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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.

3,241 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,241
Reviews: 1,024
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 58
Gots: 259 | 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: 3,241 | Reviews: 1,024 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SpecialK088
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap in a pint glass

A-Pours a very crisp clear copper or amber color with very little head and no real lace to the beer throughout.
S-Sweet smell, fruity almost like an apple or grape.
T-The sweetness in the nose comes through a little in the flavor more than anything has a slight hoppy bitterness in the finish, overall just a very drinkable medium bodied brew.

SpecialK088, Jun 16, 2008
Photo of swizzlenuts
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a red colour with a bit of carbonation. The head on the beer is decent sized and has a decent head retention.

There isn't much nose on the beer at all. There was a small bit of malts that I had to really try and smell. The taste of the beer is bitter with hints of fruits in the malts. The beer is very balance, and tastes okay, nothing really going on with this beer. The mouth feel is a bit carbonated and creamy. The beer is semi drinkable.

swizzlenuts, Jun 14, 2008
Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this one up when I was in Ohio and brought it back down with me along with pretty much the rest of the lineup. I had forgotten they were in the fridge, and when I cleaned it out the other day I found this. Enjoyed it with dinner last night. The twelve ounce bottle was served slightly chilled and poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Poured a nice dark amber color, with some nice reddish tints to it as well. Good two inch plus head of frothy white foam that hung around for a good few minutes before finally settling down into a thin film across the top that lasted throughout the session. Good side glass lacing and some nice carbonation throughout the glass.

Smell - The aroma was nice and malty. Pleasing aroma of caramel and nuts that blended in with an earthy and bitter hoppiness. Some nice light undertones of candy like sweetness as well mixing down and covering the grain like base.

Taste - The flavor was damn good I have to say. Crisp, and rich with a good dry and bitter finish, Started out with a good rush of caramel and morphed into a kind of wet hay like flavor which drew out some cereal and bready malts giving the middle a sort of biscuit like flavor. Nice hint of some slight fruit in there, maybe a touch of grapes as well.

Mouthfeel - Very nice medium bodied ale. Good carbonation and a fuller then expected feel to it. No thinness of lack of body here, this was very tight and a fine ale.

Drinkability - An outstanding session ale. Good semi sweet, semi bitter profile seamlessly melded into the malted base. I could have had another and another and another. Really a solid all night brew.

Overall this was one of my first experiences with the style and I have to say I am very impressed. I would still prefer my IPA's however this was very nice indeed. I would have no issue at all trying this again any day!

mikesgroove, Jun 13, 2008
Photo of Clembo1957
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from Bottle into an Imperial Half pint glass.
Firstly the pour produced a fairly thick creamy head, the appearance a clear golden amber color. A malty pleasant taste but nothing instantly memorable, worth checking out but i wouldn't include it as one of Goose Island's best.

Clembo1957, Jun 11, 2008
Photo of dsa7783
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Single, twelve-ounce beer purchased from New Beer Distributors in Manhattan on Chrystie Street...
An aggressive pour yielded a deep, dark, copper hue with a minimal head that quickly dissipated and left a small amount of lacing around the edge of the serving glass...
Light aroma replete with rich malts and caramel...
The caramel-essence was likewise noticeable in the mouth as well, along with strong nuances of nutty, bread and butter flavors... Malts are plentiful with a hint of caramel sugar and a sweet finish...
Clean, crisp mouthfeel and an excellent level of drinkability to match...
Certainly a good depiction of the style, very rich and refreshing...

dsa7783, Jun 10, 2008
Photo of Bockrules
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a bottle into a pilsner (my recommended pint glass is cloudy and would be hard to observe appearance)

A- Nice medium coppery color. Pours about a 1.5 finger head with decent retention. Laces about (2/3) of the glass- mediocre.

S- smells quite hopped with a tinge of fruit ethers

T- A tad of fruit flavors on the nose, followed by a malty body. The hops show their presence as the beer passes over the back of the tongue. Finnish is dry.

M - low carbonation and light bodied. Could be a little heavier.

This is an easy to drink beer that has a good balance between malts and hops. This is my first go with the bitter style and I liked it, but not enough to keep me from going back to APA's and IPA's.

Bockrules, Jun 09, 2008
Photo of drxandy
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz to standard pint glass, pours a neatly carbonated amber brown, 3 finger white head fades.

Smells biscuty, caramel malts, slight appley alcohol.

Tastes of a very well malt and hop blend, excellent! hops leave a nice dry finish, spicy, citrus, crisp, malts make things nice and smooth.

mouthfeel is very easily drinkable, a great flavor and balance, crisp and highly sessionable!

drxandy, Jun 07, 2008
Photo of seaoflament
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to SPLITGRIN for the six pack. I haven't had this beer in a while now and it was one of my first craft beers that got me hooked onto this scene. I thought I would revisit this one for old time sake.

Pours a golden color with some hints of brown, almost a butterscotch color or apple juice. The pour also produced a nice inch of egg-shell colored foam.

The aroma is at first a little citrus and spicy from the hops and then I get the toast and slightly nutty malt with a hint of wheat. There is a bit of a grain aroma that quickly turns into bread. A little raw on the aroma and earthy, and still a spicy/citrus twist to it. Very little to no diacetyl in this bitter, some sweet maltiness aroma could pass as buttery but it could be the grain bill. After about half the glass I begin to pick up a bit of chocolate late in the aroma, maybe some roasted barley.

Taste is again a mixture of grain/wheat with some earthy and slightly spicy, woodsy hop flavors. Some small amounts of toast but mostly nutty malts with a little caramel maybe. Clean tasting and crisp, making this one very easy to session. Still one of my favorite session beers.

seaoflament, Jun 05, 2008
Photo of BBM
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a clear amber color with thin white head. Aroma was sweet and citrusy, with a hint of vanilla.

Taste also has a mild citrus bite with a toffee-like maltiness and and clean finish. Toasted caramel present as well. Very nicely balanced and a pleasure to drink. Very nice session beer.

BBM, May 31, 2008
Photo of hwwty4
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a 12oz bottle into my Chimay chalice. Pours a reddish amber with a 1 finger white head that disappeared quickly into a thin layer on the top of the beer. This beer had poor retention and left little lacing. The aroma is toffee, and caramelized brown sugar. The taste is sweet up front with brown sugar and caramel and finishes with just a slight bitterness to it. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a strangely dry finish. I just didn't think that the finish went very well with the beer. This isn't a beer I think I would seek out for a sixer but I would definitely think about ordering one at a bar.

hwwty4, May 31, 2008
Photo of avaulteriam
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

First off, tap is far superior to the bottle for this beer, especially if you find a fresh tap. This is one of my favorites. I find it very well balanced. Not too sweet, not too bitter, nice smooth taste. Goes great by itself, or with a burger. no complaints here!

avaulteriam, May 29, 2008
Photo of far333
2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Hazy apricot-honey colored with an orangey-beige head that doesn't rise up much, and settles quickly leaving some spotty bubbles.

Aroma of doughey malt, some sweetness, and mild citric notes.

Flavor of caramel and toffee, some brown sugar. Followed by floral hops, but understated. Some yeasty notes in the finish.

Mouthfeel is initially full and creamy, a bit slick in the middle, and then finishes tingly.

I really expected more from this one.

far333, May 27, 2008
Photo of wheatyweiss
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a standard pint.

Pours a medium honey with an impressive pillow head that retains well. Head leaves sticky rings and lace all around.

Aroma is subdued malt and slight hops, not very strong in the aroma department pretty subdued.

Flavor is fruity, berries and cherries. Hops are light and fruity. The malt is subdued, but there. Very upfront fruit flavor with a hop profile that stings the tongue. Very tasty!!

Mouthfeel is crisp and complimentary, very good for the flavor.

Drinkability is very good, these would session very well!

Very good beer, the first I've had from Goose Island and I am impressed and will seek out more.

wheatyweiss, May 24, 2008
Photo of Larrytown
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Has a light brown color with orange tint. Not much head or lacing on this one. Aroma seems to be mostly malt.

The taste on this one is very solid. It's very nicely balanced with just enough hops to keep it interesting. It has a crisp but reasonably full feel in the mouth. I could see picking it up again out at the bar, but doubt I'd pick up a six-pack anytime soon.

Larrytown, May 07, 2008
Photo of jayrod20
4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

Again a beer too easy to overdue it with happily.

jayrod20, May 06, 2008
Photo of tgbljb
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served as a medium amber colored beer with moderate white puffy head.

Smell is light and malty, so as to be very restrained.

The taste truly surpasses the smell, A strong caramel malt combined with enough balancing hops create an extraordinary beer.

This would be a perfect session beer. There is enough flavor to keep it interesting, and a low enough alcohol content to allow an adequate consumption. Top Notch beer!

tgbljb, May 03, 2008
Photo of Rzzzzz
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Cloudy amber with a foamy white head that left rings of lacing all down the glass. Malty aroma, with a floral hops background and notes of plum and grapefruit. Taste is very even--sweet malt balanced nicely with hop bitterness, nothing overpowering but an overall busicuity flavor with just a slight metallic tinge. Clean dry finish. Medium to light bodied, maybe a little harsher carbonation than I'd prefer but overall a good drinker.

Rzzzzz, Apr 27, 2008
Photo of semihobo
3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

After having consumed countless pints and bottles of this around Chicago, it is time to officially review one.

Pours an apricot color with a short but dense head with extremely fine bubbles. Bubbling in the body is robust. Head retention is weak but lacing down the sides is persistent.

The aroma is strong, predominantly hops, with both modest bittering hops and a slight west coast kick.

Taste is crisp, beginning with a slightly toasted maltiness before abruptly switching to bitter and grassy hops. The hops drift off toward minty bittersweetness on the finish. Dry and brisk.

Carbonation is brash -- talks a lot of crap and usually backs it up. The aggressive mouthfeel forms a portion of this beer's backbone and impedes my attempts to drink many in a short time frame... say, at an open bar downtown.

Dry, bubbly, and bitter. I find the taste pleasant and feel that this beer is pretty decent, but the overclocked carbonation disrupts the natural order of things. I find that drinking more than two in a row becomes a chore... for me, not very sessionable out of the bottle, although it is friendlier on tap.

semihobo, Apr 27, 2008
Photo of ElGrecoVerde
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright orange, a bit cloudy, though mostly clear.

Smell was very mild, but appealing. Some sweet citrus aromas and a faint flowery hop smell was present.

Taste was crisp and light, like the aroma. More mild citrus flavors, and a bready aftertaste. Has a toasted flavor that tames the hops well.

This is a very easy to drink ale. Light, crisp and smooth making it great for warm weather days.

ElGrecoVerde, Apr 24, 2008
Photo of spointon
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this one from a 12oz brown bottle...

A= This beer poured a slightly hazy orange color. With a very aggressive pour I could produce a 1/2 inch white head which quicjly dissipated to a skim. Beautiful lacing down the glass!

S= I found the smell to be good but too muted. What I did get was aromas of citrus fruit, slight caramel, and grain.

T= Like the aroma, this brew has complex yet subtle flavors. I found up front citrus hop flavor, caramel maltiness, and the slightly dry hop finish. Somewhere in the middle to end of a swallow there is a dry-ish toasted nut biscuit flavor that really adds to the enjoyment of this ale.

MF= This one has a rather light-medium body. The carbonation is moderate, causing a nice mouthfeel.

D= This is a good beer. I drink it often!

spointon, Apr 24, 2008
Photo of kzoobrew
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Very drinkable beer. While I am a huge fan of any big beer,while Honkers doe not fit the category, this is a good everyday beer.

Amber in color, pours with a light head.

Refreshingly bitter balanced very well with sweet malty flavor.

Smell is as balanced as the taste. Grassy hops compliment a yeast/dough malt smell.

Solid choice for a break from the big beers. Good baseball beer, too many IPA would do me in going into extra innings.

kzoobrew, Apr 23, 2008
Photo of Offa
4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a really nice ale and one of the best American attempts at really making an English-style bitter that I have so far encountered.

Amber, it has a thin off-white head that steadily dissipates to a foamy ring.

In smell, it's malty grain, yeasty dough, with hints of pine, earthm and sawdust, overall rather English and pleasant.

The taste is both malty and hoppy, with some sweetness and bitterness, and a slightly bitter finish before a nice toasty grain aftertaste. After the first few sips, the flavours improve and blend together nicely, making it great to drink over time.

In the end, this is a solid, tasty, smooth, very drinkable beer. It's a solid recreation of a good English bitter but with a slightly less rich orcomplex character and slightly more hop.

Offa, Apr 21, 2008
Photo of donteatpoop
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish golden color with a nice inch of head at the top.

Smells primarily of hops with some light underlying notes of citrus.

The hops, while still present, are a bit more mellow in the mouth; the notes of citrus are a bit more prominant on the tongue than the nose.

A bit watery in the mouth, but a smooth drink. Definately worth multiple purchases.

donteatpoop, Apr 18, 2008
Photo of Gehrig
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'd passed on Honker's Ale for no particular reason, choosing instead plenty of other beers in more enticing styles. I won't pass on Honker's Ale again. Very good brew, a very pleasant surprise earlier this afternoon.

The head was a bit thin on a dark golden body. Much to consider in the nose, offering more hops than expected, but also some caramel malt that was quite pleasant. The taste was superb, creamy smooth with bitter overtones but nothing that would lead me to think this was a Bitter. It's a distinct representative of the style, with robust caramel, some chocolate, hazelnut, and citrus flavors in harmony. Terrific.

Smoother than I expected, it meshes well with what bitters are here. Eminently drinkable, Honker's Ale is excellent, a good eye-opener and another must-grab from Goose Island.

Gehrig, Apr 18, 2008
Photo of Gmann
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear light copper color with a smallish dense off-white head that dissipates rather quickly into a slight cap. The aroma is of light caramel malt, some hop spiciness, and a touch of grain. The taste is of sweet caramel malt, with a spicy/earthy hop which leads to an overall honey biscuit flavor. There is a ghost like metallic flavor the runs through out. A nice moderate feel, that sits well, soft to tingly carbonation and finishes with a slight hop bitterness. A pretty decent brew, nothing outstanding.

Gmann, Apr 18, 2008
Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,241 ratings.