Honker's Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

1,118 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

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Reviews: 1,118 | Ratings: 3,884
Photo of Duxx
4.97/5  rDev +33.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Pours the same color as clover honey with an egg shell white head. The head is minimal only about 1 finger even with a vigorous pour. The head fades leaving some lacing on the glass.

S: Awesome hop aroma but not over powering. The aroma is spicy with a hint of citrus. I thought it was Cascade hops but the Goose Island web site says they use Styrian Goldings hops. I've never used that in my homebrew but I'll try it in my next batch of homebrew because it has a crisp enjoyable hop aroma.

T: For me, a perfect blend of hop bitterness and rich malt. I really like the balance between the two in this beer. The hop bitterness on the back of the palate is really a great finish.

M: Kind of hard to describe because while the beer is fairly thin the mouthfeel is surprisingly creamy.

D: I could always have several of these. Not too sweet, not too bitter. The balance of this beer is "spot on" in my opinion.

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Photo of Isrealite
4.89/5  rDev +31.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I remember an online class that had an e-book that tracked whether or not you read or listened to the material, and reported it to the instructor. Well, the joke was on him because I learned very little, and drank a very great deal of Honker's Ale while listening. This is definitely Goose Island's best macro brew in my opinion. It is thin yet bitter, and the taste can only be descried as unique, and perfectly balanced. Worth the money every time, and in case you were wondering, I still got an A in the class because this beer really made me relax, and open up my mind to philosophical arguments. Not recommended for math or science class.

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Photo of kimbo33
4.85/5  rDev +30%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Almost impossible to pack this much taste into a 4.3% beer! Robust amber flavor comes through and it is fantastic. Smell is nearly perfect, same with the look. Getting very picky to not give this a perfect score.

Very smooth, you can drink a sixer of this one easily.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.62/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer is a light copper with a warm light red glow and brillant clarity. It has a half an inch of off-white head with a decently log retention.

There is a soft carmel malt aroma with a light fruitiness and a low hops aroma. The hops so mostly floral and a slight hint of lemon. A light malt of graham crackers shows up after a few moments.

A moderate bitterness with a moderately high fruit esters mostly of peach and mild lemon but not the strong American hops citrus flavor. There is a little bit of malt support in there but this is defiantly a bitter beer with a dry finish.

It has medium light body with a medium-low carbonation.

Beers like this can lead the way in the session beer revolution. Don't get me wrong, I still love my imperial fill in the blank palate wreckers but it's great to have a flavorful beer at a reasonable alcohol level too.

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Photo of marcpal
4.55/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into large pint glass. Thanks to monkeyknife for sending me over several of these.

A: Reddish brown color with a ridiculously thick foam. The bubbles in the head of this one held on nicely and weere huge.

S: Mild buscuit smell with dried malts. The breadiness was tight and the hops were there for sure.

T: Malt and hops made a delicous ESB. The toasted malts and breadiness were matched perfectly with the bitter hops. This was a tasty beer.

M: Dry/toasty.

D: Epitome of a sessionable beer. This went great with Mexican and cant wait to have several more.

Re-reviewed after several more of the 07 batch that Ive gotten through terrific trades. This is among the best session beers that are available, unfortunately not here in NJ yet.

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Photo of tjkurz
4.55/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle poured into pint glass - clear burnt orange/amber with a couple fingers of head. Smell fresh, sense of hops. Malty up front with nice floral hop finish - clean. Mouthfeel decent body, carbed. One of the most drinkable beers in my mind - great with just about anything - I like with pizza. Can drink 3 of these and not get bored - one of my favorites. Bottle brags perfect combination of malts and hops - and I agree.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.52/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a slightly hazy light orange color with a thick, frothy white head. Retention and lacing are excellent.

Smells pretty damn good. Light, fresh floral and citrus hops. Very soft, fluffy malts and mild fruitiness hinting at papayas and passion fruit. Also has a bit of British minerality to it that helps keep it on track as a bitter.

Wow, this may be one of the ultimate session beers. So smooth and chugable. I dont find it to be all that bitter, but it does have great grassy hop flavor. Malts are there, but they are so soft and silky, the beer just glides down the throat. This would be a mainstay in my fridge if it was available in Tejas.

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Photo of rabsten
4.5/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the Goose Island Summer Ale pack, poured into a pint glass. Red-amber with reddish head of about two fingers. Nice lacing.

Floral hop smell, supported by some caramel malt. Pleasant smell. Very nice.

Tastes like a classic english bitter. Like fresh Old Speckled Hen. Again, very nice. Floral hops balanced with caramel malt.

Feels light on the palate; goes down smooth.

Superbly drinkable beer. I'll pick this up again.

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Photo of wellspj2002
4.5/5  rDev +20.6%

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.

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Photo of generallee
4.48/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass. The label has a brief description and a "bottled on" date but no ABV%.

Appearance: On top of a nice orange amber body sits a good two finger tall eggshell colored foam head. The head hangs on well and makes cool lace patterns on the glass.

Smell: The aroma has a nice sweet maltiness with caramel and a good balance of citrus hops.

Taste/Palate: Up first there is a simple bready maltiness with some mild caramel like sweetness and light toasted grain with faint hints of fruitiness. This is balanced by pleasant citrus and leafy hop bitterness. The medium body has a smooth feel and drinks easily.

Notes: This is just a strait up tasty ale with great drinkability.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.48/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hazy copper color, that I aggresively poured, and came up with a huge head that filled up my pilsner glass. Smells moderately of hops and citrus. Taste is very smooth and balanced. Tastes pretty close to an IPA, but it is a very good pale, that I could sip on all day.

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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.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.47/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Light amber with 1 finger of head. Excellent clarity and low carbonation.

N: Light fruity notes of cantaloupe, lemon and orange. Sweet caramel and honey.

T: Upfront is caramel and some breadiness with a pear essence. Mid-palate there is cantaloupe and a honey sweetness. Finishes with light hints of lemon and orange citrus. There's also some light grapefruit and grass.

M: Light-medium bodied, creamy, crisp, clean and refreshing.

O: This is a really well put together English Bitter. This could be the session ale to rival all session ales. Fantastic!

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Photo of slym
4.47/5  rDev +19.8%
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!

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Photo of WhiteDog2006
4.46/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Tried this beer for the first time out of a bottle, into a frosted mug.
The appearance was good, nice dark copper look, and the head stayed true the whole mug through (remember the mug was frosted).
The smell was average at best. Really had no distinction from other beers of the same color.
The tase was magnifacent! I was sold on that alone (of course it was ice cold...could have had something to do with it).
The drinkability went right along with the tase in my book; I could drink this beer all night.

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Photo of jayrod20
4.45/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice white head, light orange. Medium and soft moutheel. lagerish ale. Tad of lace left, smartly hopped, acidic bite and over carbonated.Bit of yeast and malt and hops in the aroma, bit of C hop and a little fruity and spicy. Drying aftertaste.

Again a beer too easy to overdue it with happily.

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Photo of greengorilla
4.45/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I poured a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass. The color was a light brownish orange with a decent white head and good lacing.

The smell was good with a citris and hoppy scent.

The taste also was good with citris and medium hops presence.

The mouthfeel was smooth.

This beer is very drinkable. I could drink several in a session. This is a beer that I can see myself keeping on hand most of the time.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.44/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is quite the tasty beverage. I first sampled this from a 4 ounce serving and wasn't too impressed with it, but I wanted something a bit light, mildy hoppy, and refreshing to accompany my BBQ. This fit the bill quite well.

Pours to a pale and clear golden/amber color with a light carbonation. The head starts off at about an inch and recedes to a thin film over the liquid. Lacing does not seem to stick to the glass at all.

The smell is zesty and hoppy. It smells a bit similar to amarillo hops, but I don't think that's the only varietal. I could bury my nose in the glass all night, but eventually I'll end up having to drink the beer leaving me with nothing left to smell...

...which isn't that big of a problem, because the taste is equally delicious. Tastes like a mix between cascades and amarillo, perhaps. The malt is somewhat hidden behind the hoppiness, but the beer is not overly bitter by any means. It seems to have the perfect level of bitterness, as a matter of fact. It is bitter enough to satisfy my inner hop head without being so intense that I have to more or less sip the brew like many I2PA's.

The mouthfeel is a bit acidic, but it helps to get a good idea of the taste profile aside from the hops. I do believe I will have to make this my new fall-back session beer. Every beer I've had from Goose Island has been nothing short of exceptional. I highly recommend them, this beer in particular.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.44/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The color is a rosey amber/bronze, and the head is disappointingly short and small. Aroma explodes with hops and suggestions of fruit, with notes of grapefruit, pears, peach, apricot, melons, ...or am I just rambling? It's a tasty blizzard of hops, no matter how flung my imagination! Medium body, soft texture, a wonderful play on the tongue, a whirlwind of hop liveliness. Malt is a perfect match, holding it all together. Refreshing, delicious taste, some toasty, caramel notes showing up in the middle. Is it a pale ale, or more of an amber? Feels like a flavorful version of English bitter, for it would make an excellent session beer for those who don't compromise on taste. This is a delicious American ale, and one that does nothing but incite happiness!

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Photo of bigbubba
4.43/5  rDev +18.8%
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 beersareonme
4.43/5  rDev +18.8%
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 JudgeRoughneck
4.42/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Chances are, you've had a beer like this before, but you shouldn't mind having another. Under a big, lovely creamy head, we have here a simple, balanced ale with a light, smooth, and lively character that borders on lager territory. Nose is ripe with classic British ale esters, a dusting of spicy hop, and a whiff of crystal caramel goodness. Taste brings more of the same but hops play a suprisinly forward role. Kind of like a maltier version of Sam Adams Boston Lager. This is a bit over carbed to be true to style I think but still very drinkable.

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Photo of tugdriver7
4.42/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Perhaps it's the style or the fact that we've been waiting awhile in this part of the country to get Goose Island products... but this was a treat. Gorgeous hazy amber to orange in the glass with a nice tan head. Subtle carbonation that raised a very nicely balanced malt scent to the nose. Flavor was equally balanced, with a soft biscuity flavor that melds into a very subtle hops bitterness for a crisp, dry finish. And the flavor excelled as it warmed. Very drinkable!

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Photo of JackNY07
4.41/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really enjoyed this beer. Went excellent with a burger and fries. I have not tried this beer from a bottle so the score may be enhanced since its from tap. Medium bodied, smooth taste, definitely one of my favorite beers.

Anxious to try other Goose Island beers..

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Photo of NODAK
4.4/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Aroma is of bit of citrus hoppiness...some sweet and bready malts behind it.

The taste is a very, very drinkable one. Upfront, there's cereal grains that comprise most of the body of the beer. The bitterness from the English hops doesn't start until near the finish, where it does so with a medium to low intensity....it's not all that bitter. After the swallow, the bitterness lingers a tad bit....but there's a good amount of grain that appears in the aftertaste. Highly refreshing.

I hadn't had an English bitter before this, but I must say I'm impressed. It's definitely something a person could down quite a few of, especially with its low ABV.

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.73 out of 5 based on 3,884 ratings.
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