Name – Honker's Ale
Brewer – Goose Island
Classification – 'English Style' Bitter.
Strength – 4.3% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Uncommonly attractive ale. That's exactly what it looks like.
On the nose – Bionic dark malts! Licorice and sticky toffee pudding.
On the tongue – Tangerine peel versus burnt bark in a vat of maple syrup. Trust me, it's nice.
On the subject – Out of Chicago, John Hall and, later on, his son Greg evolved a really genuine local micro into a pretty genuine global micro by harnessing the power of customer involvement and seemingly keeping their heads screwed tightly on. Impressive. Their website modestly speaks of their growing presence in 'the Europe'. Sometimes, clerical errors can be so damn heart-warming.
On the market – Ouch. Specialist shops only in the UK. Online outlets are plentiful. This came my way via Richard at the Real Ale Store - (website under construction I'm told).
On the whole – 8.5/10
On the whole – 8.5/10
Try saying that after a few glasses of this stuff!
But, yes, this beer does have such an undercurrent of flavour running through it but, quite honestly, there's so much going on in this drink that any undercurrent – however delightful – simply doesn't make it onto the list of 'vital things to mention.'
Where to begin...?
Well, how about starting with this – A more potent clash between bitter and sweet you will seldom find. Every single mouthful gets you guessing at which is the more dominant. It's an incredibly fine line between the two, which in itself reveals a lot about the rarefied engineering going on behind this brew.
Experts brewed this beer – there's no doubt about it.
Coming in to play after each of those aforementioned mouthfuls, is a finish imbued with the most delicious apple pie quality – bringing yet further emphasis to that bitter sweet conflict.
It has the sultry appeal of a dark beer – a bock springs to mind – and yet it has all the lively tingles associated with a golden ale or even a boutique lager.
This is a powerhouse brew, and it doesn't waste any time making a big impression. Only the occasional faint trace of a soap-like after-taste prevents me from sending a current-record-equalling 9/10 score in this mighty beer's direction.
If only the bottle were of normal size – and not this very small 335ml– then I'd have had more time to get to properly know it. Maybe then I'd have re-evaluated that soap-like flavour entirely.
It's funny, the folks at Goose Island even recommend pouring this drink into an Imperial pint glass. But surely they realise that 355 into 568 just doesn't go!
This whole tiny-portions issue just refuses to stop bugging me...
Anyway, there's no escaping it - this is a truly fine ale.
My (decent sized) hat is off to the Goose.