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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,118 | Ratings: 3,882
Photo of cypressbob
3.92/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

355ml screw top bottle

Pours with an amber body, some hints of orange. Fluffy tight off white head, good retention

Smell, some nice citrus notes, some english and american hops, like a blend of both american and english style ales. Faint hint of grain

Taste, smooth, crisp mouthfeel, a little thin though. Earthy hops with a slight american cascadish twang

An interesting ale, probably would make a good session beer

 428 characters

Photo of BuckSpin
4.27/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a rusty, warm amber hue with a nice 1/2" head of thin off-white foam. Nose was a wonderful surprise - rich with sweet hops, apple, spices...very pleasing.

Wow, is this smooth! So creamy on the tongue, taste of apples, mildly hopped, lightly syrupy but not in a sweet way. The tastes blend beautifully, then slide into a clean, slightly sharper hop swallow.

The best part of this this was the way the individual tastes were noticable and pronounced, from tongue to pallete to throat, but they blended so seemlessly. Its very even that way, and very drinkable. Crisp, refreshing, this is a fantastic summer ale. I am going to keep an eye open for more of this. Highly recommended, and one of the better discoveries I have enjoyed in months.

Side note - paired very well with a corned beef Reuben on rye with fresh cut fries.

 838 characters

Photo of bashiba
3.35/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a nice amber hue with a little bit of white head.

Smell is mostly a minor green hop smell with a touch of breadyness.

Taste is a very balanced mix of a nice toasted maltyness with a crisp slight hop bitterness. Not overly strong in either regard but still not to bad.

Mouthfeel is a medium to thin feel to it.

Drinkablity is pretty good, nothing that will overwhelm you, but easy to sit down and enjoy a couple.

 429 characters

Photo of Dithyramb
3.68/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Purchased a bottle for $5.65 while in Chicago Midway Airport--the only micro to choose from in the A and B concourses. Poured into a 20 oz. plastic jug by the surly waitstaff for my enjoyment. After pestering them several times about the bottle, they pulled it out of the trash for me to look at (as long as I promised not to whig out and toss it at old ladies and childrens...) Had a new bright red label, about the same crimson as the old Honker's Ale banner. Really catches your eye, though they should have used a larger font for the beer name.

Pretty brown amber with a good amount of body carbonation. No retention or lacing in the plastic cup. Nice green hop nose with a mix of fruits.
Nice Americanized version of the British original. More hoppy than bitter, with a nice roasty malt backbone holding it all down.
Didn't pull the enamel off my teeth, which had me wanting more. Pretty drinkable and nice, which made me feel good that it was there. I'd definitely have another and another...

 1,004 characters

Photo of budsboy
3.7/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours crystal clear and on the red side with a healthy white head that pulls back to a thin coat.

Deep, warm smell. Carmel malts and mint balance out nicely.

Sweet with a floral, slightly minty hop presence. Balance is the key here. Bittering on the finish with a warming alcoholic bend.

Clean and biting in the mouth.

There is nothing to dislike in this one. Very simple, elegant and balanced offering. Fits well with the season.

 443 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
4.2/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes. Poured a deep golden to slight amber color with a finger of head that doesn't fall too far. The nose was sweet caramel with a hint of citrusy hop in there. The flavor was spicey, and peppery hop with sweet caramel background. Very well balanced. The feel was moderate with a very active carbonation. Pretty well expected. Overall, I thought it was a nice, solid brew. Session beer all the way.

 405 characters

Photo of bozebus17
3.88/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cross between orange and yellow. It has a thin white head that holds its own the whole way down. Moderate lacing clingss to the glass.

I can smell floral hops and citrus. This must have been a very new bottle as it also has that "fresh" smell.

It tastes bitter but in a good way. This beer bites at first but the matls balance it out in the end for a satisfying dry finish. I would call this a light-medium bodied beer. It fills the palatte but it is far from overwhelming.

This beer is crisp and refreshing. Honkers Ale is nothing spectacular but it made a great session beer tonight and I can see myself buying it again in the future.

 655 characters

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

Best consumed 013105 1522 and obtained from To Your Health (Coralville, Iowa). ½ finger white/light tan head over a slightly cloudy light rust-orange colored liquid. Smells caramel and dish soapy pine resiny. Some citrus in the form of oranges and tangerines. Tastes caramel Munich sweet smooth in the mouth. The early gentle hop bitter fades as delicate bubble from on the flat of my tongue in a nice transition. Starts caramely sweet falling to a flat Munich/Vienna malt. Pears and perhaps some peach and apricot. This then transitions into a finely carbonated swallow. Leaves behind a dry woody aftertaste. Hopping is minimal, but some floral qualities rise up in the throat as part of the aftertaste (woody and faintly orangish…Goldings?). Sweet, yet dry, with a creamy mouthfeel, despite it’s actual md to md-light body. Carbonation is mild to moderate and it works well with the flavors.

 896 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.38/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1" beige head over the lightly cloudy amber brew. Head froth fades a bit but leaves plenty for the experience, and lacing is nice. Aroma is light fragrant hops with a undercurrent of malt sweetness. Taste is smooth sweet maltiness upfront, married with an almost mouth puckering bitterness for an English bitter, and that bitterness continues through the aftertaste. Nicely balanced. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both excellent. Excellent representation of the English Bitter.

 604 characters

Photo of bearrunner44
3.92/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Now that I've tried a wider variety of beers, I think I'll revisit an old favorite.

Appearance: Reddish amber color with about two inches of head. The color is nice, but the head fades away a little too quickly.

Smell: Gentle malt and hop aromas, with a slight smokiness.

Taste: The sharp, citrus-like hops and malt are in there, and there are also some subtle, slightly burnt nutty flavors mixed into the middle. It almost tastes like an APA trying to be a brown ale for a little while, but the various flavors eventually fade into a distinctly pale ale-ish hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel: A little lighter than I prefer.

Verdict: This beer has grown on me ever since I first tried it, and I now consider it to be one of my go-to brews. It's truly a beer for everyone. It's easy-drinking and accessible to mainstream drinkers, but it's complex enough to please us beer geeks.

 884 characters

Photo of abcsofbeer
3.55/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle with a freshness date of 07/11/05 printed on back. The color is very coppery, like a new penny. The clarity is very clear with ample carbonation. The head is a rocky tannish color about an inch thick. There is lots of sticky lace at the top of the glass, less at the bottom.

The aroma is fairly hoppy with bites of citrus. The taste is grapefruity with a nice bitterness in the aftertaste. This is a nice american pale that hints of an IPA.

 464 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.93/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear orange to amber colored brew.

Smell is sweet and malty with a prominent biscuit malt scent. Not much hop odor, this one is on the malty side.

Taste is on the dry side with caramel-roasted malt flavor the strongest flavor. Mild but assertive hop bitterness in the finish, with a faint earthiness. This gets a bit more bitter as you drink it and a faint lemony hop flavor appears.

Mouthfeel is good.

Very good Drinkability. This is a tasty brew that is nearly perfectly balanced between mildness and assertiveness. Bold enough to stay interesting but not terrorize your taste buds. A beer that I can recommend.

 634 characters

Photo of Southernbrew
3.92/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an orangey-amber with a decent bubbly head.

Aroma really shows off the hops with a nice citrusy grapefruit. Not overpowering, mind you, just noticable. Some grain as well.

Light bodied, crisp flavors. Citrus hops come first followed by a woody flavor as well as some grains. A light biscuit flavor comes in the middle and finishes with more dry citrus flavors. Malt is a bit underrepresented here, and while I love hops, it could use a bit more balance.

A nice pale, I remember liking it a bit more on draft when I visited the brewpub, but this is still plenty drinkable. It could also use just a bit more body.

 626 characters

Photo of mattcrill
2.92/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Presentation: best if consumed by 1/31/05. Ok, fine.

Appearance: A nice cloudy orange amber pour with a white head. The head fades into a nice wispy white coating over the top of the beer.

Smell: Some wheat bread and yeast notes and maybe some carmel smells are up front. Not much else going on which is kind of disappointing.

Taste: follows the smell. Wheat bread and a slightly bittering taste that leads to a dry and slightly sweet carmel aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to light treading dangerously close to watery. A dry alcohol finish.

Drinkability: Easily a good session beer.

Notes: Good but not great. The lack of hop profile and strong wheat bread presence don't really seem to resonate with the APA style. Many other better examples out there especially in my neck of the woods (see GLBC Burning River Pale Ale).

 840 characters

Photo of mynie
3.68/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice pour, amber with gold hues and a tight white head and good lacing.

Smells weaker from a tap. Sure enough, the trademark GI floral hops are still there, but much of the complexity it lost.

Same story with the taste. The hop bite at the end isn't as rough, which makes for better session drinking, but it comes at an overall loss of complexity for the beer. The nuttiness is faint and I can't taste any fruit at all. Just floral hops against a slight malt backbone.

 475 characters

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.12/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden amber pour with hints of red and a bubbly off white head. Quite a nice aroma on this one...citric hoppiness mixes with some piney tones and a nice sweetness. I'm impressed.

Crisp, sweet caramel and pale malts meld with some nice citric and slightly piney hop flavors. A bit of bready flavor along with some nice bitterness on the way down. A nice showing from Goose Island.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with some nice carbonation. This is an APA that I could easily session...it rivals my favorite SNPA. I dunno why I didn't try this one earlier!

 557 characters

Photo of BigRedN
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Part of the Goose Island Pub pack.

Appearance: Light amber in color, clear, nice big fluffy white head, at least 1/2-inch. Lingered for a while then fell back to a thin covering. Some lacing down the glass.

Smell: Most noticeable are the hops. Floral hops, and a little citrusy, almost lemon like.

Taste: Most definitely hopped, as one would expect from a good pale ale, although fortunately not overly done.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, lightly carbonated, not overpowering.

Drinkability: When in Chicago this is a must have (on tap in many places). Very good in the bottle. Even though I got only two of these in the pub pack, its one of the ones I would purchase again, in a six pack.

 699 characters

Photo of Reidrover
4.03/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In appearance ,it is a very attractive,glowing amber beer.With some nice carbonation and a good sized bubbly white head. Some great lacing.
Good fresh aroma,malty and slightly hoppy.Slight caramel scent.
Quite malty ,caramel, in taste to start, thena nice hop bitterness, also slightly fruity.
pretty good on the tongue, slight dry finish and a nice aftertaste.
A nicely done Pale ale..great drinkability.

 409 characters

Photo of BeerBob
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Honker’s Ale pours a fair reddish amber from a 12oz brown glass bottle. Huge head went well over three fingers before settling down to a light rocky top with ring and sheets of lace on the sides of my glass.

Nose is of pine and malt, the pleasant malt sweetness coursing in and out with each breath.

Major malt and pine greet the palate with waves of smooth malty ale that has been well hopped. Not too sweet a malt, but rather well tempered with a likable citrus note. An ale of world class awaits you from Goose Island and should not be passed up.

 556 characters

Photo of Suds
3.69/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had a few bottles of Honker’s Ale recently with a nice pheasant dinner. Pours a clear, amber color with a slight white head: an average looking brew. The aroma is nice: floral, slightly musty hops, along with a caramel, mildly roasty maltiness. Medium body with relatively low carbonation. A bit on the sweet side, with a central maltiness. Well balanced, and has a very clean finish. It’s nothing outstanding, but is a drinkable, well-proportioned ale.

 457 characters

Photo of clvand0
3.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours an amber color with a small white head that dies off quickly and leaves a small amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma is typical of an APA - grassy hop with a slight caramel backing. The flavor is a little sweet, but has the floral hops there with some malt to balance it out. Well-balanced APA.

 314 characters

Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.82/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured clear light amber with a low white head which lasted to lace the glass.

The aroma was hoppy and fruity with a slight caramel impression.

The flavor was fruity and hoppy with caramel and a nice bittering to balance.

The finish was dry with lasting hop bitterness long into the aftertaste. The body was medium.

12 ounce bottle. A nice APA.

 365 characters

Photo of mobyfann
4.01/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Paid $12.49 flat for the 'Pub Pack'...

The appearence wasn't anything special, unless I poured it wrong??? It was a classic amber base with a small white head, low retention, no lacing and not impressive for an average rating... this part is subject to change, hopfeully... The aroma is nice of a mild hoppy variety, like it's counterpart IPA this APA tends to carry it's hoppier cousins traits. Nice smell.

The taste is mellow and smooth, not as spectactular as I was assuming, but it is nice all-together. The M&D are high, the carbonation is low on this one and there is no sign of alcohol in this APA, other than that, I find this very drinkable and would highly promote it as a session beer.

Final Thought: Goose Island now 5 for 5 and at $6 a 6-pack this brewery is taking the place of where Great Lakes and Bell's formerly were as my prefered 'premium' drinking beer (for price, still in college).

 913 characters

Photo of skybluewater
3.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12-oz bottle from a Pub Pak, freshness date "011705". Pours a very average amber color. Grapefruit dominates in the smell. Taste is of pink grapefruit. Mouthfeel is a bit thin (as is with most Goose Island beers, IMO).

Nevertheless, this is a good choice as a session ale, another average but highly drinkable Goose Island brew. Nothing really special, but you could drink it all night if you had to.

 404 characters

Photo of finepaws
3.27/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a coppery orange. Small white head that laces the edges towards the end. Smells fruity and floral. Like citrus flowers. Tastes malty and fruity. Like grapefruit. Slightly hoppy. Has a rind taste. Salty. Very carbonated. This is a beers beer. Good with food. Not one I would choose again, simply cause it's not my cup of tea. But one worth trying.

 352 characters

Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.73 out of 5 based on 3,882 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.