Honker's Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Honker's AleHonker's Ale
3,943 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,943 |  Reviews: 1,133
Photo of MJR
3.16/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: This one has copper edges around an amber body that seems to have it's own glow. Good overall clarity. The head starts out a healthy size, then shrinks to a small, but persistent, cap.

Smell: The aroma has a nice dose of fresh hops that is well balanced with the malts. There's a bit of a caramel, as well as an interesting roasted character. A touch of breadiness too. Unfortunately, the main thing that stands out to me is a strange, off flavor that's hard to describe...maybe a mix of a phenolic flavor and a slighty burnt one.

Taste: Again, that off flavor is distracting and strange. Putting that aside, there's the balance of hops and malt. A touch of bread, caramel, and roasted malt are present.

Mouthfeel: Fairly high level of carbonation, with medium mouthfeel. A bit dry and crisp on the finish.

Drinkability: Hmmm...how to approach this one? The strange aroma and flavor make it a bit hard to enjoy the good balance that I'm sure this brew has. I don't know if it's an off bottle, or if it's part of the flavor profile. I'm leaning towards it being a part of the flavor profile, since I've run into this exact flavor before in an IPA from Magic Hat. I still have a month before the 'best by' date is due, so I know it's somewhat fresh. Whichever it is, I don't care for it.

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Photo of AudioGilz
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

So here is one of my standby's....a go to beer when the mind fails to decide upon something new. It's a beer for all occassions and seasons. It has a nice appearance of clear light amber/orange with a small head and moderate lacing, especially the draught. The aroma is a little but floral hoppiness with hints of caramel malt. As goes the flavor, hints of caramel malt, a little toasty, and a little hoppy in the end. Every flavor is strong enough to enjoy and light enough to drink all day or night or both. This is one highly quaffable brew. When it's on tap, the bitterness of the hops is more pronounced and crisp. Bottle or draught, a wonderful brew indeed.

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Photo of Morris729
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours amber in color with a tall and creamy white head that leaves spider webs of lace on the sides of the glass as it recedes. Nose is dominated by floral hops with a bit of sweet malt in the background. Medium in body with a fairly smooth and creamy texture. Taste is sweet toasted malts and caramel up front followed by some woody notes and flavors of unsweetened black tea. A good amount of hop bite is present in the finish. This would make for a fine session beer. Thanks to bditty187 for the sample!

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Photo of BrewAskew
4.02/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had it in both draft and bottle form and they are similar enough to be covered by this one review. Good head retention, amber color. Fresh malt aroma. Low bitterness, easy to drink and leaves a nice malty taste on the middle of the tongue. Slightly hoppy finish. Very good stuff.

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Photo of stoutman
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't really think 'small batch' when I think Goose Island. This is the flagship beer and rightfully so. It tastes like it smells and is somewhat hoppy. Kind of thin mouthfeel, fair head, light amber color, roasty malts that are set aside by floral hops. Appropriately carbonated. A great session beer. When it's truly fresh on tap, it's practically unbeatable.

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Photo of Tballz420
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Off the pour theres a big slightly off white head, sticks all over the glass. Smells like youre at the garden. Its pretty dark red in color. A really malty beer, not too sweet though, with a hint of hops somewhere in there. My first goose island experience, not my last.

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a beautiful clear dark amber with a substantial tan head that lasted a while. Great lacing. The taste included good hop sense and was sweet, but not overly so. The smell, all hops at the start became more caramel bready when warm. The aftertaste was somewhat metallic and astringent.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A deep amber color with full malty, fluid body. A nice light floral aroma that fades all too quickly. Medium/High citrusy hops offer subtle contrast to the sweet malt. Balanced, smooth and easy to gulp. Flavorful and lightly sweet. Some Fruitiness. Very nice America ale!

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Photo of tavernjef
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Honker's is well rounded good American drinkin ale. Solid copper color with sparatic white head that fizzed out uneven. Nice aroma of lightly done hops and caramel malt, kinda sweet. Taste echoed the smell favorably, nice light mix of hop bitterness and malty caramel. Slightly dry finish that smooths out and makes you want more. Good medium body feel, quite smooth. This stuff is drinkable and very smooth. Nothing to it really that sticks out, its just good.

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Photo of bditty187
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, coppery-tawny-bronze in hue, a white head of a finger in height lasted for a long while, in other words the head retention was excellent. The subsequent lacing was minimal but noticeable. It is an attractive beer. The bouquet has good potency, there is a fruity marmalade of oranges and citrus, these citrus notes blend perfectly with the citrusy and piney hops. Behind this is the malt, very pleasant maltiness, notes of toasty caramel and a bit of biscuit. The bouquet seems to be a perfect blend between an APA and an EPA. In my book that kicks ass, I find it very inviting. I have had this beer on numerous occasions and as I sit-down to update my review I find this hoppier than I remember, now how often do you say that! Now don’t get me wrong this is not over-hopped but I’d say, near perfectly hopped. The bitterness is crisp and refreshing and it imparts flavors of pine and light citrus notes, it is pleasantly juicy. The malt finds a home as well, English biscuity notes, some caramel too, vaguely toasty. The long aftertaste begs to be matched with a juicy burger. Medium in body, firm but appropriate carbonation, the mouthfeel is ideal. I really enjoy Honker’s Ale, IMO it is a bit better than Boulevard’s Pale Ale and I wish I could get this locally. As is I purchase six-packs whenever I am in Sioux Falls, SD. I think it is worth trying.

Updated on May 7, 2004

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Photo of Mitchster
4.23/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ah, the good ol' reliable Honker's. Clear amber brew with copper accents forms a thin meringue-like light-beige head atop small to medium-sized bubbles. Carbonation and head retention are moderate, with excellent lacing. Mouthfeel is smooth in the finish, with a medium body. Aroma is satisfying with a lager-like cleanliness, a healthy dose of floral hops, toasty malts with a hint of chocolate malt, and very subtle freshly mown hay. Taste begins with a very nice floral flavor hop (jasmine in particular) which is spicy, but completely in balance with the grainy malts. There is a hint of chocolate (or is that biscuit?) malt appearing towards the middle complemented by a warm, bready graininess. The finish is smooth with more toasty grains, well-balanced finishing hops darting on the back of the tongue, and a crisp, lightly-dry mouthfeel. Belches are hoppy and sexy. No alcohol, metals, or caramel noted. One of my favorite examples of the style, and a satisfying session-brew. A great pale-ale, and always a pleasure to drink.
35 IBU, 14.5 SRM, 5.0% ABV

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Photo of Quaffer
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: This was a copper beer with an almost white head that rose to two fingers. It settled down into a thin layer that covered the surface of the beer for the entire drink, leaving a lot of lace.

Smell: There were sweet malt aromas combined with an oily hoppiness. Occasionally, I could detect a hint of caramel malt.

Mouthfeel: A smooth, medium-bodied brew.

Taste: Overall, this was a pretty tame beer. There were straightforward malt flavors upfront that slowly gave way to (but were never totally overcome by) a mild hops bitterness. The hops had an oily, clingy aspect to it. The mixture of sweet and bitter lingered for quite awhile.

While this beer was good, it lacked the complexity of many other brews in this style. Very mild, but still pretty darn good.

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Photo of inebrius
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, hazy peach under a thin khaki cap. A few fingers of lace survived on the plastic airport bar cup. The nose sounds notes of grass and orange pith over a sheet of toasted grains. Toast makes its way into the flavor and gets drawn into a long herbal hop finish. Fuzzy, round and quite the session brew.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Honker’s ale is copper in color with an off-white head that lasts. It leaves a bit of lacing while sipped down. The aroma is grainy, with a slight spicy hop aroma. The flavor has a semi-sweet caramel malt flavor and a bit of spicy hop flavor. The bitterness is minimal in this one. Overall it is an easy drinking session ale.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.44/5  rDev +21.3%
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 maxpower
3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear bright copper color, small white head, sweet light malt aroma, kind of nutty. Light malt flavors, some hops noticable in the finish, clean. This pale ale is very light in body and on the tongue, a little watery, otherwise has some good light flavor, maybe a good sesssion beer.

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Photo of brakspear
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a nice average beer, nothing that really jumps out at you, but no obvious flaws either. It pours a medium copper body with a slight head that lingers. The aroma is a mild malty or biscuity base followed by some hop spiciness. The taste is also rather mellow and my bottle tasted a bit oxidized. I have preferred many of the other fine Goose Island beers over this rather tame offering.

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Photo of Gusler
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A pretty copper color as it rest in my glass, the head a modest crown, somewhat creamy in texture, and the lace nice covering sheets. Sweet malt dominated nose, fresh and pleasant with the start malt and also somewhat sweet, the top middling in feel. Mild hop presence, carbonation middling and the aftertaste quite dry, and a beer if more readily available here would be a nice session beer as I like its crisp and clean refreshing taste.

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Photo of BeerAngel
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a clear copper color with a medium off-white head that seems to last. The smell of hops is dominant with a light malty bread background. Smells very refreshing! The taste consists of pungent hops with a piney and slight citrusy taste with light malt. This is a light bodied brew that finishes just a slight tad dry. Different, but I enjoyed this quite a bit! Cheers!

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Photo of Winter
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a clear amber with a thin off-white head. Pleasant aroma consisted of roasted malts, hops and caramel. Taste up front was lacking, but it had a delicious roasted finish. A bit of a light ale, but rich in flavor. Honkers Ale seemed to have similar qualities to their fuller-flavored Oktoberfest in taste and aroma, just a lighter version of it. This is one I would definitely enjoy again.

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Photo of zerk
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly chill hazed copper amber, with a 1/4 inch white head. Aroma of carmel and grainy malt, with a touch of citrusy hops. Beer is medium bodied, with low to meduim carbonation... very smooth. Flavor begins with toasted malt and some citrus bitterness... followed by a biscuity flavor that lingers on the tongue. This is a great session brew.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.19/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I would have rated this as an ESB. Perfect interpretation of the style in my mind.

Dark Gold to Light Copper with a low head & low retention. Nice balanced aroma and flavor. Nice hoppiness when fresh with moderate bitterness. Medium bodied and creamy.

A great session beer.

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Photo of doerickson
4.11/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Amber coloring with a white head that displays adequate retention. Nose is primarily light citric hops. The taste is more balanced, with fruity hop flavors balanced by a malty undertone that becomes more pronounced as the brew warms. Rates off the charts in drinkability--a session beer that can hold its own with the best of them.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This one was a little disappointing to me because it was not too heavy in the hops department. I don't know if that is a regional thing (west coast APAs seem to have more bite) but this is still a well rounded and smooth offering from Goose Island.

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Photo of packetknife
3.22/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Slightly cloudy reddish-brown. Bleached white head that held for proper time. Grapefruit peel on the nose. Served quite cool it was refreshing, biitterness of a grapefruit (lightly). It was refreshing but not quite what I'd want in a beer, maybe in iced-tea. I can't give it a poor rating but I can't give it much above average.

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 3,943 ratings