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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,113 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,113
Reviews: 1,020
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 11.99%
Wants: 53
Gots: 217 | 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:
Golden sunset color, fruity hop aroma, biscuity malt flavor, soft body.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-08-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,113 | Reviews: 1,020 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of becktone
3.35/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a cloudy pumpkin orange color. Head formation is bad, and retention is non existant. No lacing to speak of, this beer just doesn't look all that great.

A strong malt backbone is apparent in the aroma of this beer. I can faintly smell a fleeting grain huskiness in this brew. Hop aroma does not stand out. Nothing to write home about here. Seems pretty average, gives me no cause to love nor hate it yet.

There is a faint smokiness imbued into this beer along side some harsh six-row malt grainy flavor. The beer is nicely balanced, being both sweet and bitter in just the right amounts to make this an easily drinkable beer. Hop flavor is of noble variety and is nicely blended with the malt flavors, subdued.

Mouthfeel is full, robust, and feels well rounded. Carbonation is low as befits the style. This beer is quite easy to drink, could easily be a session beer, though I don't think I'll be purchasing this one again in the near future. I think that there have to be better examples of Ordinary Bitters out there. Yet this beer gets the job done well enough, it is pleasing to drink and it does satisfy me. However, there is nothing special about it, again nothing to write home about.

becktone, Nov 06, 2006
Photo of grub
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a nice copper colour with a half inch of dense white head. the head drops slowly and leaves lots of lace behind.

aroma is nice. good malt base with a nice light citrusy hop presence.

taste is good. nice biscuity malt. moderate bitterness level. light grapefruit hops.

mouthfeel is good. nice body, good moderate carbonation level.

drinkability is great. could easily go through a six pack of this one on a warm summer day.

grub, Nov 05, 2006
Photo of beakerboy
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a slightly cloudy amber with a short tan-white head. The aroma has citrus hops with a hint of malt. The flavor is quite good. The hops balance well with the malt. The bittering hops are not very pronounced...which is good for the style. The mouthfeel is rather light allowing the tongue tingling carbonation to come through. A good beer all in all, but I'd like a little more body to it.

beakerboy, Nov 02, 2006
Photo of marcobrau
4.03/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Revisiting a modern day Chicago classic.

This Honker's Ale is poured vigorously down the middle of Imperial pint glass, creating a fluffy head white head and generating quite a bit of a spicy, flowery aroma. Some lace is left behind along the sides of the glass as the head falls. A visually appealing beer. This a good tasting beer, too. A session beer for sure. There's some controversy over the alcohol content of this beer -- some sources say 5 percent -- others say 4.3 percent alcohol. I believe the 4.3 percent, as this is lighter bodied ale that is plenty sessionable. Toasty malt mixes well with spicy hops and a bitter, dry finish to make this beer very quaffable, but still interesting enough.

marcobrau, Oct 20, 2006
Photo of Westsidethreat
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed during a layover at O'hare.

A: Super low carbonation, no head at all. Dull toffee amber color, lightly hazed with a touch of fleshy apricot.

S: Red fruit, caramel and light citrus

T: Caramely with some doughy tones, red apple, lemon peel and cantelope. Finishes with an earthy bitterness and sweet, toasted malts.

M: Medium mouthfeel, bit prickly.

D: Not bad. Straight forward beer that made waiting for my next plane not so bad.

Westsidethreat, Oct 17, 2006
Photo of ndekke39
4.22/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank from a 12 oz bottle with a 1/31/07 best-by date. Poured a slightly cloudy golden brown with a small, white head. Good retention. Smells hoppy and piney balanced nicely with a sweet caramel aroma. Taste is very good and complex: begins with a sweet, barley flavor, blooms nicely, and finishes with several notes of hops. Mouthfeel is a light fizziness on the front of the tongue, not too watery or creamy. Overall, an excellent beer, very drinkable. Great for late summer or fall.

ndekke39, Oct 07, 2006
Photo of Sammy
3.55/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice white head, light orange. Medium and soft moutheel. lagerish ale. Tad of lace left.Smarty hopped, acidic bite and overcarbonated.Bit of yeast and malt and hops in the aroma, bit of C hop and a little fruity and spicey. Drying aftertaste.

Sammy, Oct 06, 2006
Photo of pmcadamis
4.2/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Murky orange with a huge head that lasts the duration and exhibits great lacing. I like the looks of this one so far!

Smells of orange rind hops. Slightly dank and very zesty and refreshing to the senses. Mild malt notes add a warmth to the zingy hop character.

Tastes very smooth and refreshing, which makes drinkability outstanding! A little bit of malt sweetness is backed up by a good healthy dose of zesty hops.

Carbonated, refreshing, great tasting, and light to medium bodied. Sweet, thirst quenching, pretty damn complex. What's not to like? This is one of those "oops I'm drunk" sort of beers. Very very drinkable.

pmcadamis, Sep 29, 2006
Photo of cbl2
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

9/28/2006 $9.00 6 pack 5.00% Best by 1/20/07 printed on back label.


Pours a clear amber brown with a quarter inch of tight white head that settles rapidly.


Slightly biscuity with a mildly herbaceousness, reminiscent of cut grass.


Slightly coarse mouthfeel which is a bit biscuity with sharp herbal notes and a very mild citrus presence.

cbl2, Sep 28, 2006
Photo of supercolter
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is good. Copper in color, with a bit of head that doesn't retain and some lacing.
Smell is quite good. I pick up some floral hops, a bit of dry malt and a touch of citrus.
Taste and mouthfeel are above average, but kinda dissapointing for the smell.
it is a bit too thin for my liking although some of that is the style, but the flavor doesn't come through very strong and it is too carbonated for the style.
Drinkablility is dec.

supercolter, Sep 22, 2006
Photo of eballard
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours an orange brown color with a light head. The head settles into a light lace that last a long time. The beer has a malt hops smell with a fragrant musty smell. It has a smooth crisp taste with a slight bitter bite at the end. The blend of hops and malt is well rounded. The beer has a clean feel with a light cream texture. It settles into a slight after taste that lingers lightly in your mouth. This beer goes down smooth. It’s a little light for boasting such a strong smell but it provides a tasty drink.

eballard, Sep 21, 2006
Photo of Tallboy
3.35/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Clear orange and caramel body with an ample white head. showed good retention and long lasting lacing.

Smell: A blanket of bready and piney hops and caramel malts.

Taste: Very earthy and full of bitter hops, with some nice caramel nearing the end.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a very distinct crispy finish.

Drinkability: Not bad it goes down nice and easy.

Overall: Great English style bitter beer for a great price

Tallboy, Sep 14, 2006
Photo of Drew966
4.13/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Honker's Ale pours a light amber color with a thick, fluffy white head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The aroma is mild, it's definitely hoppy. I think they've really hit on something with this beer, it's a great session beer. I really enjoyed the flavor of this one, it's a really nice mix of hops and malt, leaning to the hops of course. Recommended.

Drew966, Sep 14, 2006
Photo of IntriqKen
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Part of a large trade with jhammerly from Nebraska...thanks Jimi.
Sort of a cloudy orange amber...possibly chill haze...with a nice single finger white head that melts quickly to sticky lacing.
Aroma is like fresh grain with a grapefruit/citrus back. I can also sense a bit of toasted malt in the aroma.
Mouthfeel is neither thin and watery nor thick, chewy, or buttery, but rather...'just right' for the style.
Taste is toasted malt followed by a sharp citrus hop bite on the end. The malt has a brown sugar type sweetness to it. Aftertaste is comfortably drying with the memory of the hops and just a hint of toasted malt sweetness.
I'm not sure how true to 'Bitter' this beer is, but I like it.
It has extremely good balance and sufficient complexity to make each taste as it warms a taste of discovery.

IntriqKen, Sep 14, 2006
Photo of TechMyst
4.05/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4




PURCHASED @: j-osco

COST: $7/6pack

HEAD: 2finger, disappating

LACE: decent

REFLECTED- muted (clouded/murky) orange
TRANSMITTED- beautiful orange

AROMA: piney/sweet excellent

MOUTHFEEL: medium-light

PALATE: adjusts

COMMENTS: Initial reaction = not as good as Bass but better than Redhook; put it just under S.Nevada. Actually well balanced. Medium to high on the conditioning bite/sting. APA for sure; trying to copy the Brits using indiginous materials...Got a strange buzz from this beer, and I detect the piney-ness which is in their IPA (someone mentioned that this is the Chinook hop). Tastes like thier IPA w/ less hops.


TechMyst, Sep 13, 2006
Photo of hckyfn9999
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a burnt-orange color with golden hues when held to light with a one finger white head that leaves a ring of lacing around the glass.

Smell is definitely citrus hops, a lot of grapefruit is present in the nose with a faint smell of malt as well.

Taste has is a nice blend of citrus and more malt than the smell would lead one to believe. I am getting an aftertaste that seems to taste of grapefruit as well as a pleasant bitterness.

Mouthfeel is a little more thin than one would like but I think that is part of what makes this beer extremely drinkable as it leaves the mouth feeling clean. I think this would make a great session beer and I will probably purchase this again.

hckyfn9999, Sep 10, 2006
Photo of davidshamoon
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The only striking visual aspect of this amber-honey colored brew is the lacing its creamy head leaves behind -- guess that's the "bitter" half of the English Bitter style going to work. In terms of flavor, however, the bitterness is actually quite mild. The Honker's Ale produces a faint, buttery aroma that comes across as a sweeter air of butterscotch when drunk, and the flavor profile is grounded in woodiness (from the casks I imagine this brew is conditioned in). Of course, hops are present, too, but not in enough force to detract from the essential sweetness of this beer. Not my favorite ale, but pretty highly drinkable if you're having a meal.

davidshamoon, Sep 07, 2006
Photo of afinepilsner
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle

Honker's Ale was amber in color with a large off-white head. The head had good retention and left sheets of lacing behind. The aroma had a nice mix of malt and hops. The taste was mostly hops all the way through to the bitter finish. The mouthfeel is good, light to medium in body with medium carbonation. A very drinkable brew. It would be good for a sesson beer.

afinepilsner, Sep 07, 2006
Photo of dherling
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of the bottle a slightly cloudy deep orange/copper color. The head was thick and white before it dissapeared quickly. The nose has some yeasty citrus going on, with some... woodyness? Definitly a light roasting in there. The beer itself isw dry and crisp, everything from the nose, plus some breadyness. The hops are more balanced here, not as strong as the nose. I could see myself drinking a bunch of these, too bad I only had the one.

dherling, Sep 01, 2006
Photo of Backer2004
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is what I love about Chicago. Nice deep dish pizza with all the meats stuffed in, combined with a Honker's ale. Very smooth to drink, nice copper color with a bit of carbonation and very little head. Might not be for everyone and it may not be the best bitter, per se, but I really enjoyed this being a whole part of the "Chicago experience."

Backer2004, Aug 31, 2006
Photo of DaveFL1976
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A honey-amber body with a thin but clingy head. The smell is nicely balanced between sweet malt and bittering hops. Not a whole lot of aroma hops here, but it is an English style ale. The taste is Englishy as well. A full, malty flavour up front makes way for a balanced hop bite at the end. But my taste buds tell me that it's an American hop bittering bite, rather than an English Fuggles one. Mouthfeel is nice. Medium body and low carbonation. Drinkability is good, but not spectacular.

DaveFL1976, Aug 21, 2006
Photo of pweis909
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is light amber to orange in color, with some initial haziness (chill haze?). It had a nice dense head that stayed lively through most of the experience.

There is a pleasant hop smell, not overpwering, lightly spicey. The smell promises just a bit of malty sweetness.

Taste includes hops, that touch of crystal malt, and the beer finishes with a pronounced cracker/biscuit flavor that went undetected in the aroma.

The body and balance of flavor and smells makes this one of the most drinkable beers I know.

pweis909, Aug 15, 2006
Photo of bort11
3.95/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into an Imperial pint glass, just like the bottle says to. Not much head, maybe a 1/4 inch, that quickley receced to a minimal lace. Color is a rich coppery brown color. Smell is well blended between the caramel malts and bitter hops. Taste does follow up nicely. Starts with the malt and finishes with the hops. I like that switch up. I was really surprised how well I liked the mouthfeel. It was medium bodied and the carbonation was perfect. It was very enjoyable to just hold it in the mouth. Very refreshing. I'm wanting to check out other Goose island beers based off of this one.

bort11, Aug 13, 2006
Photo of
3.73/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap, in Chicago. Clear deep gold color, modest white head. Aroma was malt and hops (pine?), and a hint of salt. Flavor was primarily hops (lemon and pine), but the malt balanced it very well. There was almost a huskiness at the finish. Mouthfeel was light, with moderate carbonation and a bit drying. Overall, a very refreshing beer, easy to drink and nicely balanced.

, Aug 09, 2006
Photo of carln26
3.73/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bright copper color, very clear and topped by a light white head. The aroma is very fruity. Touches of pear, and apple with just the lightest hint of citrus. Mild caramel on the finish. The flavor reflects the aroma. Lots of pear and a hint of green apple. It has the light caramel/toffee character I expect, with a pleasant citrus bitterness on the finish. It has a mild, slightly slick mouth feel, and a nice drinkability. Fullers is still the benchmark for this style, but this does well.

carln26, Aug 05, 2006
Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,113 ratings.