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Honker's Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,082 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,082
Hads: 3,725
Avg: 3.74
pDev: 21.93%
Wants: 87
Gots: 610 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States | website

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: 1,082 | Hads: 3,725
Photo of Zorro
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear orange to amber colored brew.

Smell is sweet and malty with a prominent biscuit malt scent. Not much hop odor, this one is on the malty side.

Taste is on the dry side with caramel-roasted malt flavor the strongest flavor. Mild but assertive hop bitterness in the finish, with a faint earthiness. This gets a bit more bitter as you drink it and a faint lemony hop flavor appears.

Mouthfeel is good.

Very good Drinkability. This is a tasty brew that is nearly perfectly balanced between mildness and assertiveness. Bold enough to stay interesting but not terrorize your taste buds. A beer that I can recommend.

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Photo of Southernbrew
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an orangey-amber with a decent bubbly head.

Aroma really shows off the hops with a nice citrusy grapefruit. Not overpowering, mind you, just noticable. Some grain as well.

Light bodied, crisp flavors. Citrus hops come first followed by a woody flavor as well as some grains. A light biscuit flavor comes in the middle and finishes with more dry citrus flavors. Malt is a bit underrepresented here, and while I love hops, it could use a bit more balance.

A nice pale, I remember liking it a bit more on draft when I visited the brewpub, but this is still plenty drinkable. It could also use just a bit more body.

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Photo of mattcrill
2.92/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Presentation: best if consumed by 1/31/05. Ok, fine.

Appearance: A nice cloudy orange amber pour with a white head. The head fades into a nice wispy white coating over the top of the beer.

Smell: Some wheat bread and yeast notes and maybe some carmel smells are up front. Not much else going on which is kind of disappointing.

Taste: follows the smell. Wheat bread and a slightly bittering taste that leads to a dry and slightly sweet carmel aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to light treading dangerously close to watery. A dry alcohol finish.

Drinkability: Easily a good session beer.

Notes: Good but not great. The lack of hop profile and strong wheat bread presence don't really seem to resonate with the APA style. Many other better examples out there especially in my neck of the woods (see GLBC Burning River Pale Ale).

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Photo of mynie
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice pour, amber with gold hues and a tight white head and good lacing.

Smells weaker from a tap. Sure enough, the trademark GI floral hops are still there, but much of the complexity it lost.

Same story with the taste. The hop bite at the end isn't as rough, which makes for better session drinking, but it comes at an overall loss of complexity for the beer. The nuttiness is faint and I can't taste any fruit at all. Just floral hops against a slight malt backbone.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden amber pour with hints of red and a bubbly off white head. Quite a nice aroma on this one...citric hoppiness mixes with some piney tones and a nice sweetness. I'm impressed.

Crisp, sweet caramel and pale malts meld with some nice citric and slightly piney hop flavors. A bit of bready flavor along with some nice bitterness on the way down. A nice showing from Goose Island.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with some nice carbonation. This is an APA that I could easily session...it rivals my favorite SNPA. I dunno why I didn't try this one earlier!

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Photo of BigRedN
3.98/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Part of the Goose Island Pub pack.

Appearance: Light amber in color, clear, nice big fluffy white head, at least 1/2-inch. Lingered for a while then fell back to a thin covering. Some lacing down the glass.

Smell: Most noticeable are the hops. Floral hops, and a little citrusy, almost lemon like.

Taste: Most definitely hopped, as one would expect from a good pale ale, although fortunately not overly done.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, lightly carbonated, not overpowering.

Drinkability: When in Chicago this is a must have (on tap in many places). Very good in the bottle. Even though I got only two of these in the pub pack, its one of the ones I would purchase again, in a six pack.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.03/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In appearance ,it is a very attractive,glowing amber beer.With some nice carbonation and a good sized bubbly white head. Some great lacing.
Good fresh aroma,malty and slightly hoppy.Slight caramel scent.
Quite malty ,caramel, in taste to start, thena nice hop bitterness, also slightly fruity.
pretty good on the tongue, slight dry finish and a nice aftertaste.
A nicely done Pale ale..great drinkability.

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Photo of BeerBob
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Honker’s Ale pours a fair reddish amber from a 12oz brown glass bottle. Huge head went well over three fingers before settling down to a light rocky top with ring and sheets of lace on the sides of my glass.

Nose is of pine and malt, the pleasant malt sweetness coursing in and out with each breath.

Major malt and pine greet the palate with waves of smooth malty ale that has been well hopped. Not too sweet a malt, but rather well tempered with a likable citrus note. An ale of world class awaits you from Goose Island and should not be passed up.

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Photo of Suds
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had a few bottles of Honker’s Ale recently with a nice pheasant dinner. Pours a clear, amber color with a slight white head: an average looking brew. The aroma is nice: floral, slightly musty hops, along with a caramel, mildly roasty maltiness. Medium body with relatively low carbonation. A bit on the sweet side, with a central maltiness. Well balanced, and has a very clean finish. It’s nothing outstanding, but is a drinkable, well-proportioned ale.

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Photo of clvand0
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours an amber color with a small white head that dies off quickly and leaves a small amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma is typical of an APA - grassy hop with a slight caramel backing. The flavor is a little sweet, but has the floral hops there with some malt to balance it out. Well-balanced APA.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured clear light amber with a low white head which lasted to lace the glass.

The aroma was hoppy and fruity with a slight caramel impression.

The flavor was fruity and hoppy with caramel and a nice bittering to balance.

The finish was dry with lasting hop bitterness long into the aftertaste. The body was medium.

12 ounce bottle. A nice APA.

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Photo of mobyfann
4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Paid $12.49 flat for the 'Pub Pack'...

The appearence wasn't anything special, unless I poured it wrong??? It was a classic amber base with a small white head, low retention, no lacing and not impressive for an average rating... this part is subject to change, hopfeully... The aroma is nice of a mild hoppy variety, like it's counterpart IPA this APA tends to carry it's hoppier cousins traits. Nice smell.

The taste is mellow and smooth, not as spectactular as I was assuming, but it is nice all-together. The M&D are high, the carbonation is low on this one and there is no sign of alcohol in this APA, other than that, I find this very drinkable and would highly promote it as a session beer.

Final Thought: Goose Island now 5 for 5 and at $6 a 6-pack this brewery is taking the place of where Great Lakes and Bell's formerly were as my prefered 'premium' drinking beer (for price, still in college).

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Photo of skybluewater
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12-oz bottle from a Pub Pak, freshness date "011705". Pours a very average amber color. Grapefruit dominates in the smell. Taste is of pink grapefruit. Mouthfeel is a bit thin (as is with most Goose Island beers, IMO).

Nevertheless, this is a good choice as a session ale, another average but highly drinkable Goose Island brew. Nothing really special, but you could drink it all night if you had to.

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Photo of finepaws
3.27/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a coppery orange. Small white head that laces the edges towards the end. Smells fruity and floral. Like citrus flowers. Tastes malty and fruity. Like grapefruit. Slightly hoppy. Has a rind taste. Salty. Very carbonated. This is a beers beer. Good with food. Not one I would choose again, simply cause it's not my cup of tea. But one worth trying.

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Photo of BJ1833
4.02/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5


Appearance: Thick white three-finger head. Hazy copper body with visible floating sediment (decanted entire bottle into pint glass).

Aroma: Sweet malt smell with sipcy, citrusy-hop aromas.

Taste: Biscuit-like malt flavors. A unrecognizable spice-like flavor present. Well balanced hop bitterness makes this refreshing and easy to drink.

Overall: Very tasty. My favorite from the Goose Island brewery. A great pale ale.

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Photo of ken3c
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very clear light copper. Half inch head leaves a layer of foam and intense lacing.

Smells slightly flowery.

Tastes intensely flowery but well balanced with sweetnes so that it's not overpowering. Dry finish. Actually the finish is rather abrupt. Disappointing in a way.

Light to medium body and moderately carbonated.

Very enjoyable if a little disappointing in the finish. I've discovered with this beer that a good finish really makes you crave another one.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.27/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light bronze color with a smallish head and absolutely no lace. The bubbles are sparse and really big. The aroma is of fruity malts (or yeast?) and cedary hops. The flavor is very well balanced with apples, biscuity malts, and very flavorful hops. Theres a spicey hop finish with a very crisp aftertaste. There is excellent carbonation and a very thick mouthfeel. Overall this is a very good beer.

note- The label says this beer is bottle conditioned but I couldnt see even the slightest bit of yeast sediment in the bottle and the beer poured very clear. go figure.... still a great beer.

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Photo of nomad
4.07/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

American Pale Ale? I beg to differ, this beer is an English Special Bitter, please...

Pours the softest of soft, hazy orange with a lustrous glow. The head on this ale sits quite well with a judicious amount of fair lacing.

Smells of lemons, light floral scents, some hop bushiness, and that indistinct byt typical light earthiness of English aroma hops. Flavors follow suit with caramel and roasty malts wrapped in plenty of minty, earthy, and floral hop flavors. Just enough hint of citrus fruit notes are mixed through out. A great example of how malts and hops can match and aid each other.

Now in the Midwest, this beer will always be around my fridge. Excellent session beer of medium body and moderate but full flavor.

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Photo of oracle
3.96/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle in a shaker style glass

Beer poured clear light copper. Unfortunately, there was very little head retention on the medium bodied half inch head.

Smell was a little more hoppy than I expected, but being an huge pale and IPA fan, this was not exactly a disappointment. Smelled clean, plainly hoppy with a undertone of oak or pine.

Taste was suprisingly good. Good hops all the way through, without being overpowering. Drank clean and easy, just like the smell.

Mouthfeel was average. no cloying aftertaste and not too much carbonation.

All-in-all, very good and very easy to drink. This will become one of the beers I buy in twelve packs and keep on hand all the time.

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Photo of jvajda
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: A fine looking ale without any outsanding characteristics.
Smell: Very lightly malty.
Taste: Somewhat watery and malty, this beer is not overwhelming.
Mouthfeel: Easy in the mouth and going down.
Drinkabilty: This beer will bore me after a few.

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Photo of profzoom
4.35/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ah, Honker's Ale. Living in Chicago for four years while at college left a special place in my heart for Goose Island's flagship offering. I definitely prefer it on tap, but by the bottle is quite fine as well. It pours a beautiful golden brown. The smell and taste are sweet, almost honey-like, with a fair amount of hops. Definitely one of my favorite pale ales.

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Photo of necoadam
3.16/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Ordered this beer online with a bunch of other beers so I decided to try the easy beers first. Poured out a copper color with a nice enough of head. It settled down eventually. Smell consisted of malts mostly blending in with some carmel. Taste was almost the same. Malts and caramel hit the palate first with some soft hop undertones that show up in the middle and lasts into the aftertaste. It's pretty much average with nothing wowing me here. But as a session beer this would be pretty good.

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Photo of bigbubba
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A beautiful clear copper-orange with a fizzy white head. The smell is good, but nothing real special. The taste is very pleasant, lightly hopped, pretty dry. Very clean tasting with little aftertaste. Very good for a hot summer day, I'm not sure I would have rated it the same in January. It is well carbonated which helps the otherwise thin mouthfeel. It is extremely easy to drink.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. The color is amber, with a nice foamy white head with good retention. The smell is slight hoppiness. The taste is a mellow, slight citrus hopping with a noticable fairly dry malt in the background. Mouthfeel is average. Drinkability-wise, this would have very nice sessionability and could have quite a few of these.

A very nice brew from Goose Island. I first had this one on draft, but it holds up nicely in the bottle. A good pale ale, and certainly one I'd enjoy seeing around.

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Photo of Ricochet
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When I lived in Louisville KY and I couldn't get to the Cumberland and I wanted (and could afford) a micro, I bought Goose!

In Clevo, mom had bought a 6 and offered me one and I tasted it again after drinking a Sammy at dinner. This is a damn good ale. It smells great, looks great and goes down with all the flavor of the best bottled beers I've tasted. It tastes full, rich and not too bitter although it just misses for personal preferences on hoppiness. When I finish one of these I want another and I'm happy to do so.

Also, I noted that this is usually a buck-two bucks cheaper than Sammy or Great Lakes. Why shop anywhere else?

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
84 out of 100 based on 1,082 ratings.