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Honker's Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

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1,107 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
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Reviews: 1,107 | Ratings: 3,847
Photo of mjohn27603
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
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 -5.1%
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 -0.5%
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 +1.1%
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 -4.8%
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 -8.6%
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 +12.3%
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 +2.9%
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 +5.6%
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 +18.7%
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 +4.8%
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 -28.9%
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 +9.1%
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 +0.5%
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 +4.8%
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 +14.2%
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 -10.4%
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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Photo of Dithyramb
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
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...

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Photo of budsboy
3.7/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

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Photo of bozebus17
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

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Photo of mentor
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.38/5  rDev +17.1%
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.

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Photo of bearrunner44
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Photo of abcsofbeer
3.55/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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Honker's Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.74 out of 5 based on 3,847 ratings.
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