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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,082 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,082
Hads: 3,724
Avg: 3.74
pDev: 21.93%
Wants: 87
Gots: 608 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States | website

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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Honker's Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,082 | Hads: 3,724
Photo of lokicat444
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Rusty orange colored, it is quite pleasing to the eye. Head has some staying-power, and is appropriate for this style. What you'd expect from a typical pale ale.

Smell has intriguing citrus undetones, though these are understated compared to, say, Sierra Nevada. Draws you in, but does not overwhelmingly draw you in.

Taste is enjoyable and somewhat complex. Hoppiness level is balanced nicely with a subtle fruitiness.

Drinkability is excellent. The lingering taste of each sip draws you in for the next one.

Bottomline: An excellent fall-back beer (well, at least if you live in Chicago like me and can find this on tap virtually everwhere). A satisfying ale that can be enjoyed at practically any occasion or meal. Not a challenging beer, but a dependable one. I like to think of it as the less-hoppy little brother of SNPA.
Note: I've found the taste and smell to be slightly superior on tap than in bottles.

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Photo of Puddleglum
3.71/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I thought this was a splendid Ale but was a little shy of being a Pale Ale as far as I could tell. The appearance was good and the head laced down the side of the glass as I worked my way through it. The smell was as malty and spicy as it was hoppy. So too was the taste. I found, despite the lack of hop aroma, that the mouthfeel was that of pale with a little electricity on the sides of the tongue. I would have given this beer top marks if it were touting itself as an ale rather than a pale.

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Photo of DPMomutant
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Best by 8-1....decently fresh....

Pours a medium-amber with a 1 inch head. The head doesn't last particularly long but does lace a bit.

The smell isn't bad. Not terribly strong and almost all malt.

The malt comes out in the taste. It tastes almost more like a stock ale than a pale but it's good. I'm tasting a little spiciness in the hops that's a nice addition to the taste.

The carbonation is moderate and this beer feels pretty good going down. Lively, but not harsh at all.

This one isn't too bad for putting down a few. GI products are pretty available around here and I'd probably get it a lot if Boulevard weren't just as good and usually cheaper.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.15/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to oldcrustacean for the bottle!
The beer pours a beautiful, crystal clear brass, a thick, two finger ivory froth gathered from a vigorous pour. The head settles into an even, tiny bubbled coating, collared by a thicker rim.
The aroma is very well balanced. An undertone of pungent, herbal and piney hopping bouys a rich toasty malt character. I'm guessing some nugget and goldings? The malt acquires a slightly biscuity tint with some warmth, almost a little ham-like, slight pear esters adding a fruity softness. The malt gets a bit mashy when allowed to warm. Very nice.
The flavor starts with a moderate toasty maltiness. Some grainy, biscuity malt adds a pleasant harshness, with a cereal quality. Soft pear and peach esters in the middle, traveling into a moderate, balancing hoppy finish. Rather herbal, with a slight high alpha pungency. Some goldings floral hop flavor, slight grapefruit rind, the bittering mostly derived from the herbal tone. The malt keeps a hold throughout, adding a final, sweetening burst right in the swallow. A lingering malty aftertaste, with a spark of orange citrus on the very back of the tongue. Soft, english styled carbonation supporting a lightish medium body. Very smooth drinking, I have to check myself to keep from gulping it down.
A fairly complex, easy drinking pale ale. Great malt character with a solid, mildly hoppy finish. Just what I want in a session ale. I'd easily buy this by the sixer as an everyday drinking beer, if only it were available around here.

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Photo of soper2000
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at BW-3's. I love how this beer is so common around here, even campus bars usually have it on tap (albeit the movement of it isn't so great at times). It pours a deep golden copper color. Aroma is extremely floral, it would make a nice air freshener. Taste is very clean with a nice hop flavor but nowhere near as bitter as SNPA. Drinkability is nice on this one. It's an excellent session brew. I prefer some of Goose Island's other products, but this is a decent offering.

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Photo of Boto
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draught @ Goose Island Clybourne: A favorite when I go to Chicago! They also have a cask conditioned version that is even better! The beer pours a dark golden color with some white head. Mild hop nose with sweetness too. The taste is subtle and balanced, with an excellent balance of malts with a hair of hops evident. Always a favorite!

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Photo of brewQ
3.45/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A clear Royal Brown color with a creamy off white head.

Definitely some floral hop smells in the aroma. The taste has a light sweetness plus the hops in appropriate balance for a Pale.
Somehow though I did not get the finish and drinkability I look for in a Pale Ale.

I liked Goose Island years ago when I wa a frequent visitor to the brewpub, wonder if they profile down for the bottled market.

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Photo of jwilli7122
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a clear, moderately dark apple juice color.
Smells of dough and some spicy hops.
Taste: very nice moderate spicy hop flavor with some bready/doughy flavors to follow. Every once in a while I get a little hit of banana flavor. Mouth feel is prickly but still a little bit wet...or fatty maybe. I wouldn't mind drinking this all day.

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

Either I've changed or this beer is dramatically different on-tap, but, to append my bottle review, this is nothing like Bell's Amber.

Very floral with rounded fruit, but still flat and pretty one-dimensional. It is filtered and tastes filtered -- stripped of any life or soul. The draught version feels almost tasted cask-conditioned in its smoothness. Lingering finish with only the slightest bittering, Honker's Ale really shows off the style. It is pale ale. But it's also a shining example of what happens to beer when the brewery gets too big.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of jimdkc
3.18/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Slightly hazy copper color with a small head that disappeared quickly (even with an aggressive pour!) Very mild hop aroma. Little malt flavor, followed by light pine and grapefruit hop notes. Grapefruit becomes more pronounced if you let the beer warm a bit. Easy to drink, but not very complex. This was a good ale, but not a great one! I almost feel that I'm being a bit hard on this... but I honestly don't know where I'd give it any more points!

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Photo of masterbruewer
2.97/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a brown amber with some haze, thin head and mild carbonation.

The smell is primarily hops not much else.

The taste is hops, not much else. No off flavors of aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is firm, but not too heavy.

This is definately an ok beer. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing great about it either.

This bottle is dated best before two weeks from last Monday. I got in from a sample pack on the cheap at the local Andersons store. I'd be interested in trying one that's a little fresher.

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Photo of merlin48
4.07/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.48/5  rDev +19.8%
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.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.18/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this tonight at Mondo's in Iowa City. It was served way too cold and in a frosted glass. So, I let it warm a little....

Medium gold with a creamy bone white head. The cap faded to a broken film and deposited a good bit of intricate lace on the pint glass. Very nice for a bar pour. The nose wasn't too impressive, but to be fair, I did most of my aroma assessment when the beer was still fairly cold.

It's amazing how with some beers the aroma and the flavor don't match up with respect to quality. This was one of those cases because Honker's Ale was delicious. Perfectly hopped with a flavor of candied grapefruit peel, it was wonderful from the first cool sip to the last room temperature one. The hops were so much in the foreground that it seemed more like an IPA than a pale ale. Not much malt, but that's perfectly fine with me.

The medium body and the creamy mouthfeel was the icing on the cake. It also stood up very well to a spicy Buffalo chicken pizza. I haven't heard Goose Island mentioned in the same breath as a lot of the other quality U.S. microbreweries, but Honker's Ale (on-tap anyway) is very good beer.

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

Appearance: Nice amber tone with a pleasant off white cream colored foamy head leaves speckled lace behing, not a bad look. Aroma: Interesting mix of earthy hop blend somewhat herbal quality with a caramel malt sweetness dancing in there as well. Taste: Perfect balance the hop profile takes on a piney edge that just works with the sharp sweetness of the malts nice solid flagship ale from Goose Island. Mouthfeel: Light to medium in body standard amount of carbonation very smooth. Drinkability: It's the quintessential American pale ale with great hop flavor and balance creating alot of drinkability.

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Photo of Redrover
4.22/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer was poured into an imperial pint glass. Nice hazy bronze with a ½ inch tan head.

Great smelling beer. I could smell this one when the bartender put the glass on the bar. Nice floral hops, some fresh bread and the signature goose yeast strain all make an appearance.

Taste is top notch. Hops on the initial taste with more malt creeping in as you work deeper into the beer. As many have mentioned, this beer seems almost English in style & substance. Taste remains solid as the beer warms.

Soft creamy mouthfeel (is it the water?) and great carbonation per style. A beer that is extremely easy to drink all evening.

Great every day beer, easy to pair with good food and good conversation.

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Photo of benmiliron
2.6/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Got this in a variety 12-pack of Goose Island. I used to get Honker's Ale for hiking trips in S. Ohio because this was the only micro the store had. Basically a well-done Sam Adams clone, this brew is your standard malty/hoppy micro brew, it's what your friends probably think of when they think of the beer you drink.

I'd skip this one and move on to something else.

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Photo of daledeee
3.59/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is readily available in my area. Thought I would pick some up. Could not get any head to speak of. Appearance is a somewhat off orange color. Very hoppy aroma. The taste is typical of American pale ales. Lots of hops. This one has not much malt and is rather watered down tasting. It tastes OK but lacks something. There are much better offerings in this catagory.

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Photo of Weissenheimer
3.29/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Sampled at the North Clybourne location)

By the time this five ounce sample arrives it, like most of the others brought to our table, has almost no head. It has a deep coppery crystal appearance and an invitingly crisp, sweet, floral scent.

I take a taste and am rather surprised by the strongly metallic bitterness. It's very astringent but not all that complex, which to my way of thinking is a bad combination. The bitterness has a woody aspect, but the metallic overtone predominates. There are actually three discernible stages to the taste, but they fly by far too quickly. First comes a bracing sensation that has little taste beyond a slight woodiness. Then that metallic bitterness comes on strong, overwhelming all else. This quickly migrates to the back of the tongue as the sharp bitterness takes on a more hoppy aspect.

I think this beer would be much better if it had a more balanced, full body to back up and round out the metallic bite. As it stands, though, that bite makes this a barely mediocre beer.

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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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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,082 ratings.