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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,062 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,062
Hads: 3,638
Avg: 3.73
pDev: 11.8%
Wants: 81
Gots: 569 | 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: 1,062 | Hads: 3,638
Photo of Act25
3.67/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I prefer their summer ale.

A: one finger thick head over a clear copper body.

S: brown sugar, tropical fruitiness and caramel malts. mildly sweet.

T: follows smell, but better, toasted caramel malts, burnt toast with earthy and biscuity hops, mildly bitter.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation. Easy drinker. Session beer.

Overall: very drinkable and nicely on par for the style

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Photo of IrishTank
4.16/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Refreshing with a little bit of a bite. I would drink it again. Forced to drink the rest of the beer at 8:00am because my wife got into my beer frig because she needed a beer to make corned beef & cabbage with a beer in it. I quickly grabbed the beer from her after she poored half of it in the crock pot and drank it before she could waste the rest.

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Photo of Cramshawbar
3.5/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A weak attempt of any style. Goose Island tries hard but mostly fails with their try of European beer styles. Pick only if there are no better options.

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Photo of pat61
4.07/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: medium gold with a lingering 1” off-white foam collar.
S: slight caramel and slight hop and slight skunk, but I can swirl most of the skunk out of the beer and don’t need to dump it.
T: A dab of sweetness – malt and light biscuit – up front and then it dries out on the finish and has a slight sweetness reappear in the aftertaste.
F: medium body. Medium carbonation, not creamy and not astringent.
O: An easy to drink ale with the balance towards the hops.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.27/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on Nov 17 2014.

Appearance - Tons of "smoke" on popping the cap. Clear, light copper/amber with rocky beige head. Lots of carbonation. Some lacing and retains a thin skim of foam.

Aroma: Malty; hints of ale yeast character; very much like Sam Adams Boston Ale, which I recently drank. Some vague fruitiness; apple/pear/blackberry. Beery.

Taste: Dry arrival, dry caramelly middle with no sweetness. Bitter, clean finish. This is shockingly like Sixpoint Sweet Action (Cream Ale) and MadTree Happy Amber, though less medicinal than either and with slightly more of the typically English estery-ness.

Mouthfeel: Light, crisp, clean. Lots of carbonation for an ale.

Overall: Pretty much a perfect English-style bitter, tough overcarbonated. Less lingering bitterness than Happy Amber or Sweet Action. I think I prefer Boston Ale, which is similar, but maltier and higher ABV. I plan on buying this again, though it may be a while.

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Photo of loubar
4.18/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle from City Beer. Nose of light yeast. Bready, nutty malt taste over a mild fruity hop bitterness. Smooth and simple. Not skunky or watered down. Clean, satisfying malt creaminess in the lager tradition. Not earth shattering, but with the low ABV, a clean and refreshing go-to session beer.

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Photo of klined
3.44/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A little thin; minimal hops; flat; like an American version (a little sweet and thin) of an ale/English bitter. I like it but question it when I think about it

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Photo of bassboneman
3.19/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Had this at Long Horn on tap!
Look= nice golden straw color
S= nice light beer malty scent
T= starts good but the finish ruined it! Odd spice in background comes through rather strong! Not sure - tastes "flowery" for lack of better adjective

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Photo of dukeandduke
3.87/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

3/8/15 (Bottle) - Nice solid pour and texture, copper brown with minimal white head and a decent amount of carbonation. Aroma a pleasant orange, caramel and lemon scent. Taste very smooth malt and hops blend, and the fruits are also present. Nice texture and kick, despite the low ABV. Overall a solid beer and one I'll be turning to down the road.

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Photo of larryarms847
3.31/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a clear copper red with a fair amount of off-white and airy foam, about a fingers worth.

Roasted malt, caramel, toffee, and a slight hop presence.

Cereal, toasted oats, nutty, toffee, and again a fairly faint presence of earthy hops.

Light-bodied, medium-high airy carbonation, nutty sweetness, faint roasty bitterness.

Overall, a well put together brew, not mind expanding, but interesting from start to finish.

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Photo of Bunman3
3.75/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I quite enjoyed this beer! It took me back to my first encounters with Double Diamond in British pubs. The smell and flavour are classic bitter - roasted malt with very faint hops. Honker's is a rich copper colour with minimal head and a very creamy mouthfeel. I would definitely seek this one out again.

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Photo of supervike
3.52/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rich Caramel color. Not much foam. Sweet smell and grainy.. The hoppiness is all up front with just a slight malt/bitter flavor towards the finish. A decent ale, and one I'd drink again.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.63/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Ratings are correct below, but I changed some marks above to make the final rating as correct as possible with Beer Advocate's "revamped" system. The 3.63 overall rating is correct.

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Pint mug
From: Vons in Lakeside, Calif.
Price: $13.99 for a variety 12-pack
Purchased: Feb. 5, 2015
Consumed: Feb. 6, 2015
Misc.: Bottled on Oct. 23, 2014

Poured a copper, caramel color with 1-to-2 fingers of frothy, khaki head. Thinned out rather quickly. Decent amount of bubble streams coming up from the bottom of the glass. No lacing. Minimal retention. (Sight - 3.25)

Smelled roasty nuts, sugary caramel, toffee, light chocolate, honey, cereal, toast, some grass hops and light Citrus hops. Nice on the nose. (Smell - 4.00)

First taste reminded me of Honey Nut Cheerios. Also nuts, roasty bitter malts, earthy grass hops, light iced tea, toast, caramel, toffee, faint metallic notes and faint chocolate. (Taste - 3.63)

Medium body. Thin-to-oily texture. Lively carbonation. Abrupt, nutty, bitter finish. (Feel - 3.38)

This was just an OK beer. I wouldn’t seek this out. (Overall - 3.50)

3.63 | 82 | B

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Photo of predikit
3.41/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful light copper, left a small off white head that receded quickly, left minimal lacing on the glass.

Smells malty, barley, caramel.

Tastes notes of toasted grains, cream, caramel, first taste yielded a strange off flavor that dissipated as I drank more.

Light-bodied, thin, drinkable.

A very decent light ale.

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Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.71/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pint on tap at Beer Revolution in Calgary. Finally, another Goose Island beer surfaces in these parts after the release of Sofie and Matilda almost a year ago. A ruby reddish bronze with a finger of low key light beige frothy head.

Aroma is citric fruit and gooseberry, Granny Smith apple, lightly toasted sweet bread. Palate is a buttery, nutty malt backbone coupled with acerbically tart gooseberries, under-ripe apples and pears, iron supplement, biscuits, a hint of lemon-lime citrus. Rather uniform, straightforward. Not particularly complex but bright and assertive. Thin bodied and moderately carbonated, with a hoppy finish. The latter becomes more powerful over the course of a pint, the hops gaining salience to provide some needed earthy "forest floor" English flavor. A toffee sweetness also emerges late.

Well-executed bitter. The tartness perhaps masks some of the underlying flavors that would make this less of a palate fatigue problem over the course of a long session.

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Photo of hail_seitan
3.77/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12 oz bottle into pint glass

A - The body of this brew is a fantastic vibrant gold. The white head is fizzy and subsides quickly to a thin strip with no lacing.

S - A woody, earthy aroma emanates from the glass. Notes of citrus, nuts, and bread, too.

T - A quick flash of orange spice upfront mellows out into earthy English-style malts. The finish has is a good balance of dryness, caramel sweetness, and herbal bitterness.

T - The low ABV gives the beer a slightly slick, oily mouthfeel. The carbonation is decent, though.

A - A very good session beer. Could have been great were it not for the weird oiliness of the body. However, the flavor is quite robust for a beer that barely cracks 4% ABV. I'd take this over a Bud/Miller/Coors virtually any day.

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Photo of Greywulfken
3.82/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: clear amber gold ale with a few fingers of head, center-poured into a pint; lotsa lace down the glass

S: mild pine and resin hop, sweet fresh breads and biscuit grains

T: toasty and sweet, very mild, soft sweetness, vague suggestions of nut and wood

M: light, slick, smooth, faint bitterness, toasty finish

O: a very enjoyable and drinkable ale - mild in all regards, but flavorful and fresh.

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Photo of SitkaSteve
3.04/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This was poured into a pint glass.
The appearance was a hazy burnt orange color with a fastly dissipating half finger-ed head. Light can be seen rising.
The smell had a light bready / burnt toffee, burnt caramel to it but didn't seem to be that strong.
The taste was basically the same. There's no aftertaste nor finish.
The mouthfeel had a fairly decent light body to it. Slight ccreaminess rolls over my tongue.
Overall, as an English Bitter this one works. For me, eh, unsure if I could drink a lot of this. I'd say it could definitely go with food.

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Photo of HGildemeister
3.89/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge fan of the GIIPA...tried this beer at my local DC pub...great hoppy beginning with a really citrus finish...really easy drinking pub English Ale....on draught was really stellar..

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Photo of interzen
3.6/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

355ml bottle purchased as part of a mixed case - BBE June 2015

Look: Deep coppery red with about 1cm of white head which dissipates fairly quickly to a layer on top of the beer. Little or no lacing. Fantastic colouration if you hold it up to the light.

Smell: Hops and ... something else. Can't quite put my finger (or nose) on it, but there's definitely something else there - reminds me a bit of citrusy furniture polish. Not unpleasant.

Taste: Not nearly as hoppy as it smells - there's hops and malt there with some lingering fruitiness. Either way, it doesn't last long and leaves a fairly bitter, hoppy finish. Nothing particularly earth-shattering although I've had much, much worse.

Feel: Not a particularly heavy beer by any means - small amount of carbonation but otherwise eminently drinkable.

Overall: Goose Island seems to get a lot of love in these pages, as well as from some of my Chicago-based co-workers. Honkers is a pretty decent reproduction of an English session bitter but not really anything to get terribly excited about. I'd not refuse it if offered, but I'd not actively seek it out either.

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Photo of tekstr1der
3.15/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Boring beer. Pours a light copper with very little head. Smells of some malt, but not much transfers to flavor. Very thin and mostly bland. Not bad, and quite drinkable, just not very interesting.

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Photo of Boca-X
3.75/5  rDev +0.5%

Reminds me of a light brown ale or a Michelob Amber...light malt, caramel and honey sweetness...everything is light. For a 4.3 abv this makes for a nice session ale that most could easily drink several of. Nothing I would go looking for but a very easy, pleasant drinking English Bitter.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3.58/5  rDev -4%

A very nice, easy drinking beer. Pours a nice light amber with an off white head. The smell consisted of bread and wheat scents with some grassy notes from the hops. The taste was mild yet very refreshing with mostly the malt being the focal point until the end where there was a nice crisp finish. A great everyday kind of beer.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.3/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clearish copper color with lots of carbonation rising to the top. The head is two fingers high and off-white in shade. Retention is pretty good, but the texture of the head is even nicer (very whipped cream-like). Thick rings of lacing are left on the sides of the glass. (4)

Smell: It starts off with plenty of sweet caramel malts, and letting it warm up will reveal a touch of hopping. There isn't much else to the nose, but it smells a bit richer than its ABV might suggest. (3.25)

Taste: First, I pick up some of the earthy hops coming through, while the mid-taste and back end feature cracker-like maltiness. A touch of sweetness builds up on the palate, too. It's quite simplistic at the end of the day, but it's still hitting the spot nicely. (3.25)

Mouthfeel: Very light and sessionable without being bone-dry. That's the bare minimum I look for in a session beer. Carbonation is slightly higher than normal, though hardly oppressive. (3.25)

Overall: There's nothing amazing here, but it's a fine session beer regardless. Even among the style, it's not very complex. Still, as a means to wash pizza down, it's perfectly likable in my book. (3.25)

3.29/5: Let's just say I wouldn't be at all sad if I had to kill a six pack of this beer in a sitting

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Photo of WillWillows
4/5  rDev +7.2%

I love bitter and cut my beer teeth in England. I find this to be as good a bitter as I got in many places there and better than others I have had here. I am a cellar temperature beer fan because freezing cold beer ruins the taste. I let this one sit for a couple of minutes after the pour into a dimpled mug and felt right at home mate. Sitting in Banbury at the Dog and Gun.

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,062 ratings.