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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,417 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,417
Reviews: 1,044
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 64
Gots: 386 | FT: 1
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.
View: Beers (210) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,417 | Reviews: 1,044 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of heissebier
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this beer as part of a goose island variety pack. Poured into my trusty Phi Delt Seidel.

Appearance- In short, delicious. Orangeish in appearance with a creamy head and good lacing. Nothing too fancy but its still a damn good looking beer.

Smell- Caramel-like malts come through first, complemented by a fresh, not too overpowering hoppiness.

Taste- Impressively well balanced. Just enough hops to balance out a delicious biscuity malt. Nothing too complex but pleasing nevertheless.

Mouthfeel- Light bodied and has a bit of an oily character.

Drinkability- Can you say session beer?

Photo of philbe311
3.56/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A murky medium goldish bronze color with an ever so faint warm orange hue... Only trace amounts of carbonation... Two plus fingers of fluffy pillow-like slightly rocky off-white head recedes slightly and shows solid retention at one fingers worth... Foam clings to sides of the glass...

S - Grainy... Slight malty undertones of caramel and toffee...

T - The taste follows closely to the nose... Loaded with bready malts, caramel and toffee... However there is also a very slight hoppy bitterness resonates...

M - Medium bodied... Smooth and creamy... A light to medium amount of carbonation hits the tongue which is perfect for this brew...

D - Highly sessionable... Loads of flavor and character for a beer with 4.2% ABV...

Photo of Whiteweasel
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a chalice.

Appearance: Cloudy with a dark burnt sienna colour. Small amount of head for an ale of this type.

Smell: Malty and hoppy, with hints of clove, roasted barley, and yeast. Sweet yet balanced.

Taste: Not extremely complex, but very balanced amongst its components. Strongly malty with a counterbalancing hoppiness. Best English Bitter i've had to this point.

Mouthfeel: Well carbonated, no alcohol character, reasonably smooth feeling in the mouth, and doesnt leave any astringency in the aftertaste.

Drinkability: Very easy to drink, and low abv. My only criticism is that I would appreciate a more complex character if I were to keep drinking these. Quality and simplicity make this a very easy drinker.

Photo of SLeffler27
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Honker's is a bright copper, gem clear ale, with a big champagne head of moderate size bubbles that slowly drop leaving patchy lace on the Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

The aroma is fruity with yeast, apricot, vanilla and some lime in the background.

This is a well balanced, lightly bittered beer with a quick finish.

A light-to-medium body with a velvet texture and moderate carbonation, Honker's leaves a sticky residue on the lips.

This is a great session beer for warm weather, or while watching a ball game. Bring this with you to ensure a simple, but good beer, to accompany any occasion.

Photo of BehindtheFinBrew
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle to imperial pint per bottle suggestion

A: 3-finger tan head that eventually reduced to a 1.5-2. A thick foam raft was present to the last sip. Pours slightly hazy and orange amber with lots of lace throughout.

S: Very light with nice hop spice and lupulin-esque sweetness. There was a slight metallic smell off this one.

T: Caramel and toffee are the dominant flavors here with a slight bready note. There is a slight bitterness on the finish with pine hop. As the initial sweetness fades more hop oil and taste come through. I would have liked a little more hop to balance the flavor.

M: Smooth with a nice amount of carbonation to balance the sweetness. The sweetness did become ever so slightly annoying as the session progressed.

D: I could knock back several of these in a night at low ABV, good texture and flavor.

Photo of sweemzander
3.76/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Bottled on 7/16/09.

(A)- Pours a hazy orange amber color that produced a good creamy looking off-white head that left behind some tiny bits of lacing as it dissipated.

(S)- Lots of orange peel with lemon citrus; bits of peach.

(T)- Slightly dry with a zesty & almost sour orange & lemon citrus with bits of peach and pineapple. Just ever so slightly sweet within the fruits.

(M)- A good carbonation level with a good balance. Tons of fruity flavors with a good feel to it.

(D)- A solid beer with a flavor profile that surprised me. Very fruity indeed. Could easily have a few of these.

Photo of armock
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured a copper color with an off white head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of bready malt and some spice

T - Is like the smell but stronger

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation

D - A good beer overall good taste that's easy to drink worth trying sometime

Photo of billyzoom666
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A quick pour from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass revealed a nice small head that was gone in the blink of an eye. The beer is a beautiful light brown color. It's not light enough to see through it, but some light still permeates it. The smell matches the color, candied caramel apples instantly come to mind. Absolutely beautiful. It was heavier in my mouth then I thought it would be, which cuts down a bit on the drinkability, but still good for two or three pints probably. The flavor itself had such a nice balance in taste. What struck me is that nothing really stood out, but instead of being a detriment, that was an asset. Just an overall good tasting beer. Great beer that I can't wait to turn my friends on to.

Photo of jdense
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Goose Island pub, O'Hare Airport, Chicago, Il., poured into plastic pint glass.

Amber body, one finger white head, slow dissipation with nice lacing. Big malty backbone in the nose, some roastiness, grassy hops more than citrus with some spice. Taste is nicely balanced, between bready malts and spicy hops. Finish is a bit bitter but not overly so, long lasting with good malt presence. Smooth mouthfeel, and quite drinkable, I could see myself having a few of these. Not the most hop forward of beers, but very smooth.

Photo of Duxx
4.97/5  rDev +35.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Pours the same color as clover honey with an egg shell white head. The head is minimal only about 1 finger even with a vigorous pour. The head fades leaving some lacing on the glass.

S: Awesome hop aroma but not over powering. The aroma is spicy with a hint of citrus. I thought it was Cascade hops but the Goose Island web site says they use Styrian Goldings hops. I've never used that in my homebrew but I'll try it in my next batch of homebrew because it has a crisp enjoyable hop aroma.

T: For me, a perfect blend of hop bitterness and rich malt. I really like the balance between the two in this beer. The hop bitterness on the back of the palate is really a great finish.

M: Kind of hard to describe because while the beer is fairly thin the mouthfeel is surprisingly creamy.

D: I could always have several of these. Not too sweet, not too bitter. The balance of this beer is "spot on" in my opinion.

Photo of gory4d
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber with a billowy white head, lots of lacing down the glass. The smell is caramel malt, sharp minerals, grass, a little mild citrus. The taste is clean mineral tang, roasty malts, a little butterscotch, and a sharp bitter finish. It's highly carbonated, fairly thin in body, but with a robust mouthfeel nonetheless. It's a decent session beer, perhaps a tad too bitter for anything but slow and steady drinking. A nice beer.

Photo of Shumista
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Ordered with dinner at Lawry's in Chicago. It was not brought to the table with any kind of glassware so I just drank it out of the bottle rather than look like a beer snob and request a glass in front of everyone I was with.

A- The bottle is dark, with the standard goose on the front. Underneath in red it says "Honker's Ale".
S- Muted because of the bottle, but I smell mild bready malts and some sweetness.
T- Fairly mild in taste. Bready malts at first then a light dry hoppy bitterness through the finish.
M- Medium bodied, crisp.
D- Very high, this is an excellent session beer.

I think it's worth mentioning that this was about the best of the 8 or 9 beers that Lawry's had available. It's ridiculous to me that a restaurant with that charges $40 for a prime rib and has an incredible wine list gets away offering this, Pilsener Urquell, Heinken, and Sam Adams as their "nice beers".

Photo of OttoBomb
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

64 oz. growler poured into a 16 oz. pint (tulip) glass (November 27, 2009).

Eyes: Colorful copper hue with a very nice thick white head.

Nose: Subtle malt aroma with musty (in a good way) wood. It also has a nice toasty presence with a hint of sweet citrus.

Tongue: The toasty soft malt is the first thing I taste, not sweet malt but earthy. The soft bitter hops finish the taste off, bringing with it some bread aspects.

Mouth: Quite light feel for a full bodied taste.

Libation: The flavor profile is balanced, but not in a way I thought would work. It's less sweet and more bitter than even an english bitter typically tastes, but the toasty, bready presence carries the brew. This is really quite drinkable and savory, perfect for the colder weather (November in Chicago). I sampled this at Goose Island - Clybourn and had to try a full 64 oz. growler, I'm glad I did, and I'm looking forward my next session.

Photo of slk22
3.31/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden color with high carbonation observable, yet no head formation. Aroma is mild with notes of crystal malt and a bit of bread. Reminds me of natural light. Flavor is light as well with rice and corn detectable not unlike Budweiser. There is also a sourness that lingers into the finish along with a bit of a metallic taste. Body is medium and smooth, the most likable aspect of this beer to me. Overall, this is an easy beer to drink, maybe refreshing after mowing the lawn, but not very enticing.

Photo of Misfit138
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint glass

A- Cloudy burnt orange with a two finger head

S- Sweet malt followed by hint of citrus

T- A blend of malt followed with a tart bitterness

M- Medium bodied with a crisp finish

D- I know that this is rather drinkable beer from a recent trip to Chicago. I had to bring some home with me.

Photo of cagocubs
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


A: Copper color with thin head that dissapates with some good lacing.

S: Caramel sweetness mixed with good hops and malt.

T: Good English bitter with the hops up front. Secondary tastes are where the hops and malts come through. Aftertaste leaves a nice caramel sweetness.

M: Smooth with good carbonation

D: Medium: Great beer in moderation

Photo of trbergman
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a shaker pint.

A - Amber-orange with fine bubbles and a half inch of rocky, off-white head.

S - Bready, crusty malt, a bit of apple, with fruity and earthy hop aromas. Nicely balanced.

T - Solid bready malt profile with notes of caramel and toffee. There's an understated fruitiness from the yeast, and just the right level of hop bitterness. The finish is long and balanced.

M - Light body, soft on the palate.

D - Very good. This is a hell of a session beer.

Photo of AgentZero
3.41/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Amber colored, nothing special. Decent, large bubbled two finger head with some nice lacing on the sides. Dissipated too quickly.

S - Hops and malt, pretty straight foward, smells like a standard bitter.

T - Had this in bottles before, but it is much better on tap. Nice malts lead to a bitter hop finish that leaves cleanly. I like this because it's not overly sweet, allowing you to focus on a good bitter twist.

M - Overly fizzy, lighter side of medium bodied.

D - Can drink a lot of these, but the fizz makes you feel full after a while.

Photo of beerman207
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I have been enjoying all of the Goose Island brews as of late so decided to give this a try.

A-Amber with a decent head and nice lacing left behind

S-Biscuit malt presence with some hops coming through.

T-Malty with a nice hop presence in the brew. Refreshing

M-Pretty light carbonation.

D-Tasty beer. Nothing special but gets the job done very well.

Photo of Josievan
3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Standard amber color. I'm mainly surprised at the amount of lacing this retains: a thick ring around almost the whole circumference of the glass.

Smell: Little hops here, little malt there: not too noteworthy.

Taste: It is bitter like the style implies. However, the hops are balanced with malt in such a way that is enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: I'm waiting for a sting on the finish from the bitterness that never comes. Very smooth! Pretty highly carbonated.

Drinkability: Seems to be pretty high for an English bitter, especially at 4.2%.

Notes: This review comes with very little experience with English bitters. Bitterness ain't exactly my cup of meat, but this beer was still smooth and pleasant. I've noticed that I view other beers from Goose Island similar to my interpretation of this one: they are usally solid examples of the style, but nothing to get excited about. I've been meaning to try one of their limtied-batch offerings, such as Bourbon County Stout, Matilda, or Pere Jacques, to see if they can push past mediocrity to excellence.

Photo of cudmud
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Carmel color to the body and a bright white head. The head is one finger thick. Overall, the beer has poor lacing.

Smell: A slight hint of hops and malt.

Taste: Light flavor of hops and malt. I detect a strong metallic aftertase. The aftertase does have pleasant hop flavors. The best feature of this beer are hop flavored burps.

Mothfeel and drinkability: This beer has medium carbonation. It's hard to get excited about this beer. It is wet and does quench a thirst.

Photo of thedrewski86
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass, 1/2" white head, leaves about a line of lacing. Smells like oranges and maybe apricots? Definitely oranges. Taste is mildly citrusy and somewhat bitter/spicy. Not overly malty or hoppy. The hop presence is there but not over bearing, a little bit of a malt undertone. Good carbonation, an excellent standard. If I could, I would have this on hand all the time with Sam Adams lager, Fat Tire Amber, and anything from 3Floyds! I don't see how anyone could not enjoy this beer.

Photo of Beast35
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a hell of a session beer. A good crisp mouth feel with the right amount of carbonation. Very drinkable with a ABV of 4.2%. You can go through a sixer pretty fast. This is my second Goose Island brew and I have to say I am impressed with it. As i Cubs fan can't wait to hit up the Goose Island Wrigleyville establishment.

Photo of Beejay
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A nice reddish amber color, with decent head, though it doesn't stay around for very long.

S: Grassy hops,and little bit of malt. But very very strong grassy notes. I think I would like a bit more from this one.

T: Nice, good sweet malt backbone, with grassy hops dominating.

M: Nothing wrong here. Medium bodied, and appropriate carbonation for the style.

D: Good, drinkable, but not a favorite. A good back up beer that many different palates will find enjoyable A beer for when I need to grab something but am out of better options.

Photo of alleykatking
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A- Pours a semi-hazy reddish orange color. Hard pour gave a 1 finger off-white had that dies down to foam skimming the top of the beer. Light watery lacing on the sides of the glass that just slids down after a second or two.

S- Nice sweet malts blend in with a citrus hop with a pinch of pine in there. It smells a little of sweet potatoes. I had others smell it and they said the same thing. Weird....

T- Nice bitter hops on the front end of this. This opens up to a sweet middle with malts and a lemon like flavor. It ends on a nice bitter hop kick. A lot better than the aroma would have suggested.

M- Medium-light mouthfeel. Carbonation is still a little bit off for me like most Goose Island beers. This just fizzes away in the mouth more like a macro style beer. Nice lemon taste left on the palate. Crisp and clean....a little watery.

D- This is a very drinkable bitter that surprised the hell out of me. This just might be my favorite out of the year around releases from Goose Island.

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,417 ratings.