This month’s craft-beer review comes from the Goose Island Brewery in Chicago. The brew, Honker’s Ale, is one I’ve unfortunately had trouble finding regularly. This time I lucked out and found a few sixers at a grocery with a good selection of crafts and imports. Goose Island is a great brewery that makes a quality product. According to them, Honker’s is “inspired by visits to English country pubs” and “combines a fruity hop aroma with a rich malt middle to create a perfectly balanced beer.” All well and good, but what do I think? I poured this English-style bitter out of its chilled 12-ounce bottle into a room-temperature pint glass. Clocking in at only 4.2 percent ABV, it poured a very dark orange to copper color with some brighter burnt-orange highlights that outlined the edges and bottom of the glass. An off-white, eggshell-colored head formed from a standard pour, which had decent size, adequate retention and left some pretty attractive lacing. The beer cleared up nicely as it warmed to the surroundings. The smell revealed a sturdy caramel malt accompanied by some light graininess. It also provided a slightly toasted fragrance akin to sourdough bread along with very, very, very light, “hoppy” notes of peach and other soft fruits. A woody, tree-bark aroma could be detected (which I wasn’t expecting), which melded with a minuscule butter fragrance. I thought the smell was balanced well with suitable complexity. A definitive and plentiful malt characteristic filled the flavor, which was sweet caramel combined with bread, crisp crackers and dry wafers. A genuine, earthy hop profile brought about a slight bite, and more of that soft fruitiness completed an enjoyable savor. Again, well balanced and even. It is important to know that an English bitter is not supposed to be potent. This is true to the style 100 percent. The mouthfeel was a solid medium. It was dry, smooth, slick and somewhat crisp. I found myself taking big, refreshing gulps that left a substantial amount of flavor behind for me to enjoy. Immensely drinkable, Honker’s Ale lives up to its intended style. Overall, this is a wonderful brew. I could definitely down several of these over the course of an evening. This beer isn’t overly complicated, but an easy-going, easy to enjoy beer. It’s very nice. I think this is a great “gateway” brew for someone interested in trying a craft beer and I also think that it has enough complexity and flavor for even the most experienced beer aficionado. Give it a try. I think this underrated, light seasonal gem will pleasantly surprise you.