Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

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3,559 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,559
Reviews: 1,072
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 12.05%
Wants: 74
Gots: 498 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,559 | Reviews: 1,072
Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%

A very nice, easy drinking beer. Pours a nice light amber with an off white head. The smell consisted of bread and wheat scents with some grassy notes from the hops. The taste was mild yet very refreshing with mostly the malt being the focal point until the end where there was a nice crisp finish. A great everyday kind of beer.

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.3/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clearish copper color with lots of carbonation rising to the top. The head is two fingers high and off-white in shade. Retention is pretty good, but the texture of the head is even nicer (very whipped cream-like). Thick rings of lacing are left on the sides of the glass. (4)

Smell: It starts off with plenty of sweet caramel malts, and letting it warm up will reveal a touch of hopping. There isn't much else to the nose, but it smells a bit richer than its ABV might suggest. (3.25)

Taste: First, I pick up some of the earthy hops coming through, while the mid-taste and back end feature cracker-like maltiness. A touch of sweetness builds up on the palate, too. It's quite simplistic at the end of the day, but it's still hitting the spot nicely. (3.25)

Mouthfeel: Very light and sessionable without being bone-dry. That's the bare minimum I look for in a session beer. Carbonation is slightly higher than normal, though hardly oppressive. (3.25)

Overall: There's nothing amazing here, but it's a fine session beer regardless. Even among the style, it's not very complex. Still, as a means to wash pizza down, it's perfectly likable in my book. (3.25)

3.29/5: Let's just say I wouldn't be at all sad if I had to kill a six pack of this beer in a sitting

Photo of EHopkinsi
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Not overly bold, but easy to drink and refreshing.

Photo of surfcaster
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Had this one in Chicago with a deep dish Pizza.

Drank more like an American take off on an Octoberfest than an English bitter. Too sweet for me.

Photo of WillWillows
4/5  rDev +9.6%

I love bitter and cut my beer teeth in England. I find this to be as good a bitter as I got in many places there and better than others I have had here. I am a cellar temperature beer fan because freezing cold beer ruins the taste. I let this one sit for a couple of minutes after the pour into a dimpled mug and felt right at home mate. Sitting in Banbury at the Dog and Gun.

Photo of wellspj2002
4.5/5  rDev +23.3%

Drank some Honkers draft beer for the first time at a Baltimore baseball game and it
was excellent. Hot dog was good too.

I would of liked it in a chilled mug.....but it was served in a plastic cup....so that's why I
rated it a 4.5 instead of a 5.

Photo of Andyyyyyy
3.25/5  rDev -11%

Easy drinking beer but low abv so it kinda defeats the purpose. I judge my beer by ibu's and abv.

Photo of seedyone
2.75/5  rDev -24.7%

03/12/14 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Not the worst but not the best.

One commenter said they were glad to be drinking it at Shea Stadium. I'd have to agree with that because I know what has been offered in the past. Funny how in the early days of baseball most of the teams were owned by brewers. They're probably rolling over in their graves...or sloshing in their barrels...or...well you get the idea.

P.S. Just noticed the ABV is a mere 4.3, so what's the point?

Photo of Jon_Hendricks
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Appearance: Deep golden color.

Overall: It comes up just short of great. This beer has a great flavor but doesn't offer up enough flavor. With that said, this is a very solid beer that will satisfy your craving. Very tasty. The price is also very good!

Photo of JuddandMorgan
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%


Photo of AtrumAnimus
3.25/5  rDev -11%

This one pours a semi-cloudy gold with orange tint that has a slightly off white head that is thick, long lived and leaves moderate lacing down the glass.

The nose is weak but has a sweet malt bed that has a mild tinge of hops. Not much else there.

The taste is adequate, with a more fruity malt flavor and subtle hops that have earthy tones.

The mouthfeel is a bit watery for this style.

Overall it is drinkable, but not great. Drinkable but not memorable.

Photo of offthelevel_bytheplumb
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep golden color with a creamy, white, two finger head that
dissipates slowly into a cap and leaves a decent amount of lacing.

Aroma: Citrusy hops dominate in the nose, but it is far from overpowering. Backing up the
citrus is a touch of burnt caramel and buttery biscuits.

Taste: Very hop forward, but the malts do make more of an appearance as you get to the 3rd
one. Even then, the hop flavors are at the forefront of this beer.

Palate: The body of this beer is on the lighter side, and the carbonation level is about average.
The aftertaste is bitter, with lemon zest and bitter grapefruit shining through without
overpowering. Very easy to down a sixer!

Overall: It comes up short of great. My main critique of this bad boy is that the malts don't
offer up enough flavor and aroma to balance out the hops. With that said, I do get in the mood
to pick up a 12 pack of this quite often because it will satisfy your craving for a hop forward
beer because the hop flavors are very tasty. The price is also a big plus!

Photo of SteveJeremy
3.06/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - Reddish amber, poured thicker than I imagined with a solid, foamy, off-white head.

Smell - Smells of bitter hops and undertones of barley. Could go ether way, since I'm not a real fan of bitter beers.

Taste - Definitely not as bitter or as unpleasant as Ten Hills Pale Ale, but only barely acceptable in its bitterness. Starts off decent enough, with tastes of the hops mildly asserting their presence before finishing off with the bitterness I expected from the start.

Mouthfeel - Like the taste, it's acceptable but not remarkable, as the bitterness lingers for long after the beer is swallowed.

Honker's Ale is another okay offering from Goose Island, which finds itself sandwiched between the better, more drinkable 312 Urban Wheat Ale and the lesser Ten Hills Pale Ale. You could definitely session this, as its ABV is very low and it has just enough body to be a sustainable beverage even if you only plan to have one. It's a mixed bag, but it's definitely something to try.

Photo of JLSIV
3.72/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Tried this on tap, poured a nice deep amber color with a copper shade, head was 1 finger at first, soapy not tight, lacing was hard to describe since this was into a plastic cup at a ballpark.

The aroma was softer than I expected, very malty and somewhat sweet. I had a hint of cinnamon.

I thought the taste was a lot more malty than i expected in this style, but I like it! I would definitely buy this one again for the taste alone.

As to mouthfeel, for me personally this was one of the best mouth feels I had in a long time, much smoother and fuller than I expected in an English Bitter (albeit and American version). This was my first in this style, and it was so good, I would open up to more trys at other attempts and brands.

Overall, that last sentence says it all to me, I like this beer, and it now has me looking for other English Bitters. That is the mark of a good beer.

Photo of allengarvin
3.32/5  rDev -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.

Photo of BeerWithMike
3.15/5  rDev -13.7%
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.

Photo of slym
4.47/5  rDev +22.5%
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!

Photo of tmm313
3.74/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

Photo of Rasc
4.04/5  rDev +10.7%
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.

Photo of jrein0254
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Photo of Dope
3.74/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

Photo of BrettMRogers
3.61/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

Photo of Foyle
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
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

Photo of superspak
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

Photo of Zachior
4.12/5  rDev +12.9%
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!

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
83 out of 100 based on 3,559 ratings.