Honker's Ale
Goose Island Beer Co.

Honker's AleHonker's Ale
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Bitter - English
Ranked #90
Ranked #41,829
3.67 | pDev: 11.72%
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States
Honker's AleHonker's Ale
Notes: Golden sunset color, fruity hop aroma, biscuity malt flavor, soft body.
Reviews: 1,144 | Ratings: 3,988 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of StanleysCup
StanleysCup from Maryland

3.77/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Was once one of my "go-to" options in the days of independent Goose Island; this was my standard bearer for ESBs for some time. The post AB-InBev offering isn't as appealing; the most recent offerings seem to lack the maltiness and body I enjoyed previously. The scores above reflect an average of pre/post acquisition.

Feb 23, 2021
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gatornation from Minnesota

3.69/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a red copper color with a khaki head , Smell and taste was dark fruits,toffee and caramel,baked bread malts . Had medium carbonation with a thickness coating and bitterness..

Jul 26, 2020
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EMH73 from New York

3.64/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours amber with a half inch white head that left nice lacing. Smells of roasted malts, caramel, yeast and hops. Tastes of bready malts, caramel, burnt sugar, yeast and a nice balancing hop presence. Light bodied, well carbonated, watery mouth feel.

Nov 01, 2019
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JonnoWillsteed from England

2.64/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

L- Seems to be a slightly reddish amber, clear. Pours with 3mm white head, clears quite swiftly.
S- Light roast smell, and there could be a hint of fruit in it too.
T- Somewhat dry on the front, though more of that comes over as rather dryly carbonic, ie from high carbonation, instead of notable hopping. Otherwise the flavour is say like a lager + a bit more sweetness + a touch more body.
F- There's something rather synthetic about it, and I can't put my finger on it...
O- ... I can finish it but I shan't put this on my list to buy again.
p.s. The lable states that the brew is styled on English Bitter, really!
330ml bottle

Oct 29, 2019
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mothmanscott from Georgia

3.62/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From notes 3/31/13: Pours clear medium amber producing 2+ fingers of frothy, off-white, somewhat lasting head that leaves abundant webs of lace. Aroma is toasted malt, sugary caramel, yeast and a burnt hint with a thin hop character. Taste is malty toast with a hint of char, caramel, toffee, some chocolate, cream and yeast backed by a hoppy bitterness. Average at best, To tell the truth I'm a little disappointed based on what I have come to expect from this brewery. Taste more like a bitter Amber Ale than an English Bitter.

Jan 04, 2019
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monkist from Hungary

4.06/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's funny that the best English Bitter that I had is made by an American brewery.
As it has much morecontent, aromaand flavor than the English counterparts, I vote this the best I've ever had.
Along with the typical/trademark English Bitter light/watery body, it has enough malts and most importantly, fragrant hops that stand out in the aroma. The taste is also quite well balanced, does not get too light nor too dry bitter so I found it overall nice - although not to an extent that I would want to drink it again. I loved the aroma though, it was a pleasant beer.

Dec 17, 2018
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GrumpyGas from Illinois

3.93/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 21SEP18 poured into my mouth looks awful, but I remember it being more on the dirty orange end of the color scale and with active bubbly carbonation.

Aroma is flowery, fruity hops and that flows into the flavor to which is added a good caramel malt for balance.

Mouthfeel is lighter with a slight stickiness.

Overall this is very much like beer.

Dec 14, 2018
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CraigHeron from Canada (ON)

4.35/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this on tap when we went for dinner. I was struck immediately by the wonderful look, smell, and taste. I pulled a social ‘no no’ with my smart phone to check where it is available in Toronto.

Aug 19, 2018
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Mysticmage from Canada (ON)

3.27/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

As a fan of their IPA thought I would give Honkers a go in honour of the goose. Does this one live up to all the....honk....let’s find out. Poured into a tulip this one presents coppar caramel with excellent collar that lasted well. Fine effervesence here. Nose is simple: light fruity hops like many red ambers. finishes light and clean. Not bad, but give me their IPA anyday. Honk on beer lovers.

Aug 18, 2018
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captaincoffee from Virginia

3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

One of those beers you just happen to come across because somebody bought a mix pack and you grabbed the one beer you hadn't tried before. Living in England, I find it interesting that this is listed as an English bitter. I wouldn't have guessed that from just drinking it. It strikes me as more of an American amber...but whatever. There is just a light whiff of fruity hops, and actually the hops are reasonably pronounced in the flavor. Somewhat malty. Honestly, this beer sort of a forgettable in between beer. It reminds me of what small brew pubs used to make in the 90s when all they had was a light, amber, and dark beer to choose from. Just okay.

Jul 02, 2018
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Hanglow from Scotland

3.25/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle is 5 months old so a bit too far gone probably. Still they put a 1yr BBE date on it so a rating is fair game

Pours light amber, rocky head, bright. Looks good.

Some caramel and pear on nose. Light aroma.

Taste in same ballpark.

Light body, low bitterness, well carbed for style.

It's ok , not a style that needs bottled though

Apr 06, 2018
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.34/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Goose Island Beer Co. "Honker's Ale"
12 fl. oz. brown glass bottle, "BOTTLED ON DATE: 01NOV17 08:47"

Notes via stream of consciousness: Honker's and I go way back to when I went to Siebel in Chicago and Goose Island was our unofficial pub. I certainly drank a lot of it back then, and then strangely I seem to have forgotten all about it. Well that's at least partially because that was 1995 and I couldn't get it back home. Anyway, it's poured a creamy finger-thick head of off-white for me atop a surprisingly hazy copper body. The aroma is brightly floral with some roses, fruity with apple and perhaps a hint of pear, and gently earthy and mineralish. It's very English in character, and I wonder why you don't see more beers like these lately. Moving on... the flavor follows the aroma as is usually the case, with some added lightly caramelish, grainy, and even honeyish malt and a bit of leafy and tea-like character from the hops. It's really nicely rounded with all of the components being clear enough that you can find them on their own, but also working with everything else to create a "whole". A median bitterness balances it (the label notes 30 IBUs) and it finishes mostly dry with some residual malt and plenty of floral, fruit, and softly mineralish notes lingering. The body is medium, and in keeping with the English character it's only softly carbonated giving it a smooth mouthfeel. Very nicely done. The only knock I have against it is that the head retention and lacing could be better but at the same time I'm not sure if the glass I'm using is actually "beer clean" so I'll have to give it a pass. Easily one of the best American brewed English-style bitters on the market.

Feb 26, 2018
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mempath from Pennsylvania

4.47/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a very nice interpretation of the style...the nose is the only 'less' impressive aspect...poured into an "old speckled hen" english pint glass....very light english tea color...delicate amber...nose comes alive after a semi-vigorous swirling...malt biscuit expected dynamics...maybe pears...taste is the best part, melded with that light but creamy mouthfeel...again, malty, biscuity, tart-sweet cream...maybe plain greek yoghurt dialed down from the tang...and a touch of vanilla added...honey? wow!

Jan 19, 2018
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Bitterbill from Wyoming

3.59/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On draught at Old Chicago April 11, 2015.

Pours a clear copper/gold, good head of foam to start, recedes leaving little lacing behind.

Smells of bready malt, some sweetness, touch of h

Light bodied, kinda lively carbonation.

Average beer, imho.
Tastes of bread, malty sweetness, light bitterness, very lightly flavoured overall.

Jan 16, 2018
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into glass. Label has Bottled On Date as '14JUN17'.
Pale amber colored body. Hard pour resulted in one finger head, off white head. Spots of lacing.
Aroma of bready malt and dark fruit (raisins and prunes).
Taste of dark malt, and dark fruit. Some butterscotch too, and moderate hop bitterness.
Thin to medium mouth feel. Low carbonation.
Seems close to style. A stronger ale than the standard pale.

Jan 14, 2018
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Bombelsky from Poland

3.93/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

There was some really nasty yeast sediments. Even, when I did not pour last 2 inches. Anyway, very tasty beer. Malty nose. Fruits, dry fruits. Raisins, cranberries. Malty sweet, chewy. Some dryness in a finish. Too much sparkles on a palate.


Jan 10, 2018
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OzmanBey from Massachusetts

4.58/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

This was an interesting beer, I really enjoy ESB's and this is a very good traditional ESB with just a little more hops than an normal ESB but that doesn't take away from the overall feel and flavor.

Oct 21, 2017
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MichaelGennings from Canada (ON)

3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Goose Island Beer Company's Honkers Ale.

4.3% alc. 473ml can.

Nice off-white head that dissipates quickly, leaving some nice glass lacing that only gets better as the beer is enjoyed.

The colour is copper and the smell is a combination of fruitiness and malt.

The taste is predominantly malt flavoured with some subtle hop bitterness.

The beer is medium bodied and the finish is dry.

This is a really nice product. If you enjoy ales it's worth trying.

Sep 05, 2017
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PlinyMeNow from California

3.49/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drunk straight from a 12 oz longneck. Aroma is of sweet caramel malts and warm fruits. Tastes mostly malty sweet, bringing in some fruity hoppiness. Carbonation medium-high, with a fairly light body, clean. Not much aftertaste.

Aug 23, 2017
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MinerBob from Oklahoma

3.39/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The look is the best part of this beer a clear tea looking beer with almost no head. Nothing stands out in the smell or taste but It is smooth going down. While not a lot of flavor still better than Budweiser but at 4.3% it leaves a lot to be desired.

Aug 13, 2017
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Everydayoff from Thailand

3.79/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

355ml bottle poured into a pint glass.

Clear copper amber color with a pretty good frothy off-white head that stands for a while before subsiding to some bubble sheet covering the surface and leaving mild lacing on the glass-side.

The aroma is so malty providing notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, some roasted barley, dough, cereal, and burnt bread. Hop lends its mild fruity note to mingle.

The taste is just like the aroma with the harmony of malt ranging from caramel, toffee, brown sugar, some roasted barley, dough, cereal, to burnt bread. Hop brings in some mild fruitiness while there is also some bitterness mostly from roasted malt and partially from hop.

The body is medium with semi-smooth mouthfeel and moderate carbonation through the palate. The feeling is quite alright to cater all the things. Finish is rather dry.

Sessionable brew with lots of malt in displaying plus with some hop to top it up, an English Bitter that is very true to the style.

Jul 22, 2017
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feuematt from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another beer that looks great in a glass. The taste is bready malts and some subtle fruitiness..very tasty and smooth....in my book this is a winner!!

Jul 10, 2017
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EmeraldMist from Maryland

4.09/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look - Pours a clear golden orange color, two fingers of soapy white head, small patches of lacing.
Aroma - Honey, apples, graham crackers.
Taste - Malty up front, fresh biscuits, hint of butter, slightly sweet honey note, hops provide a bit of an earthy and leafy bitterness. Finishes quite clean with a lingering sweet apple aftertaste. Balanced.
Feel - Light to medium body, somewhat slick, fine bubbles.

Overall - Great beer. Low in alcohol but complex, balanced and easy to drink.

May 16, 2017
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Yoann from France

3.97/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle to a Goose Island goblet
A - Amber, no foam
S - Sweet, caramel malts and grapefruit hops
T - The Grapefruit stays on the palate but not exaggerated
M - Carbonation a little bit on the low side
O - A good bitter with nice fruity notes

May 01, 2017
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matuto from Brazil

4.13/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

355 ml bottle, exp. 06/2017, 30 IBU, contains wheat malts. Amber to copper beer, a bit hazy. Earthy hops nose, toasted malts show more on mouth. Nice bitter finish. Flavorful and easily drinkable.

Mar 11, 2017
Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 3988 ratings