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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,072 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,072
Hads: 3,679
Avg: 3.74
pDev: 21.93%
Wants: 83
Gots: 592 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Honker's Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,072 | Hads: 3,679
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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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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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,072 ratings.