Old Crafty Hen | Greene King / Morland Brewery

very good
79 Reviews
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Old Crafty HenOld Crafty Hen

Brewed by:
Greene King / Morland Brewery
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by GreenCard on 10-17-2008

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Reviews: 79 | Ratings: 250
Photo of schoolboy
3.96/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Although this style can be a little difficult to take at times (that malty badness, like other European styles, it can taste like it's gone bad), I have been in the mood to feel like a piece of England. So I bought a few of these to sample. Many of these I probably tried a long time ago, but never reviewed.

This one looks OK - a little flat. The aroma is typical - slightly funky and even more slightly skunky. The taste has that malty hoppy badness - like it's turned, and that's how it lingers in the mouth.

But I am putting up with these authentic old school ales so I can feel more a part of the All Creatures Great and Small world I am visiting through TV. They are constantly drinking ales like this.

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Photo of M_C_Hampton
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured from a 500 ml bottle into a glass, rich red amber brown colored with a large off white head, clear

S: heavy on malt, caramel, dark fruits, breast

T: malt forward, caramel and dark fruits, prune, raisin

M: heavy with lower carbonation, warming and rich

O: a nice old ale with emphasis on malt, nice at room temp

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

The last of the "Hen House" fourpack of pint + bottles by Greene King/Morland I have tried. Poured from the 16.9 oz. clear bottle into a Samual Smith English tulip pint glass.

a. Deep rich delicious-looking medium amber grows a 3/4 inch white head which dissipates slowly to a heavy white surface film with ringing and light lacing.

s: Nothing notable at first, but on drinking, a light malty aroma.

t&m: Smooth and very pleasant, little hop bite or fruitiness. But then if I want the latter, I'd buy a good IPA. Aftertaste telegraphs that you've just had a damn good beer.

o: One of the best British ales I've had in years. Superb with the lobster dinner it accompanied.

Bottom line to my Hen House experience is: if you like British ale and have a chance to buy the fourpack, don't pass it up. They're all good and all a little different. Only drawback is the clear bottles risk skunky aromas, but just one of mine even suggested that.

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Photo of dwren89
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: great clarity, surprisingly pale gold color, much lighter than most English IPA, white, sticky, fluffy head

Aroma: Strong citrus aroma of grapefruit, orange, very little to no detectable malt aroma, clean yeast

Taste: fruity, citrusy, spritzy carbonation, much more American than English, very soft pale malt backbone that is only detectable really in the body; hops flavors ring through start to finish with a mildly bitter medium finish

Mouthfeel: Spritzy, carbonation lightens the body, you can only tell its medium bodied if you hold it in your mouth for a few seconds before swallowing; very easy drinking, medium bitter, somewhat dry finish
Overall Impression: For a beer that is ranked this highly on Beeradvocate’s top beers in Britain, I honestly expected more. It is a little too light in body and malt character, and uses obviously American hops, to be considered an English IPA. When compared to the best Ameican IPAs, this would not have a prayer to make the top 50. That being said, it is quite refreshing, light on the palate, and thirst quenching.

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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 Bouleboubier
4.19/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: orange-y-amber, initially hazy... lil more than 1/4" head stays after a more voluminous stand on the pour, messy collar later, nil on lace... clears a good bit as it warms, but not totally.... there IS some legs?!

S: weird - almost like a Euro pale lager while it's pouring (Heineken?!?!).... estery and surprisingly hoppy while the head still exists.... as it settles, straight caramel chews and a clean English fruity ester

T: plant flavor and bitterness? dandelion greens come to mind.... a standout, enhanced malt richness and depth compared to their other products.... slightest warm, spicy alcohol in the aftertaste... almost white wine vinous set against a mildly-burnt caramel.... dense caramel with some slickness and a honey-ish quality.... bit of toasty pale malt late and a grassy bitterness.... one whose familiar could taste the Old Speckled....

M: soft and smooth with a touch of a powdery feel... little bit of a tart prickle up front on the tongue tip.... kind of medium-bodied.... warmth gradually builds while a mild phenolic burn lingers (made me think of Carlsberg Special Brew for some reason).... quite dry enough actually

O: has some certain qualities worth savoring... increases exponentially in enjoyability as it goes... comes of like an enhanced Old Speckled... very well-balanced aside from the mild alc/yeast bite

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Photo of kvnstfrd
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a dark, amber color with a frothy, long-lasting head with plenty of lacing.

Aroma: Raisins, spicy hops and cereal grains with a woody aroma.

Taste: Initial taste is brandy-like with dark fruits, oak and a subtle taste of liquorice while on the palate. Aftertaste is a perfect blend of sweet, dark fruit flavors and a dry bitter. Mouth-feel is medium with almost no detectable carbonation. A smooth and buttery swallow.

This is a difficult-to-find brew that I've been hunting for 3 or 4 years. I am happy to report that it has been well worth the hunt and the wait. This one just might make it into my top-10 list!

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Photo of breakingbland
3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 1 pt., 0.9 oz. (0.5 liter) clear glass bottle (not dated) into a pint glass.

Appearance: Slightly hazy honey golden. There is slight effervesce from the bottom of the glass. The head was a very thin layer of foam that dissipated quickly into a ring that persisted.

Aroma: Very slight skunkiness (but not objectionable) followed by sweet maltiness with some hops and grassiness. Not a strong aroma overall.

Taste: Hits the tongue initially with a rich but very well balanced malt/hops pairing. After swallowing, there is a marked honey-like sweetness that gives way to a grassy, hoppy bitterness that persists for a while.

Mouthfeel: Moderate to low carbonation. The rich flavor works with the moderate body to give this beer a good feel in the mouth.

Overall: I bought this in a 4-pack with three other "Old Hen" offerings from Morland based on my good opinion of "Old Speckled Hen". This one is called a "superior fine ale" on the bottle, and by comparison to OSH, it is -- mainly due to the rich maltiness and sweetness (both of which I am a fan). I will look for this again and would consider it something of a special occasion beer. (This has been discussed in the forums [http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/clear-bottles.23175/], but I'm surprised that there's so little skunkiness [only a slight skunky aroma] as these beers are sold in clear bottles.)

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Photo of ONUMello
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Burnt orange color with a one-finger head that settles to a thin lacing
S: Sweet caramel/toffee, roasted grains, & a bit of fruitiness
T: Matches the nose - brown sugar & its associated candies initially, some malt & a fruit-driven finish
M: Medium-bodied but the sweetness makes it a bit syrupy; I would prefer more crispness
O: Very solid brew. I bought a four-pack "hen house" sampler from the brewery and this is by far the best of the four

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

Appearance is great, beautiful amber in an ice-cold mason jar.

Smells sweet, like the inside of a brewery.

Taste is a bit too sweet for my taste, as I enjoy the bitter. But a great beer after a dinner, I'd love to try it on tap. Dessert like for my tastes.

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Photo of tonton
4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Having this beer now at Trafalgar Pub in Wanchai.

Poured from a 50cl clear bottle into an English pint. Beautiful golden ale with a gorgeous 2" white head.

Smell - nice, common pale ale smell.
Taste - Banana, walnut, malt, hops.
Mouth - Moderate to high carbonation, nice linger on the tongue.

Overall - Excellent example of a strong English Ale. Recommended!

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Photo of droomyster
3.94/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark copper body with a brief head that settles to a white collar. Big and sweet aromas of predominantly toffee, followed in strength by dark fruit (very fig-like) and a hint of vanilla. Taste carries a big toffee and biscuity blast on the front and mid-palates, with dark fruit (figs, prunes, raisins) and sherry-like notes emerging on the mid to back-palates. A lightly earthy, wet wood-like bitterness lends some balance to the finish. As far as old ales go, this isn't nearly as potent as some of the American best-sellers, but its relatively mild intensity makes it potentially more appealing to a broad audience, while the austerity of flavor profile gives the geekier beer consumer something to revel in.

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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 vinicole
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Chestnut colour. Thin wispy head.
Malt and alcohol nose. Almost perfumed.
Rich malt. The oak comes through. Sweet fruity esters.
Rather hot for barrel aged. Low in complexity.

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Photo of Huffs
4.26/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pint glass and developed a nice creamy, biscuit colored head which lasted and laced reasonably well. Appearance was clear, amber / ruby color with a light aroma of cream and toffee. Taste had notes of caramel, toffee and vanilla with a light, bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel was full and creamy. Classic English Ale.

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Photo of pkalix
4.34/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

nice copper color, clear, little head on top; smells of sweet malts.
tastes of sweet malts, lots of caramel; a lot like some of these other versions of english beer i've been having lately with the sweetness in the middle. nice, mellow taste, easy to drink with a higher abv at 6.5%
overall, i like the style and i like the taste. lots of character and easy to drink a few in succession. i like the malitness and want to know how these english beers get this particular taste which no one else seems to be able to produce. the closest thing to them are the german commercial caramel-y beers like the oktoberfests, but these have totally different twists which i really enjoy. anybody know?

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Photo of Pencible
2.53/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: This poured a clear dark copper with a little white head.
S: It smelled like strong skunky lager yeast, with some sweet raisin and toffee, and a little biscuit and maraschino cherry.
T: It tasted like strong skunky lager yeast, with a little sweet raisin and subtle nutty malt and biscuit. It had a lasting skunky aftertaste.
M: It was watery with some carbonation. Fairly light body.
D: Clear glass strikes again. Moreland needs to fix this, since I can only imagine ever getting skunky beers from them in the US. The scent and taste were not pleasant, and the body was pretty weak. The finish was rough, so it was not easy to drink in any regard. Boo.

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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 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 macpapi
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Old Speckled Hen was one of my gateway brews. So I was a bit intrigued when I saw this one on the shelf today. Thought I'd give it a try.

Old Crafty Hen comes in a 16.9 oz, clear glass bottle. It pours a reddish-brown color; clear with a pretty full tan head. Translucent and and very inviting-looking in the glass.

Smell is dominated by a pretty crisp maltiness, followed by bread and biscuit notes. Also a bit of buttery aroma present.

Tastes of malt, bread, and a bit of caramel. A small, yet somewhat muted, hop bite comes at the end of the swallow. Overall a pretty full and pleasant taste. Well balanced.

In the mouth, Old Crafty Hen is full and flavorful. Medium carbonation. Leaves a nice post-swallow taste as well.

On the whole, this is a pretty pleasant, if not terribly overwhelming beer. There is definitely a bit going on here; some complexity and balance. This is a nice beer for someone not looking to be blown away by one strain of flavor or another--i.e. hop or malt bombs, smoked/barrel-aged monsters, etc... I like this beer a bit more than I expected to, and would return to it again.

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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 sommersb
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 08-30-2012
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 500ml clear bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Nonic pint
Purchased: Single from Frugal MacDoogal, Nashville

Clear and amber in appearance, showing an average-sized head off-white in color. Good amounts of lacing and head retention. Aromas feature bready malts as the main smell, plus some spices such as cinnamon, vanillas, and oak.

Very malty with a fairly sweet taste; rich caramels combine with woody hop notes, but there's really no bitterness to speak of. Mouthfeel is clean on a light to medium body. A moderate amount of carbonation makes for a mellow finish that is slightly sweet.

Very good all-around on this ale. Reminded me a lot of Innis & Gunn's beers.

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Photo of Offa
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a great ale similar to, but a bit different from, the other Morland beers.

Deep reddish copper, it has a medium-big pale tan head slowly shrinking to a foamy ring.

Aroma is strong nutty character, hint of sulphur, caramelised barley - a new take on the normal Morland character.

Taste is nice caramelly nut (walnut & hazelnut) & barley, juicy orange zest, long spicy herbal-peppery bitterness esp. in finish, toasty bread crust. It has a nice feel.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours the color of maple syrup, clear and woody. Nearly an inch of light tan head develops but dissipates fairly quickly. to an island and thin film. No lace to speak of.
Smell is, at first pour, a bit skunky and acidic. After a 15 minute rest and warming period, malt, grape juice and apple notes join the acidic while the skunk is gone. Balance is pretty good.
Taste istart with grape juice, apple and malt notes. Fairly acidic with a tannic/iced tea note, as well. Balance is pretty good here too.
Effervescence is pretty pronounced for the style, IMO, and fairly sharp on the tip of the tongue. Body is medium-full. Aftertaste has a whiskey note show up after some more warming, about 30 minutes as well as a bit of hops.

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