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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,055 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,055
Hads: 3,614
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 9.81%
Wants: 81
Gots: 554 | 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.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Honker's Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,055 | Hads: 3,614
Photo of allengarvin
3.32/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A: Good golden amber, clear, with an airy, frothy head.
S: Very light malt, hard to detect hops.
T: Hardly any bitterness to be found, on top of very grainy malt. Nothing of interest here at all.
M: Neutral texture, a tad watery.

Honker's never was a great beer, but it used to be better than this. Now it tastes almost like a macro. (336 characters)

Photo of BeerWithMike
3.15/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled back on 8/2/14 while grillin' some steaks and veggies. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured into a nonick imperial pint glass.

Pours a pretty medium/darker amber in color with about a half of a finger foamy white head that settles down pretty fast to just along the sides of the glass. Really no lacing is seen to speak of. Good carbonation. The aroma has a lot going on with caramel malts, bready yeast, with a hint of citrus, maybe orange. Pretty close to the aroma actually with a hint of spice with some sourness with a slight dry finish. Medium bodied. Different than some other brews. Not bad but not my style of brew for the most part. (679 characters)

Photo of slym
4.47/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a truly outstanding beer!!!

The pour out of a fresh bottle is nice, deep amber colour. The nose is great: malt, yeast, biscuit, bread, a little hops. The taste is indicative of the smell, with more of a hops expression. Mouthfeel is perfect, not too thin, not too fizzy.

I really like this, and am glad I tried it. This is the kind of beer I would want to drink all day! (380 characters)

Photo of tmm313
3.74/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- Clear amber color with a soapy, quickly dissipating, 1/2 finger head. Not much lacing.

S- Caramel, cracker, bread, a touch of orange, ripe apple, and something that reminds me of fresh hop funk. It seems like there may be some cinnamon in there, too.

T- Mirrors the nose pretty closely, but at times has a nice sour quality that comes through. Big bready, slightly charred aftertaste. Some peppery notes show up as well.

M- Medium light body. Not overly drying.

O- This one was pretty good. Mostly malt driven, but the hop characteristics added nice character. On the lighter side of the spectrum in all categories, but very easy drinking and sessionable. (666 characters)

Photo of Rasc
4.04/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found this beer to be very easy to drink. I poured it into a pint mug and the head stayed there for a bit. It looked like a work of art with the rich reddish amber tones. At 4.3 it's got some head room.

It's a kind of mild malty flavor with nice hints of hops. The after taste it left me I found very good as well. A sort of mild caramel taste. Very smokey sort of flavor, which is something I liked as well.

I will likely try their IPA and would definitely buy this again. (477 characters)

Photo of jrein0254
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Being a huge fan of English Ales, I figured I would like this. I immediately loved the aroma of malt and hops. It brought back memories of drinking real English ales on a flower filled patio at a restaurant in Bermuda. The head was nice, 1/2 inch, mouthfeel good, satisfying. The taste was good but a little too heavy on the hops for me. I like my ales slightly maltier, but it is supposed to be a bitter. Will definitely come back to this one. (444 characters)

Photo of Dope
3.74/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle dated February 26th, 2014. Almost 3 months old.

A: Pours a nice clear red. Tall, frothy and fluffy tan head. Good head retention with walls and walls of lacing.

S: Lightly floral with a little of citrus and sweet caramel. Touch of grass.

T: Grassy for sure. Quite grassy up front with a decent light bready malt. Decently bitter and grainy in the finish.

M: Nice smooth, almost fluffy medium body.

O: A nice bitter. Very grassy. Mouthfeel is top notch, very smooth and fluffy. Easy drinking. Simple but sessionable. (529 characters)

Photo of BrettMRogers
3.61/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

There is some real distinctive character in the taste. It has a smooth carmelly feel. I think this is your run of the mill pale ale, which means I love it. There wasn't much depth in the aroma, really had to patiently work to get what I got, a nice aroma is what heightens my anticipation and senses. (300 characters)

Photo of Foyle
3.42/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance-- pours a cream colored 1/2" head that recedes slowly leaving decent lacing. Color is amber/copper and mostly clear with abundant carbonation bubbles streaming.
Aroma-- very malty -- smells of slight cinnamon and a moist dough, such as a warm muffin from the oven, a peppery hop spice is also evident.
Mouthfeel-- mostly light, watery, and refreshing. Has a somewhat lager like mouthfeel with a dry finish, although there is some of the fluffiness which should be present in the English Bitter style. Flavor-- well balanced, hops are in the background and subservient to the malt. Flavors include a peppery and earthy hop spice, a rich bready malt (again like a fresh warm muffin, or a fresh whole wheat bread). There is some caramel and just a hint of cinnamon. This beer is not overly sweet and the aftertaste has a lingering citrus rind bitterness (863 characters)

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 12/3/2013. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy copper amber color with a 2 finger fairly dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of caramel, toast, biscuit, orange zest, herbal, grass, pepper, light pear/apple, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance of malt, hop, and yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, biscuit, orange zest, herbal, grass, pepper, light pear/apple, and toast/yeast earthiness. Good amount of earthy herbal/pepper bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, biscuit, orange zest, herbal, grass, pepper, and toast/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance of malt, hop, and light-moderate yeast flavors; with good robustness and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbontion and light-medium bodied; with a smooth, crisp, and slightly bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish as expected of 4.2%. Overall this is a very nice English bitter style. All around good robustness and balance of malt, hop, and light-moderate yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering. (1,357 characters)

Photo of Zachior
4.12/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

An immediate scent of caramel overwhelming the nose of this beer right into the very first thing you'll taste as it hits your tongue. The sweet is aided with a smokey body throughout, balancing this ale to exceptional levels! This style ale may not be for everyone though. The sweet, smokey, and bitter characteristics drive this beer home through the finish which doesn't grab me as anything out of the ordinary from what has become more popular in the states. Only the best qualities of this beer tend to linger, leaving this as a great beer in my book! (555 characters)

Photo of Andrew041180
3.72/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Arrived a clear amber color with about a finger's worth of head. The glass was most likely frozen, and the head diminished quickly. Little to no lacing. A nice, but typical appearance. Minimal visible carbonation.

S - I neglected to observe this category. I did not pick up on anything while drinking the beer.

T - Mild sweetness on the front end. Most like caramel, but lighter. A grassy kind of hops kick in on the back end where the beer begins to balance itself. I find the balance falls a little on the sweeter side, which I expected.

M - On the light side of medium-bodied. Few distinguishing characteristics.

O - This beer is better than the sum of its parts. It is a drinking beer, not a sipping beer. As such, it would go great at cookouts and parties. I would like to have three or four of these if I were going to have some beers with a friend. Unfortunately, it was my one for the night, and left me a little unfulfilled. Now I want more. Of this, or something else. Anything would suffice at this point. (1,024 characters)

Photo of Bonsall_Phil
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a chalice glass

Copper gold color, few bubbles. Poured gently, thin layer for head and dissipates quickly.

Crisp melon-like fruit on the nose with mild hopiness. Scent is very slight, very clean.

Tongue not far off, initial grassiness with forward malts. Bread flavor, not really bitter, clean and refreshing. I would prefer this on a hot summer day over a hef.

Light on the mouthfeel, it's very dry on the palette.

A little too light for my personal likes of an English bitter, but very drinkable. (530 characters)

Photo of GilGarp
3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled 12/10/2013 in Fort Collins, CO.

Served cold into a shaker pint glass, Honker's ale is a pale copper color with good clarity. It has about an inch of head initially but settles fairly quickly. A little lacing is left behind.

Aroma is malty and sweet with a caramel apple character.

Flavor is malt forward with the sweetness just being balanced out by some traditional English hops. It has a slight spice note towards the middle and finishes fairly dry, possibly because of the English yeast.

Mouthfeel is medium-light in body and appropriately carbonated. Balanced and drinkable. A good session beer.

Overall a really nice English bitter and a worthy staple in Midwest bars and pubs. (695 characters)

Photo of RustyTruck
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured in a shaker glass. Light auburn color with a light wheat colored head. The carbonation forms tiny bubbles that lightly stream to the surface.

The head on this on is thick and persistent, good qualities for a bitter or ale in my opinion.

The smell comes across as a light citrusy note with subtle hops. There is some barley in there but it's muted.

The taste is clean up front the middle is light malt with very little sweetness. The back-end is an almost untainted light bitter with none of the overpowering pine or citrus of an IPA. The aftertaste is somewhat of alcohol but does not linger very long,and the finish clean but not too dry.

This simply is a good beer. It's what it says on the tin.

It's a SIP in my opinion. (736 characters)

Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.28/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

Look: Clear copper body, light cream colored head with decent retention. Thick random lines of lacing initially.

Aroma: A well-balanced nose offering both caramel malt sweetness and tea-like hop bitterness.

Taste: Of there is any malt sweetness, it passes through pretty quickly in the beginning. What's left is a very strong black tea component which turns more bitter toward the finish. Taste not as balanced as the aroma.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, pretty smooth.

Overall: A pretty decent beer. Prefer a little more malt in the palate up front. (584 characters)

Photo of jeranbrews
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - golden color mild continued carbonation. Good clingy head.

S - Sweet mild. Creamy dents hints of hops and ballads of the malts to come.

T - rich filling malty

M - thick smooth filling and wonderful

D - pleasantly surprising. A great example of the style. (264 characters)

Photo of mfnmbvp
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, with bottled on date November 22, 2013 printed on the bottleneck. I was surprised to notice that I hadn't yet reviewed this beer, and since I had some in the fridge, I figured now was the time. My bottle lists a 4.20% abv, instead of the 4.30% abv listed on BeerAdvocate.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter.

A - Pours a nice bright coppery orange color with nice clarity and two fingers of frothy khaki head. Nice fat scattered lacing. Looks very nice.

S - Smell is mostly a malt bomb - bready / biscuity English malt, some crisp musty earthy yeast presence, and a kiss of hop fruitiness - strawberry, banana, apple / pear, & some creaminess. Slightly chalky.

T - Taste follows the nose - crisp, clean, bready / biscuit malts, touch of hop fruitiness, and some earthy yeast presence. Mildly grainy.

M - Feel is crisp, clean, malty, bitter, and dry on the finish. Much more of a bready sort of bitterness than a hop bitterness, like how I am normally used to. Light-bodied with good carbonation.

Overall, extremely easy-drinking, inoffensive, and accessible. However, it doesn't bring anything new to the table, and the depth and duration of flavors are somewhat lacking. Still, a tangible offering from a nice brewery that I would have again should the occasion arise.

Goose Island Honker's Ale ---3.5/5 (1,327 characters)

Photo of MrBoz21
3.6/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured bright and clear copper-golden with creamy white cap. Moderate carbonation.

Aroma: Pekoe, pear, toffee
Taste: Light malt, balanced bitterness, dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Slightly dry with some tingle. A bit of astringency.

Overall: Quite a tasty session ale and one that I could quaff regularly. A bit dry and watery although malt flavor is there. (353 characters)

Photo of illpass78
3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pint on tap at Gunther's in Northport, N.Y.

Appearance: Pours a dark, clear amber with a quarter-inch white head that recedes quickly.

Aroma: Some floral hops and some grassy bitterness, but mostly light in the nose.

Taste: Wow, this is bitter. The taste is much heavier on hops than the nose indicates. Hop bite really dominates the flavor. It's got a decent taste, for sure, but it's certainly best for folk who want heavy bitterness and moderate alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Solid body. It is what it should be.

Overall: I'm kind of surprised this is so popular. Not because it's bad - it's solid - but because the taste is so bitter that I wouldn't think it would have such broad appeal. I had a pint on tap because everything else on tap was either something I've had before or something bad. I could see myself having this again on those same terms. (851 characters)

Photo of Premo88
3.81/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle poured into mug
(bottled on Sept. 23, 2013; drank on 12/4/13)

L: orange-red ... or gold; crystal clear; 1/4-inch head of white to off-white foam, no stick from the head or no lacing; very nice collar; beautiful copper/amber looking at it with no light behind it but gold/orange with no amber up to light

S: yeasty and fruity; sweet bread; hint of grassy hops; lots of grain

T: super sweet and fruity, yeasty -- peaches; some grain; reminds me at times of sunny delight or orange juice; like the nose, just a hint of grassy (or spicy) hops

F: big carbonation, very light ... very drinkable

O: a perfect summer beer and a solid session beer at 4.2% ABV ... the beer I had was about 2 1/2 months old, and it was still quite good, perhaps a bit peachy but still very good. it's good enough that i'll look for a fresh 6-pack at some point. a solid brew that's easy drinking (887 characters)

Photo of M_C_Hampton
2.96/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A: on tap into a 22 oz mug at Applebee's after I orders a Moo-hoo and they fucked it up, amber colored with a medium white head that lingers leaving some lacing, clear

S: light smell of caramel and hops, not much

T: slight bitter hops up front, middle is a bit of malt, flavor is generic

M: medium to thin with high carbonation

O: I'm uninterested. I've had a bad night. (374 characters)

Photo of barczar
3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliant medium brown with copper highlights and a frothy cream head that slowly dissipates, leaving sticky lacing.

Floral hops and nutty, toasted malt form the initial aroma. Underpinnings of grassy hops emerge at the end, becoming earthy.

Hops dominate the flavor profile, as well. Floral hops underlie a toasted, nutty malt backbone, but they really carry throughout, stealing the show. The malt backbone is slightly toasted and nutty, finishing more sweet than bitter.

Body is moderate, as is carbonation.

Can't recall a more floral hop dominated beer. The sweetness is a touch overwhelming in the finish, but a good amount of hop character. (658 characters)

Photo of dacrza1
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

DATE TASTED: February 13, 2014... GLASSWARE: Kisatsky's Tavern pint...OCCASION: snow day half done--part two of the storm, beginning now ... APPEARANCE: classic amber body with steady effervescence; beautiful snow white head that creates wonderful, patterned lacing... AROMA: butterscotch, hazelnut, and light yet fragrant hops are counterbalanced by the expected English bitter malts...PALATE: active, medium bodied yet easy-drinking, as the label advertises...TASTE: bitter indeed--slightly abrasive bite tempered by unmistakable ESB maltiness--drinkable and enjoyable, but not overtly winning... OVERALL: a strong representation of the style, with the proper strength, mouthfeel and flavor to elicit a sessionable night; a second quality offering from Goose Island, after the 312 Wheat... (791 characters)

Photo of TheMirrorOwl
4.16/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear bright ambery copper, thick fluffy head that dissipates quickly, thick lacing. Definitely observable carbonation.

Smell: Floral, bready yeast, apple fruit ester.

Taste: Caramel, nut, fresh bread flavors that last throughout. Very flavorful malts. Fruit notes, apple floweriness, delicate citrus, some mineral.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, soft, a hint of grain. Carbonation is slightly more than I'd have liked to see, lends a tad of excess fluffiness. Overall, pleasant feel and easy-drinking.

Overall: Very tasty all-occasion ale. Having had numerous bitters around the UK, I think this is as accurate a take as I've seen from a US brewer (Left Hand also manages a pretty UK-esque balance). It reminds me a bit of Doom Bar Bitter from Cornwall. I could drink this every day. (794 characters)

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
85 out of 100 based on 1,055 ratings.