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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.

3,242 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,242
Reviews: 1,024
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 59
Gots: 259 | 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: 3,242 | Reviews: 1,024 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of atsprings
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ordered with lunch at a small pub on Michigan Ave. Poured a decent amber with a thin diminishing head. The aroma was of some sweet and caramel malts, but not strong at all. The beer did have a nice bitterness that balanced out the malts nicely without overpowering at all. The beer was light and crisp and decently refreshing. This one would make for a decent session.

atsprings, Aug 27, 2007
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a cloudy dark beige color ale with a medium foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of dry malt with some English hops. Taste is also dominated by some malt presence with a dry finish from what I believe are English hops. Body was quite full with some good carbonation. A bit too dry for my liking but very enjoyable nonetheless.

Phyl21ca, Aug 23, 2007
Photo of gotweid
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle with a best by 11/22/07 date. Rich, dark golden copper, hazy look with a nice, white, foamy 1" head. Some lacing. Head has good retention. Smells of sweet citrus. Very mild, slight citrus taste with a nice crispness. Fine grains involved. Very smooth, somewhat creamy, not bitter, a touch of sweetness. Nice, light carbonation and light mouthfeel. Very enjoyable and also very drinkable. Buy this and enjoy.

gotweid, Aug 17, 2007
Photo of bboven
3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Great orange-brown color, very clear in the shaker, a bit of lacing but overall thin head.

Smell is spot- on, malty, buiscity, and tempting.

Taste is not rated so high because you can taste and feel the alcohol in this one and you should not be able to in this style. [usually around 3.5 ABV I believe]

Mouthfeel is pretty poor. I tried to roll the first sip around to get a good taste and ended up getting tons of foam. Maybe keep this one pretty cold in storage and then let it warm and breathe for tn minutes to let some of that gas escape. As I type now ten minutes after opening th bottle I'm still seeing streams of bubbles reminiscent of High Life shooting up the glass.

Pretty drinkable with a great malt backbone, but the alcohol tinge detracts from what could be a great session beer.

bboven, Aug 08, 2007
Photo of Brianmerrilyn
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm always interested in Chicago based micro/craft brewers and was happy to have a pint of this pulled for me last night. Poured a ambers style red and a appealing frothy head. I tasted accents of fruit, of which i'm not sure which one. This was one of the smoothes bitters I've ever quafed and highly recommend to fellow beer geeks.

Brianmerrilyn, Aug 08, 2007
Photo of irish53b
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Tried on tap in a pint glass. Hazy golden brown in color. Thin head that lingered throughout

S: Hints of corriander and citrus
T: Matches the smell, orange hints and mild alcoholic sting
M: Very thin and little carbonation
D: Highly drinkable, smooth, easily its best characteristic

Overall, this ale was not what I expected. It was a bit weak and had an almost white ale like nature. A good session beer since its highly drinkable and doesn't have that heavy mouthfeel or alcohol sting.

irish53b, Aug 06, 2007
Photo of dmamiano
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly cloudy, medium dark amber.
Good inch head, that goes away rather slowly. Lacing clinging to the sides as if it is hanging on for dear life.
Nose has a sweet smell, as if smelling sweetened iced tea.
Taste is very good. Good balance between the well pronounced hops and smooth, bready malt.
Mouthfeel as well was very nice.

dmamiano, Jun 24, 2007
Photo of ajmoody76
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

twelve pack purchased and carried home on my bicycle. brown bottle to pint glass. copper color. clear beer. no haze. thin off-white head which does not stick around long. nice looking beer.

a little fruity on the nose. some malt sweetness comes through. no off odors.

can taste some sweetness coming through. a toasty biscuit is the focus. fairly well balanced. a little fruity on the aftertaste.

low carbonation is on with style. light bodied. no brussels lace.

nice bitter. stays close to style. could go a session with this one. will purchase again.

ajmoody76, Jun 24, 2007
Photo of SSBrennan
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brown-amber with a small cream head that falls with no lacing. Good clarity and lots of small carbonation.

Nice smell of bitter aroma hops with hints of sweetness.

A good light tasting malt body with complex earthy roasted notes at the back. Little hop flavor but appropriate to the more subtle flavors from the malt. A nice dry finish.

The mouthfeel is crisp with the dry flavor and good carbonation.

A highly drinkable beer.

SSBrennan, Jun 21, 2007
Photo of rayjay
3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A toffee colored ale with a dull head of foam.

Lots of carmel malts featured in the nose. Some diacetyl and no DMS at all. British yeast characters akin to Young's SLA.

Interesting flavors, featuring Earl Grey tea, and an upfront hop bitterness that fades away before the aftertaste. Finishes dry with mild tannins. Carmel malt persists dispite the dryness. Extremely mild malt character, I'd guess 12-15 IBU's.

Great mouthfeel with light carbonation. The highlight of the beer. I'm drinking it cold, but it feels about as viscous as water. It has the body of a 3% abv ale.

A good one for British ale fans of modern times. No over-hopped US takes on a style here, just a simple beer worthy of putting down a few social pints of. Don't go out of your way for this one, but it's certainly enjoyable if you come across it. Cheers.

rayjay, Jun 19, 2007
Photo of akorsak
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz bottle provided by my sister, a recent transplant to Chicagoland.

A: The ale is a darker color, amber brown like the bottle it came in with some fleeting orange hints. The head was average, providing a small cap to the beer.

S: The nose is malty, specifically a nutty, dry toffee aroma. There is a slight hop bitterness scent, but it quickly disappears.

T: The ale is a very easy drink. The malt body has a strong nutty element, creating a dry flavor that is nicely paired with some toffee notes. The hops add a splash of flavor, zesting up the maltiness.

M: The malt body dominates the ale, the flavors are not too strong or too weak on the palate.

D: The ale is a nice drink but it takes no chances. It will go down easily but will not offer up anything exciting.

akorsak, Jun 17, 2007
Photo of gmfessen
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, beer is a copper-orange-brown color with a thin tan head with lots of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass. After the head quickly dies, there is a ring of foam around the top of the brew. Smell is primarily sweet, but not too much so... there is a nutty, earthiness to it and a pinch of hops. The taste has some lightly toasted notes to it that remind me of a brown. Biscuity would be a word to describe it. The beer is well balanced with a clean finish that makes you want more. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a creamy carbonation. Overall, this is a solid beer and is definitely drinkable. I'd prefer their IPA, but that's a personal thing.

gmfessen, Jun 12, 2007
Photo of bluemoonswoon
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into pint glass. Pours a dark somewhat cloudy amber color with a one finger head that dissipates into a cap, returns a bit with some agitation.

Smell: Malt and biscut scents with faint fruit and hop aroma.

Taste: Very solid with big biscut and malt flavor with lingering orange and apple flavors on the back end. Good but not great.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation with a body on the lighter side, nice lingering bitterness that makes my tongue tingle.

Drinkability: Another solid offering from Goose Island. Again a good but not great beer, something I would use to turn someone on to craft beers.

bluemoonswoon, Jun 11, 2007
Photo of demcorhip
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A sparkling clear light golden amber hued ale. Finely yet somewhat vigorously carbonated. Excellent retention on the 1 finger off white head that grew to a 2 finger whipped head. The head lasted longer than my glass, thickly laced, with clingy clumps sticking to the inside of my glass.

Floral scents of citrus backed by a fainter but more solid woodiness rise from the glass to tempt my nose (as well as my taste buds). Cracker and biscuity malts lie underneath the hop aroma, as well as fruity esters of apple and pear.

Nice stuff. Cracker and biscuit malts most present, with lesser notes of caramel sweetness and a mild roasted nuttiness. Fruity esters present like in the nose, as well as floral hops accentuated by citrus flavours of orange and lemon. The hops morph to end in a mild yet complex earthy and woody bitterness with hints of leather.

A light bodied, refreshing ale. Finishes slightly dry and with a mild, satisfying, lingering bitterness. Malts and hops find a very nice, drinkable balance in this bitter.

An easily sessionable ale, simple yet tasty. Approachable enough for a family gathering or work related BBQ, yet tasty and elegant enough to keep the interest of more adventurous beer drinkers. Ill be drinking and enjoying more of this this summer.

demcorhip, Jun 09, 2007
Photo of wspscott
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle in pint glass

A: clear amber with a white head, no lace
S: Bready malts, no hint of hops
T: Slightly bitter hops, with a malt background. Very bready/biscuity
M: Nicely carbonated, with a crisp taste
D: Great session beer, you should check it out.

wspscott, Jun 02, 2007
Photo of PEBKAC
4.33/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've always drank Goose Island sodas, but not once, have I had what they're known for: beer. I got lucky, & got one random bottle via a little birthday bundle, & decided I would put down the orange cream soda, & pick up a Honker.

It pours a standard mild, golden brown. Enough head to notice, but very par for the course. A really fresh snap, & crisp on the nose, it does well during those hot afternoons, trying to install the new air conditioner. Hoping it helps ease your back after wobbling with 140lbs between your knees.

A very simple sweetness with a good initial rush of hops that really opens your eyes. Invigorating & inspiring, just sucking it through your teeth adds a slight ease to everything around you. It quickly mellows, & is such a pleasure to enjoy. There is amost no aftertaste, & it leaves you craving another. Just a slight stoke of dry mouth & you're hooked.

Regardless of who is affiliated with who, good beer is good beer. :)

PEBKAC, May 29, 2007
Photo of dickroop
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a 2-finger head of ice-cream colored foam. Ale was hazy, honey colored with lotsa bubbles. The nose was restrained, but with definite hop flavor, crisp and a little yeasty.

This ale has a very traditional "bitters" taste, a very nice balance of citrusy hops with caramel malt backbone. The mouthfeel was a little sticky with pleasant carbonation.

Drinkable, widely available, a good go-to choice if it is available where you are, but not a beer I would go to great lengths to have again.

dickroop, May 28, 2007
Photo of beeragent
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My mother got this for me, when she was on a trip to Chicago. Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz. bottle. The beer pours a deep amber, forming a light 1/4 inch head. Medium rings of lace stick to the sides. The aroma is a nice balance of hops and malts. Not too complex, but very appealing. The taste is sweet malts, followed by a nice caramel flavor, and finishing with light smooth citrusy hops. Again, nothing really complex, but the simplicity makes this brew high enjoyable. Smooth medium mouthfeel. This is a session ale!! Great flavor and body, and decent abv. What else could you ask for in a brew. Highly recommended. The only downside to this, is once I finish the sixer, I'm out of luck on getting any more. Godbless you Mom!!!

beeragent, May 26, 2007
Photo of bluegrassbrew
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a slightly hazy ambery orange color with minimal head that drops quickly to nothing.

Smell is of sweet malts and bittering English hops.

Taste is good. Slightly sweet malt, bread and just a hint of caramel.

Just a bit too thin, but very drinkable. Overall a solid bitter that I would never turn down.

bluegrassbrew, May 19, 2007
Photo of letsgopens
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Goose Island Honker's Ale pours rich amber gold with a nice white head that fades into a bit of lace.

A Clean, slightly hoppy aroma is pleasant but not very pronounced. The flavor, thought, more than made up for the slight lack of nose.

This beer is one of the best examples of a great nutral ale that I can think out. Smooth and flavorable with a buttery, malty sweetness that fades into a nice bitter finish. A wonderful balance of of flavors.

The mouthfeel is smooth with a perfect amount of carbonation that makes for a clean and refreshing swallow. I could drink this beer everyday.

letsgopens, May 10, 2007
Photo of Phocion
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a 16 oz. tulip. Beautiful golden-amber color with a thin but bubbly white head, which doesn't last long but fades into a small frothy array of bubbles sitting on top of my beer.

Aroma is somewhat buttery and soapy with a hint of caramel and a huge collection of fruits. Apricot, grapefruit, peaches, and others. Light citric hops.

The taste is actually much better than I expected. Very fruity but only mildly sweet. Roasted and light caramel malts, with just a hint of nuttiness. Light taste of grapefruit hops, just enough for the balance.

Very crisp and zesty. This one isn't anything spectacular and there are probably better classic examples of an English bitter out there, but nonetheless it is a very mild, refreshing, and tasty easy drinker at a decent price.

Phocion, May 07, 2007
Photo of shadow1961
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Goose Island Honker's Ale pours out a finger of foam over a cloudy, peach colored
brew. The nose is barley malt, and carbonation is steady. The flavor is malt and herbal
hop. There's not much of an aftertaste- a touch of that hop is all. Mouthfeel is a bit thin,
but clean. A brew I could drink all day long. Tasty.

shadow1961, Apr 25, 2007
Photo of Illini5596
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Head was barely present, less than an inch, faded in a minute or so. Deep brown amber in color, somewhat opaque.

Smell is rather earthy and pleasant, but not very distinctive.

Taste is rather pleasant, with a decent body. Begins smooth and transitions to notes of sharpness and hops, then moves to an almost sweet and earthy taste with lingering sharpness. Very crisp, refreshing and a bit spicy with hints of citrus, and a somewhat dry aftertaste (not a bad thing).

A very pleasing beer, very drinkable. The only think that leaves to be desired is the appearance and lack of a nose to the beer. An excellent bitters, and good session beer.

Illini5596, Apr 16, 2007
Photo of jar2574
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours without any head. Appears a brown, caramel color. A relaxing looking beer.

Smells a little sweet, malty. It's a pleasant smell, though it isn't bold or strong.

Tastes delightful. Well balanced, with a hint of chocolate or sweetness. A creamy residual on your tongue.

I could drink quite a few of these. The first pint went very quickly.

jar2574, Apr 11, 2007
Photo of JoeyHotrod
4.25/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quite a beer here and one I'm revisiting after an extended layoff.

The beer upon being poured, looks amber and doesn't have much in the way of a head.

The scent is underwhelming and definitely not a strong point. Not bad per say.. just not alot of substance. There was a little malt backbone and a slight fruity aspect.

The taste however is quite good and might make me a fan of the style (a style I will admit to not sampling many of)

Dare I say near perfect hop and malt match? Neither one overpowers the other and instead they work in splendid harmony.

This is quite the session brew. The low ABV makes it ideal for such a situation and the balanced taste makes it even more so.

JoeyHotrod, Apr 09, 2007
Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,242 ratings.