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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,055 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,055
Hads: 3,614
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 9.81%
Wants: 81
Gots: 554 | 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: 1,055 | Hads: 3,614
Photo of bassboneman
3.19/5  rDev -15.4%
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 (241 characters)

Photo of dukeandduke
3.87/5  rDev +2.7%
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. (348 characters)

Photo of larryarms847
3.31/5  rDev -12.2%
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. (422 characters)

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. (304 characters)

Photo of supervike
3.52/5  rDev -6.6%
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. (191 characters)

Photo of BucannonXC5
3.63/5  rDev -3.7%
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 (1,124 characters)

Photo of predikit
3.41/5  rDev -9.5%
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. (331 characters)

Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.71/5  rDev -1.6%
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. (988 characters)

Photo of hail_seitan
3.77/5  rDev 0%
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. (773 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
3.82/5  rDev +1.3%
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. (399 characters)

Photo of SitkaSteve
3.04/5  rDev -19.4%
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. (559 characters)

Photo of HGildemeister
3.89/5  rDev +3.2%
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.. (184 characters)

Photo of interzen
3.6/5  rDev -4.5%
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. (1,122 characters)

Photo of tekstr1der
3.15/5  rDev -16.4%
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. (196 characters)

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. (290 characters)

Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3.58/5  rDev -5%

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. (329 characters)

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.3/5  rDev -12.5%
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 (1,314 characters)

Photo of WillWillows
4/5  rDev +6.1%

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. (380 characters)

Photo of wellspj2002
4.5/5  rDev +19.4%

Drank some Honkers draft beer for the first time at a Baltimore baseball game and it
was excellent. Hot dog was good too.

I would of liked it in a chilled mug.....but it was served in a plastic cup....so that's why I
rated it a 4.5 instead of a 5. (248 characters)

Photo of seedyone
2.75/5  rDev -27.1%

03/12/14 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Not the worst but not the best.

One commenter said they were glad to be drinking it at Shea Stadium. I'd have to agree with that because I know what has been offered in the past. Funny how in the early days of baseball most of the teams were owned by brewers. They're probably rolling over in their graves...or sloshing in their barrels...or...well you get the idea.

P.S. Just noticed the ABV is a mere 4.3, so what's the point? (471 characters)

Photo of Jon_Hendricks
4/5  rDev +6.1%

Appearance: Deep golden color.

Overall: It comes up just short of great. This beer has a great flavor but doesn't offer up enough flavor. With that said, this is a very solid beer that will satisfy your craving. Very tasty. The price is also very good! (253 characters)

Photo of AtrumAnimus
3.25/5  rDev -13.8%

This one pours a semi-cloudy gold with orange tint that has a slightly off white head that is thick, long lived and leaves moderate lacing down the glass.

The nose is weak but has a sweet malt bed that has a mild tinge of hops. Not much else there.

The taste is adequate, with a more fruity malt flavor and subtle hops that have earthy tones.

The mouthfeel is a bit watery for this style.

Overall it is drinkable, but not great. Drinkable but not memorable. (463 characters)

Photo of offthelevel_bytheplumb
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep golden color with a creamy, white, two finger head that
dissipates slowly into a cap and leaves a decent amount of lacing.

Aroma: Citrusy hops dominate in the nose, but it is far from overpowering. Backing up the
citrus is a touch of burnt caramel and buttery biscuits.

Taste: Very hop forward, but the malts do make more of an appearance as you get to the 3rd
one. Even then, the hop flavors are at the forefront of this beer.

Palate: The body of this beer is on the lighter side, and the carbonation level is about average.
The aftertaste is bitter, with lemon zest and bitter grapefruit shining through without
overpowering. Very easy to down a sixer!

Overall: It comes up short of great. My main critique of this bad boy is that the malts don't
offer up enough flavor and aroma to balance out the hops. With that said, I do get in the mood
to pick up a 12 pack of this quite often because it will satisfy your craving for a hop forward
beer because the hop flavors are very tasty. The price is also a big plus! (1,069 characters)

Photo of SteveJeremy
3.06/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - Reddish amber, poured thicker than I imagined with a solid, foamy, off-white head.

Smell - Smells of bitter hops and undertones of barley. Could go ether way, since I'm not a real fan of bitter beers.

Taste - Definitely not as bitter or as unpleasant as Ten Hills Pale Ale, but only barely acceptable in its bitterness. Starts off decent enough, with tastes of the hops mildly asserting their presence before finishing off with the bitterness I expected from the start.

Mouthfeel - Like the taste, it's acceptable but not remarkable, as the bitterness lingers for long after the beer is swallowed.

Honker's Ale is another okay offering from Goose Island, which finds itself sandwiched between the better, more drinkable 312 Urban Wheat Ale and the lesser Ten Hills Pale Ale. You could definitely session this, as its ABV is very low and it has just enough body to be a sustainable beverage even if you only plan to have one. It's a mixed bag, but it's definitely something to try. (998 characters)

Photo of JLSIV
3.72/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Tried this on tap, poured a nice deep amber color with a copper shade, head was 1 finger at first, soapy not tight, lacing was hard to describe since this was into a plastic cup at a ballpark.

The aroma was softer than I expected, very malty and somewhat sweet. I had a hint of cinnamon.

I thought the taste was a lot more malty than i expected in this style, but I like it! I would definitely buy this one again for the taste alone.

As to mouthfeel, for me personally this was one of the best mouth feels I had in a long time, much smoother and fuller than I expected in an English Bitter (albeit and American version). This was my first in this style, and it was so good, I would open up to more trys at other attempts and brands.

Overall, that last sentence says it all to me, I like this beer, and it now has me looking for other English Bitters. That is the mark of a good beer. (887 characters)

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
85 out of 100 based on 1,055 ratings.