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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.

3,260 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,260
Reviews: 1,024
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 59
Gots: 260 | 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: 3,260 | Reviews: 1,024 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of giblet
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

this is a good beer. pours darker orange with very good head and carbonation. nice lace in the glass. smells of bitter and hop. taste is nice as a bitter. dry finish.

malt was overshadowed by the bitter hops - which is fine by me.

suckem up and movem out!


giblet, Apr 10, 2008
Photo of alexskovan
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a pale amber with a medium grained head that left a webwork of lacing. Subtle caramel aroma, toasted and hops mingling with it. Taste is light but solid, dry, with a little bite of hops and a toasty flavor of malt.

A "light" English bitter, and resonably acceptable.

alexskovan, Apr 09, 2008
Photo of JamesS
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a great copper/orange color with good head and very good lacing. Has a nice scent, a nice hit of hoppy bitterness, that reminds me of a nice English pub bitter, with that little bit of sour/beef jerkey scent. Great taste, a nice balance of malts and hops, leaning to a slightly bitter aftertaste with just a bit of sulfur. Goes down very smoothly.

JamesS, Apr 08, 2008
Photo of jdubjacket
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had at the Westin bar in Chicago. Pours a reddish/brownish color with a decent head that goes away quickly. Smells is fruity and hoppy. Not a whole lot of malt in this beer. Taste is rather *surprise* bitter, and hoppy. Label says balanced between hops and malts, but I didn't get a whole lot of malt in the beer. Mouthfeel was pretty average. Drinkability was decent since it's got a decent ABV. If I had the choice in the future though, I wouldn't pick this beer out special.

jdubjacket, Mar 28, 2008
Photo of happygnome
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: pours a copper color with about one/eightyith inch head that dissapeared fast leaving minnimal lacing really looked like a copper coored juice
s: strong citrusy hop notes with a good caramel malt backbone detectable in the aroma, this is really a very inviting smelling beer very nice
t: the caramel malts are really the first things that i detect followed by nice citrusy hops both are very well balanced together, not an overly complex tasting beer but i really liked it and i enjoyed that the taste lingered for a little bit, not an off after taste but the flavor of the beer
m: medium bodied beer with a good amount of carbonation

overall, this is a beer that i really enjoyed, a very good session beer will pick up more

happygnome, Mar 10, 2008
Photo of JDV
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very lightly hazed amber pour with a light off white head that provided nice lacing. Smell is sticky toffee like malt at first, then some metal, and light hops only at times. Taste was a bright lemony, sticky caramel like malt. Not overly heavy with malt, but not very hopped either. Some nice light finishing bitterness, a hint of metal, a touch of fresh citrus to it. Pretty good, considering I don't generally like the English Pale Ales. Best of the style I've had, and I could drink this again.

JDV, Mar 01, 2008
Photo of dgthompson
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent find. Went to a pub which boasts 70 beers on tap. I've heard a lot about Goose Island from my brother who lives 1000 miles away from me. I saw the Goose tap handle and had to have one. Had a Honker's Ale, one of the best beers I have had in a while. Perfect amount of hops, nice bite to it with the extra hops.

dgthompson, Feb 29, 2008
Photo of Slynger
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light, bright, burnt orange-amber with a modest white head and patchy lacework. Scented of sweet and toasted malts with fruity melon and earthy tea-like hops. Sweet and toasted flavor with light bitterness of earthy-tea hops. Light and smooth with creamy carbonation that goes down easy. Honker's is a hometowner which I have always enjoyed. Don't know much about the style, but this beer always has a spot in my fridge.

Slynger, Feb 28, 2008
Photo of drseamus
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap at the "Goose Island Pub" at O'Hare airport. That place is a joke.

Pours an amber color with a thin ring of white head around the outside. Definitely needs more head. The taste is good with a decent amount of bitterness with a nice malt aftertaste. Fairly light to medium bodied with good drinkability. Not a bad beer but not Goose Island's best showing either.

drseamus, Feb 27, 2008
Photo of DukeofAle
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very well made beer. Too mild to really light my fire. A bit more hops and I'd love it - but then, it wouldn't be english bitters - it'd be a pale ale.

Kicks up a thick, voluminous head that lasts the whole time. The aroma and taste are balanced, neither hoppy nor malty. Not a truly exceptional beer to my thinking, but certainly a solid, very well crafted ale, a very good example the style. A good beer to choose if you are planning to drink several, or, as I like to do, a solid beer to begin with before working up the scale to progressively hoppier, bigger beers.

DukeofAle, Feb 23, 2008
Photo of dkoehler42
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found this beer while waiting at the Midway airport. It has a very pleasant and crisp taste for an ale, with an aftertaste that coats the entire pallate. The color is lighter than I had hoped, and the smell is typical of so-so beer. There is little head when poured. I would drink this again.

dkoehler42, Feb 17, 2008
Photo of mwilbur
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into imperial pint glass
A: Nice amber-yellow; moderate carbonation and thin white head. A decent start.
S: Surprisingly nice! Strong smell of spice and bitter hops. Nice and hoppy...showing some real promise now.
T: Backs up the smell nicely. For a second there is sweet spice, but this quickly gives way to the bitter hop backbone...just a hint of malt in the background. Nice clean English bitter, but perhaps a little one-dimensional.
M: Lacks a little here. A bit thin on the palate and taste quickly dissipates. However this does result in you wanting more!
D: Quite drinkable and good potential for sessionability.
Overall, I'm fairly impressed. Came in expecting less and got more than I anticipated. Solid beer.

mwilbur, Feb 16, 2008
Photo of riboflavin88
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a staple in my refrigerator, not only because it's a Chicago brewery, but because it's very drinkable! It pours a honey-amber color with a medium, white head. Carbonation is low and goes down real smooth. To the nose it's a woody-spicy smell, which compliments the taste of toast, biscuits, and grain. All around great beer!

riboflavin88, Feb 10, 2008
Photo of marcpal
4.6/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into large pint glass. Thanks to monkeyknife for sending me over several of these.

A: Reddish brown color with a ridiculously thick foam. The bubbles in the head of this one held on nicely and weere huge.

S: Mild buscuit smell with dried malts. The breadiness was tight and the hops were there for sure.

T: Malt and hops made a delicous ESB. The toasted malts and breadiness were matched perfectly with the bitter hops. This was a tasty beer.

M: Dry/toasty.

D: Epitome of a sessionable beer. This went great with Mexican and cant wait to have several more.

Re-reviewed after several more of the 07 batch that Ive gotten through terrific trades. This is among the best session beers that are available, unfortunately not here in NJ yet.

marcpal, Feb 10, 2008
Photo of cer40
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I sampled this beer from a 12oz bottle poured into an imperial pint. Golden amber in color with a one finger white head. This hangs around a while and leaves some lacing.

Smell is of hops and some lightly toasted malts. The hops smell citrus-like. Taste is the same with a nice dry finish. This brew leaves little to no aftertaste. It would make a great palate cleanser for a spicy or heavy dish.

The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with a good crisp burn from carbonation. This beer is not the very best beer I have ever tried but the price and availibility in my area make it one of my favorite session beers of all time.

cer40, Feb 05, 2008
Photo of GbVDave
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a 20oz imperial pint.

A: Crystal-clear orange honey/amber color with a creamy and bubbly two-finger head that's a light-tan color. This head quickly turns into a chunky/bubbly skim and thick ring that leaves coating drapes of lace.

S: Nicely mild toasted malt aromas with a dose of citrus-y hops. I also noticed a nutty or woody aroma lurking in the background along with toasted bread crust and/or crackers.

T: Very clean toasted malt and citrus hop flavors. The taste follows the smell pretty closely so I also noticed the nuts, wood, and toasted bread crusts/crackers that I mentioned before in the smell. As it warmed I discovered a piney or minty hop flavor as well.

M: Mouthfeel is nice and dry and roasty. Excellent toasted bread and citrus hop finish.

D: A great session beer! This is many a midwesterners "gateway" beer from bmc to the good stuff and 20 years on it has held up well and continues to deliver the goods.

GbVDave, Jan 24, 2008
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.05/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured amber with a good head and lacing. Lightly sour aromas of grain and some crackery malt in the nose. There are also the barest hint of earthy hops. The taste is about the same. The beer is pretty light, somewhat grainy, and there are light flavors of the same earthy hops that were in the smell. Mouthfeel is slightly thin, a tad overcarbonated, and a little grainy. Eh, this is just okay. It has none of the minerally earthy restraint of a real English bitter. It tastes a little too light in flavor and is a bit one dimensional.

Georgiabeer, Jan 22, 2008
Photo of biggmike
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark orange color with decent white head that stayed a while and left good lacing. Has a nice spicy hop aroma to it. Flavor is a nice blend of hop spicyness and maltiness. Mouthfeel is a velvety pleasantness. I really enjoyed this beer and would have again. Drinkability is high.

biggmike, Jan 16, 2008
Photo of tmitch75
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours hazy amber with decent tan head and some lacing.

Smells floral with some sweet malt in the background.

Solid though not spectacular malt flavor with floral and piney notes from the hops. Smooth and medium-bodied.

This is the beer that started me down the craft beer road way back when, so it's obviously drinkable. A good intro to craft beer and a solid sessioner. Also one of my faves because it brings back so many memories.

tmitch75, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of aquatonex
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

They seem to have this on tap or in a bottle most everywhere in Chicago. Pours medium copper, rather translucent, some foamy head up front that quickly dissipates. Nose is rather light, just has a bit of a hops and a hint of sweetness. Taste is decent, good hoppiness that isn't too out of whack, tastes like a borderline macro-amber ale, though. A good session beer, but not my fave.

aquatonex, Jan 10, 2008
Photo of jpkoch1962
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very smooth bitter (or mild bitter). Solid orange/amber color was topped off by a biege one finger head. Faint aroma of floral hops permeated. Very smooth body, with a nice malty backdrop accented by a nice background of hops bitterness. For the price you can't be this solid session ale.

jpkoch1962, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of argock
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass

A: Amber-orange color with ample off-white head

S: Sweet caramel with earthy hops odors

T: Nicely balanced with backbone of bitter but spicy hops flavor and complimentary mildly sweet and earthy malt flavors

M: A little dry for my tastes for the style and a woody aftertaste. Smooth, medium-bodied, and nicely carbonated.

D: Offers a good mix of hops and malt flavors, but the woody aftertaste is a little off-putting.

argock, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of TurdFurgison
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap in an airport bar at O'hare, served in a pint glass. The beer was dark gold with a thick layer off near-white foam. The smell is all right, nicely balanced between the toasted malts and the slightly bitter hop aroma. The flavor is OK too, if not too strong (maybe I had it a little cold). Mostly it seemed like a toasty bread flavor with a little bitterness in the after-taste.

I used to know this beer very well, it was one of my standards about 10 years ago. It sort of fell by the wayside as more microbrew variety became available to me but it's still an easy-drinking thirst quencher.

TurdFurgison, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of Tolann
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nearly orange/amber in color. Copper. Somewhat cloudy. Not much head and no lacing on the glass.

S - A lil sweet caramelly malt. Not a lot of hoppy scent. Maybe a lil orange zest.

T - More malty. A small hint of bitterness in the back of the tongue. Some sweetness. Hops are present, but not in a big way like in American pale ales.

M - very smooth and medium body. Not a lot of carbonation. No dry aftertaste.

D - Really easy to drink. The flavors don't hit too hard. The weight of the beer might slow you down, but a decent sessionable beer.

I don't get to drink a lot of English Bitters, but I think this one is a good example of the style.

Tolann, Dec 29, 2007
Photo of yemenmocha
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours medium amber, clear, with fine sized bubbles and plenty of lace.

Nose is toasted matchstick, dry wood, and citrusy hops.

Palate throws in grapefruity hops, bread-like malt, and a drying hoppy component that fades well into the finish. Hops are at the beginning and the end, but the middle is a mysterious bready/biscuity scene. Medium bodied.

Finish has more of the toasted matchstick, maybe dry forest twig. (in a good way)

yemenmocha, Dec 29, 2007
Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,260 ratings.