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Honker's Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

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1,109 Reviews
Honker's AleHonker's Ale

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Golden sunset color, fruity hop aroma, biscuity malt flavor, soft body.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-08-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,109 | Ratings: 3,859
Photo of Rimbimhoot
3.59/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear, amber, thin off white head
S: Toasted malt, nutty, toffee, light fruit character
T: Caramel malt, light bitterness, toasty, orange marmalade, nutty
M: Thin, less body than others of the style
O: Good but a little more watery in feel and flavor than other ESB's

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Photo of AndrewMorash
3.79/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This English bitter styled ale pours a vibrant amber/copper with a medium thick creamy head. Aromas of toasty cereal and nuts on the nose; the palate is medium-bodied and offers moderate bitterness with toasted grain and nut flavours balanced by a touch of sweet caramel-like notes followed by a medium finish.

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Photo of Jomomister
3.09/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

I don't like this beer much. Mostly I taste carbonation and yeast and very little body. I'm planning to suffer through the six pack and maybe try it on draft somewhere just in case I got a bad batch.

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Photo of Bluerabbitbell
4.3/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Grand opening at Chili's in Uniontown. First brew that I've had from Goose Island. An not very familiar with English bitters, so this may not be the best review. Anyway, the color is great! Not cask conditioned, but from regular tap conditions. To me. A very drinkable offering!

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Photo of Malt_Man
3.76/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Served cool from 330ml bottle into tulip glass.

L) Deep amber colour, clear, quickly rising small bubbles. No head, just a bubbly film.

S) Light fruity malt. Hints of some IPA-type hops.

T) Deep malty flavour, with a definite citrus / orange edge. Finishes with quite a dry flavour.

F) Very light body and quite fizzy. Very dry bitterness on the aftertaste.

O) A bit of a mish-mash of styles and very light body, but not bad. Give it a try.

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Photo of FLima
3.47/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Amber orange color with a thin head.
Aroma with notes of mild pine, some caramels and English hops.
Flavor with notes of caramels, earthy and spicy hops, mild ginger, slightly toasted malts, tea and some yellow fruit citrusy. Dry aftertaste with a medium but persistent bitterness.
Light body with appropriate carbonation of tiny bubbles.
Pleasant English Bitter, perfectly balanced and very easy to drink. I could have a few in a blink.

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Photo of Troy-Hawaii
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bought 6-pack $7.77 Don Quiojte
Light amber color
Medium-light mouth feel
Medium carbonation
Malt flavor with some hops, slight bitter finish
Overall a good beer, especially for its low alcohol.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.62/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Copper to light brown appearance, 1/2" off white head. A fractional amount of lace on the glass. Aroma hits with those light balsa wood notes, and a very slight amount of hops.

Taste really hits its stride as America meets ESB. Hops are there, plenty of bready malt feels, earthy. Lots of flavor in a low abv beer. I enjoy this one.

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Photo of Alexc11
4.07/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Right off the bat you're treated to an appealing deep amber color with generous cream to top it off. Really nice, rich, and honey-like smooth taste and feel accompanied with malt and hop flavors. Light bitter after taste which I like. An ESB that is exactly what it's supposed to be. A really enjoyable beer.

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Photo of RaphaelSC
3.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the american take on the classic ESB style.

Here we got a great hop citric bouquet, like a IPA, but the flavor is a classic ESB, with a full malted body. The hop here makes this beer more refreshing than its english cousins and with a better smell.

Overall it is exactly what you would expect from a american ESB. I would like to see a more radical take on this style, with more hops, but mantaining the classic malted character of a english beer.

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Photo of B-rett
4.06/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A-Copper color with a great head and excellent lacing.

S-Strong malt front with yeast. Not sure if I get the fruity hop aroma like the bottle says.

T-Sweet wheat malts and mild spicy hops that compliment each other very well.

M-Smooth but crisp texture that goes down easily.

O-Great all around beer. This is my first English Bitter and I look forward to trying more like it.

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Photo of johnnyd10vt
3.81/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful color; almost a brown. Subtle smell. The taste is similar to a brown without quite the same intensity to the sweet malt. I really like it. Acceptable to Stacey's palate.

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Photo of mandrakes
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look: beautiful amber color, transparent, without sediments; good foam formation with low/moderate persistence;
Smell: imposing and pretty good smell, yeasted and fruited hopped, floral notes;
Taste: little bitter, persistent aftertaste with pepper/spicy and honey notes, balanced alcohol;
Feel: low carbonation; soft and light English Bitter Ale;
Overall: a great beer with nice drinkability 3,5+/5+. Obs: beautiful bottlecap.

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Photo of goodbeer4cheap
4.48/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Was my favorite beer for over a decade and lost it's place on the palate's top choice a year before it was purchased by Inbev. Within 3 years of the sell it was difficult to find. 12 packs disappeared ages ago. I still consider it one of the best sessionable and lower calorie beer choices. I actually prefer to age it a bit. 2-3 years at a slowly up and down temperature level in my basement in a dead freezer. Aging used to be incouraged on the Christmas Ale at the time which was always just an ESB version of Honkers Ale. The aging turns into a more lovable beer. Poured from a bottle a golden brown color, good carbonation and 3/4" head. Aroma- sweet malt and fruity. Taste- malt forward, hops on the subtile on the back end. Feel- smooth but nothing special a slight dry feel. Overall the lack of beers in the local area and nation as a whole ignoring this style is alarming.

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Photo of Squire123
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear light gold, white cap and good lacing.

Aroma: Something light yeast bread about it, a bit of hops.

Taste: Good flavor for a low ABV brew, tasty, caramely malty, not a whole lot but what's there counts. Malt carries with hops riding along. The darker malts used have a touch more roastiness than I would choose for this type beer. The roast bitterness carries through the finish leaving a slightly bitter aftertaste. Or that could be hops as well but the bitter note is off putting.

Texture: Medium body, good heft to it.

Overall: Good example of what can be done with a mild brew. If I were calorie counting this would certainly be on the list.

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Photo of PhilsPils
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at GI in O'Hare Airport. Clear, coppery color and a decent off-white head. Some hops on the nose but more a faint yeasty/bready aroma. The taste is bitter at first but the caramelly malts quickly sweeten it up. Very well balanced malt-to hops and a nice, fruity ale taste. Very full-flavored for such a modest ABV. We were on our way to London and in the days following, I had a few better but many worse. Good effort from Goose Island.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.17/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Clear copper with a big, lightweight off-white head that never gives up the fight.

Not much aroma wafts off this foam, with some floral, crisp lager-like notes faintly present, and some banana sugar as it warms.

It might sound heavy, but some nutty, caramel notes are refreshing and light, with a little raisin and light roast coffee supporting them. Bready and toasty qualities are present as well.

Dry finish, bitter, yet sweet.

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

Goose Island Honker's Ale

Look: Amber golden color. Medium carbonation

Smell: Very Malty

Taste: Lots of malt, goes down really easily. For a 4,3% beer this has a lots of flavor

Feel: Goes down really easily, super drinkable

Overeall would I recommend it ? Sure, you wanna drink a light beer this is the one to go, much better than coors light bud light and miller light

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Photo of VincentGR
3.57/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: Red/Gold copper color. Average head that fades into a constant layer of bubbles.

S: Fruity hop smell (a little grapefruit) with smooth caramelized sugar malt aroma. A tiny beet of yeast smell upon pour, but nothing unplesant.

T: Rich malty flavor that dries into a caramel note. Fruity flavors also present, but dominated by the malt.

F: Light carbonation that fades quikly to leaves a sugary taste with a bit of biterness.

O: Nice, easy to drink, beer that has a dominant malt flavor. Color is little ordinary, but it seems more golden under certain ligh condition. Could have been a bit more carbonated for a richer mouthfeel.

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Photo of jaypaul522
3.94/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a golden color, with a nice malt and hop blend of flavors. Taste is very smooth and strong - this is good tasting ale. The body is medium, and drinkability is excellent. Good beer with a meal.

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Photo of CHickman
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours clear copper color with a 1-2 finger foamy beige colored head that faded slowly and left decent spotty lacing.

Smells of toasted grains, light yeast, floral hops, caramel, light lemon zest and cardboard. Earthy notes come out along with some citrus and blend in well with the malt base. Smells nice but very basic and nothing really jumps out - it's a very even smelling brew with equal parts hops and malts.

Tastes very much like it smells with sweet malt, caramel, toasted grains, yeast, floral hops, lemon zest, tea leaf, a little grapefruit bunch of earthy notes. Some more pronounced fruity flavors come out but can't get past the malt base, so like the aroma it's a very even tasting with equal parts hops and just a little stronger malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel is light and almost smooth, with mild carbonation, a hint of bitterness and a malty/grainy sweetness that trails off with toffee or caramel and a semi-dry feel.

Overall it's a good basic beer and seems to fit the English Bitter style quite well.

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Photo of Obake21
3.94/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First review:

L = Nice clear amber
S = You can smell the hops up front, but the malt comes through nicely.
T = Enough malt to balance out the hops. Very nice especially since I am not such a hop fan. I liked this one a lot.
F = Pretty dry. Not too much of an aftertaste. Should go well with a meal.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear copper color with a bit of beige head. Aroma has some sweet malts, honey and sweet orange. Taste starts really balanced, malty, fruity with a touch of caramel. It gets bitter towards the finish making for an overall really balanced taste profile. Medium body with crisp carbonation. Quite tasty for the low ABV but also very drinkable.

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Photo of beersareonme
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

For a straight up ale, this is a winner through & through. Superb taste, tingle and depth. My personal preference with this one... the colder the better. Tried on tap @ Sociable in Brantford ON.

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Photo of moofthedog
3.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bought on clearance at target (A six pack for 4 bucks!) Bottle date of aug 2015.

Appearance: Nice amber color. Lacing isn't too serious but that's ok.
Aroma: Hops hit the nose rather hard. Some malty-sweetness comes through but I mostly get hops.
Taste: This is where I was pleasantly surprised. Malty sweetness hits the tongue, balanced out rather well with the bitterness of the hops. But not too bitter at 30 IBU's. Biscuity, caramel-y.
Mouthfeel: The maltiness is great when it's in your mouth, but leaves kind of dry for me. This is kind of a bummer because I enjoy the maltiness sticking around a bit. Moderate carbonation, obviously not too watery.

Overall: Better than expected. If it was on tap, I'd definitely give it a shot. It could be improved greatly by reducing the dryness in my opinion.

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.74 out of 5 based on 3,859 ratings.
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