Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

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Honker's AleHonker's Ale

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1,063 Reviews
very good

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Reviews: 1,063
Hads: 3,638
Avg: 3.74
pDev: 21.93%
Wants: 81
Gots: 570 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,063 | Hads: 3,638
Photo of DrunkMcDermott
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Once in a while I gotta remember to have one of these as reminder of “how it all started” in this area. The Goose’s flagship beer is one of those that can start anybody on the road to good beer appreciation. An appealing orangey pour with a good head. Caramel roasty malts, and a floral/bitter hop character that only insinuates itself after a few sips. Toward the bottom of the glass, it even took on a bit of IPA character. Wonderful fruity ale taste.

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Photo of Gavage
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I opened my last bottle from my Chicago trip - poured a amber color with a medium head that had some larger bubbles. There was a soft floral and malt aroma that was detectable, but not overly exciting. This beer does have a nice balance of malt and hops, and there was a slight crispness that was detected while drinking. This has a medium body with a slightly high carbonation rate. A good session beer, but I prefer this on tap rather than the bottle.

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Photo of xgrigorix
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Twelve ounce brown twist cap bottle. Best by date printed on label.

Medium amber, clear, with brisk carbonation. Rocky off white head.

Some sweet malt & inviting floral hop aromas, with just a touch of citrus.

Caramel, sweetness, some graininess, along with some non-descript fruit flavours. A fairly hoppy finish with lots of floral notes, along with some subtle orange flavours as well. Medium bodied, brisk carbonation, & somewhat crisp.

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Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a distinctive bright copper in color. Clear with lots of tiny bubbles flowing to the top of the beer. Lacing is thick, leaving distinct rings on the glass. Aromas are citrusy and floral. Flavor is solid. Good amount of bitterness. Small amounts of malty sweetness to offset the bitterness. Finishes crisp and clean with a pleasant bitterness. Mouthfeel is good. Just slightly on the thin side. Very quaffable beer. Solid offering from Goose Island.

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Photo of moulefrite
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is simply a good, clean, crisp and mostly a super tasty fresh offering that is easy to enjoy as I am just down the street from the brewery. The color is light creamy caramel and sports just enough, but never alot of head and stick. The aromatics are super fresh and are nicely in balance showing first a bitter side then a soft malty side. In the mouth the same thing, flashes of pine needle then a washing of creamy, lightly sweet caramel malt in a light to medium bodied style. This is a hell of an easy beer to drink and a stellar value at 5.99 a sixer! I'm supportin the local team no doubt, and you should too when in town!

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.6/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Poured a pleasing amber and orange color into a Belgian glass. It was slow to form a head, so I roughed it up a bit halfway through. Still, I only got a half-finger or so and that didn't hang around long. Ended up with an incomplete covering and the thinnest of crowns.

Aroma consists of a bright orange citric smell. Trace of malt base under that. A bit weak but pleasant.

Taste - A light malt presence has no time to develop before being burned away by some solid carbonation. Citric, slightly sour hops move in and carry the taste to a clean and mildly bitter finish. An earlier comment that this is similar to Sam Adams Boston Lager is well-taken. Similar, but with a noticeably more floral hop presence.

Mouthfeel - sturdy legs on the body of this pale ale helps the taste linger. Good bubbles enhance overall appeal.

Drinkability - More tasty than refreshing, I'd prefer it mostly in autumn and winter, methinks.

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Photo of StevieW
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottles at my brother MikeyW's house.
Clear shiny copper color. Tight off-white beige bubbly head. Good malty, biscuit rich smells. Taste is nice and balanced. Toasted malty goodness with a snappy hop bitterness. Slightly "english" flavor to me. Not sure what variety hops, but it has a kind firm hard water snap to it. Lightly toasted malt adds richness and body in my opinion. Light to medium bodied. Not watery, stays together to the end. A notch above an average session brew in my opinion. A real keeper. Very good pairing with Montgomery Inn Ribs.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright orange, with a touch of gold, fighting through the chill haze. Topped by a sticky, foamy white head. A sweet orange (fruit, not color this time) aroma rises from the glass. Sweet caramel hits the tongue first, but is quickly topped by a blanket of balancing citric hops, which linger as the malt fades away. Good carbonation in the mouthfeel. While not necessarily a "wow" kind of beer, this can be a great "everyday" ale.

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Photo of hotstuff
2.68/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft:The appearance was that of a medium sized ivory head that was smooth and creamy with fine sized bubbles that mostly diminished.The body was clear and uncarbonated with a golden orange hue.The nose consisted of malt and hops along with a hoppy, bitter fore and aftertaste flavor.The mouthfeel was smooth and medium bodied and this beer left a good lacing on the sides of my glass.I would have enjoyed this beer much better, but it was a little bit too hoppy tasting for me.

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Photo of rastaman
3/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A fair bit of sweetness at the start, dried out a bit by some piney, fruity hops, ever so slghtly sticky, and some bitterness. Relatively clean and easy going. A little to sticky sweet perhaps, as a lot of American Pale Ales tend to be, but....quite tasty.

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Photo of jahred
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite "standard" beers in the city of Chicago. Color is medium brown, with not too much of a smell. Taste if hoppy, and more complex than the other offerings in most bars in the ciy. Fairly dry with hints of apples and a flowery aftertaste that's quite lingering. Ocassional hint of malt, but not as much as I expect.

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Photo of beerguy101
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium brown color, small head. Aroma is fruity and slightly sweet. Roasted, nutty malts, floral hops with very little hop bitterness. Nice balance. Finish is clean and crisp. Aftertaste is crisp and clean. Aftertaste is malty, no bitterness. The malts shine through on this beer.

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Photo of granger10
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one solid beer from Goose Island. Nothing spectacular but definitely a well crafted brew. Doesn't have that hop bitterness that a lot of pale ales have but the hops are strong. There are a lot of citrus hops in it and some spicy hops too. Sweet roasted malts and caramel malts complement the hops. Begins and finishes with some hoppiness but the middle is malty. Makes for a good mix. This beer doesn't strive for greatness it's just a quality beer that's well balanced.

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Photo of Kongquistador
3.87/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first pour on this beer seemed to have gone wrong, with what little head formed disappearing almost instantly. Drank that and gave a second pour to get a better idea. The second pour was a little better, but I'm going to conclude that this beer pours with a very quickly disappearing head. It also left me very little lace, all of which makes for a mystery as to why there was so little topping, given the amount of carbonation. It looks very nice with a beautiful reddish brown hue, amber around the edges. Smell is a nice citrusy hops, with a distinct malt scent lurking underneath, but no discernable alcohol.

Great taste. That sums this beer up, but in the interest of making the review readable a little more ought to be said. The first sip hit me with a really nice citrus burst, which persisted throughout the swallow. Actually felt a little thin on the end, but it still had a good hoppy feel. There is also a nice caramel malt taste, which balances well with the hops. As the beer warmed I feel like it has thinned out a bit, and the first bite of flavor has mellowed out, not to the point where it could be described as bland or anything like that, but not as full and exciting either. The finish is hops, and good amounts of them, with that ever present citrus twang holding out to the last.

The mouthfeel on the Honker's isn't quite what I might like, but it is still very passable. The carbonation is heavy, and the beer isn't quite as smooth as it might be, given that it doesn't have an overwhelming character in any particular direction. However, the overall balance of the beer is very drinkable, and certainly worth a purchase if you find some.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

12oz. bottle poured into my Goose Island pint glass. It pours a light copper color with one finger of white foam. There is just a little lacing left on the glass. The smell is a nice mix of honey and hops. A fairly sweet smell, pretty pleasant. The taste is fairly sweet with honey and a hint of caramel and pine. There is a nice crisp, fairly hoppy finish. The mouthfeel is just a little light, but it is very smooth, and one of the most drinkable brews I've ever had. A favorite session beer of mine, and even better on tap.

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Photo of ZAP
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Certainly not an American style west coast Pale Ale..definitely English in style...more of a bitter..very tasty and worth buying if you like English style ales...pours a cloudy reddish orange.....nice lacing along the glass....nose is spicy..with a bready/biscuity note..On the light side of medium in body feel..a tich watery....taste is heavy on the bready malt and spicy hops...a pretty nice beer that I will reach for again when in the mood for an English style bitter or ale...

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

A pretty tasty brew but to me it had some qualities more indicative of a bitter than a pale ale. In the taste, fruity esters and caramel are in the fore front rather than hoppiness...which to me seems more bitter-ish. It pours a bright orange amber with a scant white head, no lace. Some non-descript fruitiness dominates the aroma backed by some sweet, bready malt. A good session quaffer.

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Photo of Shiloh
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice offering.
Pours a hazy deep caromel with light tan crown. Appearance is highlighted by its exceptional glass cling as this sample progresses.
Slight scent of yeast.
Carbonation is active.
The body is a medium/full.
The taste is very nice...starts a malty sweetness which is quickly replaced by an attack of the hops. Lingering bitterness to finish.

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Photo of BobLuvBeer
3.76/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber color with very good carbonation. Head pours thick and lacing lasts through glass.
Slightly roasted malt presence, with hops as the primary characteristic. They have reached a balance with the hops, where you taste them through out, but where they do not over power you. Finishes with a slightly citrusness which is unexpected, but adds favorably to the over all experience.

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Photo of kaszeta
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The last beer sampled at my recent trip to Chicago. This beer pours with lightish copper color, and a thick foamy white head. Fairly strong hops smell, with just a hint of malt. Taste was similar, a nice malt base with a hops finish, quite good for a Pale Ale. A bit light on the mouthfeel, but good on a hot day. Probably the second best beer I had at Goose Island, after the IPA.

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Photo of Sixpack595
3.79/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nice clear copper, with a fair head that dissipates quickly leaving no lacing. Aroma has a strong spicy hop note with malt also evident. Taste is much more mellow, with the malt backing up a balanced hop bitterness. Much more balanced than I expected, not like many of the out of balance hops for hop's sake beers out there.

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Photo of aaronh
3.79/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Light copper colored beer that is slightly hazy pours with a moderate, dark cream head. It slowly fades to a layer of rocky film. A slightly fruity malt note with a touch of grassy hops comprises the aroma. The taste is surprisingly bitter in a good way, with a touch of caramel/biscuity malt notes. Earthy hop flavors lead to a nice bitter but smooth finish. The aftertaste is a lingering earthiness with a touch of sweetness now and then. The mouthfeel is decent, but could be a bit more robust to support the flavors. Drinkability is very good. This is a fine pale ale at a very reasonable price.

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Photo of MJR
3.16/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: This one has copper edges around an amber body that seems to have it's own glow. Good overall clarity. The head starts out a healthy size, then shrinks to a small, but persistent, cap.

Smell: The aroma has a nice dose of fresh hops that is well balanced with the malts. There's a bit of a caramel, as well as an interesting roasted character. A touch of breadiness too. Unfortunately, the main thing that stands out to me is a strange, off flavor that's hard to describe...maybe a mix of a phenolic flavor and a slighty burnt one.

Taste: Again, that off flavor is distracting and strange. Putting that aside, there's the balance of hops and malt. A touch of bread, caramel, and roasted malt are present.

Mouthfeel: Fairly high level of carbonation, with medium mouthfeel. A bit dry and crisp on the finish.

Drinkability: Hmmm...how to approach this one? The strange aroma and flavor make it a bit hard to enjoy the good balance that I'm sure this brew has. I don't know if it's an off bottle, or if it's part of the flavor profile. I'm leaning towards it being a part of the flavor profile, since I've run into this exact flavor before in an IPA from Magic Hat. I still have a month before the 'best by' date is due, so I know it's somewhat fresh. Whichever it is, I don't care for it.

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Photo of AudioGilz
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

So here is one of my standby's....a go to beer when the mind fails to decide upon something new. It's a beer for all occassions and seasons. It has a nice appearance of clear light amber/orange with a small head and moderate lacing, especially the draught. The aroma is a little but floral hoppiness with hints of caramel malt. As goes the flavor, hints of caramel malt, a little toasty, and a little hoppy in the end. Every flavor is strong enough to enjoy and light enough to drink all day or night or both. This is one highly quaffable brew. When it's on tap, the bitterness of the hops is more pronounced and crisp. Bottle or draught, a wonderful brew indeed.

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Photo of Morris729
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours amber in color with a tall and creamy white head that leaves spider webs of lace on the sides of the glass as it recedes. Nose is dominated by floral hops with a bit of sweet malt in the background. Medium in body with a fairly smooth and creamy texture. Taste is sweet toasted malts and caramel up front followed by some woody notes and flavors of unsweetened black tea. A good amount of hop bite is present in the finish. This would make for a fine session beer. Thanks to bditty187 for the sample!

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,063 ratings.