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Des de Moor
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Accredited Beer Sommelier
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Des de Moor


Goose Island Honker’s Ale

First published in BEER July 2006 as part of a page about beers from the USA available in the UK. See previous post for more beers from the USA.

ABV: 4.3 per cent
Origin: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Honker's Ale

When marketing man John Hall opened his Goose Island brewpub in 1988, in a district of Chicago once associated with pre-Prohibition brewing, there were only 16 brewpubs in the USA. Hall believed seeing the brewing process in action would help educate the inhabitants of a region in which mass-produced beer was very much part of the culture.

Goose Island now has a purpose built brewery with a capacity of over 100,000 hectolitres a year selling beer across the Midwest. There’s a wide and imaginative range, some of which occasionally pop up in British outlets courtesy of importers James Clay.

Honker’s Ale was one of the brewery’s early lines and still one of their most popular. Reflecting the original aspiration to establish an English-style atmosphere in the brewpub, it’s inspired by British bitters but is still very much an American beer.

It’s a nutty amber brown colour with a good white head and a fairly restrained nutty-malty aroma, with a touch of liquoricey spice and a light hint of coal dust roast – some roasted barley is used alongside pale and cara-malts and wheat.

The firm nutty and biscuity palate has a distinctive fruit edge with a syrup note, lifted by subtle and slowly developing rooty, burry Styrian Goldings hop flavours. Slight roastiness gives a chewy edge to a tangy finish with plenty of peppery hops and resiny, estery notes.

For more beers from the USA see next post.

Read more about this beer at

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