Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

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: 11.76%
Wants: 87
Gots: 609 | 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 SparkieDog
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The aroma is the classic British hop smell that sets up anticipation of a fine UK bitter. It is not the dominant hop fragrance us Americans push forward in our ales. Instead, it is subtle by comparison. So, when you drink this, sit up straight, mind your manners, and speak in full sentences using proper grammar.

The color is almost copper in color and sets an expectation of maltiness, but like the hops, this too is subtle -- almost too subtle, to the point that I thought it was missing from the beer.

Similarly, the "feel" of the beer dissipates quickly and leaves you with a slight echo of resin from the hops.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised a Chicago microbrewery could pull off a British bitter this nice.

Good night for now, and may all your beers be fantastic.

 783 characters

Photo of akdo
4.13/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: The body is light copper. The head is half of a finger and as time goesby, it recedes to a thin film with a small hole.

Smell: Given the bitter nose, it is watered down coffee and some herbs.

Taste: The palate is more interesting than the nose. The brief sweetness on the front-end is akin to that of honey. Then, it shifts quickly to notes of coffee along with nuts and finishes with a bitter grassy taste.

Feel: The beer had a creamy feeling in that a few liquid stays in your mouth. Moreover, despite the low ABV, this beer dries your mouth, which is not a bad thing.

Overall: It's an enjoyable session beer given its light bitterness. The latter is not aggressive, but just bitter and tasty enough. The best part was the grassy notes on the end, which made it stood out from the light beers my friends and I had at a bar.

 835 characters

Photo of Taybeh
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a single into a Spieglau IPA glass, Pours a very slightly hazy light copper, and about one inch of puffy, off-white head, that sticks around a bit. Fairly good lacing. Nose is very promising -- bready and biscuity, some toast, some sweet toffee and some light floral/earthy hops. Actually, the toffee is a little dominant, and there is some kind of fruity sweetness that pairs...maybe dates and oranges, or something jammy and a little rich.

Tasting, this isn't quite as lovely as the nose, but still nice: front is easy and inviting, with biscuit, bread and toffee, then a little gentle leafy floral hoppiness, and a little sweet orange and sweet nuttiness too. Finishes with the toffee still lingering and some very faint prickly citric hops, that provide a nice gentle easy-going bitterness. Mouthful: very nice body (esp considering the abv), low carbonation, kind of sits on the tongue a bit flatly...dry at the end.

I don't get a chance to drink enough bitters these days, so it is hard to honestly consider how this stacks up...it's a little too toffee-sweet to be ideal for me, and it doesn't have as much of the fruit and nutty notes that I like best in the style; still, I quite enjoyed it, and it makes for a nice change of pace. Takes me back to Chicago days long ago!

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.

 1,763 characters

Photo of breardon1776
4.16/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Reddish amber color. Nice head and fantastic lacing. Aroma is light and filled with bread, wheat and malt. Flavor is earthy hops. a certain sweetness to it. a slight bitter bite. slight mineral taste. overall a great beet, woouldn't drinking a few.

 254 characters

Photo of Thebrewman
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from my home kegerator into a Goose Island pint glass. Pours a mild amber color with a nice lacing that remains until the end. A small amount of lemon scent on the nose. Taste is slightly bitter, but not overly hoppy. A well balanced session beer I"ll definitely enjoy during the upcoming football season.

 312 characters

Photo of mmmbeer89
4.09/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i don't think i've ever had another beer that quite tastes like this one. it had an interesting flavor kind of on the sweet side. i enjoyed it and would buy it again.

 166 characters

Photo of ctylinebeer
3.21/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a nonic glass

L - dark amber; thick foam dome with large bubbles.

S - fruity malts, like dried raisins. Some floral hops there also

T - bland bitter taste. Not a whole lot other than water and a sour bitter after taste

F - smooth and light beer, very easy to gulp down

O - did not like this beer very much. I do like ESBs but this one is just okay. Sorry Goose.....

 397 characters

Photo of Svingjo
3.32/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours a rich bronze colour with a thick tan head with large bubbles that dissipates quickly. There is a caramel maltiness along with an orangy citrus hop smell. The taste taste is on the light side with bready malts, brown sugar and orange rind. There is a bit of hoppy bitterness that quickly disappears. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and watery with minimal carbonation. An okay beer but nothing that made it stand out.

 425 characters

Photo of flipper2gv
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one does look damn good. It has a nice amber color with a strong tan, creamy looking head. Retention is very strong for a beer of this abv. The lacing on the head is also quite impressive.

This is a very light smelling beer. There is some light biscuit malt, light caramel malt and that's about it. Maybe a little bit of fruity hops in the back, but nothing much. But, what is there seems interesting.

This is typical bitter, this is a style I enjoy very much. Right use of mineral rich water is clearly apparent. There is a nice balance of biscuit, toasty, caramel and piny notes. Very well done. Some light fruits too.

Extremely creamy, never sticky, perfect summer beer.

A very solid offering from a underappreciated genre. This was a real treat on a sunny saturday afternoon. Highly recommended.

 824 characters

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.

 1,985 characters

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.

 165 characters

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

 468 characters

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.

 194 characters

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

 396 characters

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;

 347 characters

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.

 184 characters

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.

 551 characters

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.

 163 characters

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

 388 characters

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.

 350 characters

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.

 151 characters

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.

 473 characters

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.

 954 characters

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.

 302 characters

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