Honker's Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

1,115 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: 1,115 | Ratings: 3,875
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 sopor
3.42/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Crystal clear amber with a creamy one-finger head. Good bubbles rising with a rocky flm left over. Smells of crisp hoppy spicyness.

Delicate malt profile is quickly taken by a crisp herbal hoppy spiciness. Not exactly balanced, but good bitter.

Moderately light body with fine carbonation.

Drinkable, fine example of a bitter, but nothing extraordinary.

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Photo of scooter231
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Gingerman. Poured a very pretty amber color with tons of head and lacing, very appealing. Smelled lightly hopped, citrusy, and piney. Woody, even. Woody and citrus. Interesting.

Malts, hops, caramel. It's like... a malty caramel sweetness followed by a woody, slightly soured hoppy, woody flavor. Almost too much going on, but it's not tooo much. Nearing the border, though.

Mouthfeel is very light and easy, and this is way drinkable. A good beer for warm days, certainly. I'd get it again. Plus, the taps are gooses! Geeses! How cool is that?

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

A- bright golden copper with an off white head that laces well.

S- some fruit hints such as apricot. some hop aroma as well

T- clean balanced hop bitterness with some underlying fruit flavor. only problem i had was the metalic aftertaste.

M- good amount of carbonation with a light to medium body.

D- very easy to drink. taste is not overpowering so it would be easy to consume a lot of these.

overall- pretty decent beer that is readily avalaible. clean refreshing flavor. worth a shot

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.53/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

With true British gentleman demeanor, Goose Island captures the regal balance of plump malt, refined earthen flavor, and exquisite hop bitterness that makes English bitters so appealing.

This extra special bitter pours with a bright copper or chestnut coloration without any hint of haze. The beer builds a creamy off white head that shows tremendous staying power and lacing segments that exceeds its understated initial head formation.

Starting caramel, but weaving in the aromas of peanuts, butterscotch, mild toast, and freshly kilned barley the beer's plump character begins to make headway. Decorated with the broad spicy character of freshly mulled grasses, soft pine, and an overall earthy character, the beer's delicate balance is on proper display.

Deliciously juicy with the toffeeish caramel and nutty overtones that comes together with the taste of Cracker Jacks candy with medium sweetness and an overall hearty malt starchness. Superbly balanced with the grassy and earthy notes that are brought over from the aromas. Slight and nondescript fruit flavors of apples and peaches accent the sweetness with built-in finesse and complexity. As the beers malt sweetness waives and the moderate earthy hop flavors develop into a broad woody bitterness, the beer closes with a crisp, elegant, and elevated balance.

Medium bodied, the understated character of the beer continues as the beers supple early creaminess develops past a semi-starchy mid palate and into a dry malt-accented finish with the soft resin character of hops, minty warmth of alcohol, and fleeting malt textures.

Stately and elegant, Honker's ale speaks to British brewing traditions as well as any could expect. With restrained bitterness and ample malt character, the balance on display can only be improved with true cask condition effect.

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

Pours a nice dark copper colour into the glass. The thick beige head disappears quickly down to a thin white layer with very little lace left on the sides. Mild hoppy flavours and aroma with only slight bitterness and a bit of a dry finish. Medium smooth mouthfeel with low carbonation. A decent drinkable beer, but it didn't get me all that exited and left me in the mood for an IPA.

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Photo of whartontallboy
3.38/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out coppery amber with a medium white head and a crystal-clear body. Little to no head retention.

Malty smell with a light bite from a little bit of bitter hoppiness. Not much else going on.

Flavor is similarly malty, but the hops come out a bit better and add a layer of grapefruit and other citrus, maybe even a bit of peach, on top of the big doughy malt. Bitterness lingers in the finish.

Mouthfeel is pretty standard, thin and crisp on the tongue.

Overall: Not going to knock anyone's socks off, but a pretty solid little brew that has a nice hop-malt dynamic in it.

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

A amber beer with a very slight haze. Has a big creamy off white head. The aroma starts with a light carmel note within an easy going malt character with a hint of fruity sweetness in the background. The bitterness wakes up your tongue to be quickly followed by the easy going malt with just a hint of caramel in the background. There is a quick hint of pine in the smooth finish. Definitely a good session beer.

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Photo of mjohn27603
3.85/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours copper in color into glass. No chill haze clear and easy to see through. A very white head develops and a less than 1 finger head remains for over several minutes. Aroma is of hops and a bit of sweetness detected also. Sip reveals less hops bitterness than I would expect and more of a malty taste. The smell reminded me of an IPA but the taste doesn't support it. That being said there is a slight bitterness around the edge of the tongue with a liberal swallow. Beautiful lace being left behind as the beverage is drank. A solid session beer. I could see drinking several of these.

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Photo of dauss
3.55/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bought this at Chicaco O'Hare while waiting for my next flight, at 8:30 am.

Appearance: Crystal clear golden amber. A light tan thick head rests on top, great retention, and good lacing.

Smell: Citrusy American hops, not overpowering like an IPA or APA, but its noticible. A touch of malt and caramel.

Taste: First is a nice malt profile, a faint bitterness than fades into a malty and american hop flavor. The finish starts to increase bitterness again with more hop flavor and a touch of alcohol.

Notes: The body is a bit on the thin side, and the carbonation is really strong, which made it hard to drink quickly when the boarding annoucement was made. Overall, its a beginner APA, low bitterness, and just enough citrusy american hop flavor to call it one.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.72/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This one's nicely crafted little beer though nothing really outstanding.

The pour was disappointing - low carbonation with very little head and only a smidge of lacing along the glass. A nice deep golden color helped bring this back up to average.

The nose was quite restrained - this is certainly a non-aggressive Pale Ale. Some sweet malty odors and a few light grassy hops. Pleasant but very reserved.

The taste is quite similar - bready malt notes, slightly sweet and certainly a serious malt backbone to balance the beer. Hops are refined and are either very light American hops or mellow Golding or Fuggle for a more British approach. Sadly the hops are mild enough it's somewhat hard to tell.

Mouthfeel is fine but nothing to write home about. Again, not enough carbonation leaves the beer feeling 'ehh' on the palate.

I'd drink it again when I was looking for a 'soft' beer (not every brew needs to be a challenging drink like a double rye IPA, does it?) One thing I did really like was the low ABV (4.3%) which would make this an excellent session beer. Also a good place to start a macro drinker down the path of good craft beer.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.78/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear copper color. Thick white dense foamy head. Tiny bubbles streaming up from the bottom of the glass. Good head retention. Citrusy & slight herbal nose. Biscuity malt, slight earthy and fruity flavors. Finishes dry. Bitterness is present, but restrained. Medium body, a bit too much carbonation. Pretty refreshing. Solid beer.

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Photo of redmosquito
3.56/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Goose. Copper to amber in color with an off white head. The aroma is not as hoppy as I remember, but there is a nice caramelly malt aroma with a light floral hop in the background. The flavor is plenty bitter, with good balancing malt that is reminiscent of slightly toasted bread and light caramel. The body is good and the finish good. Overall, this is a well made beer, exactly what I expect from Goose Island.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.42/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle Inspection: Best by date (04/26/05) that we missed by about a month.

Aroma: Subtle notes of noble bittering hops, a whiff of tap water, and some light grapefruit notes.

Appearance: Orange/amber glass topped by a crown of off white that laces

Flavor: Very tea like, hops edge out the malt just slightly in a balanced act. Some citric flavor comes in as well, assumed from the hops.

Mouthfeel: Bit fizzy, medium light body.

Overall Impression: Mild and enjoyable. No flaws, but little flavor. Nobel hops are a high point and well presented.

Thanks to eyedrinkale for the karma beer!

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

Pours a light brown/orange, clear, big head stays with plenty of lacing. Smells like citrusy hops, some floral hops, malty and refreshing. For taste the maltiness comes right out, then moves to a pleasant floral hop flavour with a little bitterness in the finish. Light to medium bodied, smooth, low carb, a very refreshing beer, not too complex but a very good drink for someone into beer. Everyday consumption!

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Photo of karst
3.85/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pint glass clear copper with small head emitting a moderate hop aroma. Taste from it malt body is good and well balanced with hops. Medium mouthfeel. Good drinkability. No diacetyl. Good pale ale reminding me of a weaker hopped SNPA. Not sure I am having an English Bitter or just a low ABV Pale Ale.

Paired well with the P.L.T. sandwitch and fries from Charles-Ale-House.

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Photo of ypsifly
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Twist top 12oz bated best before 6/21/05, today. Poured into a pint.

Amber orange with a two finger head of white that leaves foamy rings down the glass.

Smells grainy with some citric hops in the background.

Citric hops upfront with some grains and a good dose of malt that adds to a light to moderate mouthfeel. The malts make up the bulk of the taste. Good session brew.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.44/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is quite the tasty beverage. I first sampled this from a 4 ounce serving and wasn't too impressed with it, but I wanted something a bit light, mildy hoppy, and refreshing to accompany my BBQ. This fit the bill quite well.

Pours to a pale and clear golden/amber color with a light carbonation. The head starts off at about an inch and recedes to a thin film over the liquid. Lacing does not seem to stick to the glass at all.

The smell is zesty and hoppy. It smells a bit similar to amarillo hops, but I don't think that's the only varietal. I could bury my nose in the glass all night, but eventually I'll end up having to drink the beer leaving me with nothing left to smell...

...which isn't that big of a problem, because the taste is equally delicious. Tastes like a mix between cascades and amarillo, perhaps. The malt is somewhat hidden behind the hoppiness, but the beer is not overly bitter by any means. It seems to have the perfect level of bitterness, as a matter of fact. It is bitter enough to satisfy my inner hop head without being so intense that I have to more or less sip the brew like many I2PA's.

The mouthfeel is a bit acidic, but it helps to get a good idea of the taste profile aside from the hops. I do believe I will have to make this my new fall-back session beer. Every beer I've had from Goose Island has been nothing short of exceptional. I highly recommend them, this beer in particular.

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

(Served in imperial pint glass as bottle describes but the bottle is an American pint so it fills a little over 1/2 of the glass)

A- A clear orange body with a gentle carbonation and a nice off-white head in a thin layer.

S- Nice fresh green hop with a little piney note. A light pale malt aroma is also present.

T- A nice hop floral/earthy flavor with a very crisp malt flavor. The finish is a nice gentle hop bitterness. As it warms there is a nice hint of toasted malt in each sip.

M-Medium body but very smooth mouthfeel. No astringency or alcohol warmth.

D- This is a nice session beer and it is well balanced but the hop bitterness still plays a strong role with a few malts really supporting it. I haven't tried this in years and its a nice beer to come back too.

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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 Vancer
4.08/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Hey, bottle says to “Serve in an imperial pint glass”. All right then !! Great pour, dark amber, ivory head. A grassy, hoppy aroma, hints of florals. Taste started with florals and hop, finish with a malt kick – is that backwards? Great, full bodied ale, a fine drinker even in the summer heat. Went through the whole 6 pack on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Photo of BeerFink
3.76/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear golden amber with a slight white head. Sweet caramel and herbal English hops meet my nose. Toasty malts and a hint of caramel mix with grassy, earthy hops that leave a little bit of citrous lingering. Finishing is dry and bitter. Good mix of malts and hops, with the emphasis on bitter. Enjoyable in a bottle, but even better on tap.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.73 out of 5 based on 3,875 ratings.
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