small in size and so scare in quantity, that I can easily count them as they rise. There is an abundance of tiny white particles floating around in the brew. Lacing is thin and very subtle.
SMELL: Mild aromas of biscuits and caramel meet with subtle aromas of toasted malts, plums, figs, raisins, pale malts and earthy hops along with hints of bitter hops.
TASTE: Mild biscuits and caramel flavors enter initially and are immediately followed by subtle bitter hop flavors. Mild flavors of toasted malts, plums, raisins, figs, and floral hops (didn't detect those in the smell) enter next. Earthy hops enter lastly as all previous flavors persist except for bitter hop flavors, which grow to mild.
FEEL: Medium-bodied and highly carbonated. Goes down rough. Finishes with a moderate dryness.
NOTE: This is very drinkable. Not the best thing out there, but not the worst. I wouldn't mind cracking open a 6 pack while hanging out with friends.

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Photo of ordybill
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass. Appearance- a crystal clear light copper color with a medium white head. Aroma- full of malt with some fruit in the background. Taste- a really good blend of caramel and malt with hops giving it a nice full flavor. Another really good offering from Goose Island.

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Photo of D-HopSupreme
3.47/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice amber body with an off-white head from a 473mL can. The scent is moderately strong in citrus hops with a slight sugary sweetness that I can't quite place. The taste then follows with complete contrast, having some bready tones, some whiskey notes, a few smokey flairs and complete absence of the original citrus scent. The feel is fairly smooth, but honestly I'm too caught off guard by the taste to really notice it, and if anything it is a bit too light in finishing for a bitter. Overall enjoyable, but not exactly something I'd spring for on a regular basis.

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