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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,417 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,417
Reviews: 1,044
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 12.02%
Wants: 64
Gots: 386 | 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.
View: Beers (210) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,417 | Reviews: 1,044 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RedBaron
4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one of those great beers that have been around a while, and many folks in Chicago (and elsewhere) take it for granted.

Appearance: Beautiful brilliant bronze color with a white-ish head that sustained well.
Smell: A nice whiff of biscuity malt combined with just a faint grassy hop nose. Understated nicely.
Taste: a low malty sweetness pervades the beer, biscuity to beer sure, but it finishes with a nice flurry of a level bittering hop (perhaps an English varietal?). Delicious!
Mouthfeel: Balanced well throughout; clean.
Drinkability: this is a good English bitter-style ale that is quite easy drinking. The abv on this beer may only be around 4%, but it is such a high quality product with beauty throughout that I would recommend it to anyone - beer novice or beer aficiando - for a sublime taste of a sessionable ale made with love and character. This may not be the one for the hop heads out there, nor for the "give-me-a-strong-effing-beer-NOW!" crowd, rather it is for the folks who appreciate the subtleties in their beer. Oh, and you can drink several pints of these in the pub without falling down!

Photo of jdflyer06
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottler poured into an Arrogant Bastard pint glass

A: Nice golden, copper color, slight haze with a light head that dissipates quickly, even after a fairly aggressive pour.

S: Toasted malt, light sweetness, a bit of burned sugar, some floral and spice notes but fairly subdued overall.

M: Carbonation is just about right, with a dry finish that ends clean.

T: Stiff malt character with a bit of a hoppy finish, but not aggressive. Some earthy notes with a slight hint of bitter chocolate/coffee. Woody and dry.

D: Overall, not quite what I expected. The malt is certaintly present, but it lacks much in the way of flavor for my palate. Easily sessioned. Overall not great, but not hateful either.

Photo of KBomb
4.02/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Nice copper body, one finger of slightly tan head. First whiff is a subtle smack of grapefruit peel, grain, and a background note of some other fruit that I can't quite identify. Taste is subdued at first; a little more floral hops and clean grain flavors followed by a bitter little chaser. I'm not opposed to mild hop flavor, but this beer tastes slightly one-dimensional. Super sharp mouth feel, each drink scrapes the palate clean for the next. Fairly light bodied considering the flavor, good drinkablity.

As its been noted by other reviewers, malt sweetness is pretty minimal in this brew-- and the hop profile puts it on the bitter side of average. That being its only defect, its still a solid session beer. A good "Go-To" beer when you're not sure what you want.

Photo of biggred1
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tawny, hazy amber bronze with a fine white cap that leaves sliding lace behind. The nose is hoppy, grapefruit and pineapple notes with caramel malt. The flavor is dry and fruity with a clean citrusy hop bite with just enough caramel maltiness to balance. Creamy and fairly light bodied. One of my favorite examples of the style, a fabulous session ale.

Photo of Jmoore50
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got into O'Hare late morning yesterday and figured, what the hell, so got a few Goose Island brews on tap. Good stuff.

The appearance is nice, has a red-golden-beautiful appearance to it. Has a nice light white foamy head. The girl poured it light, I like the rougher pours and with one the brew could had a respectable head. I enjoyed the color and scent of this brew.

The smell was good. Had a spicy hop smell that was an overwhelming characteristic. It also smelled of grain and sugars. Real beautiful when you went in for a drink because the smell was really strong. Real fun.

The taste was good. Like the smell it had a great spicy taste. It also had a oak chip or wooden taste to it. I think it was the aroma and scents of maybe a burnt wood. Really good.

The mouthfeel was good, hoppy. The drinkability was also good, considering I got two of them at around ten in the morning. Overall good brew.


Photo of bsp77
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Tulip.

Appearance: Burnished amber with small head, and only slight lacing. Overall flat look is expected for style.

Smell: Sweet caramel malts, with slight citrus.

Taste: Not nearly as sweet as the smell suggests. The malts are mostly dried out, slightly tea-like. Nice mild bitterness at the end. Overall, it is subdued but flavorful.

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

Drinkability: Very nice drinkability, and one of the better American made session beers.

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

Bottled 12/23/08.

Appearance - Bright, clear burnt orange. One inch, slightly off white, soapy head with splotchy lacing.
Smell - Citrus, pine.
Taste - Grapefruit, slight toasted malts.
Mouthfeel - Smooth mouthfeel with a light body and moderate carbonation.
Drinkability - Easily drinkable / sessionable.

Photo of bwd110
3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Wild Fire in Schaumburg

A: Decent copper color with a nice bone fluffy head. Head dissipates quickly leaving light lacing, but notches the glass really well between sips.

S: Not too impressed here. Tough to detect almost anything from the nose. Real faint aroma of citrus hops, and an almost grainy smell. Again, very faint.

T: Really impressed, especially after trying, and failing, to get some decent olfactory hues from this one. Very hoppy for the style, in a good way. Citrus flavors dominate which is backed up by a sturdy, sweet malt base. Quite well balanced and damned tasty.

M: Crisp, medium body, good amount of carbonation. Quite refreshing.

D: Very sessionable. Had about 4 or 5 of these tonight over the course of a long dinner. Would definitely buy a case of this for an easy drinking summer evening if I could get this at home.

Good second impression from Goose Island.

Photo of OzarkElmo
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From draft - orange/amber with medium off-white head. Citrus hops aroma. Well balanced beer and flavorful for me. Malts are evident, but more hoppy than I expected. It was the best offering of the night at a fundraiser, and enjoyed it much more than all the Bud products that were offered, including "Hophound". Finishes mildly bitter and IMO a very good session beer. Cheers!

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

Well, when I tried this in the bottle I literally noticed such a negligible difference from the tap that nothing would be affected in the rating. Thus, the review is the same.

The color is a clear, strong copper. The head pours nicely and leaves a foamy one-finger head and a couple rings of lacing at the top of the glass. Carbonation moves well.
There's a nice hops aroma to this one; malt with a little natural sweetness and some grains finish it off.
This one is also a really nicely balanced brew. A nice subtly sweet malt rounds out a really raw citrus hops flavor and some good toasted grains add to it. Simple but pure. Just good flavor.
Body is medium with a nice crisp, smooth mouthfeel. It's quite dry and the finish is also dry. Carbonation is light but lively.
Quite drinkable; a great session beer with a 5% ABV.

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

Appearance: Cloudy Mango/Orangey Amber with a fingers worth of head.

Smell: Granny Smith Apples

Taste: slight tartness with a sweetness. Granny Smith Apples/Cinnamon.

Mouthfeel: Rye-Like mouthfeel that dries out the palate for the next sip.

Drinkability: Session. I would if I could, but I have to get this from Chicago friends!

Photo of jsh420
3.71/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours coppery amber with a 1 finger head that leaves no lacing down the glass.

smell is of light malts and hops. taste has a very tobacco flavor with a nice hop finish.

mouthfeel is light and very sessionable.

this has summertime all over it

Photo of jdizzel
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a-looks like a great beer to be had

s-smells a good esb

t-this beer has great flavor good thing i bought a sixer real malty

m-very very smooth on the palate

d-one of the easiest beers to brink for me

deffinetly a good one by the goose island brewery almost perfect for its style will definetly be drinking more of these

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

easy drinking with a lemon and stale apple nose. with a light body. brownish light amber. with small head. palate of light lemon, german stale apple, and a mild smokey leather and a mild bitter. this beer has a nice breadiness. light body and very mild. easy drinking.

Photo of Durge
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I was surprised to see this on tap at the Torches On The Hudson restaurant in Newburgh, NY. And at first look and smell I was expecting big things. It had an amber-copper hue with a very purposeful sized white head and globby lacing a plenty. The aroma suggested a full bodied brew with some malt character and citrus and brown bread. However, I was disappointed in tasting it to find a surprisingly watery citrus/grass hop concoction lost in a somewhat sweet but wishy-washy malt. It just seemed odd that the same beer that looked and smelled good would taste so whimpy. It was not a bad beer, I could see the connection as a bitter, but it was not something I would buy again based upon this sample. Worthy of a try if you like a thin bitter that is easy drinking. I pick up a bit of grass on this that just is not my favorite flavor for any style brew.

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

Poured into Sam Adams Sensory Glass.

Pours a 1 and 1/2 finger head. Kind of fizzy and off-white. Color is a golden copper; pretty much clear.

Aroma is of carmel, musky hops, and some bready notes.

The taste is very balanced. Nice earthy hops mixed with bready and carmel malts. There is also some kind of zest in the background.

Mouthfeel starts out bitter on the palate then it gets more smooth and easier to drink. Leaves a very dry aftertaste. Low carbonation in the glass.

Overall, this is a very easy to drink beer. Another sessionable beer from GI. However this isn't anything too special about it (not saying that's a bad thing).

Photo of rkinsella
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottling date was less than 2 months ago. Plus, I love the fact that Goose Island doesn't pasteurize their bottles.

Appearance - Light amber with a slight haze, better than average head, with okay retention and lacing. Bubbles rising for the whole glass.

Smell - Bread/crackers, with a touch of floral hops. A bit of brown sugar too.

Taste - Almost exactly as it smells. Biscuit maltiness, sweetness, evened out with sturdy hops. Slight grapefruit on the finish. Slight citrus aftertaste. Very clean and fresh.

Mouthfeel - Creamy, lower carbonation, medium body.

Drinkability - 2 or 3 would be the absolute minimum for this beer. Excellent session beer that keeps your interest.

This is a near perfect English Style Bitter for me. Perhaps a bit on the hop side, but it seems to have a little bit of everything. And the hops might even keep the interest of a "hop head" for a brew or two. Can't wait to try it on tap.

Photo of shanem
3.47/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: copper/amber

S: slightly malty with a bit of hop scent

T: light flavor, carried the hops and had a touch of citrus. well balanced by the malt and a bit dry

M: pretty light

D: smooth, and could go through several, probably a good session for the style, personal drinkabilty would be a little lower as I didn't find anything incredible about it.

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

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

A: Nice amber coloring, head minimal. Mild carbonation. Solid looking brew but nothing spectacular.

S: Clean smelling with just a hint of hops and malts. Very nice nose.

T & M: Malt is not as apparent as I would expect it be me. The finish is definitely on the hoppy side but not overwhelmingly so. I agree with other reviews that this brew is a little off balance but that it is not necessarily a bad thing.

D: Very drinkable and sessionable. I wish I could get this brew in DFW, unfortunately had to drink to pick on road trip to Arkansas. Hopefully someday it will be available in the metroplex.

Photo of hardy008
3.47/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a medium to dark amber color with less than a 1/4 inch head which dissipated quickly. No lacing.

Smell - Slight malt aroma.

Taste - Sweet and malty. Light hops present. Slight bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Light bodied with low carbonation.

Drinkability - A decent drinkable beer, not overpowering at all. Somewhat above average.

Photo of naterock
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into a perfect pint glass. Displays a nice two finger head and keeps a good filmy head all the way down with a good lacing. medium copper with a brownish hue.

smell is malty and sweet with a twinge of eyast and maybe some alcohol. I get a slight grassy hop aroma.

Tastes quite fair. well balanced with a toffee notes and a earthy and grassy hop. A good slightly citrusy nuance in the aftertaste must mean there is some domestic hops in here.

mouth is crisp and a litle overcarbonated but is necessary for the bitterness. Drinkability is high and is refreshing.

Photo of WakeandBake
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A cloudy copper color with a two finger offwhite head . Aroma of spicy hops and a nice sweet toasted malt. Flavor starts slightly sweet and turns to spicy/piny hops with a mild bitterness. A very clean and fresh mouthfeel and finish. light body, light carbonation. A very nice session beer.

Photo of gpogo
3.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Hazed copper with a cream off-white head. Lots of visible carbonation.

A- Light hoppy grapefruit aroma and slight malt aroma.

T- Moderately high hoppiness with a slight phenolic taste. Nice malt flavor, I'm getting some toasty biscuits and a bit of caramel sweetness. Finishes on the sweet side. Despite that I feel it has a very interesting flavor, not so one-dimensional.

M- Medium bodied with moderately high carbonation. I would have liked the carbonation to be toned down.

D- It's definitely a tasty beverage, there are a few stylistic flaws. Carbonation too high, sweet finish, haze.

Photo of JoeBloe
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had a couple of these on tap last nite @ 12 grapes in peekskill -
this was certainly the standout choice amongst the others available - looks nice in the glass, amber with a tight 2 finger head - faint aroma of fruit and maltiness - a nice and well balanced ale, goes down real easy - smooth and tasty, without feeling heavy - good stuff.

Photo of greengorilla
4.45/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass. The color was a light brownish orange with a decent white head and good lacing.

The smell was good with a citris and hoppy scent.

The taste also was good with citris and medium hops presence.

The mouthfeel was smooth.

This beer is very drinkable. I could drink several in a session. This is a beer that I can see myself keeping on hand most of the time.

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,417 ratings.