Goose Island Honkers Ale Review

Honkers Ale

Overall Rating

Overall Rating


An English style bitter from Goose Island
Honkers Ale
A disappointing attempt at an English bitter. Very sweet with pervading peach and apricot flavours.
2 / 5 stars
Goose Island have been a weird one for me here on I’ve either had a lot of dodgy bottles or just don’t really get it. I’ve consumed their Goose Island 312 and Goose Island IPA and both have left me somewhat unsatisfied. But never one to hold a grudge, I picked up a bottle of Goose Island Honkers Ale at the fine establishment known as ASDA and decided to give Goose another go.

Honkers Ale; a whole new world?

Honkers Ale is described as an “English style bitter”. We all know how much I love a good bitter so this puts us in good stead – I’m going into this with an open mind (and nose and throat) and I’m hoping this will be the bottle to change my mind. With a bit of further research (or… Googling Honkers Ale and landing on the Goose Island website) it appears that this is actually an award winning English style bitter. Let’s just say my expectations are high.

But then, there is this:

Cup o' tea, guvnor? Cor, blimey and golly gosh.

Cup o’ tea, guvnor? Cor, blimey and golly gosh. (Also, I’m pretty sure cheese is not classed as glass…)

I’m a little offended. I’m not sure why, but let’s be honest. If they want to stereotype us that much they should have just put Chicken Tikka Massala and a bag of cheese and onion McCoy’s. But I digress. Like a true English gent I’ll twiddle my moustache, look slightly peeved, straighten my tweed jacket, keep calm and carry on with the review.

Goose Island don’t know English

Literally, as soon as I cracked this bottle all I could smell was peach and apricot. Real fruity, hoppiness – not the typical near-dank aromas of a good Master Brew. It smelt a lot like summer and (to my dismay) very sweet. Honkers was not off to a good start. On the pour, though, it is a very pretty beer. A stolid golden amber colour with energetic lacing and thick, foamy head that lasted throughout the drink – but it was too vibrant for my cynical English expectations.

Tasting was an interesting experience. The scent had settled a little and the flavour wasn’t as much of an affront as I was expecting. I was imagining an Operation Overlord with sweet summer fruits storming the beaches of tastebuds, luckily, no war was fought but no excitement was had either. It’s a very standard beer – noticeably verging on the sweet side (but what do you expect from the country that invented the Cronut).

Calling in the cavalry (something something Red Coats?)

Just to make sure I wasn’t being too harsh, I actually invited the parents of Beer Reviews to sample Goose Island’s wares. Now, Mother BR doesn’t drink beer – she’s a classy Sauvignon kinda gal, and Father BR is not an ale drinker in the slightest – the fridge is full of Kronenbourg, Coors Light and San Miguel. Their unanimous decision on Honkers Ale:

I really like that!

Oopsy Daisy

hugh grant honkers aleThey both agreed that it was not like any bitter they had tried (and subsequently try to avoid) and that it’s fruitiness, medium sweetness and malty lager-esque profile (it was actually compared to a fruity Bud) would make for an enjoyable summer evening tipple. And that’s not really what a bitter is.

Four ingredients and a funeral

If I’m going to be completely forthcoming and honest (how very un-British of me) – this beer is just a little bit too much like Hugh Grant for my liking. It’s sweet, soppy and a little bit offensive.

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