Honker's Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

3,887 Ratings
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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,118 | Ratings: 3,887
Photo of matuto
4.13/5  rDev +10.7%
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.

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Photo of EMV
3.5/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass

L: Clear medium copper brown pour. A finger of thin head... falls quickly. Modest lacing.

S: Grains and noble hops. Light and nutty.

T/F: Grains/bread. Mild caramel sweetness followed by fairly sharp hop bitterness. Not a lot of distinctive hop character. Medium to thin in body... well carbonated. Finish is clean.

O: It's a bitter, and within the style it's not bad. Easy to drink but not one that I'd reach for terribly often.

 495 characters

Photo of kitch
3.2/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A 12 fl oz bottle, bottled on 18th November 2016 and best before 18th November 2017. Poured into a Mikkeller pint glass.

Appearance: A nice clear copper colour with a one finger off white head that slowly dissipates to a nice thin creamy layer while leaving curtain like lacing.

Aroma: A bit light, but what I do get was grassy, nutty, sweet malt and hints of toffee.

Taste: Toasty biscuit malt, caramel, nuttiness with hints of orange citrus.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied with moderate carbonation.

Overall: Not my favourite style, but this is easy to drink.

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Photo of bbtkd
3.9/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Goose Island Honkers Ale, 4.3% ABV, 30 IBU. Pours amber and thick, with one finger white head, left little lacing. Nose is nutty and malt, taste is nutty and malty sweetness, very little hop bitterness at the close - surprised others are saying it is too bitter. Good mouthfeel, perhaps a bit heavy on carbonation. Overall very good.

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Photo of bmeehan
3/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I'm not going to remember this beer after I'm done drinking it, so it's hard to really judge it beyond "It's not terrible." And it isn't—it's got a njfe smoothness to it that makes it easy to drink, but that's kind of all it has.

 231 characters

Photo of shiu-chan
3.1/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Clear copper pour with little or no head.
Nutty hop on the nose.
Clean, light fruity note and slight bitterness at the end.
Overall, a simple ale to enjoy.

 155 characters

Photo of acmurphy696
3.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a good solid beer that looks and smells great. The taste isn't bad and certainly has character.
I'm coming to terms with Goose Island and have plenty of respect for the company and its products.

 202 characters

Photo of kitschiguy
2.83/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Poured a light chestnut colour with a very small head which died. No lacing.

Really can't detect much o the nose. A little bread/biscuit perhaps.

Palate is also bland. Some unexpected bitterness right at the end. Over carbonated.

Three duds in a row from this brewery.

 271 characters

Photo of Rimbimhoot
3.59/5  rDev -3.8%
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

 274 characters

Photo of AndrewMorash
3.79/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

 310 characters

Photo of Jomomister
3.09/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

 201 characters

Photo of Bluerabbitbell
4.3/5  rDev +15.3%
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!

 278 characters

Photo of Malt_Man
3.76/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

 450 characters

Photo of FLima
3.47/5  rDev -7%
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.

 437 characters

Photo of Lewnanny
3.3/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The IBU is a bit too much for me, but overall a nice beer to drink with friends.

Got it recently on february 04, 2017,and my taste for hop have change a lot. I can now appreciate a nice hop beer. This one you can definitely see the difference with the other one. The hop is really more fruity than any other intensively hop beers.

 334 characters

Photo of Troy-Hawaii
3.75/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

 194 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.62/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

 338 characters

Photo of Alexc11
4.07/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

 309 characters

Photo of RaphaelSC
3.89/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

 457 characters

Photo of B-rett
4.06/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

 383 characters

Photo of johnnyd10vt
3.81/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

 179 characters

Photo of mandrakes
3.83/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

 427 characters

Photo of goodbeer4cheap
4.48/5  rDev +20.1%
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.

 889 characters

Photo of Squire123
3.9/5  rDev +4.6%
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 -1.3%
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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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.73 out of 5 based on 3,887 ratings.
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