Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

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Honker's AleHonker's Ale

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3,321 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,321
Reviews: 1,030
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 60
Gots: 294 | 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)
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Ratings: 3,321 | Reviews: 1,030 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WakeandBake
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A cloudy copper color with a two finger offwhite head . Aroma of spicy hops and a nice sweet toasted malt. Flavor starts slightly sweet and turns to spicy/piny hops with a mild bitterness. A very clean and fresh mouthfeel and finish. light body, light carbonation. A very nice session beer.

Photo of gpogo
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Hazed copper with a cream off-white head. Lots of visible carbonation.

A- Light hoppy grapefruit aroma and slight malt aroma.

T- Moderately high hoppiness with a slight phenolic taste. Nice malt flavor, I'm getting some toasty biscuits and a bit of caramel sweetness. Finishes on the sweet side. Despite that I feel it has a very interesting flavor, not so one-dimensional.

M- Medium bodied with moderately high carbonation. I would have liked the carbonation to be toned down.

D- It's definitely a tasty beverage, there are a few stylistic flaws. Carbonation too high, sweet finish, haze.

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

had a couple of these on tap last nite @ 12 grapes in peekskill -
this was certainly the standout choice amongst the others available - looks nice in the glass, amber with a tight 2 finger head - faint aroma of fruit and maltiness - a nice and well balanced ale, goes down real easy - smooth and tasty, without feeling heavy - good stuff.

Photo of greengorilla
4.47/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass. The color was a light brownish orange with a decent white head and good lacing.

The smell was good with a citris and hoppy scent.

The taste also was good with citris and medium hops presence.

The mouthfeel was smooth.

This beer is very drinkable. I could drink several in a session. This is a beer that I can see myself keeping on hand most of the time.

Photo of projectflam86
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Nice deep amber color with a thin white foamy head that leaves some lacing.

S- Nutty malted hops makeup the nose with a hoppy citrus scent coming through.

T- Carmel malt flavor with some of the citrus flavor emerging in the aftertaste. The malt is well balanced with hops initially but they subside to the malt.

M- Medium bodied that was a little low on carbonation for the overall feel.

D- Highly drinkable with a nice taste.

Photo of ruckus232
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 Ounce brown bottle

Appearance: Slightly cloudy copper color, but it is still possible to see through it without it being super clear

Smell: A very tart citrus smell with a slight hint of sweetness

Taste: A medium bodied beer with a smoky/woody flavor that finishes off with a tart citrus and bitter flavor that doesn't stay too long. Very unique with the initial flavor but a very good taste.

Photo of Naugled
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle served in goblet

A: a good looking beer. quick tan head, but lacing is good and the deep clear copper color is very eye pleasing

S: caramel in your face, almost cola like but more malty, no detectable hops to me

T: good malty caramel flavor that is announced by the nose. very little finish, but some hop bitterness there. candy like sweetness

M: smooth medium body. carbonation is good, gives it just enough bite

D: very drinkable, good solid session beer. a winner in my book

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.53/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a slightly hazy light orange color with a thick, frothy white head. Retention and lacing are excellent.

Smells pretty damn good. Light, fresh floral and citrus hops. Very soft, fluffy malts and mild fruitiness hinting at papayas and passion fruit. Also has a bit of British minerality to it that helps keep it on track as a bitter.

Wow, this may be one of the ultimate session beers. So smooth and chugable. I dont find it to be all that bitter, but it does have great grassy hop flavor. Malts are there, but they are so soft and silky, the beer just glides down the throat. This would be a mainstay in my fridge if it was available in Tejas.

Photo of DoctorDog
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz bottle into (as the label suggests) and imperial pint glass. "Bottled on 12/1708" stamped on back label.

A- Hazy yellowish-copper color. Pours with 2 fingers tan/off white head, which fades fairly fairly slowly to a thin cap. Moderate lacing noted.

S- Slightly fruity, with some notes of bread and minerals.

T- Fair amount of caramel/malty sweetness. Fruity hops noted, with bitterness is that is moderate on the finish. Good balance.

M- Medium body with moderate carbonation. Good crispness on the front, and moderately dry on the finish.

D- Quite a sessionable beer, no doubt. Low ABV% with solid, solidly balanced flavors. Another case where the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts.

Future outlook: This is a very nice quality "tame" beer IMO, that would well serve a wide scope of "drinking purposes," and also hit a nice broad audience. Not a "knock my socks off" beer that I'll be pining over, but I will gladly have again.

Photo of KTCamm
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Red label different than the one pictured above.

Light copper color with 1-2 fingers of cramy foam. Lacing down the side.

Smell is of hops and malt (what else?) - theres a slightly spicy note to the hop that jumps out on some smells.

Taste is lightly bittered malt - the hop is evident throughout but balanced very nicely. Can be a tad watery in the mouth, but not enough to sidetrack the taste.

Very drinkable. The house brew of GIBC, and well done.

Photo of dismal
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Pours a light copper color with about a one finger head with ok retention. The taste is bitter and hoppy, and a little sweet but fairly well balanced, making it very drinkable. I've always enjoyed Goose Island and Honkers Ale is one I like picking up from time to time.

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

Goose Island Honkers Ale..

Appearance-dark red, heavy head appears but runs away quickly.

Smell-balanced aroma, malt first, followed by alcohol and a small mix of spices and hops.

Taste/Mouthfeel-again fairly balanced taste sweetness is offset by hops, decent malt flavors as well. Nothing jumps out, all go together very well.

Drinkability- very sessionable, and enjoyable.

Overall- solid balanced session beer, well-made and enjoyable.

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

A: Deep amber with one finger of rocky white foam. Very clear and bright with noticeable carbonation bubbles. Head quickly dissipates to a thin ring. Inviting.

S: Aroma is a mixture of grainy/ cereal malts and floral/ citrus hops. Fruity esters.

T&M: Medium body with an excellent balance to the ingredients. Mostly grainy with a touch of sweet malts that are constantly intertwined with the floral hops and finishing pleasantly on the citrus-y side. Solid amount of carbonation for the style.

D: This is Goose Island's flagship beer for a reason. It is highly drinkable and extremely tasty. I really appreciate lighter style brews that can attain this level of balance. Very well made. A fine sessionable beer that would also go good with many different types of food. Enjoyable.

Photo of darklordlager
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a brown-ruby red, with a minimal head.

S-Hops and sweet malt. Nothing too complex, but very smooth.

T- A burst of citrusy hops up front, with some sweet malt finishing it out. Solid.

M-Light and carbonated--refreshing, and good with food.

D-Overall, very non-offensive. Sessionable, although not all that interesting.

Photo of brentk56
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color with a frothy head that leaves shards of lace and displays great retention

Smell: Nicely balanced between the biscuity malt and the orange citrusy hops

Taste: Malt forward on the front end, with a nice biscuity flavor that is joined, mid-palate, but an orange citrusy hop profile that has a hint of grapefruit; after the swallow, the malt and hops nicely balance one another and both flavors can be easily discerned

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: More of an American take on an English bitter (these hops are clearly American), this is just a very satisfying session ale

Thanks, Wadsey, for the opportunity

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

This beer was served a relatively clear amber color (haze is very minimal) with about a one finger of white head. Head retention is decent with sticky lacing that coated the glass the entire way down. Nose is slightly malty with some citrusy hops poking through. For the most part the nose was slightly muted. Taste makes up for the muted smell. Taste is more of the citrusy hops, slight graininess and sweet malts. Very crisp and dry feel to the mouth. This beer is light to medium body and goes down very easily. I would definitely sit with this one for a session.

Photo of climax
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

this honker poured a cloudy orange-amber with a 3D offwhite head of 2 fingers that faded slowly, lace was minimal

the smell was not too strong but balanced well, citrusy hops started it off followed by bready caramel malt, spices and even brown sugar, i occasionally picked up some less-than-satisfying iron notes

taste was good and pretty much an extension of the aroma, however it was rather timid and uninspiring. bready throughout, subtle hops occupied the backround, a roasted bready finish

mouthfeel was pretty ordinary, pretty light, grainy and always crisp, with a dry finish

a very drinkable beer, never alot of flavor, but tastey nonetheless... sessionable.

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

A- Clear, amber color with one inch white head that dissipated rather quickly.

S- Nothing jumps out, just a nice balance of malts and hops.

T- It tastes like it smells. The label says it has a nice balance of malts and hops, and I agree. There is some bready malts at first and then a small dose of citrusy hops but neither is overwhelming.

M- Decent carbonation but it's somewhat watery and doesn't leave much of an impressions in this regard.

D- Drinkability is where this beer stands out. It has a low ABV, between 4.3-5 depending on who you believe, making it very sessionable. I've easily thrown down a few pitchers of it with friends. The nice balance that doesn't make anything particularly standout also makes it a very drinkable beer.

Photo of jujubeast6000
2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 6/8/2007 (Tap @ Navy Pier Beer Garden, Chicago, IL):

Pours with a big foamy whitish head, lasting. Has a bitter hoppy aroma, somewhat malty, but weakish. A nice sweet taste, not overly hoppy or malty. Has a decent taste. Kind of an apple kind of taste.

Photo of UDbeernut
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

had on tap at a local watering hole, poured into standard pint glass

a: pale copper color with a silky 1/2" head with nice retention, slgiht carbonation

s: slight malt aroma mixed with citrus

t: soft malt flavor, well balnced with hop and citrus bittermess. Slightly dry malt/biscuit finish

m&d: slightly thin mouthfeel, but overall a nice beer. Deffinatly sessionable. I had 3 total during my session and was not phased.


Photo of DesMoinesMike
2.98/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The medium amber body looked pretty until I saw all the flake-like floaties, that was rather off putting. There was almost no noticeable aroma, that was odd. There was a noticeable amount of hoppy bitterness that lingered on the back of my tongue, just slightly above the level I'm use to, but tolerable.
Overal, it doesn't have any attribute that stands out as memorable or very enjoyable. I'm just not digging this one.

Photo of kimcgolf
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

May not be giving this one a fair shake. Actually had it at the Monday night Bear-Packer game. Head quickly froze on the sides of the glass. At that temp, no nose or flavor was evident and the mouthfeel was simply....cold. The 5 percent alcohol was not nearly enough to break thru, although I could have used about 10% or more. I will look to try this one again.

Photo of SwiftyMcBeer
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a hazy gold with a really thick white head. Decent looking, but not a stand-out. Smelled very nice, nothing jumps out at you, just a nice mix of hops and malt.
The taste was very mellow and inviting as well. The hops were there with a slight bitterness and the beer was lively on your tongue but in a pleasant polite way. A very nice tasting beer that you could drink all night long. This beer wants to be you to be comfortable in it's presence. It isn't looking to dominate your attention. This beer knows you have other things to be doing when you drink it and that's it's job is to be enjoyable and pleasant and add to your evening. Okay, I am anthromoporphizing a bit, but this beer achieves the goal of a pleasant session brew with flying colors.

Photo of steveh
4.43/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Haven't reviewed Honkers in all this time -- to review as an English Bitter, or APA -- that's the question. Bottled on 11/17/08.

A -- Deep, sort of hazy, gold color with a thick, cream colored head.

S -- Mellow balance of piny and citrus hops with some earthiness back. Inviting aroma.

T -- Mellow citrus hops followed by light biscuit malts, finishing in a piny bitterness at the back of the throat.

M -- Light body with a soft mouth-feel.

D -- Outstanding. The Goose web site says this brew is 4.3, BA says 5.0. Not sure where it falls, but it's smooth goin' down.

Updated with a new, 01/05/09 batch. Yum.

Photo of adamette
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle exactly like the one pictured above into my Cooperstown Beverage Trail pint glass.

A Nice frothy big bubbled head which leaves in about a minute over a honey translucent body.

S A distant bitterness, possibly from hops. A nice, appropriate to the style smell I would say.

T Nice malt and hops, neither one to any extreme and I agree with the label which suggests a good balance of both. A really nice ESB and a nice tribute to the English Pubs that were visited (also mentioned on the label. This is now I like to taste hops, well balanced with malt.

M Moderate with that balance of hops and malt.

D Really quite good. I can see having many of these on tap in pints (and even in England!).

Notes: Glad that I tried this. It is my favorite Goose Island offering to date.

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,321 ratings.