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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,457 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,457
Reviews: 1,050
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 66
Gots: 410 | 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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,457 | Reviews: 1,050
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

One of the all time Midwest classics.

Copper almost brown appearance, slight to medium head, little lacing. Aroma is woody and to a lesser degree, a minimal hop intrusion.

Taste is an excellent hybrid feel of both esb and a pale ale, the hops definitely come out when this stuff is fresh. Good dough/bread feel in the malt backbone. A very full flavored session ale. Occasional consistency problems mouthfeel wise, when the beer can feel heavier. Good price.

Photo of suretolose
3.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Very disappointed with the head. Almost none to speak of. The color is a nice brown with a slight red tint. A little hazy.

There is very little aroma, I can only discribe is as slightly fresh.

The taste is very refreshing. Bitter with hints of citrus. Grapefruit or lime.

Not exactly one of my favorites, but a good beer on a hot day.

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

Half pint served by handpump at local wetherspoons

A- Mahogany chestnut brown with a 1 finger head that reduces but has good sustainability and good lacing

S- Minimal to be honest, light nutty malt, no hops detected.

T- Juicy hops are evident throughout with a moreish hazelnut quality in the beginning changing to a english tea-like note in the finish that is somewhat dry combining with the hop bite.

M- Light carbonation, medium body

D- A nice flavour profile, the tea like quality is something i have not encounted before causing a slightly dry finish which contrasts to the juicier hop notes. Hazelnut flavours give a nice malt sweetness.

Photo of anneseg
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a nice light copper color. Head retention was very good. The aroma was slightly floral and spicy. Nicely balanced with enough malt character to go with the initial bitterness. Ends with a smooth slightly sweet finish. Some citrus notes. Very easy to drink good session beer.

Photo of cbutova
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes, two nights ago. Poured an amber-brown with a one to two finger head that has good retention. A good cloud and ring are left behind on the beer's top. Leaves a fine coat of medium lacing. The smell is slightly fruity hops and a very wheat-bready malt aspect. Caramel malts also make an appearance in a nose that is overall weak in strength. The taste is of slight fruity and earthy hops as well as some malt. The hops seem like the ones I have used for my ESB in homebrewing. There is not much hop bitterness but it is nice, and the style doesn't really call for much (misnomer). The malt backbone tastes wheaty and even corny. Malt is massive and nice. This is a good example of a style that is not produced all that much. The mouthfeel is nice and creamy. The moderate carbonation suits the flavor. No warmth from alcohol. It is a tiny bit watery and a coat of light malt and fruit hops is left on the tongue. A good flavor and price with no off flavors. A nice, smooth and balanced ale. I think it is a great example of the style.

Photo of pwoody11
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes:

Poured a light orange with a dense creamy white head.
Nice lacing left behind.

Aroma is mostly hops with some roasted malt. I picked up a little grapefruit as well.

Taste was mostly hoppy with a malt backbone. Even though the hops outshined the malts, this wasn't a bad balance. As with the aroma I'm picking up a little grapefruit.

Decent brew. Recommend a try to others.

Photo of tjsdomer2
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: I read the last review and agree with the sentiment that this looks like honey...more of an orange blossom honey. Not that much foam, which costs this a bit in the appearance ranking. Pretty color overall though.

Smell: Good, bitter hops and smooth malt. A bit of orange spice to it as well. Thumbs up!

Taste/Mouthfeel: Tastes extraordinarily malty and earthy, I guess you could say wood and dry. Also very bitter due to the hops. (Thus it's an English Bitter.) Goes down real easy. Kind of citrusy (I agree with the sentiment I saw on this site from the Bros that this has a grapefruit taste to it in specific.), causing it to warm.

Drinkability: Excellent pub brew. Velvety smooth.

Overall: For the Sam Adam's crowd, Honker's Ale is the love-child of Boston Lager and Boston Ale in my opinion. It looks and smells like Boston Ale, only better. It almost has the maltiness of Boston Ale and the hoppiness and warmth of Boston Lager. It's definitely more bitter than both. I'm sure how easy this is to find outside of Chicago, and that's a shame. On the other hand, Goose Island keeps its microbrew tradition legitimate.

Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.86/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark honey / light brown color, slightly hazy. A 1 inch introductory head fades, but does leave some soft lace down the glass. Sparse bubbles refresh the head from the base of the glass.

Smell: Grainy, almost bready aroma, with a hint of citrus.

Taste: Barely sweet roasted malt start, lemon/grapefruit hops push through, and a dry, slightly oily finish. Pleasing to the palette without overburdening it

Mouthfeel: Quite crisp and dry, which I find very pleasant for the composition of the beer. A bit of a light body, unfortunately.

Drinkability: Easily drinkable, and it is easy to see why this is the primary Goose Island offering available on tap around the city. Great for sessions with people who enjoy less intense beers, BBQ's, etc.

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

This ale poured a orange copper color into my pint glass with an off-white head. It smells of bread and fruity citrus.

The taste was very nice. Some biscuit malt, bread and some citrus hops for a balanced taste.

The mouthfeel was fairly light but smooth. This is a good session ale. I can drink this all night. This ale also goes well with pizza.

All in all, a nice English Bitter from Goose Island. I can see why this is the flagship ale.

Photo of drabmuh
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Beer served in a snifter. Beer is orange and forms a thin white head that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass. Carbonation is low in the glass, can barely tell its carbonated at all.

Aroma is strongly citrus and sweet. Interesting, almost smells like candy.

This beer is silky smooth, nice palate feeling to it, very refreshing. The forward of the beer is pretty malty sweet and there is some bitterness but not nearly enough to be called a bitter. I think the drinkability is really high and mouthfeel is good. Its a good beer but I wanted more bitter.

Photo of Onenote81
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks, BeerFMAndy, for this awesome bottle!

Poured into a mug. Pours a rusty copper with a thick beige head resting on top. Retains pretty well, but leaves little lace behind. Scents of warm fresh bread, some mild hops, and a bit of a tart citrus twang.

The body is crisp with a moderate carbonation backing, but still retains a smooth, creamy feel. Great filling bready flavors. Nice bitter backing from a good hop presence. Sweet balance is there, but it's subtle. Really smooth and clean aftertaste. Wow. I wasn't sure what to expect from this little offering, but I love it! I wish I had access to this locally. With the low ABV, I could see this being a regular sessioner, no problem.

Photo of fropones
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a nice pumpkin orange with about a finger and a half of eggshell head with good retention.

S - Interesting smell, and not in that great of a way. Pale malt, some hops.

T - Nice biscuit malt balanced with hops. Not much depth.

M - Nice effervescence, medium body.

D - A nice sessionable beer. Drinks quite nicely.

Photo of RJUGA03
2.8/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A-Pale/ clear orangy yellow body with average carbonation holding a 1.25" slightly off-white laced head.
S-Typical and unremarkable
T-Somewhat hoppy on the uptake with a pleasing sweet finish.
M-Honestly it's very adjunct typical.
D- Depending on how pricing works out ($8/6pk is way too much) would determine how drinkable this beer is. I did a clone and bumped my abv to 5.75% so for that price it's a good one.

Photo of AleWerks
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Hazy, amber colored with a frothy (quickly disappearing) head.
A - Fruit, biscuit, malt, and mild hop aroma.
T - Medium- light body with notes of biscuit, malt, and British hops.
Mouthfeel / Drinkability - Medium - light body with medium carbonation. At 4.2% ABV, it's a nice session ale.

Photo of horshack7
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Apperance: From a twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass is a clear orange amber with a milky frothy head. A slight twinge of haziness.

Aroma: Sour fruit notes, apricots with subtle bits of a simple syrup. Hop aroma stands out rather well with citrusy atributes.

Taste: A crispy mouthfeel out of the gate. A floral hopiness. A little bit of a bready texture but with a maltiness.

Notes: Well this is my first offering from Goose Island. I must I am happy a English bitter that is very well made. Cheers.

Photo of herman77
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Light orange/deep straw gold with a decent amount of off-white head. Slightly hazy. Some thin, whispy spider web lacing.

S: Sweet fruits. Wheat, malt sweetness. Can't really pick up any hop aroma. A little bit of fresh grass.

T: Slightly sweet bready malt. Grain/lemongrass. Some butter notes too, like butterscotch... A touch of hops to balance it out. Quick carmely finish. Decent amount of flavorful for being only 4.2% Abv.

M/D: A little on the thin side, but its pretty smooth. Rolls around the tongue very nice. Carbonation is medium low. Drinkability is OK, but I would get tired of this stuff after 2 or so.

Photo of LightEnthusiast
1.03/5  rDev -71.9%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Wow. If you're looking for bitter beer, this is it.

I guess some have a knack for this sort of thing, but this beer to me is absolutely horrible. It ruins everything, including meals...makes me want to use mouthwash afterwards. It's like sharp cheddar meets fresh cut grass but without the freshness. I'd rather gnaw on a pine cone.

Bitter, bitter, bitter.

As I said, if you're looking for a bitter, mouth twisting, disgusting tasting beer - you've found it here.

Photo of bushbeer75
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle with a bottled on date of 3/4/10

Goose Island Honker's Ale poured a clear light copper color and produced a frothy 1+finger head that had staying power and left behind nice lacing. The nose is malty with hints of caramel and nuts. The taste is of caramel malt and toasted malt flavors with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The ale has a crisp mouth feel and a dry finish.

This is my first taste of the English Bitter style and I sure will be revisiting - Honker's Ale is enjoyable.

Photo of morebeergood
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Penguin Pizza in Mission Hill. Served in a standard pint glass. Dark red color. Frothy white head. Odd sense of creaminess with the first sip. Not a noticeable smell. Taste was good. Malty at first, then a slight hint of hops, followed by a grapefruit sour/sweetness at the end. Once the beer warmed up a bit, it seemed to be a bit smoother. In the end, I did end up enjoying this beer. It is very drinkable and with a low abv. A definite session beer. It also went well with a pizza with spicy toppings.

Photo of tigg924
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 1/3 inch head, high carbonation, dark gold in color, clear

Smell: toffee, some hops and grain as well

Taste: pine and citrus hops, tea, and toffee

Mouthfeel: sweetish start with a slightly bitter end, high carbonation, medium body

Drinkability: An above average and dry English bitter. One of the better offerings I have had from Goose Island so far and good for the style. Overall, this is a beer I probably will not pick up again, but if you like the style I would get a six.

Photo of youradhere
4.26/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

On tap at O'Hare IAP. Review is from notes.

A- Light white head that leaves behind nice lacing. Body is amber/copper.

S- Fruity pebbles, with malt sweetness detectable. Mmm, my PNW palate will love this potential hop-bomb.

T- Hop Fruitiness up front, not particularly citrus from the big C hops but just fruity. Hop flavor fades to a strong bready malt backbone, all flavors melding into a crisp and clean symphony. Aftertaste brings up the rear with a hop bitter whollop.

M- Average for this style, not great but definately not bad.

Overall a great session beer! I will definitely pick this up at the store if I see it.

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

Served in a pint glass at The Mahogany Grill in Ithaca, New York. The waitress told me this was "a wheat beer like Blue Moon," so I figured I should try it since Goose Island usually does it up right.

Appearance: Much darker than I expected, but knowing that this is an English Bitter and not a wheat beer, I suppose that makes sense. Not quite cola-colored, but definitely brown with some orange and copper highlights coming through, good bubbling carbonation to the top, which formed the off-white head.

Smell: Weirdly enough, I did get some sweeter wheat aromas, unless I was just going on what the waitress said. There's also some caramel and toffee malt sweetness going on. Mild citrus hops as it warms.

Taste: Good balance of the fruit esters and caramel malt flavors, and as it warms, the citrus hops, grains, and earthiness.

Mouthfeel: Fairly lighter-bodied, though it did seem to have some heft to it instead of being extremely noticeable as a lighter-bodied brew.

Drinkability: A solid and sessionable brew, with good flavor and not that much alcohol. I could drink a lot of these as the weather warms up.

Photo of Liverpool08
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber with small thin head. Not much of an aroma, a little malty. Flavor is good. A liitle malt, biscuit and a little bitter.
A little watery but a nice flavor in the mouth. Very drinkible and smooth. A great option when you want just a nice session beer to relax with and not have to think too much about the complexities of what you are drinking. This is a brewery I have enjoyed trying.

Photo of metter98
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured amber in color with a nice head. The head died down considerably within a few minutes, but the remnants covered the top for the whole time. Lots of carbonation in this one.
S: Not very aromatic but hints of malt and hops are evident.
T: Malty flavors of caramel and toffee dominate your taste buds.
M: The beer feels smooth - a bit on the light side in terms of body with some bitterness in the taste. There is good balance between the malt and hops and the aftertaste is more malty than bitter.
D: The taste is very refreshing; this is a very easy beer to drink multiple servings of.

Photo of smcolw
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thick, foamy off-white head. Leaves some spotty lace. The color is dark gold/light amber and nearly clear.

Light hop bitterness covers an otherwise caramel aroma. Nice balance.

My initial taste was not favorable. It seemed to have elements of an adjunct lager. As tasting continues, the flavor grows on me. There's a neutral hop bite in the swallow. The malt is a blend of pale and light colored crystal, I believe. The body is thin for an English Bitter.

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,457 ratings.