Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,047 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,047
Hads: 3,583
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 9.81%
Wants: 78
Gots: 527 | 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: 1,047 | Hads: 3,583
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)

Photo of gcamparone
3.87/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Bruery tulip glass.

A- Pours clear, copper colored body with a white 1" head that reduces slowly, leaving thick blotchy lacing.

S- Very nutty, caramel, bread, dry malt aromas.

T- Very dry and subtle in flavors on the tongue, but it's very well balanced and drinkable. Almonds, nutty, caramel, biscuits.

M- Easy drinker, medium-light body with medium carbonation.

A very sessionable, balanced brew. I'd recommend this to anyone who's getting into craft beer. (500 characters)

Photo of Scotchboy
3.52/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap @ Bardenary Eagle ID.

A: Clear gold.

S: Bready malt sweetness, a bit floral. English ale yeast is apparent.

T: Very plain and clean flavors. A bit fruity (yeast I'm guessing) and floral. Very bready malt backbone with low bitterness, maybe some citrus rind. Pale biscuit. A bit dry on the finish. Clean and crisp.

MF: Smooth, light body.

O: I've had better English Bitters, DBA comes to mind as well as Surly's offering. This is decent but not special. (464 characters)

Photo of BeernerdJeff
3.52/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance-poured golden amber into pint glass. Thick white head after hard pour, quickly dissipated into nice ring around glass.

Smell-nice malt smell with slight florals coming through.

Taste-Malt flavor upfront, followed by a bit of bitterness.

Mouth-light to medium body, good carbonation, dry but refreshing.

Overall, this is a good a beer. It is touted as an English bitter but is not as bitter as other beers I've had in this category. That said, still a solid beer that is very drinkable. Will enjoy several during the Super Bowl tonight! (553 characters)

Photo of Aaron_Ramson
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful copper with perfect clarity and a dense lingering white head. Nose is of biscuity, bready malts, fruity yeasts, some buttery undertones. Taste is very mild with chewy minerals and grains up front; crisp hop bitterness and cooked cereal at the end. Not overly carbonated with a medium thin mouthfeel. Very English in character and light enough to enjoy several at a sitting. A true English style bitter. (420 characters)

Photo of Kidshelleen51
3.16/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

They call this a brew in the style of an English Bitter. Having had many pints of bitter across many pubs in the south and middle of England, I don't think it compares. For me, it's a bit too malty to be considered a pint of bitter. It's not a bad beer by any means but I find it more like a brown ale than anything else. And since I'm a true IPA guy this beer left me disappointed. (382 characters)

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

12oz bottle served at Field's in the Wisconsin Dells. Poured into an unlabeled glass today, 1/19/2014.

Pours a clear medium amber-mahogany body with a nice 1cm white head that holds for a bit, but recedes quickly. Some lacing as the beer goes down.

Smells- orange peel, marmalade, biscuits, bread, caramel. More of the marmalade than others.

Flavour- crisp orange peel with bread and caramel, bitter floral finish.

Thinner bodied yet not watery. Solid carbonation, crisp and not too dry but loses quite a bit of it as it warms up.

Good English bitter, easy to session. Perfect for what it is and what they advertise it to be. (631 characters)

Photo of Mike_Moe
3.64/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: This beer is amber brown color with a small light brown head.
Aroma: Light malty, slightly hoppy.
Flavor: Light malty, smooth taste with a slight hoppy finish, medium light bodied.
Overall: A good smooth medium-light bodied beer, with a slight hoppy finish. Very drinkable (285 characters)

Photo of kaplunk02
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: A nice amber color with an off-white head about 1-1/5 fingers tall that dissipates but leaves a bit of lace on the glass.

S: Smells of citrusy hops, malt and caramel.

T: Tastes of citrus and then of bread. It's a bit floral and bitter at the finish.

M: Nicely carbonated and crisp.

O: This is one of Goose Islands better brews and lucky for me (being from Chicago) you can find it at many places nowadays. A great session ale in my opinion. (489 characters)

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

Appearance: Copper shade, with a fair amount of foam and noticeable carbonation.

Smell: Caramel, earthy grains, and floral hops.

Taste: Earthy grains, floral hops, caramel.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied, dry and crisp. Slightly bitter aftertaste.

The Verdict: Good beer. An ESB with decent balance and nice flavor, this one surprised me. I wouldn’t mind an occasional six-pack. (387 characters)

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
85 out of 100 based on 1,047 ratings.