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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.

3,138 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,138
Reviews: 1,021
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 11.99%
Wants: 53
Gots: 230 | 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: 3,138 | Reviews: 1,021 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Shultzerdugen
4.4/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. brown bottle with a best when consumed by date of 060406.

Slightly hazed light copper with a white small bubbled froth.

Spicy hops and ripe red delicious apples start the nose, followed by caramel, grass and herbal notes, and malt o' meal.

Medium bodied with a smooth feel. Juicy malt center with a bit of fruity ester, the spicy hops are in perfect contrast. Bread like malts go long in the finish along with a lemony twist. Caramel flavors come out as it warms.

To use the parlance of Jolly Olde - This is spot on!

Shultzerdugen, Apr 20, 2006
Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pours a light walnut brown color with half a finger of tan head

S - an inviting musty - hoppy aroma, with a citrus aroma and maybe even a hint of apple

T - hoppy, whew, very hoppy, what a surprise very nice, the citrus aromas are not present in the flavor, or are overpowered by the hops

M - well bodied, with a great dry hoppy finish

D - slightly lowered due to a lack of balance, could use ever so slight additional sweetness, damn good though

sinstaineddemon, Apr 12, 2006
Photo of skizziks
3.1/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a nonic. Pour gives a one inch smooth white head that quickly fades to a thin layer of large bubbles. The beer is a clear golden amber.

Aroma is toffee, crystal malt and light herbal hops.

Flavor has a stiff carbonation bite on the tip of the tongue followed by toffee, some hop resin, and a very light dry finish. Not much there really, but none of it is bad.

Honker's has a medium light body with with a bit too much fizz. Very easy to drink, but I get the feeling it is just so I can get to the next, different, beer. It's not bad at all, it's just not very remarkable.

skizziks, Apr 12, 2006
Photo of Blakaeris
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours clear amber-copper with a fluffly white head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smell is slightly sweet toasted malt, and citrus hop character. A touch of caramel and fruit.

Taste is similiar to nose with the addition of peppery spices. The finish is clean with lingering bitterness that brings an enjoyable balance.

Mouthfeel is medium with decent carbonation.

The first time I had this brew was years ago at the Chicago House of Blues. I've been hooked ever since. Honkers doesn't have anything that stands out in particular, but it is a solidly crafted brew. Enjoyable to drink, but tame enough to share with your friends that aren't beer geeks.

Blakaeris, Apr 08, 2006
Photo of fisherman34
3.13/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Light amber in colour with lots of carbonation. Mild citrus aromas with a bit of caramel. Light malt flavors dominate, with some notes of spicy and grassy Gernan hops and some yeast bite. Very restrained in the hops department for an American made pale ale. Light bodied. A little un-refined and simplistic by this brewery standards, but still an ok beer.

fisherman34, Apr 05, 2006
Photo of BrewMaster
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear, copper to light brown with a thin white head on top. Light carbonation billlows to the top.

Smell: Sweet, malty with a crisp fruit scent and a touch of floral hops.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Very malty and lighty sweet. Clean fruit flavors like strawberry and apple back up a faint hoppy ending. Well balanced maltiness with hops. Clean on the palate with a refreshing feel.

Drinkability: I had 2 pints of this tonight. It makes a great session beer to unwind at the end of the evening. Well balanced and right to the style. This beer doesn't try to do too much. It is tasty and malty as a bitter should be.

BrewMaster, Apr 04, 2006
Photo of ahking
3.63/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is a nice deep copper color, pure white soapy head. Intense malty aroma dominates with loads of american hops. Flavor is well balanced. Doesn't tipple to either side too much. Hops at the start, smooth malt in the finish. There are hints of caramel and maybe a bit of burnt malt in the flavor. Also, sort of a creamy mouthfeel that works very well.Really nice English style ale.

ahking, Mar 27, 2006
Photo of beermanbrian
3.43/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an light bronze/orange color. Nice two finget head that fades quickly. Thin off white film is left behind to leave thin trails of lacing on the glass. Fairly vigorous level of carbonation bubbles. Smell of floral and somewhat earthy hops. Taste is fairly bitter and again earthy in tone. I get the faintest hint of diacetyl, but not too noticable. Also pick up some very faint fruit, appricot. Mouthfeel is slighly chalky at the finish. An OK offering. I could see how this would be a decent beer to have around as a standby if you lived in the Chicago area. Not sure I would go out of my way to track it down though.

beermanbrian, Mar 27, 2006
Photo of cameraman
2.88/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A lite copper/orange color, with an off white head that disappears quickly. The faint scent of malt is there with some floral and grassy aroma hops. The taste is very disappointing, a touch of the malt comes through in the beginning, the hops do not make much of a stement in the flavor, very bland. The mouthfeel is very watery, a good dry is there after each sip. Overall it was a disappointment, Goose Island is very consistant in flavor for me, this one was a bit off the mark.

cameraman, Mar 17, 2006
Photo of sevineyes
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown bottle featuring a white goose head on a red background

A: Poured an orange-copper with a frothy white head. Leaves chunky lacing.

S: Floral, grassy, subtely minty hops. Very thick smelling. Boisterous and invigorating smell.

T: Toasty sweet. Goes into some nice floral hop presence. Perhaps some watery citrus. Seems to have some premature bitterness like licorice that fades into a more genuine bitterness. Aftertaste has some sourness to it and is rather rich.

M: Very smooth. Nice body. Low carbonation. Almost tastes flat, but not in violation of the style.

Overall: Seems like this beer could do with some refining. The flavors just don't seem to mesh as well as I'd like especially in the aftertaste. Still is a good example of an English Bitter. Very drinkable.

sevineyes, Mar 16, 2006
Photo of WesWes
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark golden color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice balanced scent that boasts of pale, crystal, and roasted malts along with a mild bitter hop aroma. The taste is decent. It has a weak, but easily drinkable malt flavor that goes down quick and finishes bitter. It's smooth, but not as malty as I expected. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a good drinking bitter. It's light and hopped well. It's nothing special, but I like it.

WesWes, Mar 14, 2006
Photo of orfeu
3.73/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at Wolfgang Puck Express in Chicago's O'hare International Airport. Amber with ecru foam and persistent carbonation. Faint floral hop aroma on top of bread dough yeast. Spicy floral hops balance nicely with a biscuity malt taste that lasts through the finish. Juicy, slightly peppery mouthfeel. Nice, sessionable ale -- reminds me a bit of Fat Tire masquerading as an English bitter. Let's hear it for "flagship beers"!

orfeu, Mar 03, 2006
Photo of hanco005
4.33/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into a pilsner glass. Bottled dated 070306.

A—pours tanish orange with ¾ inch head, fades slowly and light lacing is left on the glass as I drink

S—sweet and caramel malts, candy aroma, honey, butter, not really smelling the hops

T—nice balance of malt and hops, not to sweet, not to bitter, really flavorful, light and finishes a little dry

M—light/medium bodied, a little thin, good carbonation

D—the bottle says “a smooth drinkable English Bitter for those who want more from their beer”. Agreed, but not sure what more I would want in this one. A great session beer.

hanco005, Mar 01, 2006
Photo of fightingwords
3.38/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Served in a 16oz American pint glass

A--Strong caramel and copper look, so orange that it bordered on red. Nice head--for about 2 sips. Then a good film with okay lacing developed. There was a nice amount of carbonation for a bitter, a fair amount of rising bubbles the entire time I was drinking.

S--From the bottle I got a malty fruity sweetness, from the glass I got a metallic scent. I couldn't pin it, but it wasnt "organic." As the drink warmed the hops came through and so did a roasted buttery kind of odor.

T--I really liked this beer, but In all honesty it was just average. More complex than some other Bitter's. There were alot of flavors that I could find but had a hard time finding the words for them. I think rich, creamy, and roasted were the best of my notes. Definately had a buttery after taste, and I the I liked the alcohol that I could taste.

M--Medium bodied beer, finished dry with a carbonated feel. More of a carbonated feel than other bitters.

D--I could enjoy these all night long. I would probably choose another bitter though, as this one I felt was kind of complex and wouldnt want to waste all those good flavors when I could choose something a little less complex and more easily "respected" in larger quantities.

Overall--Pretty good beer. Will definately be revisiting this beer in other serving types.

fightingwords, Feb 28, 2006
Photo of nlmartin
3.63/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer was poured from the bottle into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer is a clear deep amber coloration. The head was a thick creamy honey coloration. Very good head retention noted on the beer. Thick sheets of lacing remain behind on the beer.

Smell: The beer is sweet and malty on the smell with a nice hoppy back ground smell.

Taste: The beer has a very sweet corn maltyness. There is a dab of hop pepperyness noted. The beer finishes dry.

Mouthfeel: The beer is medium bodied with a very dry finish.

Drinkability: This is a very sessionable beer. This would make a very nice introduction to craft beer for the macro drinker. Overall a very good drinking beer.

nlmartin, Feb 26, 2006
Photo of yelterdow
3.15/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served at just over fridge temperature in the recommended imperial pint glass. Freshness date reads 01/29/06. Thanks to Ego for the bottle, obtained from DeCicco Market in Pelham, NY.

Appearance- Pours a completely clear medium amber, with a one finger head that settles moderately to a thin film. Microscopic bubbles travel from the bottom of the glass to the top, barely feeding the semi-transparent mat.

Smell- A sweet, bready, malty nose exits the glass... subdued and nicely balanced. Some spiciness also is present.

Taste- A mildly astringent, metallic note is the first impression I get, unfortunately. Some maltiness and bread try to gain composure within the beer, and a better than average hop bitterness (for an English Bitter) follows after the swallow.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- The medium bodied, nicely rolling texture in the mouth is pleasant... however, during the swallow we get a sharp, aggressive carbonation that is too razor-like for a sessionable beer. The metallic aftertaste is also a detriment to the overall experience, but doesn't break it completely.

yelterdow, Feb 23, 2006
Photo of whynot44
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice clear copper color with a decent tan head that hangs on fairly well and leaves some nice lacing.

The aroma is caramelly malt with a touch of herbal hops.

The taste starts with a hit of grapefruit and pine then mellows slightly with a caramel malt middle with hints of apple. The finish is dry and piney with a nice hops bite that lingers.

Medium bodied and very drinkable and definitely worth a try.

whynot44, Feb 19, 2006
Photo of babydoc
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass from a bottle labeled best...by 060406. Slightly hazy golden amber, with an enormous tan bubbled head that left sticky lace 'til the end. Aroma of floral hops, a touch of sweetness. Mouthfeel is moderate, lightly carbonated, dry finish.

Taste is light malt sweetness with hops there from the outset and lasting throughout. Nice drying bitter finish.

Vry drinkable, could be a session beer.

babydoc, Feb 19, 2006
Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

See through copper, very decent tan fizzy head. Sweet malts, caramel and a bit of hop bite on the nose. Carbonated fuzzy hops; oily and bitter up front. Loads of fruit offerings in the form of grapefruit, peaches, orange peel. A defining malt backbone; very clean and sweet. A massively bitter palate; a nice product!

GeoffRizzo, Feb 17, 2006
Photo of Shovelbum
4.28/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light white head over a translucent copper body. Aromas of earth English hops and a touch of caramel malt. Extremely well-balanced pale and caramel malts with just the right amount of hop bitterness and British flavor hops. Light body. Smooth mouthfeel with a drying finish.

I love the hop character of this ale—earthy flavor with just enough bitterness to get the job done. So well-balanced that it just slides right down. A great session beer.

Shovelbum, Feb 15, 2006
Photo of kdmorse
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Nice amber color with 1 finger of whitish head that fades quickly. Cloudless with a nice amount of carbonation.

S: Nice smell balanced with hops and malt. A hint of sweetness that I can’t put my finger on. Nice bitter hop scent which is perfect for me.

T/M: Light mouthfeel. Good amount of malt in the flavor without much sweetness. Nice bitter taste/aftertaste, but not too hoppy.

D: Very easy drinking. Clean finish makes it very enjoyable. Makes me want to take one sip after another until I am forced to crack the next bottle.

Notes: At the beginning of my beer odyssey (about a year ago), I could stand English Bitters, ESBs, or anything bitter. After a full 180, I am enjoying the hell out of this straightforward bitter. I will drink this again, and hopefully make it up to Chi-town this summer to have it fresh after a Cubs game.

kdmorse, Feb 09, 2006
Photo of Ego
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

amber and clean, slightly off white head fed by a steady stream of carbonated goodness, your basic ale lookin' thing...

nice mild floral hop bitters... a touch of caramel sweetness carries along as well, not super complex but I love the way this smells, I could wear this as cologne.. of course I dont think cops pulling me over on the highway would really appreciate that... just a nice, simple, clean bitter aroma, straightforward and right on imo.

taste etc...
light mouthfeel, smooth, carbonation is subdued and reminds me of fullers ESB in that dept., mild bitter tones in the aftertaste that fade and make you want to take another sip, up front it is mostly the mild malts, not sweet at all (thank god).

ok, not a super complex uber beer by any stretch..but you know what ? I dig it... alot. It reminds me of Fuller's ESB sort of bred with Sierra Nevada Pale... easy drinking. I will definitely keep this around for spring/summer BBQs with light fare like burgers etc or just hanging out by the pool, I could drink this all day.

Ego, Feb 01, 2006
Photo of Oxymoron
3.45/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Available in South Dakota. Pours a mostly clear copper color with orange and tan hues. Good foam but the retention doesn’t last through the whole drink. Lacing was good though.

The smell is limited for a bitter but still has a good smell. A good caramel and pine smell with a touch of citrus at the end. Hops are there but I think there should be more.

Taste is similar, light for a bitter but a good taste. The malt is more prominent with a good caramel and maybe a touch of toffee as well. The hops are not as citrus but have more of a sour taste. Not much on the bittering side, but good flavoring. There is a woody taste in the aftertaste that isn’t quite earthy.

The body is medium with good carbonation. Very easy to drink but limited on being a bitter. Still a nice beer to taste.

Oxymoron, Jan 27, 2006
Photo of Brodirt
4.05/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Clean, clear, copper colored bitter with a nice rich head. I find this beer really easy to drink...I think the style, bitter, is a bit low on carbonation, but not so that it tastes flat, and that makes it real easy to down.

Nice malty sweetness, a bit of citrus and a dry bitter finish.

With every one of Goose Islands offerings I try they come closer and closer to Dogfish Head as my favorite overall brewery.

Brodirt, Jan 24, 2006
Photo of dirtylou
4.05/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz single, Woodman's

I'm from chicago, most of my family is still in the chicago area, this is what you drink (other than old style!) when you grow up north of I-88

appearance: a clear copper-amber pour, thick and foamy beige head with decent lacing left behind

smell: toasted grain, sweet and smooth caramel malt, peppery, spicy, buttery biscuit, soft earthy and floral hops behind the toasty malt aroma structure

taste: lots of toasted grain, buttery biscuit, sweet caramel malt, some nice fruit - apple, pear....lots of peppery spiciness in this one. tastes like summer nights in chicago

mouthfeel: definitely finishes dry...medium body, smooth

drinkability: very drinkable, a north-side session beer

dirtylou, Jan 14, 2006
Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,138 ratings.