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Old Crafty Hen - Greene King / Morland Brewery

Not Rated.
Old Crafty HenOld Crafty Hen

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

79 Reviews
THE BROS
88
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 79
Hads: 247
Avg: 3.79
pDev: 23.75%
Wants: 12
Gots: 40 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Greene King / Morland Brewery
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style | ABV
Old Ale | 6.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: GreenCard on 10-17-2008

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (61) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Crafty Hen Alström Bros
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Reviews: 79 | Hads: 247
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.47/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pour for the 4th Annual LA Beer Week Beer Festival at Union Station in Los Angeles, CA.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy bone colored head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, caramel, and a slight skunk aroma. Taste is much the same with a slight bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is drinkable but not something I would go for again.

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Photo of metter98
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is crystal clear amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger-high off white head that gradually died down, leaving a big patch of bubbles in the center of the glass and a ring around the edge.
S: Light to moderately strong aromas of fruity yeast and toffee are present in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of biscuit malts, fruity yeast, toffee and spices along with some hints of butter.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and a bit smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is quite easy to drink for the style but has some interesting flavors that make it pleasurable to sip.

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Photo of oberon
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this for a night cap last night.Poured into an imperial nonic a clear rich amber with a thinner white head atop that was gone pretty quickly.Sweet caramel malts and biscuit in the nose,mild yeasty fruity esters as well.Deep caramel and toffee flavors with a faint but noticable shot of drying woody/leafy hops in the finish.Lighter but pretty smooth going down,this is a full on malty English old ale,although not a big and brash it is flavorful in an English subtle way.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Greene King "Old Crafty Hen"
500 ml. clear glass bottle, coded "MAR2016 T2 15070 01:17"
£2 @ Tesco Metro, Clayton Square, Liverpool, UK

Not really knowing what to expect from this beer, the first sip brought me back to the flavor of the "Old Speckled Hen" in its yeast character. It's fruity like a dark-skinned fruit (raisin at the least), somewhat mineralish, and even a bit earthy. It's a bit hard to tell exactly what's coming from where, however, as there's also a bit of woodiness to it that could be from yeast, hops, malt, or the oak. It's malty and honeyish, and stronger than usual, and the alcohol might be lending to some of its character but it doesn't stand out distinctly. It's also caramelish and a bit toffee-like, but again, perhaps the oak is adding to it helping to suggest toffee or nuttiness. Overall, not being familiar with the larger beer that goes into it, I'm not sure how much the oak is adding to it except to say that it's not over-done. Nor is it under-done. It's a pleasant and interesting beer that satisfies although I doubt I'd have more than one in a session.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark amber color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, honey, nuts, some hops and some fruit.

T: The taste starts out with flavors of caramel, honey, bourbon and a little bit of fruit. Then there’s a hearty but not too heavy malt character that comes in. The hops presence is mild and brings a little balance. The after-taste is sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, decent representation of style, it’s a decent beer but there are better beers in the style.

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Photo of Jason
3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

50cl clear bottle w/ no freshness date.

LOOK: Clear amber, amazing lacing

SMELL: Fresh cut grass, lemon pith, apple skin, faint alcohol, buttered biscuits

TASTE: Grassy, caramel, cotton candy, biscuity, faint buttery tone, woody hops, herbal, mild esters, ripe pears, mealy apples, yeast, orange pith

One to sit down with and let breath, a sipper to have with a sharp cheddar. Better with something than alone. Certainly worth a go.

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Photo of smcolw
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thick off-white foamy head. Leaves ring of lace after each sip. Orange, light brown color with a touch of haze.

Smells like cut soured cherries. Some sweet melted sugar.

Rich, almost oily body. Lower carbonation enhances this feel. Potent, lightly toasted malt base. Some alcohol warmth on the tongue. A touch of sourness but less than the smell implies. There's a bit of hop to prevent the beer becoming cloy. Short Carmel candy aftertaste.

Seeing the other scores here, I think it might be worthwhile to find this one on tap.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Crystal clear deep amber copper hue with a fine off white light khaki head. Aroma has an herbal hop note with tobacco leaf notes...mild fruity caramel tones to round it out. Flavor is balanced ripened fruit sweetness with mild earthy/citrus/tobacco notes wrapped around caramel malts with an ongoing earthiness about it. Overall another generic English ale that does absolutely nothing to set itself apart, other than the higher than average 6.5% abv and labeling it a Vintage ale. I knew what I was getting into it's definitely drinkable carbonation on the mouthfeel is a little higher than I wanted but not bad as a whole.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a crystal clear amber in color with light amounts of active carbonation slowly rising from the bottom of the glass as well as some orange and garnet red highlights. The beer has a quarter finger tall foamy dark beige head that reduces to a mottled thin film covering the entire surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of fruity yeast (apple + pear) along with moderate flavors of toffee malts. Light notes of earthy hops as well.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of biscuity malts with some light notes of toffee sweetness. That is followed by moderate flavors of light fruity (apple, pear, and white grape) yeast and just a hint of something oak-like. Finally there is a light amount of earthy hop flavors towards the finish. Very light notes of bitterness in the finish which fades almost immediately.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: This is more of a sipping beer even though the ABV is not too high - enjoyable flavors and aromas but it seems a little bigger than it is.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Off white and tan three finger nice wonderfully forming head with a thick foamy character. Some good retention, sitting on a gorgeous shining copper red crystal body.

Nose is extremely dry and malt biscuity. Almost ripping grain but dense and dry malt character hinting of toast but more dense than powdery. Interesting, quite neat.

Taste brings rich malt density, with large biscuit and soft graham cracker chews. Cookie rich, finish almost has a fruity banana ester quality to it but doesn't detract from the rich malt body. Carbonation feel is moderate and hardly noticeable, taking nothing away from the pleasure of this beer. Moderate dry palate on the finish but almost refreshing and cleansing in feel.

Overall, solid. Really enjoying this one. Lovely, as the English might say.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.47/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It is a sunny yet cold Sunday afternoon in Shropshire and I want a decent pint before my Sunday Lunch. I have choosen this beer from my stash.

The clear 500ml bottle was poured into my 'La Chouffe' tulip glass three times (to catch the aromas and force a good head out of the beer). It had almost a year left of its life, so was fairly fresh when reviewed.

The beer poured a deep rich amber and on each occasion had a well formed off-white foaming head. On each pour the head fell away to a thinner covering and some laceing on the glass.

Oak aged beers always remind me of coal fires and childhood Christmas's, the aromas in this one followed the same trend. A warm and comforting smell, a 'Sod the Credit Crunch', 'Balls to the Recession' type of richness only the well off can have. This is a boardroom of the rich beer.

The taste also brings back memories of sitting round the fire and warmth. A deep malty richness and depth of the body give this beer a really good glow and feel.

The 6.5% is well hidden within the brew and even though it is a mix of two beers (Old Speckled Hen and Old 5X), the blender has got it just about perfect. This is the best GK beer I've ever had.

One small note, 'Old 5X' isn't sold, it is a 12% Oak aged (3 years) brew that is blended into other GK beers.

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Photo of biegaman
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Say what you will about British dental hygiene but their ales are often perfectly manicured and make a stunning first impression; Old Crafty Hen is tanned, polished, and drop dead gorgeous. It has a lightly coppered auburn colour, deep tone but perfect clarity, and just a sprinkling of bubbles. Its head is fine as moss and sits on the beer like fresh dew over blades of grass.

The bouquet is an intriguing combination of toffee and hazelnut, with a hint of iodine and peat; it's vaguely scotch-like owing to the sharp maltiness, earthy hops and subtle wood spice. I can't even smell an English Old Ale like this without fantasizing about how magical it must be to drink from a fresh cask. Alas, I do not live in Britain, and that is my misfortune.

This beer is a blend of Old Speckled Hen and the allusive Old 5X (which is aged in oak vats for two to five years). The resulting flavour produces a perfect balance of wood spice, tannins, dried fruits, toffee biscuits, nut brittle, and lots of wholesome breadiness. Despite its substantial maltiness a strong sherry-like profile constantly intrudes. No issue there though.

Hence, the palate also features a lot of raisin flavour, but isn't sugary or overly sweet in the least; pungent and resinous Target hops add a taste of grassy, vegetal spice and a bitter (almost astringent) taste of spent green and black tea leaves. These resins are earthy and, owing to the oak, make for an aftertaste loosely reminiscent of moss and peat.

The Brits have a particular talent for making intricate ales without compromising their drinkability, without making them boozy, steroid-driven monsters (like the Americans do). Old Crafty Hen is as mellow and manageable as any pint of plain, but it is just that much more alluring and complex. It is a drink most refined; a perfect fireside companion.

Indeed, if Rhett Butler wanted to find somewhere there was left in life charm and grace, he should have settled in Suffolk, right next to the Morland brewery - Old Crafty Hen is nothing if not charming and graceful. English Old Ales like this one - and the Fullers Vintage Ale, which it strongly resembles - teach one how to relax, properly reflect, and appreciate life.

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Photo of Tone
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear, dark copper color. 1/4 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and great lacing. Smells of sweet malt, alcohol, hint of roasted malt, and slight yeast. Fits the style of an Old Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of yeast, alcohol, sweet malt, and a hint of roasted malt. Overall, good appearance, decent aroma and body, but low complexity.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.29/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours an coppery-orange amber. Fine off-white one finger head with good retention and light lacing. Aroma of caramel malt, dark fruit and light oak, sadly mixed with light skunking. Taste is mild caramel and bready malt and dark fruit, finishes somewhat dry with a light woody earthy flavor, a little sour and a bit of hops. Subdued flavor, but pleasant. Flavors are not that well integrated. A bit more of the skunkiness in the aftertaste. Medium bodied with a hint of creaminess. A nice ale marred by off taste caused by use of clear bottles. Why do breweries work hard for a nice ale and then allow it to deteriorate in shipping, when the solution is so simple? This would have scored a point higher without the skunking. This is fairly new in the local market, so this bottle is not that old.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.52/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a two-finger cream head that fades very slowly leaving a very good lace. Crystal clear amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Earthy hops nose and flavor is caramel and hops. Light lingering bitter aftertaste. Slightly higher ABV is hidden. $4.99 for a 500ml bottle from Julio's Liquors Westborough, Ma.

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Photo of wl0307
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coming in a 500ml transparent glass bottle, not bottle-conditioned; BB 08/2011, served cool in Gulden Draak’s tulip-shaped glass. Note: this ale is “brewed with a blend of the famous Old 5X, which is aged using [Greene King’s] vintage oak vat maturing method”.

A: pours a bright tawny to reddish copper hue, coming with a fast retreating fluffy beige head and rather mild carbonation.
S: the smell is lightly sweet, mixed of crystal malts, melted Demerara sugar, sweet oakiness imparted by the oak-ageing process and a light, pleasant touch of buttery diacetyl. A swirl and a closer sniff bring to mind white plum jam, semi-banana estery fruitiness, banana oil and deeply sweet honey-ish notes (along the lines of an English Barley Wine, in fact). All in all this is very different than the old Strong Suffolk Vintage (bottle-conditioned) which seems to have disappeared from the UK market (?) – this one shows much more straight-forward sweet fruitiness and much less lactic-oaky complexities, while the sweet oakiness seems to be more pronounced.
T: the lightly effervescent swallow of nice semi-sour fruitiness (marinated yellow plums, sultana, and orange jam mainly) mixed with an old/stale-ish, faintly salty feel of aged ale is underlined by the delicately oaky flavour, gristy brown malts, and a chewy & faintly spicy palate (from both hops and ageing, I believe), leading towards a pleasantly dry & bitter, somewhat herbal yet also burned-vegetable like finish, where aroma of bitter herb powder lingers subtly along with lightly toffee-ish maltiness.
M&O: the mouthfeel is mellow and smooth, the body is medium-plus and the flavour is decent though not really complex enough. I think this blend is not bad at all – I’m wondering what it might be like if bottle-conditioned…?

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Photo of puboflyons
3.7/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From the clear bottle stamped 13235 but I don't know what that entails. Sampled on March 11, 2015.

Handsome looking copper, maple color pour with a lingering off-white head. Great clarity.

English malts on the nose with a hint of raisins, grass and vegetable oil. Not too badly skunked for a clear bottle.

Medium body. Smooth.

The taste is malt forward with an assertive but clean bitterness to finish. Better than their flagship Old Speckled Hen.

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Photo of DrJay
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright amber with a coppery hue topped by a fluffy beige cap. Plenty of lacing with good head retention. Fruity aroma, earthy and woody with some sugar and leafy hops. Bitterness was nicely balanced and present throughout. Sweetness was sugary, flavour was a bit citrusy and spicy, and there was a slight alcohol presence and old/stale notes. It finished with more of a plum and raisin character, slight woody astringency, and herbal hops. Medium bodied with creamy carbonation, mild dryness, nice texture. Overall, quite enjoyable with plenty of English character.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aroma: Light fruity esters, herbal, earthy hops, malty sweetness. Appearance: brilliant copper brown, ½” off-white head dissipates to a film but provides delicate lacing. Flavor: Moderate high British hops supported by the malt backbone. The British hops are features and the malt and hop flavors work well together through the finish and into the after taste. The malts suggest nutty, toffee and come out and become more apparent as the beer warms. Mouthfeel: medium low body and carbonation, medium warming, clean. Overall Impression: This does not have the hick chewiness and complex fruity esters that you often associate with old ales but the finely tuned balance between the hops and the malt make up for the lack of dark dried fruit, sherry like qualities.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

500ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO part of a mixed 4 pack for $13

Appearance - Clear copper colour with an average size beige oloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some fair lacing. The head lasted for around 2-3 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, hops, pears, an earthiness

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, hops and pears/apples. There is also some caramel/toffee and a bit of a woodiness.

Overall - Another very tasty enjoyable beer from this brewer. Lots of malty flavour and some nice earthy/fruity flavours to go with it. I'd pick this up again if it was available in single bottle/can formats locally.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 ml clear bottle. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a clear orange/copper color with a half inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both good. Aroma is toasted malt, toffee, herbal/earthy hops, oak, and a little bit of skunk. The brew tastes like toffee, toasted and caramel malt, nuts, herbal hops, and a bit of tea and fruit. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy with moderate carbonation. I thought it was a decent enough overall brew. I tend to stay away from beers that come in clear bottles, but since it was a new arrival at a local store I hoped that the brew wasn't too old yet. I think it's worth a try.

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Photo of barczar
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliant amber with a half inch light khaki head that dissipates slowly, leaving sheets of lacing.

Caramel malt, nuttiness, and general toasted malt caramelization, melanoidins form the aroma, with a touch of floral and citrus hops adding intrigue.

Citrus and floral underpinnings eventually give way to toasted, bready, caramel malt. Nutty toffee sweetness adds to the backbone of the profile. The finish is lightly roasted breadcrust and a touch of fruity esters. Lacks the skunky character of the golden. Melanoidins dominate, with herbal tea hops complementing.

Body is moderate to full, creamy, with light carbonation. There's a bit of alcohol warmth.

Fairly sweet brew, pretty malt dominant, with enough hop character to prevent out from being cloying.

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Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darker than amber, this Hen is almost red, with sharp, bright clarity. About half a finger is what's ultimately left after puffing up tall on the pour. It's a sturdy head, though, and it sticks around for a full session, depositing steady, even lacing as it does.
A little bit buttery, as I'm coming to expect in some cases, it's otherwise grassy with a biscuity malts backbone. Some citrus zest and a surprisingly sturdy floral and citrus hops, and fruity esters sans the big alcohol bite some Americans bring to it adds up to a good, strong beer with a nice balance. The flavor brings out a touch of caramel sweetness and a spicy bite, as well as a touch of brown sugar and more dark fruits for more underlying sweetness, but certainly not cloying.
Interestingly, the body, while on the light side of medium, has a powdery touch of dryness to it. It never gets too slick or thin, and displays a consistent crispness while still being smooth, though the crispness just nips.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.18/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500 ml clear bottle, no date

appears a brilliant dark copper color with amber highlights. small thin head. sweet malty aroma. brown sugar, a touch of golden raisin and earthiness. taste is unfortunately not as complex. a bit too sweet, could use a bit of hop balance. medium body, medium to higher carbonation.

overall - a bit disappointed. doesn't seem much different than the regular Old Speckled Hen.

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Photo of mrfrancis
4.01/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark burnished amber with a creamy whitish head that recedes quickly, leaving only a modest amount of lacing.

S: Aromas of leather, toffee, caramel, roasted nuts, heather, tobacco, black pepper, black tea, mild citrus, biscuit, raisin, and oak slowly reveal themselves.

T: Earthy and spicy up front with nicely layered flavors of oak, black pepper, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, black tea, moss, black currant, leather, heather, tobacco, bitter orange, and lemon. Around mid-palate malty notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, sweet cream, and biscuit kick in and balance the peppery, woody notes from the hops. On the finish, a delicate, complex blend of herbs, lemon, oak, pepper, tea, leather, biscuit, and toffee gives way to subtle flavors of raisin and prune.

M: Relatively full in body and dryish, though well-balanced. Carbonation is firm, but not exactly crisp. Alcohol presence is nonexistent.

O: A really nicely executed and wonderfully balanced old ale. While Old Crafty Hen is not the sort of lactic, oaky old ale for which I normally reach, it is still very appealing. All of the traits of Old Speckled Hen, The Tanner's Jack, and Hen's Tooth that I admire seem to have been amplified in this ale. I could see this beer being a wonderful introduction to the world of traditional English old ales and strong ales.

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Old Crafty Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 79 ratings.