Honker's Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Honker's AleHonker's Ale
3,953 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: 3,953 |  Reviews: 1,134
Photo of granger10
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one solid beer from Goose Island. Nothing spectacular but definitely a well crafted brew. Doesn't have that hop bitterness that a lot of pale ales have but the hops are strong. There are a lot of citrus hops in it and some spicy hops too. Sweet roasted malts and caramel malts complement the hops. Begins and finishes with some hoppiness but the middle is malty. Makes for a good mix. This beer doesn't strive for greatness it's just a quality beer that's well balanced.

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Photo of Kongquistador
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My first pour on this beer seemed to have gone wrong, with what little head formed disappearing almost instantly. Drank that and gave a second pour to get a better idea. The second pour was a little better, but I'm going to conclude that this beer pours with a very quickly disappearing head. It also left me very little lace, all of which makes for a mystery as to why there was so little topping, given the amount of carbonation. It looks very nice with a beautiful reddish brown hue, amber around the edges. Smell is a nice citrusy hops, with a distinct malt scent lurking underneath, but no discernable alcohol.

Great taste. That sums this beer up, but in the interest of making the review readable a little more ought to be said. The first sip hit me with a really nice citrus burst, which persisted throughout the swallow. Actually felt a little thin on the end, but it still had a good hoppy feel. There is also a nice caramel malt taste, which balances well with the hops. As the beer warmed I feel like it has thinned out a bit, and the first bite of flavor has mellowed out, not to the point where it could be described as bland or anything like that, but not as full and exciting either. The finish is hops, and good amounts of them, with that ever present citrus twang holding out to the last.

The mouthfeel on the Honker's isn't quite what I might like, but it is still very passable. The carbonation is heavy, and the beer isn't quite as smooth as it might be, given that it doesn't have an overwhelming character in any particular direction. However, the overall balance of the beer is very drinkable, and certainly worth a purchase if you find some.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

12oz. bottle poured into my Goose Island pint glass. It pours a light copper color with one finger of white foam. There is just a little lacing left on the glass. The smell is a nice mix of honey and hops. A fairly sweet smell, pretty pleasant. The taste is fairly sweet with honey and a hint of caramel and pine. There is a nice crisp, fairly hoppy finish. The mouthfeel is just a little light, but it is very smooth, and one of the most drinkable brews I've ever had. A favorite session beer of mine, and even better on tap.

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Photo of ZAP
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Certainly not an American style west coast Pale Ale..definitely English in style...more of a bitter..very tasty and worth buying if you like English style ales...pours a cloudy reddish orange.....nice lacing along the glass....nose is spicy..with a bready/biscuity note..On the light side of medium in body feel..a tich watery....taste is heavy on the bready malt and spicy hops...a pretty nice beer that I will reach for again when in the mood for an English style bitter or ale...

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Photo of johnrobe
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A pretty tasty brew but to me it had some qualities more indicative of a bitter than a pale ale. In the taste, fruity esters and caramel are in the fore front rather than hoppiness...which to me seems more bitter-ish. It pours a bright orange amber with a scant white head, no lace. Some non-descript fruitiness dominates the aroma backed by some sweet, bready malt. A good session quaffer.

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Photo of Shiloh
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice offering.
Pours a hazy deep caromel with light tan crown. Appearance is highlighted by its exceptional glass cling as this sample progresses.
Slight scent of yeast.
Carbonation is active.
The body is a medium/full.
The taste is very nice...starts a malty sweetness which is quickly replaced by an attack of the hops. Lingering bitterness to finish.

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Photo of BobLuvBeer
3.76/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber color with very good carbonation. Head pours thick and lacing lasts through glass.
Slightly roasted malt presence, with hops as the primary characteristic. They have reached a balance with the hops, where you taste them through out, but where they do not over power you. Finishes with a slightly citrusness which is unexpected, but adds favorably to the over all experience.

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

The last beer sampled at my recent trip to Chicago. This beer pours with lightish copper color, and a thick foamy white head. Fairly strong hops smell, with just a hint of malt. Taste was similar, a nice malt base with a hops finish, quite good for a Pale Ale. A bit light on the mouthfeel, but good on a hot day. Probably the second best beer I had at Goose Island, after the IPA.

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Photo of Sixpack595
3.79/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nice clear copper, with a fair head that dissipates quickly leaving no lacing. Aroma has a strong spicy hop note with malt also evident. Taste is much more mellow, with the malt backing up a balanced hop bitterness. Much more balanced than I expected, not like many of the out of balance hops for hop's sake beers out there.

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Photo of aaronh
3.79/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Light copper colored beer that is slightly hazy pours with a moderate, dark cream head. It slowly fades to a layer of rocky film. A slightly fruity malt note with a touch of grassy hops comprises the aroma. The taste is surprisingly bitter in a good way, with a touch of caramel/biscuity malt notes. Earthy hop flavors lead to a nice bitter but smooth finish. The aftertaste is a lingering earthiness with a touch of sweetness now and then. The mouthfeel is decent, but could be a bit more robust to support the flavors. Drinkability is very good. This is a fine pale ale at a very reasonable price.

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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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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 3,953 ratings