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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,418 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,418
Reviews: 1,044
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 64
Gots: 388 | 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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,418 | Reviews: 1,044 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kegger22
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy amber in color with a one finger head that hung in there for a while. I didn't get much of an aroma, maybe a little of the grass that the reviewer before me mentioned. The taste baffled me. A little malt at the start, a little hops at the end, but I liked it so I'll just have to resort to "well balanced". I will definitely try this again, so maybe I'll be able to pick out that elusive flavor I'm missing. Feel was light to medium bodied, carbonation was there, though not excessively. Absolutely on the drinkability.

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

A - hazy honey

S - lightly grainy and fruity. Also some grassy/flowery aromas.

T - Medium bitterness is balanced well by light grainy malt flavor. Good apricot/peach flavor in the background. Not too fruity, not too bitter; a unique but classic ale taste.

M - Pretty solid. A bit too carbonated.

D - um, yes.

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

Poured into a glass mug with a wide opening.
A: Poured a clean, rust colored clear with slight head but with a nice lasting lacing on the glass. S: Carmel, malty smell, not unique to ales. T: Sweet carmel at first with slight alcohol bite followed with a definite bitter presence. M: Dry but light flowing and texture. D: A good session beer worthy of repeating.

Living in Chicago I have the chance to taste this often, and I am always amazed at how the tastes change each time. Even when pouring from a bottle I usually leave a little behind when pouring into a glass to taste the bottle flavor. When I do I taste an amzing hop presence, a sharp bitterness that I don't pick up anywhere else. Relaible and delicious as always.

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

One of my earliest craft brews when my brother started drinking it living on the North Side and some would get left in our fridge. Oh to be 16 and stealing beer.

A: Tawny coloring, rather attractive. But the head was razor thin, there was no active carb and it was quite hazy. Not to great, but this bar is known to me to pour thin heads.

S: Very light smelling, nothing really to go on. A very slight hop smell, very mild.

T: A good, lighter malt and hop bitterness. Still pretty week, but it works well and is a good balance.

M: Comfortable, makes it very sessionable.

D: Again, the comfortable mouthfeel and light, balanced taste make it very sessionable and drinkable.

Photo of jdg204
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Glad to finally get the chance to review what I'd consider one of the midwest's "classics". Was in Chicago and Goose Island is as famous there as Yuengling is in Eastern PA, so I had to try it out.

A: Clear amber color with a frothy head that leaves shards of lace and displays great retention

S: Decent balance between the biscuity malt and the citrusy hops

T: Malt forward on the front end, with a nice biscuity flavor that is joined, mid-palate, but a citrusy hop profile. Really nice balance.

M: Medium body with moderate carbonation

D: An extremely approachable hoppy brew for the masses, well done. If I lived in the Chicago area, this would definitely be my safe option as it's available everywhere and it's quite good. If you're in the Chicago area, don't be afraid of the mass distribution, this is a great brew and you should try it!

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

Poured into a Nonic.

A: Very hazy amber with very little carbonation. A dense and creamy eggshell head starts big and has nice retention. Leaves a generous lace.

S: Biscuits, toffee and black tea make up the nose initially. As the beer warms, a grapefruit citrus aroma comes out.

T: Well balanced. A bittersweet toffee flavor starts the experience out. A tea and grapefruit bitterness comes on with a moderate bite. Finishes with a lingering citrus bitterness and a toasted dryness.

M: The medium light body feels a bit over carbonated.

D: To me, this is more of an APA than a Bitter because of the grapefruit flavors. Overall, it goes down easy and seems an excellent session brew.

Photo of Ragingbull
2.13/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Amber in color with faint prickle and a light wispy head. Faint hoppy nose. The attack is sour and so is the large preponderance of the flavor. Very grain heavy on the flavor. The sour notes just go on to enhance a strongly bitter finish and this beer doesn't need that. I really can't imagine that this beer is sold and marketed this way.

Given my recent "second experience" with another beer that had vastly improved perhaps I will throw this into a mixed six in the near future and consider an "edit" to this review if I am proved wrong. Otherwise I really don't know what all the hype is about and this would be another beer (of about a dozen) where I am WAY below the BA composite.

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

Poured into pint glass. Appears a light copper color with a creamy medium head. Aroma of some citrus and a grains. Starts off sweet with taste of caramel and toffee. The hops kick in after that with some spiciness to the taste. It ends wtih the perfect amount of bitterness. What a great beer. Another good one from Great Lakes. Great session beer too

Photo of smibroncos
4.07/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A. Poured a clear, bourbon, copper, with a one finger offwhite head. Real good lacing on the glass.

S. Malt Hops, nuts, carmel, and cereal.

T. Carmel, spicy hops, citrus, fruity, dates, Light bitter finish.

M. Medium bodied, medium carbonation, slightly dry.

D. A good ale, good balance malt and hops.

Photo of tr4nc3d
2.36/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12fl oz bottle into my pint glass

Pours an almost dark like copper like color with a three inch slightly off-white head. Head is rather soft like with great retention that last all throughout the beer, leaving scattered amounts of lacing sticking to the sides of my glass.

Smell is very earth and pine like with a very distinct deep caramel malt fragrance. Smells nutty(almost peanut butter like?)with some dark toasty brown bread.

Damn, this is one malty brew. Caramel malts dominate with a nutty almost peanut butter like presence as I mentioned on the smell. Slight honey comes through in the middle. As I sip even more the taste reminds me of drinking Iced Tea. So if you like Iced Tea(which I really do not)then you will like this beer.

Mouth feel is smooth and medium carbonation

I'm not a fan of the taste of this beer, come worse is that it leaves a lingering dry finish on the palate and mouth that I'm not fond of. Worst of all, it gave me a damn headache.

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

This beer looked great when poured into a glass. It looked golden with a decent head and some good lacing.

It has a very sweet aroma, and the taste could almost strangely be compared to iced tea. It had this sweet tea sort of taste and smell.

It's smooth and tastes very good, especially when it's warm outside.

Photo of ChopperSmith
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Appearance: Deep amber with small head, and only slight lacing.

Smell: Malty and pine-like hops, earthy. Nice.

Taste: Dry malt flavors with some dry hop bitterness on the finish, but not overpowering. A crisp and tasty example of the English Bitter style.

Feel: Reasonable carbonation with moderate body and fairly dry finish. Nice smoothness overall.

Drinkability: Very nice drinkability, and one of the better American made craft beers of the style. I like Surly's "Bitter Brewer" best, but this is a close second.

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

On tap at Harry Caray's bar (Chicago, Ill)

Served in a standard pint, amber/brown body with a medium tan head. Smell is of toasted grain. Taste is biscuity, a hint of caramel, and fresh bread. Nice earthy hops in the finish, and a nice bitterness that balances out the malt flavor. Super tasty. Mouthfeel is good, cabonation levels slightly high for the style. Drinkability is fantastic, an excellent session ale. It is quite spot on for the English Bitter style, except for it doesnt have the yeast flavors imparted by a British strain. Still, a great interpretation that I wish I could get in Oklahoma!

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.13/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Goose Island Honker's Ale poured a burnt orange color into a snifter glass. Lacing was there along the side of the glass.

The smell was earthy hops, just a tad minerally otherwise very scant.

Taste was very bitter. A big dose of hops overwhelmed what I believe was a light english style malting.

Mouthfeel was prickly yet smooth, interesting.

Overall, a respectable brew, that I wasn't too impressed with. Wouldn't reccommend it unless you are seriously into over hopped beers. The Honker's Ale is actually more bitter and hoppy than their IPA.

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

A: This reminds me of that dark, Hawaiian Tropic tan/brown, with appetizing golden bubbles. The chalk-white head evaporates quickly to a filmy layer.

S: I am instantly reminded of orange-flavored tea with honey, but also smell wildflower, sweet but not perfume-y.

T: The taste follows the smell. I get flavors of orange tea and scones. The finish is long, wet with herbs, and finishes with some mineral content.

M: This feels light, with lots of sparkling carbonation, with a just off-wet finish.

D: If there was something more to balance the sweetness, this would be more chuggable than drinkable. Still, very nice.

Notes: This seems a little too sweet to be an English Bitter. American Bitter maybe?

Photo of ColForbinBC
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint

A chilled haze across an amber body with red highlights. Cap rises to just under one finger and subsides rather quickly to a thin collar. Very little lace left behind.

Loads of fresh fruit atop a biscuity malt profile. Fruit aromas of peach, grapefruit, apricots, and melon. A very sweet and tropical feel to the aroma.

The flavors are similar to the aroma. Grapefruits, melon, apricot and peaches all held down by biscuity malt, a touch of caramel and an earthy musk. Overall sweet up front with a balancing amount of bitterness in the end.

Medium body, very playful. Smooth and crisp.

Very easy to drink, easy to session. I was a big fan of this from start to finish, but it didn't wow my anywhere. A fresh interpretation of the style.

Photo of DavoleBomb
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this with dinner at Bubba Gump's in the Navy Pier. I wasn't suprised when their 312 Wheat came in a weizen glass, but I was when this did.

3.0 A: Clear amber color. Not any head to speak of since it was poured right up to the top of the weizen glass. Bad pour, but I gotta call it like I see it. Sorry GI.

3.5 S: Aroma wasn't anything special. A little bready, a little more grainy, and some crystal malt.

4.5 T: Taste was much better than the aroma. Caramel malts and a very pleasant nuttiness to it, almost like it was a brown ale. There was also a good helping of citrusy hops.

4.0 M: Medium body. Good carbonation. Not bad.

4.5 D: This is a very sessionable ale. The taste is damn good and never got boring.

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

Pours a nifty copper/amber color with a few millimeters of white head.
Smell has a good malty quality backed up with some bread.
Taste has a sweet/bitter malt flavor followed with some bready sweet quality.
Finish is a bit muddy but there is a solid malty after-taste.
Drinks pretty well, the body goes down very well.

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

A 12 ounce bottle poured into my nonic Imperial pint glass. Honker's appears a clear golden amber color with about an inch of fluffy off white foam. Smells and tastes of floral hops, medium toasted bread and grain, nicely caramelized malt, slightly nutty. Crisp and clean medium body with decent carbonation levels for a bitter. Worth a try if you spot it.

Photo of MadTown1000
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Not much smell out of either the bottle or the glass, but what smell there is is all hops. Pours a darkish translucent copper with some cloudiness, with an orangish-white foam head that sticks around for a while, but doesn't leave much along the side of the glass as it goes.

Flavor is hoppy as well - hops are definitely the central character of the beer. Not too much malt to be tasted, but the hops are fairly mild - they're not trying to kill me like the hoppy beer I'm most familiar with, the IPA. Alcohol is present, but not at the forefront.

It's a bit heavy, and probably not a beer I'd want to make an evening out of. I've got a feeling this would be very good with food, though - it definitely has the body to stand up to some spice. All in all, absolutely nothing speaks against this beer, but it also doesn't have anything to put it on my A-list.

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

Pretty looking beer with an above par scent. The label says a perfect blend of hops and malt, and if you like your malt a little more than you hops, than it is probably close to perfect. The malt did overshadow the hops by quite a bit but the result was still an excellent tasting beer. Mouthfeel was smooth and rich, drinkability was great.

Photo of sliverX
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured a very slightly hazy light copper with a good thick white head that faded down to a dense film
smell was sweet floral slightly bitter hops
taste was sweet very floral hoppiness it's like what walking into a greenhouse full of tulips smells like but in taste
mouthfeel is highly carbonated, sits sharply on the tongue, medium bodied
drinkability personally if this was less carbonated it would make it even nicer

Photo of jushoppy2beer
3.46/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer is not as hoppy as the bottle label leads you to believe. It is a nice drinkable brew, but lacks strong character to set it apart. It is quite pretty in the glass, having a nice orangish amber color with a slight head. The nose is mild, and the palate is rather plain, boasting a bit of soft malt that is well rounded by the smooth but slightly light mouthfeel. The finish is nondescript, with just a slight hint of hops. Nice thirst quencher.

Photo of jwinship83
4.23/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz bottle found in the back of the fridge. the born on date reads feb of 09. i cant believe i havnt reviewed this earlier. poured into my new sierra nevada hop tulip glass (thanks yesac!), and drank on june 1, 2009.

A- this one pours a bright copper colored body with a small white head. the head lasts for a long time, and leaves solid rings of lacing on the sides of my glass.

S- caramel and lightly toasted malts. a little bit of toffee and bread as well. there's also a light citrus hop presence.

T- once again, lots of malts in this one. caramel and toffee mostly. then a light citrus hop thing. extremely well balanced.

M- medium bodied with a nice level of carbonation.

D- i can drink this one all night (and have on several occasions). well done and a great flagship beer from this local brewery.

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into Imperial Pint Glass

A. 2 finger head. Decent lacing. Amber Orange color.

S. Biscuity malt smell. Some malt sweetness. A touch of hop bitterness.

T. More of the biscuity malt. Slightly sweet. A little bitterness from the hops. Pretty well balanced.

M. Medium bodied. Clean finish. Good carbonation.

D. Easily drinkable. A good solid beer. This is readily available in my area, and a good alternative when there are few micro choices.

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,418 ratings.