1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Old Speckled Hen - Greene King / Morland Brewery

Not Rated.
Old Speckled HenOld Speckled Hen

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,620 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,620
Reviews: 840
rAvg: 3.44
pDev: 16.86%
Wants: 15
Gots: 60 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Greene King / Morland Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Pale Ale |  5.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Quaffer on 10-23-2000)
View: Beers (53) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Speckled Hen Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,620 | Reviews: 840 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of merlin48


2.1/5  rDev -39%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

OSH was first brewed by Morlands, in Abingdon, as a 50 year tribute to MG cars, in 1979. It is supposed to be a bitter or ESB, with a prominent sweet toffee and caramel character from crystal malts and a floral hoppiness from Goldings hops. Sadly, the MG factory closed in 1980, and was later razed. OSH is now brewed elsewhere by Greene King. As an MG enthusiast, I was hoping that the Hen would be a pleasant and nostalgic British bitter. In the USA, unfortunately, in most cases it is not. I've had this in the nitro infused, widget cans, but this review is based on a pouring from a clear, 12 oz bottle.
Served into an English pint glass, this pours a clear, copper body with an initially promising boneivory head that falls into a film almost immediately.
Aroma is skunked, worse than sulfuric. No caramel or toffee from the crystal malts, and definitely no floral hops.
Mouthfeel has adequate carbonation, but is ruined by the skunkiness.
Taste is somewhat better than the aroma and mouthfeel, and some caramel is picked up near room temperature. It is claimed that this is still brewed with a Morlands yeast strain from the 19th century, and this does have a pronounced dry and dank yeastiness. The finish is dry and bitter as it should be, but not so much in the pleasing manner of a good English bitter or pale ale.
Very little here to encourage drinkability. It is actually better in the widget cans which at least lack the skunkiness. Stores in central Kentucky, stopped selling this by the bottle because of complaints similar to what I have noted here. If you can kind this from a fresh keg or cask, I would recommend trying it. By all means, avoid this in the clear bottles, unless you're certain they are fresh and have been kept away from light and extreme temperatures. The Old Hen,obviously, does not like to travel far from the coop.

Serving type: bottle

10-27-2004 10:44:28 | More by merlin48
Photo of SheepNutz


3.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nitro can poured into a snifter. It pours a medium copper color with one finger of creamy white head. Some lace. The smell is malty and light, not too much coming out in the smell. The taste is the same, malty, but there's not much else there. A little more bland than what I'm used to. The body is light and watery (damn nitro) but the drinkability is alright. It's there.

Serving type: nitro-can

10-25-2004 17:53:08 | More by SheepNutz
Photo of TheLiterati


2.58/5  rDev -25%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

After literally searching for years for the elusive Old Speckled Hen, which was named for a vintage MG car, I first located "the Hen" at an online beverage outlet and paid upwards of $25 for a six-pack of (bottled) beer and shipping costs. Apparently this stuff is not readily available in California.

Now, almost a year after my initial quest, our local Whole Foods has a limited supply of the golden English ale available in cans, complete with a "floating widget." I figured, why not give the can a try.

Sadly, my reaction to the can I'm having right now is, "eh." I felt the same about the bottled stuff.

Appearance wise, the color is nice - coppery, with a thick, creamy head. As for aroma - and for that matter, taste - the malt is predominant, but the hops is barely detectable. The mouthfeel is very smooth, almost frothy, but it does little to save the overall composition. In fact, it finishes with a skunky bitterness.

All in all, not a superior beer.

Serving type: can

10-15-2004 05:02:33 | More by TheLiterati
Photo of DrJay


3.3/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear, coppery auburn colour topped with a thick cream-coloured head of fine bubbles. The aroma is malty sweet and smells like crystal malt grain. Little hop character is present, but it is there and is very faint (hiding just behind the malt). The flavour is balanced towards maltiness as well, with just enough bitterness to keep it in balance. Hop flavours are very weak, but there is a bit of earthiness and floral quality. Some fruity esters are noticeable as the beer warms. The finish is mildly bitter and most of the maltiness has dissolved by this point. Low carbonation and medium bodied with a decent smoothness, though it does dry the palate a fair bit.

500 mL can with clearly marked best before date on the bottom.

Serving type: can

09-25-2004 19:13:19 | More by DrJay
Photo of Sigmund


4.13/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(500 ml clear bottle, now available in Norway). Pours with a beautiful brown / dark golden colour with a moderate to low head. Inspiring glug-glug sound due to the shape of the bottle neck.This classic English ale has a moderate malty aroma and a pleasant malty flavour with a good bitterness. Very nice.

Serving type: bottle

09-10-2004 21:26:09 | More by Sigmund
Photo of tomthumbsblues


4.15/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to get this one on tap at Mellow Mushroom on a visit to C-ville in Virginia.

This beer was a lovely mahogony color topped by a creamy thick head which resembled egg nog. Good lacing about the glass. Smell was hoppy and a bit sweet. Taste was really a dream being a sorty of cross between a smooth creamy caramel and what I can only describe as something like whiskey. Very bitter in the mouth, but it left a good lasting impression on my tastebuds. A pretty damn good beer, I may say!

Serving type: on-tap

09-08-2004 01:30:27 | More by tomthumbsblues
Photo of rugger


3.55/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a nice amber with a nice head that stuck around. The smell was the downfall of this beer. It smelled as if it were skunky. It kinda smelled like a botttle of Heineken. I wasn't really suprised seeing that it comes in a clear bottle. The taste however was a very smooth sweet malty taste with undertones of caramel and toffee, with a light crisp hop finish. The mouthfeel was nice and thick with a full body. This was a very good beer with the exception of the smell. I can't wait to get a hold of another one. Cheers.

Serving type: bottle

09-03-2004 15:26:20 | More by rugger
Photo of allengarvin


4.47/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pint bottle, poured into a generic English pint glass.

Appearance: clear golden color, with a big creamy head (I purposely poured it a little agitated, as I like my English beers to get the carbonation out).

Aroma: Big fresh hop aroma.

Flavor/Body: Good deal of malt flavor (slightly nutty and toasted), well-balanced by earthy hop tones. Slighty fruitiness, with a lingering finish, very dry in the end.

An excellent export bitter, definitely in my top 10 favorite English beers available in the US. Also, far superior to the nitrogenated canned version of this beer (though I admit a prejudice against nitrogen-injected beers).

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2004 01:34:48 | More by allengarvin
Photo of oelergud


4/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby bronze body, white small bubbled head with good retention and lace, very low carbonation. Clearly define border between head and body.
Good hoppy nose migled with light earthyness.
Sweet and fruity, certainly not your typical english pale ale. Citrus, hay and earth flavors, a tangy, twanged and lightly spiced after taste lingering well.
Your classical smooth and creamy mouthfeel resulting from the nitro widget, havent decided if I like that in a pale ale, it's certainly different and intriguing.
Low abv and the sheer novelty of a creamy pale ale makes this a beer that could stay interesting through most of the night.


Serving type: nitro-can

08-23-2004 22:39:25 | More by oelergud
Photo of kmpitz2


2.08/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

After all this time I still love to see a good nitro beer settle. The beer pours a deep golden to amber color with about two fingers of very creamy head. The nose is nothing but sweet malts...no hint of any hop. Hmm. There was an overpowering metallic flavor in my first sip. Bad bad and bad. Its there again in the second sip as well. I just can't get past that. The mouthfeel is hard for me since I don't want to keep it in my mouth long enough to get much of a feel. The feel is thick, but it lacks the creamy texture I would want. I just can't get past the metallic flavor. It is still with every sip I take from the beer. I don't know if this is a function of the can I have here to drink or if this is common, I think if I do try it again, I will go for a different presentation.

Serving type: nitro-can

08-18-2004 01:43:44 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of smcolw


3.4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Wonderful cascading head from this nitro-can. Creamy thick head with a clear, amber colored appearance. Excellent lace as expected.

There is a metalic aroma that detracts from the maltiness. Too bad, since the hop seems to be missing completely. The hop is very present in the flavor, although muted. This is predominately a malty beverage. Unfortunately, the metalic notes persist in the flavor, seriously compromising the malt flavors. Interestingly, I presume the hop aroma to be muted by this, while in the tasting, the malt is affected. Thinner than other nitro-can beers and slightly more carbonated.

Sadly, this had a poor showing in the flight of British Ales tested. I suspect that it would do well against beers that differ from the pale ale category. Head to head, this one falls short.

Serving type: nitro-bottle

08-07-2004 20:49:02 | More by smcolw
Photo of joecast


3.6/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

clear amber/copper color with only a fine lace of a head.
appetising caramel and earthy hop aroma.
not too hot on the flavor, though it smooths out as it warms. some hop bitterness combines nicely with the malt though it seems to lack a bit of fullness on both counts.
doesnt make much of an impression, though its not exactly bad. more memorable for its name than anything else.

Serving type: bottle

07-18-2004 02:49:48 | More by joecast
Photo of TagoMago

New York

3.68/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. clear bottle, poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Honey colored with a reddish hue. The beer pours with a thick, creamy head.

Smell: Malty, with noticeably yeasty, herbal notes. A buttery diacetyl is also noticed.

Taste: Sweet malts coupled with an herbal, buttery flavor. Some spicy hops are detected in this beer's nicely dry finish.

Overall: This is one of my favorite English ales - great flavor and smooth body. This is a highly drinkable beer and is highly recommended. This makes for a great session beer.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2004 05:31:27 | More by TagoMago
Photo of CRJMellor


3.5/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber with some golden undertones and thin veneer of tan head.
Aroma of sweetened toffee and minor dark fruits with some piney fairly weak hop notes.
Flavor of caramel and some grains with a minor resin and pine background.
Mouthfeel is middle of the road, nothing to note that is significnat other than sweetness tends to dominate a little bit too much.
Drinkability is average to slightly above.

Serving type: cask

07-06-2004 02:20:39 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of sublimesipping


3.48/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A decent session beer I think but was not overly impressed beyond that. Don't get me wrong, still an above average beer, but my palate has been spoiled by all the wonderful beers I 've tried, thanks in part to this web site. Color reminds me of a macro, Molsen golden maybe. Not much head to write of. aroma subltly sweet, and taste strongly of malts with not much hop character. An enjoyable English ale but again not one that I would be apt to include in my regualr drinking rotation. May stick to trying this next in England. am also open to revise my opinion after another taste.

Serving type: on-tap

06-29-2004 22:49:55 | More by sublimesipping
Photo of bditty187


3.38/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear, tawny-gold in hue with typical nitro characteristics such as the reverse cascading effect that helped form the solid marshmallow-like head of one finger in height. Sturdy head retention, as expected, the subsequent lacing was spotty. This is a good looking beer but doctored with nitrogen IMO. Soft, airy nose with weak, clean malty notes and faint earthy/herbal hops. There is nothing complex or loud in the bouquet, in fact it is a hardly talkative enough to be considered inviting. The nose can be summed-up as better than bland. The palate is a little tastier than insipid (is that a compliment?). I’d say it is a tickle more tasty than Boddingtons. The malt is clean with a hint of caramel, there is short but crisp bitterness from the hops mainly at the back. Flavor-wise, the hops add a suggestion of earthiness. This is an easy drinking beer; almost good enough to be a session brew. Medium in body, with a creamy and moderately filling mouthfeel, typical nitro qualities, seems to be lacking a little heft but still the mouthfeel is okay. This is a likable beer, easy to drink. I’ve seen this a few times in Iowa but I’ve always passed because clear bottles scare me. On nitro-tap (or nitro-can) I’d drink it again. I tried this at a British pub in downtown Minneapolis.

Serving type: nitro-tap

06-28-2004 21:12:31 | More by bditty187
Photo of thinkbreakfast

New York

3.15/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Poured a dark brown color with a small head.

Smell: malt is there. There is also a "skunk" scent noticeable, but not unpleasantly

Taste: Subdued malt up front. Dry hops on the back of the tongue. Finishes with more malt and light banana/fruit. Bitter/dry aftertaste. Reminds me of Heineken.

Mouthfeel: Light with solid carbonation.

Drinkability: Low abv and unintrusive taste make this a possible session brew.

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2004 02:42:53 | More by thinkbreakfast
Photo of budsboy


1.8/5  rDev -47.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Pours a cloudy, tea-stained orange with a frothy white head.

Smell is a skunky, fruity mixture wrapped in copper.

Taste is not nearly as bad as the smell would lead me to believe, not skunky but still not great. Fruity, a bit metallic, with a blood-like bitterness. Overall unimpressive.

Watery mouthfeel. Not much there to talk about.

I won't buy this again. Probably won't drink it again. Completely unimpressive.

Serving type: bottle

06-16-2004 03:17:45 | More by budsboy
Photo of CrescentFresh


1.78/5  rDev -48.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Old Speckled Horse-shit if you ask me.
It poured great, took about 30 seconds to settle. Looked good.
It smelled good and had good body.
The taste was f.ing disgusting. My vocabulary is not dynamic enough to accurately describe this vile. Prhaps the establishment of purchase stored it by the oven for a few months.

My rating for this beer is misleading, as we have to grade it on 5 factors. But if someone asked me, I'd say it deserves a 1.

1 out of 5 swills.

Serving type: nitro-can

06-09-2004 22:30:37 | More by CrescentFresh
Photo of tavernjef


3.5/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Color is dark golden orange with a small compact foamy dusty browned head, lacing in broken strings. Aroma is of a weaker sweet malt base and some herbal, stingey grassiness, notes of buttered nuts. Taste has a strange grassy hop, very pungent yet weakly bittered and backed by a bit of a buttered toast-like malt with some sweeter things mixing in. Feel is slick and smooth, quite creamy yet unfullfilling in its body, a thin sided mediumness overall. It can be drinkable for sure, but for me the flavors and body seemed a bit off, perhaps this was about to turn skunky as these sit on the top shelves sucking at the light through its clear bottle. I've had this before and couldn't remember liking it so I thought I'd give it a go again. This may become a reoccuring theme with this beer, as its not to memorable.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2004 22:21:14 | More by tavernjef
Photo of kbub6f

New York

3.4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nitro widget can.

The dense head is classic nitro: creamy, cafe-au-lait colored with cascading. Once the show is over, there's a clear, amber-gold beer underneath. Fine, sticky swoops of lacing. A yeasty, bready nose. Taste starts tangy with a slight metal/fish nitro thing. Creamy and malty through the middle. The finish bitters gently, also showing milk and a little sweet fruit. It's light and tasty. I'm not religiously opposed to nitro, and I like the creamy effect, but it really masks the flavors.

Serving type: nitro-can

06-04-2004 22:03:06 | More by kbub6f
Photo of travolta


3.53/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle
Apperance: brown, golden color, looks like scotch. Minimal head retention, lacing is very minimal.

Nose: Very yeasty nose. I have never smelled it before. It is sweet, grainy, and smells "young"...not pungent.

Taste: The taste dircetly resembles the nose. They are almost identical. The taste is a little bitter, and the nose isnt.

Notes: This is an interesting, drinkable brew. Not great, but far from bad.

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2004 23:17:24 | More by travolta
Photo of JackTheRipper


1.93/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Honey golden in color with a nice big creamy head that lingered. Intially this one has those weird~ass downward flowing bubbles. I had to laugh, this always amuses me.
S: Nice light malty nose. Nothing overpowering, nothing too complex. Sort of a weird skunky aroma.
T: Initial taste is a creamy sweetness with some smooth maltiness. After about halfway through this beer it turns a nasty bitter flavor. yuk.
M: Smooth feeling with a slickness I've come to expect from a lot of the beers from across the pond. very lite bodied.
D&N: Nothing impressive here. I'm going to avoid this one.

Serving type: nitro-tap

05-18-2004 04:35:29 | More by JackTheRipper
Photo of daledeee


3.73/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I tried the nitro can. I liked the name. The beer is pretty forgettable. Straw yellow with a decent head. Not much of a nose. Taste is like a pub ale. I am not a fan of these. Some malt, a hint of hops and boring. Some bite on the tongue(Is that due to the nitro?)

Good tasting but I like stronger flavored beer.

Serving type: nitro-can

05-14-2004 22:49:21 | More by daledeee
Photo of flaminghomer


3.8/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

i really don't like the head on these nitro cans. i'm just not used to it. however the ones that i have drank have been very drinkable. no exception with this one. the head is thick off white and creamy. color is to my liking. a cloudy copper. smell is so mild i can't really say much.
taste is very smooth and creamy. very drinkable. the flavors i pick up are mostly sweet malt. i wish i had a case of it. i don't that it is as good in bottles though.

Serving type: nitro-can

05-07-2004 05:32:09 | More by flaminghomer
Old Speckled Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,620 ratings.