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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,379 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,379
Reviews: 1,036
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 63
Gots: 340 | 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:
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: 3,379 | Reviews: 1,036 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mizzourah
3.4/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Clear, amber color with one inch white head that dissipated rather quickly.

S- Nothing jumps out, just a nice balance of malts and hops.

T- It tastes like it smells. The label says it has a nice balance of malts and hops, and I agree. There is some bready malts at first and then a small dose of citrusy hops but neither is overwhelming.

M- Decent carbonation but it's somewhat watery and doesn't leave much of an impressions in this regard.

D- Drinkability is where this beer stands out. It has a low ABV, between 4.3-5 depending on who you believe, making it very sessionable. I've easily thrown down a few pitchers of it with friends. The nice balance that doesn't make anything particularly standout also makes it a very drinkable beer.

Photo of jujubeast6000
2.9/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed 6/8/2007 (Tap @ Navy Pier Beer Garden, Chicago, IL):

Pours with a big foamy whitish head, lasting. Has a bitter hoppy aroma, somewhat malty, but weakish. A nice sweet taste, not overly hoppy or malty. Has a decent taste. Kind of an apple kind of taste.

Photo of UDbeernut
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

had on tap at a local watering hole, poured into standard pint glass

a: pale copper color with a silky 1/2" head with nice retention, slgiht carbonation

s: slight malt aroma mixed with citrus

t: soft malt flavor, well balnced with hop and citrus bittermess. Slightly dry malt/biscuit finish

m&d: slightly thin mouthfeel, but overall a nice beer. Deffinatly sessionable. I had 3 total during my session and was not phased.


Photo of DesMoinesMike
2.97/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The medium amber body looked pretty until I saw all the flake-like floaties, that was rather off putting. There was almost no noticeable aroma, that was odd. There was a noticeable amount of hoppy bitterness that lingered on the back of my tongue, just slightly above the level I'm use to, but tolerable.
Overal, it doesn't have any attribute that stands out as memorable or very enjoyable. I'm just not digging this one.

Photo of kimcgolf
3.26/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

May not be giving this one a fair shake. Actually had it at the Monday night Bear-Packer game. Head quickly froze on the sides of the glass. At that temp, no nose or flavor was evident and the mouthfeel was simply....cold. The 5 percent alcohol was not nearly enough to break thru, although I could have used about 10% or more. I will look to try this one again.

Photo of SwiftyMcBeer
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a hazy gold with a really thick white head. Decent looking, but not a stand-out. Smelled very nice, nothing jumps out at you, just a nice mix of hops and malt.
The taste was very mellow and inviting as well. The hops were there with a slight bitterness and the beer was lively on your tongue but in a pleasant polite way. A very nice tasting beer that you could drink all night long. This beer wants to be you to be comfortable in it's presence. It isn't looking to dominate your attention. This beer knows you have other things to be doing when you drink it and that's it's job is to be enjoyable and pleasant and add to your evening. Okay, I am anthromoporphizing a bit, but this beer achieves the goal of a pleasant session brew with flying colors.

Photo of steveh
4.4/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Haven't reviewed Honkers in all this time -- to review as an English Bitter, or APA -- that's the question. Bottled on 11/17/08.

A -- Deep, sort of hazy, gold color with a thick, cream colored head.

S -- Mellow balance of piny and citrus hops with some earthiness back. Inviting aroma.

T -- Mellow citrus hops followed by light biscuit malts, finishing in a piny bitterness at the back of the throat.

M -- Light body with a soft mouth-feel.

D -- Outstanding. The Goose web site says this brew is 4.3, BA says 5.0. Not sure where it falls, but it's smooth goin' down.

Updated with a new, 01/05/09 batch. Yum.

Photo of adamette
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle exactly like the one pictured above into my Cooperstown Beverage Trail pint glass.

A Nice frothy big bubbled head which leaves in about a minute over a honey translucent body.

S A distant bitterness, possibly from hops. A nice, appropriate to the style smell I would say.

T Nice malt and hops, neither one to any extreme and I agree with the label which suggests a good balance of both. A really nice ESB and a nice tribute to the English Pubs that were visited (also mentioned on the label. This is now I like to taste hops, well balanced with malt.

M Moderate with that balance of hops and malt.

D Really quite good. I can see having many of these on tap in pints (and even in England!).

Notes: Glad that I tried this. It is my favorite Goose Island offering to date.

Photo of jeremyd365
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orangy amber with a light tan head that disapeared quickly. Smelled of a sweet malt with some citrus, with maybe a little hop in there. Pretty pleasant to whiff, pretty pleasant to quaff as well. Has a low medium body with a bittersweet finish. Pretty drinkable as well. Very flavorful--definitely recommend.

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

A: medium amber color. Full finger with good lacing

S: Hops are apparent, but not overpowering, english in hop nose

T: very english. Hoppy, but not overpowering, malts are more prevalent. Tastes how it smells, but with a nice pleasant finish. .

M: Smooth, slight crispness after the fact, but is just how it should be

Drinkability: Highly drinkable, enjoyed greatly.


Photo of Tone
3.49/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear golden/amber color. 1/2 inch head with slight retention and slight lacing. Smells of sweet malt, citrus hops, hint of pale malt, hint of yeast, and a hint of biscuit. Fits the style of an English Bitter. Has a sharp and crisp feel, with an average low carbonation level. Tastes of hops upfront with a good sweet malt background, hint of pale malt, slight yeast, and a hint of biscuit . Decent beer overall; decent body, aroma, and blend.

Photo of jjazz
3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Oldish bottle (about 6 months)

Pours an orangey gold with a nice looking head. No lacing.

Aroma is of subdued hops...I bet this was pretty good fresh.

Mild citrus and toast on the palate. Perceived bitterness is actually quite low.

Very watery mouthfeel with ample carbonation.

I gather that this beer is all about the hops, so I'll have to give it another shot with a fresh bottle (GI recommends nothing older than 110 days).

Not at all bad right now, but not impressive or very distinctive either.

Photo of SmithwicksNut
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - hazy rust color with a white head that fell to a ring and left some streaks of lacing.

S - earthy hop aroma.

T - good balanced taste, sweet malt and bitter hop flavors are well blended throughout.

M - light, crisp and refreshing.

D - Overall a good beer.

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

Reviewed on 10/22/08. Bottle, bottled 6/30/08. Pours a clear orange with a small white head. Aroma of toast and crackers. Flavor of buttery toast, nice toasted malt with a touch of light fruits and floral hops. Very good EPA, not sure why people don't like it...lots of toast and slight fruitiness. Yum!
7/4/7/4/15 (3.7/5)

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

Appearance: This brew pours as a medium amber color. The head is full but not overflowing. Lacings are plentiful. Excellent first impression.

Smell: The aroma is a light bready malt. Presence is not overpowering. Perhaps even a little light for an English style bitter. Aromatic hops are present and compliment the malt quite well.

Taste: The taste is quite smooth. The traditional heavy hops flavor permeates the body. Sustain is rather chopped, but this provides a crips presence to this brew rather than a stale bitterness. The hops appear to be of English extraction. Additionally the malt has an English presence also.

Mouthfeel: The flavor curve is very subdued for an English Bitter. The flavor does not croud the palate and the sustain ends with the palate clean and ready for the next sip. Overall the mouthfeel is very impressive.

Drinkability: Once again, the character of this brew is highlighted by the crisp flavor finish. Generally, this brew has a great bitter flavor but none of the harsh aftertaste sometimes seen in American versions of this brew type. This brew is recommended for tailgate parties and BBQ's.


Photo of inhoc00
3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

GI Honker's pours golden amber with small head and nice lacing. Not much to smell, yeasty and bit of hops. Nice light bitter taste from the hops mixed with very light caramel. Medium carbonation. Perfect session ale. Available year round in the pub pack in chicago.

Photo of jbphoto88
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a few bottle's of this while on a layover in Chicago O'hare airport. I was given the choice between this beer or the macro's. Hmmmm tough decision. Honker's is apple cider brown and slightly hazed. Little head with almost no retention. The only thought is it looks like an English bitter to me.

Smell is faint with malts with a light touch of hops. Thin is an understatement. I get almost no scent from this beer. The hops are barely detectable and only as a light bitter spice. The malt is just shy of nonexistent.

The taste on the other hand is completely different from the nose. A very palatable dry malt kicks off and quickly turns sweet. Mixed with a soft bitterness that lingers well into the finish. A welcome turnaround from the lack of aroma.

Smooth, dry and deceptively good. Again I am pleased by Goose Island. This beer has such a clean, balanced "beer like" flavor that it is exactly what I think of when someone asks me what does beer taste like.

Photo of colts9016
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A golden ambler color with a thin white head.
Nose is citrus, malt and hints of yeast and esters.
Taste is hoppy with a fresh balance of malt. There are notes of citrus, floral and tart apples.
Overall: The finish is clean and quick a very good ale from Goose Island

Photo of Chugmonkey
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is simplicity at it's finest. Kudos to Goose Island brewers for this gem.

Light amber colour, decent off white head, some lacing. Aroma is very pleasant and inviting, somewhat toasty.

Taste is very balanced, a perfect blend of bitterness and sweetness. Mildly toasty and bready. Finishes very clean and slightly dry. I love the crispness.

Feel is super smooth, a touch dry, carbonation is perfectly smooth.

This is hard to beat on tap after walking 18 on a hot day. Very refreshing, no overpowering flavors to get sick of. Just a great middle of the road beer I can't seem to find fault with. The crispness makes you want more as you finish your last swig.

Photo of ProfessorHomer
4.09/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An English bitter, a rare type of beer found here in the States, and this is an outstanding one!

A: nice mahogany reddish amber color. Nice head.

S: subtly floral but fresh, like a shy Pale Ale.

T: very nice balanced beer with a contained bitter, dry finish. Taste changes and evolves as the pint slowly empties and warms a bit. Nice, nice, nice!

M: solid.

D: a very nice, enjoyable, happy pint (or two!).

Found this Chicago brew (on tap!) very unexpectedly in a sports bar in Westchester, NY. Never, ever saw it in NY, ever. Sitting on tap amongst routine NY fare like Sam Adams Lager, Heineken, Guinness and Labatts, I was rather doubtful. But the good bartender said it was pretty popular (although he had absolutely no idea what style it was). Lo and behold, I was very, very pleasantly surprised with this beer. This is my first Goose Island product and I am very, very impressed.

Thumbs way up from Professor Homer!

Photo of paco1029384756
3.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear orange color with one finger of white head.

Scent of bready malts, caramel and some notes of grass from the hops.

Taste is comparable, a little more grain and bitterness than the scent with a hint of tea as well.

Mouthfeel is a little oily and uneven, but light.

Overall this is a solid beer, though not my favorite offering from Goose Island.

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

Old dependable Honkers. All of Goose Islands, genuity, brewing and good business sense are behind this ale.

Pours medium color with a white head. Middle weight. Readily available. Gives you just enough hop flavor to keep going, but will not overpower anyone. Low enough ABV to enjioy all night. GI is smart to make this somewhat of it flagship.

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

Ive been reading Garret oliver's Brewmaster's table, and the English Ale section got me in the mood for a nice bitter.
Goose Island's offering pours out a nice light ruby-tan color. Very nice slightly-tan frothy head, active carbonation. Head dissapears rather quickly, but nonetheless very decent looking brew.
Smells of light fruity bicuity malts,light almost grape-like aromas.The fruity sweetness and fresh bready aromas almost conjure up images of a jam covered bicuit! Very light accent of hops in the background,lending a faint citric finish.
Light bite of bicuity malts, dry finish, light bready flavors in the finish, slight bite of the fruity notes, not as apparent as the well-balanced bitterness presented in the taste.As the beer comes p to room temp, a nice red apple taste shows through. quite an interestin change
Drinkablity is great, this beer has a light touch, and a mouth-tingling sharpness in the finish that makes for a great session ale. Well balanced and executed

Photo of Douglas14
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice pale color with an awesome head. The smell us quite nice. It is hoppy and has a lot of floral notes also. The taste is similar but is very zesty. This is just a very nice all-around pale ale. Nailed the style right on but it could use a little more aggression in my opinion.

Photo of roadhouse
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

Appears a slightly hazy orange with golden highlights and a once inch off-white head that sinks down to a skim.

Aroma is of caramel malts, a bit of breadiness, some fruit, and some floral/earthy hops.

Taste begins with some mild caramel flavors followed by some fruitiness that stays until the finish. Bready flavors creep in right at the beginning and towards the end the floral and earthy hop flavors come out with a soft bitterness that lingers on.

Mouthfeel is medium-light, creamy carbonation.

This is a great session beer. Nice maltiness with a fair amount of hops.

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,379 ratings.