This column reviews a beer based on aroma, appearance, taste and palate (mouthfeel). At the end of each review, we score the beer based on a five-star system (one star meaning you will likely regret ever drinking such a horrible concoction, five stars meaning it’s your new favorite beer, and two, three, and four stars falling somewhere in between).
Goose Island Brewery initially began as a single brewpub back in 1988. Founded by John Hall, the brewery is best known for its 312 Urban Wheat Ale and Honker’s Ale. In 2011, Goose Island announced that it would be selling its stake to the dreaded Anheuser-Busch InBev, provider of all things terrible in the beer world. Side note: I didn’t realize this last fact at the time that I was drinking Honker’s Ale, but, for what it’s worth, the anonymous mob of the internet has noted a difference in quality after AB InBev took over operations.
Honker’s Ale is brewed in the English Bitter style, which is essentially just another way of saying it’s a pale ale. As a reminder, pale ales are made by warm fermentation, using predominantly pale malt. They can have a wide range of taste and strength within the family, so in (beer) theory, Honker’s Ale could be extremely different in taste from something like Headwaters Pale Ale.
Honker’s Ale didn’t have a particularly strong smell, although I sampled it on draft, which may have had something to do with that. It had mild notes of citrus, malt and a hint of caramel in the nose. The beer pours a pleasant amber color with a creamy head.
The first word that comes to mind when trying to describe the taste is “clean.” There is a clear malt taste along with some very light hops, but, overall, nothing too complex going on taste-wise. As far as mouthfeel is concerned, Honker’s Ale has a medium body and a nice, crisp finish.
Overall, this beer is good, but nothing special. It does, however, have the makings of a good session beer, which bumps its rating up just a bit on our scale.
Little Utopia Rating: Three out of Five
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