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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,118 | Ratings: 3,883
Photo of whynot44
3.83/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice clear copper color with a decent tan head that hangs on fairly well and leaves some nice lacing.

The aroma is caramelly malt with a touch of herbal hops.

The taste starts with a hit of grapefruit and pine then mellows slightly with a caramel malt middle with hints of apple. The finish is dry and piney with a nice hops bite that lingers.

Medium bodied and very drinkable and definitely worth a try.

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Photo of babydoc
3.46/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass from a bottle labeled best...by 060406. Slightly hazy golden amber, with an enormous tan bubbled head that left sticky lace 'til the end. Aroma of floral hops, a touch of sweetness. Mouthfeel is moderate, lightly carbonated, dry finish.

Taste is light malt sweetness with hops there from the outset and lasting throughout. Nice drying bitter finish.

Vry drinkable, could be a session beer.

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.65/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

See through copper, very decent tan fizzy head. Sweet malts, caramel and a bit of hop bite on the nose. Carbonated fuzzy hops; oily and bitter up front. Loads of fruit offerings in the form of grapefruit, peaches, orange peel. A defining malt backbone; very clean and sweet. A massively bitter palate; a nice product!

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Photo of Shovelbum
4.25/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light white head over a translucent copper body. Aromas of earth English hops and a touch of caramel malt. Extremely well-balanced pale and caramel malts with just the right amount of hop bitterness and British flavor hops. Light body. Smooth mouthfeel with a drying finish.

I love the hop character of this ale—earthy flavor with just enough bitterness to get the job done. So well-balanced that it just slides right down. A great session beer.

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Photo of kdmorse
3.52/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Nice amber color with 1 finger of whitish head that fades quickly. Cloudless with a nice amount of carbonation.

S: Nice smell balanced with hops and malt. A hint of sweetness that I can’t put my finger on. Nice bitter hop scent which is perfect for me.

T/M: Light mouthfeel. Good amount of malt in the flavor without much sweetness. Nice bitter taste/aftertaste, but not too hoppy.

D: Very easy drinking. Clean finish makes it very enjoyable. Makes me want to take one sip after another until I am forced to crack the next bottle.

Notes: At the beginning of my beer odyssey (about a year ago), I could stand English Bitters, ESBs, or anything bitter. After a full 180, I am enjoying the hell out of this straightforward bitter. I will drink this again, and hopefully make it up to Chi-town this summer to have it fresh after a Cubs game.

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Photo of Ego
3.97/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

amber and clean, slightly off white head fed by a steady stream of carbonated goodness, your basic ale lookin' thing...

nice mild floral hop bitters... a touch of caramel sweetness carries along as well, not super complex but I love the way this smells, I could wear this as cologne.. of course I dont think cops pulling me over on the highway would really appreciate that... just a nice, simple, clean bitter aroma, straightforward and right on imo.

taste etc...
light mouthfeel, smooth, carbonation is subdued and reminds me of fullers ESB in that dept., mild bitter tones in the aftertaste that fade and make you want to take another sip, up front it is mostly the mild malts, not sweet at all (thank god).

ok, not a super complex uber beer by any stretch..but you know what ? I dig it... alot. It reminds me of Fuller's ESB sort of bred with Sierra Nevada Pale... easy drinking. I will definitely keep this around for spring/summer BBQs with light fare like burgers etc or just hanging out by the pool, I could drink this all day.

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Photo of Oxymoron
3.43/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Available in South Dakota. Pours a mostly clear copper color with orange and tan hues. Good foam but the retention doesn’t last through the whole drink. Lacing was good though.

The smell is limited for a bitter but still has a good smell. A good caramel and pine smell with a touch of citrus at the end. Hops are there but I think there should be more.

Taste is similar, light for a bitter but a good taste. The malt is more prominent with a good caramel and maybe a touch of toffee as well. The hops are not as citrus but have more of a sour taste. Not much on the bittering side, but good flavoring. There is a woody taste in the aftertaste that isn’t quite earthy.

The body is medium with good carbonation. Very easy to drink but limited on being a bitter. Still a nice beer to taste.

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Photo of Brodirt
4.05/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Clean, clear, copper colored bitter with a nice rich head. I find this beer really easy to drink...I think the style, bitter, is a bit low on carbonation, but not so that it tastes flat, and that makes it real easy to down.

Nice malty sweetness, a bit of citrus and a dry bitter finish.

With every one of Goose Islands offerings I try they come closer and closer to Dogfish Head as my favorite overall brewery.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.05/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz single, Woodman's

I'm from chicago, most of my family is still in the chicago area, this is what you drink (other than old style!) when you grow up north of I-88

appearance: a clear copper-amber pour, thick and foamy beige head with decent lacing left behind

smell: toasted grain, sweet and smooth caramel malt, peppery, spicy, buttery biscuit, soft earthy and floral hops behind the toasty malt aroma structure

taste: lots of toasted grain, buttery biscuit, sweet caramel malt, some nice fruit - apple, pear....lots of peppery spiciness in this one. tastes like summer nights in chicago

mouthfeel: definitely finishes dry...medium body, smooth

drinkability: very drinkable, a north-side session beer

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Photo of murphysbleachers
3.01/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from a mixed 12 into a pint glass.
A: Orangey golden, nice head, not so great retention.
S: Not a very strong odor. Slight bready malt and floral hops, but only after sticking my nose in the glass for a minute, looking for something to write down.
T: Slight hop bitterness. That's it.
M: Nothing wrong, nothing special.
D: Easy drinking and I'll drink it again because of availability in Chicago. Not worth putting too much effort into finding this.

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Photo of beerceller99
3.54/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Clyborne location. Has a clear amber with not much head. A beautifully spiced,earthy sweet smell wafts up from the shaker glass. light bodied with a watery mouthfeel. A mild, but decent malty grainy taste prevails. Very easy drinking and a good thirst quencher.

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

This had a decent, bone-white head above a slightly cloudy, medium-amber colored liquid. The nose was nicely sweet. It had a medium mouthfeel with a tea-flavored hoppiness on the palate. The finish was lightly dry with a slight intermingling of sweetness. This was a good beer and it surely beat a lot of the other beers on draft at the small MKE beer where I drank it while waiting on a friend.

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Photo of PBRstreetgang
4.03/5  rDev +8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazed orange copper, with a dense two finger head. Half-way decent retention leaves only weak lacing. American pine needles and german hop nose, matched with a caramel and butterscotch malt aroma. Low attentuated crystal malt sweetness upfront, with a noble hop bite and resinous pine flavor that lingers into the aftertaste. High carbonation and light body lend a crispness to combat the very mild diacetyl that creeps up in the finish. No quite a session ale, but still highly drinkable with a satisfying taste.

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

Released from a bottle into a glass with a slightly hazy dim amber hue, loaded with rising bubbles topped with a spotty sticky thin beige headcap.

Balanced scents of gummi bear malt and hops.

First swigs: A blend of sweet table sugar tea malt and light hoppy balance. Some diluted watery aspect prevails, but overall, this is just an easy balance. Some juicy fruit gum and apple middle with a lingering fruit meld.

Feel is totally a zinger! Crisp and dandy. Sparkling. A linger of gum, but an easy balanced ale that really finishes with a clean balance. Maybe 60/40 balance on the hops side.

Last swigs: Glad that I found it in the grocery store in Carmel, IN to get me thru the night.

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Photo of metallistout
4.1/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a copper color with a decent head that left a lace in the glass for most of the duration of me drinking it.
Smells of malt and citrus hops a little floral.
Tastes very crisp, grapefruit, nice hop balance, with a good mouthfeel.Sweet malt flavor, but not too sweet.
Overall I would say that this is a good beer and I will definately be buying more six packs of this in the future.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.7/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This ale is golden orange, with moderate clarity but not much head. The smell is fresh and piney, and the floral hops remind me of summer. The taste is not sweet, mostly hoppy with a moderate bitterness. It has a light, clean and crisp feel with good carbonation. Not a lot of balance here but if you like hops you will enjoy it.

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Photo of paterlodie
3.6/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

BB 01-07-06. Some head and a cupper/amber beercollor. Nose is green piney hops, litle caramellic, malty but sweet whee note underneath that spoils fresh feeling. Still more then decent as taste is. Laying to the dry side there still is some sweetness in there, ambermaltlike before going into a bitter aftertaste. Quiet good performance but IMO misses a spark of freshness, maybe cause of age. Still plesantly drinking and enjoyable to me as we europeans don't get that often the chance to obtain US craftbrews.

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Photo of Billolick
4.01/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle tried, comes with freshness dating, pours clear, medium honey/almond with an off white medium tight head, that shows good retentive powers. leaves well scattered, fine , sticky lacing. nice looking beer. Nose veers towards the piney hop side. This is, as advertized, a well balanced, flavorful ale. Very pleasant quaffer, fine sessioner, nothing too exciting, but surely a decent, crowd pleasing brew. I have yet to drink anything from Goose Island that has been anything less then top rate and to style. Well done.

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Photo of hero27
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best when consumed by: 03/06

Served in an imperial pint glass, as it suggests on the back of the label. Pours a clear burnt orange. Head holds steady long into the brew, leaving spotty lacing. Aroma is fairly hoppy, but there's definitely a solid malt profile paired with it. Nice floral hop taste combined with the caramel and toffee malts. Good flavor (without being over-the-top) makes this a very drinkable beer also.

Had this on-tap not too long ago and I don't remember it being near this hoppy or flavorful..maybe the keg or lines had gone south. Overall, a pretty solid pale ale for a pretty fair cost. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of jp32
3.12/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours a copper/orange color with a nice off-white thick layer of foam. The nose is hoppy and clean with a healthy pale ale smell. It tastes of bitter and tangy hops, with a strong malt backbone thats especially evident in the finish. I've had better tasting beers, but this one is not bad at all. I do notice it gets considerably more watery as it warms. Very smooth mouthfeel. Moderate to medium bodied I suppose. Good drinking beer, I'm sure I could have quite a few before really desiring something else. Good Beer.

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

Thanks to Eyedrinkale for this one...
Pours a clear copper color with two fingers of off-white head...a decent amount of thick lacing forms with outstanding cling.
Spiced up hops with a generous balance of sweet malt...nothing over the top in the nose, but peeking my interest.
The taste is smooth and enjoyable...a generous hop bite yet not overly bitter as I was expecting...perhaps due to the fact that it is a couple months past it's prime.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and the carbonation is perfect...could easily throw back a number of these with no effort.
My first experience with Goose Island and a good one at that...looking forward to trying a few more of their offerings in the future.

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Photo of PopeJonPaul
3.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber orange "pale-ale" color, almost no head and not much smell either. Edgy hops dominate with the flavor of grapefruit and bitters, mixed with a good fruity mildness. Has a tangly, clean aftertaste, a good beer but it doesn't really stand out against other ales I've had, I'd rank it up with a Sierra Nevada or some such, would grab a 6-pack but wouldn't bring it to a beer tasting.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.08/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This brew pours a clear amber color with a small white head. The aroma is quite balanced, malty and hoppy. It is a bit faint though. The taste is a lot more assertive than teh aroma. It is balanced, but leans a little more toward the hoppy side. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with ample carbonation. Overall, this is a very drinkable brew; great for sessions.

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Photo of 67cuda
3.35/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer poured a nice amber color, with two fingers of off-white head. It smells a bit like caramel, with some hops, and a bit of sweetness as well... an intriguing mix. As for taste, it has a good amount of hops bitterness, with some malt notes present, and a little citrus as well. The mouthfeel is OK, the carbonation almost made it seem a bit fizzy to me however, otherwise it was nice and creamy. This beer isn't terribly exciting, but it isn't terrible either. It's a quite drinkable beer, however.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
3.88/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first from Goose Island. Poured out to an amber / orange color with a beautiful, dense foamy head of about half an inch. Lace was present in the glass, nearly to the bottom of the pint. Aromas of herbs and hops, with some spice sweetness. Taste was fresh and mild; flavors of fruits, hops, malts and herbs blended well, with a touch of sourness and bitterness. Mouthfeel was substantial enough for the drinker to know that this was a craft brew, yet light enough for it to be enjoyable throughout the year. Drinkability is good, as this could be a session beer for some beer lovers. Overall, a quality offering from Goose Island. I look forward to trying their other offerings. Recommended.

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.73 out of 5 based on 3,883 ratings.
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