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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: 3,677
Avg: 3.74
pDev: 21.93%
Wants: 83
Gots: 589 | 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: 3,677
Photo of thehyperduck
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

341 mL bottle from a 12-pack picked up at The Beer Store; bottled Jun 9 2015 and served slightly chilled. This is now being brewed and bottled by Labatt in Montreal for the eastern Canadian market.

Pours a hazy, reddish copper-amber colour, replete with streams of effervescent bubbles streaming to the surface, whereupon they reinforce the one inch of puffy, frothy, off-white coloured head that is situated there. Excellent retention; it fades slowly, leaving behind gobs of lace as it is reduced to a lumpy, foamy cap and collar. This is a beautiful-looking beer. On the nose, I am getting notes of bready wheat, toasted biscuit, sponge toffee and a few whiffs of grassy, floral hops. Lightly fruity, too, with suggestions of plum or apricot.

This is a well-balanced English-style ale that is fairly straightforward in construction, but remains wonderfully drinkable. The malt-dominant first half of the profile features biscuity, bready malts and toffee sweetness with just a hint of nutty flavour. Candied orange provides a segue into the more hop-forward finish - leafy and grassy; the hops impart an earthy, restrained bitterness that hangs on into the aftertaste, along with a touch of wheaty malt sweetness. Light-bodied, with subtle carbonation that barely agitates the palate, producing a soft, smooth mouthfeel. This one drinks like a dream... if I were camping, 12 of these over the course of an evening would be within the realm of possibility.

Final Grade: 3.8, a solid B+. Honkers Ale is not a bad little bitter; not at all. This is a nicely-crafted session ale that is flavourful and balanced, making it an excellent gateway craft beer. Neither the biscuity, sweet malt flavours nor the grassy, earthy hop notes manage to overpower the other - but together they provide more than enough oomph to make this into a satisfying, one-after-another sort of beer that can placate beer drinkers of every stripe. A welcome, if belated addition to the Ontario retail scene.

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Photo of DrMullet
3.74/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear amber pour. Mild bready/caramel malt flavor up front. Not too bitter on the aftertaste.
A little lite for a bitter but very drinkable. I would have it again.

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Photo of bwood06
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - clear orangish amber in color with a rich frothy head that dissipate moderately fast. heavy carbonation. 3.5/5

S - biscuit, buttery, toasted white bread, piney hops. very grainy. 3.75/5

T - grapefruit up front with some white bread afterward. pine resin. tartness. peppery spiciness. 4/5

M - somewhat heavy and thick. carbonation not as prominent as expected based on visual. 3.75/5

O - not the typical bitter but a good offering nonetheless. 3.75/5

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Photo of apridar
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured it from a bottle, almost no head to speak of. Lovely look and traditional biter taste. A bit too sweet for me. Would buy again! Definitely a beer you could keep drinking the entire night.

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Photo of Gear54
3.31/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

From a bottle into a pint glass

Pour is orange/amber in color with1/2 finger of thin white head and light lacing.

Smell is sugary malty sweetness. Maybe carmel or brown sugar to be specific. Not loads of hops in the nose

Taste follows the nose well. Brown sugar and piney hops with nice balance. Not overwhelming in any way.

Overall very average in most ways. Good everyday drinker for sure

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: crystal clear; 1 finger off white head that receded to a wispy cap; sheets of lacing;

S: brown sugar; malt sweetness; earthy hops;

T: nicely balanced; earthy hops with toffee sweetness; light bitterness with a bit of caramel sweetness on the finish;

M; medium bodied; moderate, creamy carbonation;

O: would have liked a bit more bitterness;

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Photo of Beerma
3.22/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Was a nice beer I would drink again but nothing spectacular. Had a different finish that I didn't hate and really was more interesting then enjoyable.

 150 characters

Photo of TopherBreski
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful color in between Amber and gold with tons of carbonation and a finger tall head that won't disappear. Excellent hoppy smell. Deep hoppy taste with a bit of a pale aftertaste.

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

Enjoyed from the 12 oz bottle in a pint glass. This ale pours a nice amber with a fantastic head of slowly dissipating foam that leaves fantastic lacing and a substantial layer of foam. Nose of lightly sweet malts, floral hops, and some roasted grain notes. Flavors follow the nose with sweet toasted malts vying for dominance over a nicely floral hop character, that finishes off with a subtle grain note. Solid ESB with medium carbonation, smooth mouth feel, and a high session-ability factor. Lightly sweet and floral bitter aftertaste. Nice.

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Photo of Gajo74
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was impressed with this beer. Nice fruity aroma. Good sweet malty and fruity taste with a modest hop profile. Good feel; light and refreshing. I will have again.

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Photo of Act25
3.67/5  rDev -1.9%
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 +11.2%
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 -6.4%
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 +8.8%
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 -12.6%
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 +11.8%
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 -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 -14.7%
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 +3.5%
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 -11.5%
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 +0.3%
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 -5.9%
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
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

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 - 3.50)

Medium body. Thin-to-oily texture. Lively carbonation. Abrupt, nutty, bitter finish. (Feel - 3.25)

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

3.58 | 81 | B

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Photo of predikit
3.41/5  rDev -8.8%
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 -0.8%
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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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,072 ratings.