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Honker's Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

1,094 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: 1,094 | Ratings: 3,784
Photo of finepaws
3.27/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a coppery orange. Small white head that laces the edges towards the end. Smells fruity and floral. Like citrus flowers. Tastes malty and fruity. Like grapefruit. Slightly hoppy. Has a rind taste. Salty. Very carbonated. This is a beers beer. Good with food. Not one I would choose again, simply cause it's not my cup of tea. But one worth trying.

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Photo of BJ1833
4.02/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5


Appearance: Thick white three-finger head. Hazy copper body with visible floating sediment (decanted entire bottle into pint glass).

Aroma: Sweet malt smell with sipcy, citrusy-hop aromas.

Taste: Biscuit-like malt flavors. A unrecognizable spice-like flavor present. Well balanced hop bitterness makes this refreshing and easy to drink.

Overall: Very tasty. My favorite from the Goose Island brewery. A great pale ale.

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Photo of ken3c
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very clear light copper. Half inch head leaves a layer of foam and intense lacing.

Smells slightly flowery.

Tastes intensely flowery but well balanced with sweetnes so that it's not overpowering. Dry finish. Actually the finish is rather abrupt. Disappointing in a way.

Light to medium body and moderately carbonated.

Very enjoyable if a little disappointing in the finish. I've discovered with this beer that a good finish really makes you crave another one.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.27/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light bronze color with a smallish head and absolutely no lace. The bubbles are sparse and really big. The aroma is of fruity malts (or yeast?) and cedary hops. The flavor is very well balanced with apples, biscuity malts, and very flavorful hops. Theres a spicey hop finish with a very crisp aftertaste. There is excellent carbonation and a very thick mouthfeel. Overall this is a very good beer.

note- The label says this beer is bottle conditioned but I couldnt see even the slightest bit of yeast sediment in the bottle and the beer poured very clear. go figure.... still a great beer.

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Photo of nomad
4.07/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

American Pale Ale? I beg to differ, this beer is an English Special Bitter, please...

Pours the softest of soft, hazy orange with a lustrous glow. The head on this ale sits quite well with a judicious amount of fair lacing.

Smells of lemons, light floral scents, some hop bushiness, and that indistinct byt typical light earthiness of English aroma hops. Flavors follow suit with caramel and roasty malts wrapped in plenty of minty, earthy, and floral hop flavors. Just enough hint of citrus fruit notes are mixed through out. A great example of how malts and hops can match and aid each other.

Now in the Midwest, this beer will always be around my fridge. Excellent session beer of medium body and moderate but full flavor.

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Photo of oracle
3.96/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle in a shaker style glass

Beer poured clear light copper. Unfortunately, there was very little head retention on the medium bodied half inch head.

Smell was a little more hoppy than I expected, but being an huge pale and IPA fan, this was not exactly a disappointment. Smelled clean, plainly hoppy with a undertone of oak or pine.

Taste was suprisingly good. Good hops all the way through, without being overpowering. Drank clean and easy, just like the smell.

Mouthfeel was average. no cloying aftertaste and not too much carbonation.

All-in-all, very good and very easy to drink. This will become one of the beers I buy in twelve packs and keep on hand all the time.

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Photo of jvajda
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A fine looking ale without any outsanding characteristics.
Smell: Very lightly malty.
Taste: Somewhat watery and malty, this beer is not overwhelming.
Mouthfeel: Easy in the mouth and going down.
Drinkabilty: This beer will bore me after a few.

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Photo of profzoom
4.35/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ah, Honker's Ale. Living in Chicago for four years while at college left a special place in my heart for Goose Island's flagship offering. I definitely prefer it on tap, but by the bottle is quite fine as well. It pours a beautiful golden brown. The smell and taste are sweet, almost honey-like, with a fair amount of hops. Definitely one of my favorite pale ales.

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Photo of necoadam
3.16/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ordered this beer online with a bunch of other beers so I decided to try the easy beers first. Poured out a copper color with a nice enough of head. It settled down eventually. Smell consisted of malts mostly blending in with some carmel. Taste was almost the same. Malts and caramel hit the palate first with some soft hop undertones that show up in the middle and lasts into the aftertaste. It's pretty much average with nothing wowing me here. But as a session beer this would be pretty good.

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Photo of bigbubba
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
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.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. The color is amber, with a nice foamy white head with good retention. The smell is slight hoppiness. The taste is a mellow, slight citrus hopping with a noticable fairly dry malt in the background. Mouthfeel is average. Drinkability-wise, this would have very nice sessionability and could have quite a few of these.

A very nice brew from Goose Island. I first had this one on draft, but it holds up nicely in the bottle. A good pale ale, and certainly one I'd enjoy seeing around.

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Photo of Ricochet
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When I lived in Louisville KY and I couldn't get to the Cumberland and I wanted (and could afford) a micro, I bought Goose!

In Clevo, mom had bought a 6 and offered me one and I tasted it again after drinking a Sammy at dinner. This is a damn good ale. It smells great, looks great and goes down with all the flavor of the best bottled beers I've tasted. It tastes full, rich and not too bitter although it just misses for personal preferences on hoppiness. When I finish one of these I want another and I'm happy to do so.

Also, I noted that this is usually a buck-two bucks cheaper than Sammy or Great Lakes. Why shop anywhere else?

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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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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,094 ratings.