Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

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Honker's AleHonker's Ale

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3,323 Ratings
very good

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Ratings: 3,323
Reviews: 1,030
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 60
Gots: 297 | 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: 3,323 | Reviews: 1,030 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of tjkurz
4.55/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle poured into pint glass - clear burnt orange/amber with a couple fingers of head. Smell fresh, sense of hops. Malty up front with nice floral hop finish - clean. Mouthfeel decent body, carbed. One of the most drinkable beers in my mind - great with just about anything - I like with pizza. Can drink 3 of these and not get bored - one of my favorites. Bottle brags perfect combination of malts and hops - and I agree.

Photo of TMinton22
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: The beer is a cloudy brown color, with a short off-white head that fades quickly and Lacing was spotty.

Smell: light malts, nuts, and some pale hops.

Taste: The taste is balanced with a pale hops bitterness up front followed by semi-sweet flavors of citrus, nuts & spices and a malt character. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

Probably wouldn't buy to sit and drink a few

Photo of Hophead101
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had on draft at Gibson's in Chicago 10.20.08

As with most bars and restaurants these days, extensive wine list, minimal beer list. The best they had was Fat Tire and Goose Island Honker's. I have had other Goose Island stuff, so I figured there was at least one good beer to drink.

Pours a great reddish amber color, nice thick head, bubbly and off white. Head stuck around for a while and there was a little lacing to remind you of it's prior presence. Not too much of a smell at first, but the bartender served it in such a cold glass, so it hindered the smell. it opened up more once it warmed up. not a lot going on in the smell, a little hop, a little rye and some general maltiness.

I was a bit surprised by the taste. Much better than I had anticipated. good balance and mouthfeel, and quite drinkable. I don't know that I would call it a session beer, but you sure could have a number of them. No one flavor overpowering, but a nice balance of malts, hops and flavor.

Photo of beerfairy
2.78/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Reddish brown color with a thick foam head.

S: Mild buscuit smell with dried malts.

T: This doesn't fit my profile of a bitter bee, I think Redhook is a better example. I can't drink too many of these, the taste doesn't work for me.

M: Dry/toasty.

D: Can drink a couple but not my favorite Goose Island product. I'd rather have thier Nut Brown, Matilda, Bourbon County or Schwarzbier over this any day.

Photo of Spidey13
4.25/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Honker's ale is a clear, deep amber with an off-white head that never goes away. The nose is very light, with just a bit of maltiness.

The taste has a lot of rye bread notes, some raisins and spicy hops show up. A mild bitterness lingers after the swallow. The mouthfeel is spot-on; nice and full with a fairly high amount of carbonation.

This is a really good and fairly complex session beer that was great for enjoying outside on a sunny fall day today.

Photo of Mdog
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Cloudy amber with a decent head.

Smell: Bready, a slight herbal note.

Taste: Moderate bready sweetness balanced nicely with some grassy hops.

Drinkability: Good for a session.

I picked some of this up for a long bus trip for a sessionable beer that had a little more flavor. This beer did its duty, easy to drink to kill time during the 10 hour ride to Indiana.

Photo of number1bum
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a burnt orange copper color, pretty good clarity with an inch and a half of light tan head. Head settles to just at hin lace, doesn't leave more than a touch of stick.

Smell is pretty subdued and consists of some lightly toasted malt, bit of caramel and some fruity hops.

Taste has those same components that came through the smell - some toasted and caramel malt, and some fruity hops. Nothing surprising, but well put together and balanced. Not terribly robust, but then again that's the style. Very solid flavor for a bitter.

Mouthfeel is a little thin, light medium body, smooth.

Pretty simple beer, but it's easy to see why it's their flagship. Very easy drinking, sessionable brew.

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

A - darker amber with a small head that dissipates quickly
S - buttery and caramel malts and a bit of hops
T - malts up front with a nice bitterness balance at the end
M - nice and full; creamy and buttery as well
D - this is a good session beer and is one of my go-to's on a night out

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a dark auburn in color. Decent inch of head sitting atop. Smell is mostly hops. Very floral in smell. Taste is bitter. Not a hoppy bitter, just a different bitter. I can't quite figure it out. Lots of malt in this beast. Medium feel in the mouth and decent. Not a beer that I'll revisit.

Photo of thekevlarkid
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The barkeep at Chicago O'Hare twisted the top off this one and poured it into a pint for me. Bright amber color, slightly hazy with a thick white head of creamy foam. Good retention and lacing. Soft floral hop aromas along with some citrus rind on top of sweet malt. The flavors were notably dry, toasted malt and grain, some sweetness balanced with citric hops. Dry finish too. Mouthfeel was good, medium bodied with appropriate carbonation. Sessionable and clean.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured out an appealing dark apple-cider color, slightly hazed, with an army of bubbles rushing up to a thin head.

Smells of caramel, fresh bread dough, and apple come on strong, with a more subtle overall graininess and even mineral hardness sneaking in.

Flavors almost exactly mirror the nose, with a miniscule hint of peat and modest hop bitterness. Flavors pop out rich and full with warming.

Perhaps too obviously not English, but a worthy stab at it. Enjoyable and well-crafted, but didn't exactly leave an afterglow after the glass was empty. Despite that, it's an utterly drinkable bitter.

Photo of tedsox31
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The appearance is a dark red-brown color, that has a small head that dissipates quickly. It leaves a slight trail of lace down the side of the glass as I drink it.

The smell is of caramel and a bunch of malts, with a smattering of hops.

The taste is what really sets this beer apart from many of the other Goose Island beers. It is, to me, a very good combination and balance of malts and hops, so with one drink you can taste the malt, and the next you taste the hops. And many a time you taste both during the same sip.

Mouthfeel is smooth and dry, and it goes down cleanly.

This is a very drinkable beer. It does well in sessions as it doesn't fill you up too much, and the taste isn't so pronounced that you tire of it quickly. A nice beer to have one of, or a few more if you don't mind the unassuming taste.

Photo of beerkittycat
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is clear amber with copper hughes. Not much lacing but I was given an annoying frat-pour (right up to rim and no head). Aroma has some faint malt notes of toasted grains, chocolate, and grassy fields. No hop aroma. Flavor has same profile as aroma with medium-light hop bitterness. Some faint citrusy hop flavor. Medium-light mouthfeel with semi-dry finish. Refreshing but restrained in flavor. This was rather a ho-hum beer with nothing too exciting or ground breaking but it was tasty and refreshing so definately I'd drink it again.

Photo of wl0307
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

4.3%abv., BB 11/03/09, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: dark reddish amber hue, lightly clouded with yeast sediments; creamy off-white froth with good retention, on top of very mild carbonation.
S: a soothing flow of flowery and lychee-ish fruity hops dominates the nose, backed by orange-citrusness with a lightly piney/herbal touch, while the lightly caramely maltiness and some nectar makes up a soft background. Not very complex, but pleasantly hoppy and really enjoyable in an understated way - just like a Bitter ought to be.
T: sour-sweet longan-fruity and faintly stinky-biscuity pale malts come with a faint citrusness with a tannic touch of tea stems and lychee shells; a mildly powdery and zesty bitterness lingers along with aromatic notes of hops and more warming malts in the end, rather chewy at the same time.
M&D: refreshing as well as soft on the palate, while constantly a zing of hops emerges from the back of palate, although it does go a bit thin in the very end; this medium-bodied hoppy bitter tastes quite nice, balanced and in fact quaffable as a session ale. Not a bad pint at all, though the flavour profile is somewhat different from what one calls an English Bitter - the profile of hops is not quite true to the tradition, IMO.

Photo of Wasatch
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks goes out to brandoman63 for this brew.

Pours a nice cloudy light brown color, nice carbonation, nice small fizzy off-white head, which leaves some small islands and sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, bready, very lite spice. The taste is malty, slightly bitter, with some nice tones of spice. Medium body. Drinkable, a tasty brew, I like it.

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

on tap into a pub glass at the Clybourn Brewpub. pours a rich amber color with a single finger of off white head that leaves moderate lacings.

aroma is of lightly coniferous hops and a subtle carmelized base that gives off a light sweetness to the overall profile.

taste is of light caramel malts and a subtle honey-like sweet quality with a finish of lightly spiced hops and a touch of bready malt that lingers a bit. very smooth and well crafted in profile.

mouthfeel is smooth and creamy on the palate with soft CO2 and a smooth finish of residual coniferous hops and a lightly sweet malt.

drinkability is great. this is a smooth and easy-going bitter that seems to be complete, without the need for any reductions or additions to the profile. no wonder why this is Goose Island's flagship brew! cheers!

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a coppery brown color, with a short off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is full of caramel, light malts, nuts, some spice and some pale hops.

T: The taste is decently balanced with a pale hops bitterness up front followed quickly by semi-sweet flavors of caramel, citrus, nuts & spices and a hearty malt character. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, mild kick, good representation of style, this is a nice beer to drink a lot of if you want a mild but flavorful beer with some substance.

Photo of grandq
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy light amber with a fluffy two finger white head. Smells of grass with a hint of honey and grapefruit Initially a tad biscuity and buttery, which quickly gives way upon subsequent sips to a citrus heavy profile - alot of orange and grapefruit, balanced out by nutty toasted malts. Too "bright" in the citrus flavors for me, hurting the drinkability. Mouthfeel is good, slightly creamy with a fairly dry finish, a bit of juiciness on the end.

I like it, but not sure I'd session it. A few elements out of balance here, particularly the citric hop charachter. Prefer a bit more subtlety to the hop and malt interplay.

Photo of MOShepp
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber color with a nice off-white head and plenty of lacing.

Aromas of grain, caramel and some herbal hops.

Tastes of toffee, bread and plenty of floral spicey hops, peppery, some orange peel. Pretty well balanced giving the edge to the hops.

Very enjoyable and smooth. Easy to drink with interesting layers. I'll buy again.

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

Appearance- This beer poured a nice copper color with a huge white head. Lacing was present throughout.

Smell- Wonderful malt aroma with nice hints of hops and sweet caramel.

Taste- Nice toasted malty flavors with a caramel sweetness similar to the nose. There is also a nice hoppiness which provides a nice citrus taste to it.

Mouthfeel- A medium body with a medium carbonation.

Overall- This beer is great!! It could function as a prefect session beer with the great taste and the fairly low ABV. I could drink a lot of these!! Only problem. We can't get this down here in Louisiana. Guess it's time to start bugging the local distributor!

Photo of kinger
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amazing beer from Goose Island, to date they have yet to let me down. Pours a dirty copper color with a medium thick off-white head, ample lacing and good carbonation. The aroma is outstanding containing a slightly mellow blend of flowery hops and lots of malt. The aroma reminds me of a low key IPA. As I sip on a few of these I'm amazed at the awesome flavor. The hop characteristic is near perfect. They are very present but not overdone. Strong blend of malts keep me intrigued. The balance is perfect. Full mouthfeel with a great finish and pleasant aftertaste. Fantastic beer, I can't say enough about this one.

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy orange-ish/ copper color, with a light tan head. In the aroma, grapefruity hops, and a caramel sweet malt. In the taste, caramel sweet maltiness, and a small grapefruity hop end. A small bitter, medium mouthfeel, and a dry caramel maltiness in the aftertaste. Very nice for a bitter. Nice sweet malt and a twist with citrusy/grapefruity hops.

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

This is a nice intro into the bitter style.

This beer has a great head and a nice retention that won't go away. The intial head is 2 giners thick.

Smell is of some english hops (ssaz? I don't know though) with a nice, yet subdued hop bitterness.

Sweet pale and caramel malts upfront with a sort of sweet grapefruit flavor underneath which adds to the sweetness of the malt to balance the complementing bitterness of the hops. There is a very nice balance in this beer with a touch of complexity.

The smell isn't quite 4.5, but the taste is better than 4. I rated accordingly to balance.

Mouthfeel is very crisp and clean, however further down the glass I get a slight amount of wateryness. It's not bad at all, just a slightl flaw.

This beer is very easy and would make for a great session. I wish I could get more of this.

I believe PIMPP sent me this sample. Thanks very much.

Photo of Natural510
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light amber color with thick head which dissipates into a thin layer.
Smells quite strongly of biscuit malt and grassy hops.
The toasted malt is at the forefront of this brew, with a subtle hop backing. Vegetal & grain notes round out the flavor.
Crisp mouthfeel, with a slight tangy bitterness from the hops.
Nice take on the English bitter; hops & malts are light and well-balanced. An easy-drinking beer with character and nothing too overly-pronounced.

Photo of Proteus93
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on-tap @ Goose Island location in O'Hare Airport, Chicago.

A: A topaz pour, sporting a puff of white head - decent stick, retention is fine, ending with a full sheet over the brew.

S: An herbal and rind-like hoppiness, a little earthy and a little woody.

T/M/D: More malts come out in the flavour - a bit of a warm toasty grain, balanced nicely with a kiss of hops. Body is well rounded without being too full. A decently done brew, and a pleasant and sessionable first impression of the brewery.

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,323 ratings.