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 LightEnthusiast
1.03/5  rDev -72.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Wow. If you're looking for bitter beer, this is it.

I guess some have a knack for this sort of thing, but this beer to me is absolutely horrible. It ruins everything, including meals...makes me want to use mouthwash afterwards. It's like sharp cheddar meets fresh cut grass but without the freshness. I'd rather gnaw on a pine cone.

Bitter, bitter, bitter.

As I said, if you're looking for a bitter, mouth twisting, disgusting tasting beer - you've found it here.

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Photo of Ragingbull
2.13/5  rDev -42.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Amber in color with faint prickle and a light wispy head. Faint hoppy nose. The attack is sour and so is the large preponderance of the flavor. Very grain heavy on the flavor. The sour notes just go on to enhance a strongly bitter finish and this beer doesn't need that. I really can't imagine that this beer is sold and marketed this way.

Given my recent "second experience" with another beer that had vastly improved perhaps I will throw this into a mixed six in the near future and consider an "edit" to this review if I am proved wrong. Otherwise I really don't know what all the hype is about and this would be another beer (of about a dozen) where I am WAY below the BA composite.

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Photo of tr4nc3d
2.36/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12fl oz bottle into my pint glass

Pours an almost dark like copper like color with a three inch slightly off-white head. Head is rather soft like with great retention that last all throughout the beer, leaving scattered amounts of lacing sticking to the sides of my glass.

Smell is very earth and pine like with a very distinct deep caramel malt fragrance. Smells nutty(almost peanut butter like?)with some dark toasty brown bread.

Damn, this is one malty brew. Caramel malts dominate with a nutty almost peanut butter like presence as I mentioned on the smell. Slight honey comes through in the middle. As I sip even more the taste reminds me of drinking Iced Tea. So if you like Iced Tea(which I really do not)then you will like this beer.

Mouth feel is smooth and medium carbonation

I'm not a fan of the taste of this beer, come worse is that it leaves a lingering dry finish on the palate and mouth that I'm not fond of. Worst of all, it gave me a damn headache.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
2.41/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I have a strong feeling that this beer won’t change with Anheuser-Busch’s takeover of Goose Island – it seems like a simple beer that’s easy to keep up to standard. At any rate, I wanted to try it before too long, just in case the taste does change. Here’s Honker’s Ale:

A: Body is a dull, apple-juice yellow. With sort of a lifeless, hazy appearance, it doesn’t look very appealing. The head, off-white, comes out thin, but the lacing is nice and thick.

S: Cheap wheat, mostly. This smells mostly like an adjunct lager, to be honest. The more whiffs I take, though, bring some hidden fruit notes out (strawberry jam and tangerine, mostly). Still reminds me of Busch Light, overall. Not a good start.

T: There’s not as much processed wheat as there is in the nose, but it’s still the first thing I can taste. It’s more fresh-tasting than the nose (meaning it’s just a few steps from rotten). Other than that, there are smooth fruity textures here and there; in that area, though, it seems like they gave more of a dull half-attempt than anything else. It’s like biting into a very old pear: there’s some refreshing tartness, but the stale tastes tell you that something is seriously wrong in a way you can’t ignore. My least favorite GI taste so far.

M: Not horrible, but noticeably slimy. Once again, reminds me faintly of Busch Light.

O: Alright, I am now convinced that I do not like Goose Island. In absolutely everything I’ve taste from them (and yes, that includes BCBS), there’s an adjunct taste that give the brewery more of a faux-craft feel than anything. Beers like this make it almost seem like Goose Island sold out to AB years ago.

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Photo of semiartificial
2.53/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Well, this one appeared in our local supermarket, and I bought one to try after reading a few (positive) reviews here.

Got to say I was disappointed. In particular, the taste starts off fine but then fades out quickly. The taste is not particularly characterful, a bit 'nothingy' really, and there is little in the way of a lingering aftertaste.

Thank goodness that we all have different tastes and opinions, but I really don't 'get' the near-5 / high 4 scores that some folks have given this.

You may guess that I wouldn't buy another, and wouldn't recommend it to others - for me, it's just not got a lot going for it.

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Photo of cavedave
2.54/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a clear gold, with one finger beige head that lasts. Some nice lace. Unfortunately the look is this beer's best feature.

Not much of an aroma, diacetyl, some light bready sweet, even lighter hints of citrus and floral, some tart yeast in there.

The weak flavor of this is heavy on diacetyl, light on pale malt, floral, and citrus, with just a touch of herbal bitter. Not much going on here, it's a diacetyl bomb with weak flavors and weak finish.

Decent mouthfeel except for finish, tastefully low carb., and creamy.

Drinkability is not good. I almost didn't finish this, but Gramps said waste not, want not.

Impression: I won't be drinking this again, and suggest you do the same.

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Photo of tjthresh
2.58/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Honker's Ale is one of the beers that got me interested in drinking craft beer. These day I consider it pretty middle of the road. Light hop flavor and aroma. Light malt sweetness, and light on the bitterness. Everything about this beer anymore is pretty uninspiring, yet good enough for a everyday staple beer.

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Photo of benmiliron
2.6/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Got this in a variety 12-pack of Goose Island. I used to get Honker's Ale for hiking trips in S. Ohio because this was the only micro the store had. Basically a well-done Sam Adams clone, this brew is your standard malty/hoppy micro brew, it's what your friends probably think of when they think of the beer you drink.

I'd skip this one and move on to something else.

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Photo of PorterLambic
2.61/5  rDev -30%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A nice amber color with a 1 1/2" tall off-white head.
Smell is hops all over the place and a little citrus.
Taste is, again, hops, a hint of citrus and malt. Nothing else. Is this brew dry-hopped?
Light/medium body, light effervescence.
Good but WAY TOO HOPPY for an ale like this. This has IPA written everywhere but the label. If you like big hops, by all means, this beer is great. But the lack of any degree of complexity was most disappointing to me after all the good beers I've had from the Goose.

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Photo of quasimoto
2.66/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It poured amber orange color with a nice little white head on it. It left pretty quickly and around and gave very little wafts of sweet caramel and hops that smelled like grass/bread/ and a macro bitterness smell of bitey cardboard. . the taste was of semi-sweet/ cheap malt, smokey rye, and astrigency. It's not to balanced with hops which were heavy and kindy woody. weirdly enough they get sweeter as it warms. They were a little too much for the balance to be right. Other than that the aftertaste was not too pleasureable. All-in-all a relatively, barely good beer.

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Photo of hotstuff
2.68/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft:The appearance was that of a medium sized ivory head that was smooth and creamy with fine sized bubbles that mostly diminished.The body was clear and uncarbonated with a golden orange hue.The nose consisted of malt and hops along with a hoppy, bitter fore and aftertaste flavor.The mouthfeel was smooth and medium bodied and this beer left a good lacing on the sides of my glass.I would have enjoyed this beer much better, but it was a little bit too hoppy tasting for me.

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Photo of seedyone
2.75/5  rDev -26.3%

03/12/14 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. Not the worst but not the best.

One commenter said they were glad to be drinking it at Shea Stadium. I'd have to agree with that because I know what has been offered in the past. Funny how in the early days of baseball most of the teams were owned by brewers. They're probably rolling over in their graves...or sloshing in their barrels...or...well you get the idea.

P.S. Just noticed the ABV is a mere 4.3, so what's the point?

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Photo of sevenarts
2.75/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Dark golden orange with a modest white head.

S: Citrus and caramel sweetness.

T/M: More of the same in the taste. Citrus, spices, and especially a lot of malty caramel sweetness. It's sweet enough that it can be a little cloying, but the creamy, smooth mouthfeel helps it go down easy anyway.

O: If this beer went easier on the sweetness it'd be a decent session brew; as is it's just not my kind of thing.

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Photo of beerfairy
2.8/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Reddish brown color with a thick foam head.

S: Mild buscuit smell with dried malts.

T: This doesn't fit my profile of a bitter bee, I think Redhook is a better example. I can't drink too many of these, the taste doesn't work for me.

M: Dry/toasty.

D: Can drink a couple but not my favorite Goose Island product. I'd rather have thier Nut Brown, Matilda, Bourbon County or Schwarzbier over this any day.

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Photo of DrainBamage
2.8/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark copper color with moderate carbonation and a thin lace of head with a little more lingered to the edge of the glass. Smell is slightly sweet, but mostly hoppy. Taste is very tea-like and starts off with only slightly bitter aftertaste, but increases with each sip. Mouthfeel is smooth and is moderately carbonated. This is an average beer, but not too special. I'm not sure if I'd buy this again.

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Photo of RJUGA03
2.8/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A-Pale/ clear orangy yellow body with average carbonation holding a 1.25" slightly off-white laced head.
S-Typical and unremarkable
T-Somewhat hoppy on the uptake with a pleasing sweet finish.
M-Honestly it's very adjunct typical.
D- Depending on how pricing works out ($8/6pk is way too much) would determine how drinkable this beer is. I did a clone and bumped my abv to 5.75% so for that price it's a good one.

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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.

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Photo of brdc
2.83/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice golden appearance, with a white head.
Smell is mostly alcohol, but has some hops as well.
Taste is limited, with hops bitterness, and some undefined malts. The alcohol is a bit too noticeable
Bitter, a bit too much given the poverty of malts to balance it.
Light, easy to drink, but I am not getting any more of these.

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

On tap while going through Chicago. Clear dark amber with small off white head. Aroma is subdued due to very cold serving temps. Taste is nutty, caramel , toffee . No finish.

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Photo of denver10
2.85/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Bottled 11/12, bought and drank 5/30/13....so just about 7 months old. Wish I noticed that at the store. Oh well, lets see how it goes.

Pours a caramel with an off white head. Aroma is super nutty, super toasty, a little caramelly. Flavor is super quite toasty, the nuttiness is again there, as is the caramel, some lemon and slight hop presence that probably would have been more pronounced if this beer were fresher. A crisp, thinner mouthfeel. Overall, not a fan.

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Photo of LeeryLeprechaun
2.86/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light amber in color with a nice sticky rocky head.

Aroma is pretty mild. There are a few hints of malt but that is it. Not a lot going on in the nose.

Taste is also pretty bland. There are some hints of malt and a little caramel.

Mouthfeel is medium.

Overall a drinkable beer but not extraordinary.

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Photo of ubenumber2
2.86/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served from tap , this beer just didnt do it for me , average beer at best , better than a miller or bud lite but barely , wouldnt order again , the waitress tells me after I order another beer that they have not sold any of it before really and that the keg has been in their for 6 months , maybe why it didnt turn out very good , will try again later just to see at a different location or from the bottle

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Photo of Shrews
2.86/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served - Bottle poured into a Mug.

Pours into a light caramel color with minimal head.

Pretty bitter and hoppy, not much else.

Surprisingly pretty simple with almost no aftertaste. Haven't had too many bitters, but I can say this one doesn't have much taste.

Slightly carbonated and watery. Not very much volume or lasting effect in your mouth.

Tastes much like bitter, carbonated water. I can't really say much more. Not a fan myself.

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Photo of tenesmus
2.87/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into an imperial tulip pint glass.

Amber appearance, a finger of off white head, breaks down to a sparse film over the beer, appreciable lacing streaking the glass.

Aroma nice balance of malts and oily spice, certainly raises anticipation for the first mouthful. However, bit of a let down when tasted, sweet malts, some hint of hops and a touch of buttery diacetyl. Sweetness on the aftertaste but lacks depth, structure and distinction. Feel is also a little thin, moderate carbonation fails to lift the beer.

Overall a forgettable, average interpretation of the style which makes one wonder what the point of the beer is. Whilst there are plenty of anemic bitters around in the UK, there are many examples that demonstrate greater individuality and vitality than this.

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Photo of ExtraStout
2.88/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Had this on tap in Cedar's @ Foxwood's Casino.

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

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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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