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Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery refers to its “Honker’s Ale” brand as an English style bitter, but don’t be fooled by the name. This fine beer is anything but bitter. What then is an English Bitter? Simply put, it is a style of ale in which the brew master uses ample amounts of aromatic hops and sweet malt. The result is a beer with a strong hop presence but a pleasantly drinkable taste.
The brew master at Goose Island uses an interesting mixture of grains including: two row barley malt, wheat malt and roasted barley. This hearty malt combination produces a bread like aroma with a sweet malt flavor, strong enough to balance out the Stryrian Golden and Super Styrian hops. Although both hops types have mild bittering and aromatic qualities, Super Styrian hops is known especially for its dual flavor and scent characteristics.
When held to the light, a brilliant coppery gold color shows through the glass. A tight off white head forms as it is poured and quickly dissipates into a nice band of lacey foam around the inside of the glass. An abundance of small bubble carbonation gives the beer a pleasant feel in the mouth that carries through in the aftertaste as a pleasant mix of hops and malt lingers at the back of the tongue.
With a moderate alcohol content (4.3% abv) and a bitterness level (30 IBUs) that is about the average for this style of beer, Honker’s Ale qualifies as a refreshing and pleasant session beer.
Honker’s Ale has been described as smooth drinkable English style ale. With Maryland’s goose season scheduled to end on January 29; this might be just the right time to recommend Honker’s Ale as a post-hunt refreshment.