Old Speckled Hen - Greene King / Morland Brewery

Not Rated.
Old Speckled HenOld Speckled Hen

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875 Reviews

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Reviews: 875
Hads: 1,907
Avg: 3.46
pDev: 24.57%
Wants: 35
Gots: 206 | 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:
Beer added by: Quaffer on 10-23-2000

No notes at this time.
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Reviews: 875 | Hads: 1,907
Photo of Wobbly
4.15/5  rDev +19.9%

Perhaps I have not had one in a while or am just remembering how good it tasted on tap in England, but I guess I am in the minority on this one. I have always thought it to be a fine English pale/bitter with such a lovely aroma. The creamy, buttery body and malt-hop balance always impressed me. On some level, I do object to so many English ales being overlooked in the U.S. That may be due to lack of freshness, but with some of the sturdier, higher alcohol level bitters, that should not be as much of an issue. Perhaps English pales and bitters are just not en vogue right now like IPA's and strong stouts.

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Photo of Portertime
3.21/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: I am partaking this one in my Kronenbourg 1664 pokal. It pours a fiery rouge with the tell-tale clarity. There is only a one-finger head but it floats on top like a halo.

Smell: bread crust, herbal hops, melted caramel, nice and aromatic.

Taste: strong wheat bread overtones followed by smooth and creamy malts fading into a spicy hop finish. It is like a liquid loaf of bread!

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Photo of StuartCarter
4.5/5  rDev +30.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle.

Appearance: clear copper color, thin head that quickly collapses into nothing.

Smell: beautiful grassy, earthy British hop funk.

Taste: oh, wonderful. Presents initially with a hard hop bitterness wrapped in toffee. Once it warms a little the hard bitterness fades leaving a wonderful balance of toffee-caramel Maris Otter and earthy/grassy hop funk. Aftertaste leaves a lingering hop bitterness and sweet toffee caramel.

Mouthfeel: hard edged carbonation.

Overall: a wonderful example of an English Pale Ale. Hits all of the points I expect an EPA to hit.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.75/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

14.9 oz nitro-can into a pint glass.

A: Well, it's a nitro-can beer, ergo it looks stunning. It pours a mostly clear copper color, capped off by a stunning one-finger white head. Retention is unbelievably good - it hasn't even faded a millimeter since I poured it a minute ago - and the head will leave behind an indestructible wall of lacing on the side of the glass.

S: Well, it's a nitro-can beer, ergo the aroma is damn mild. In fairness, it's less mild than others (looking at you, Guinness Draught...), but with only touches of butter, mild fruitiness, and some earth, there's nothing showstopping here. What's there smells perfectly fine, at least.

T: Well, it's a nitro-can beer, ergo flavors are almost negligible. What DO I pick up? Maybe some buttery tones to start, and a sweet tea-like finish. Actually, this drinks a lot like hard semi-sweet tea in general, but with a mild yet bothersome bitterness on the back end that I don't like.

M: Well, it's a nitro-can beer, ergo it feels watery and un-carbonated. It doesn't even have that spectacular drinkability most nitro-cans do, thanks to the fact it's not entirely dry on the back end. An easy drinking nature should have been it's next best trait next to how it looks in a glass - and it just isn't.

O: Well, it's a nitro-can beer, ergo it wasn't going to be plagued by the skunk you get from clear bottles. That, and it's drop dead gorgeous look, is about where my praise ends. There's nothing BAD about it...there's just not much good about it, either. It's really telling that this is far less drinkable than the 8.7% DIPA I had right before this.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.69/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had this beer years ago and decided to give it a go once again. While I didn't recall this being that great, I can appreciate it more now given how long it's been since I last had it. This is about as good an example of a session English Pale Ale as can be found and it almost felt like a forerunner to the Innis and Gunn beers, since this was that smooth and enjoyable. While nothing stood out here, there weren't any flaws to be found as well.

The pour to this was nice, as this had a dark copper hue, a good amount of head, and wonderful lacing from top to bottom. Not much of an aroma to this and the taste was a bit varied. Lots of sugar, light rum, macro-like corn filler (even though this was certainly an ale), noble hops, and some Lemon zest that kicked in later on. The alcohol was faint, but certainly present, and the bitterness that kicked in was a bit leathery. It was to be expected in an English beer such as this and the carbonation was quite strong too. This ensured that the flavors did not stick around that long during each sip and only the warming aspect of this beer endured for the duration.

This certainly felt stronger than it was in actuality and had I bought another one of these, I could have easily downed it after finishing this off. There wasn't a lot of body to the malt here and because this was so light, it wasn't heavy or even as bitter as other English beers that I've rated highly in the past. This is a no-frills Ale that's a good example of the style but at the same time, needed something to go along with it as a snack. Perhaps some fish and chips?

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Photo of Trout
3.67/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: poured on nitro, nice cascades of off-white fine nitro bubbles settling into a beautiful and brite amber/orange beer with nearly 1" of creamy, dense foam.

Aroma: sweet bread and caramel with hints of clean stone fruit. Hops, slightly spicy with subtle fruit dominating.

Flavor: clean and dry with very minimal hop character. Malt flavors dominate with residual sweetness and a hint of roast and caramelized sugar. A touch of diacetyl in both aroma and flavor is appropriate for the style.

Mouthfeel: soft and silky on nitro. Smooth, not chewey... No carbonic sting and hop astringency minimal.

Overall: a good pale with Classic British malt character and a nice "noble" hop balance. At 5.2 this beer approaches being sessionable. The draught on nitro added to the drinkability.

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Photo of delta490
3.71/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured out a nice clear amber with a thick creamy off-white head. The head has great retention and leaves some nice lacing. The aroma is pretty mild, with slight hints of dark fruit and bread. The taste comes through, though, with more developed flavors similar to the aroma with a nice earthy hops character in addition. It's not a huge flavor, but it works well. The body is a little lighter, but mirrors the flavor profile. It's not the most outstanding English Pale, but a good one all the same.

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Photo of Premo88
3.64/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 1.25 | overall: 3.25

14.9 oz. nitro can poured into Guinness pint glass

(07:47 L2333 printed on bottom of can)

L: (key note: this is my first nitro can, so take it for what it's worth)

amazing pour ... the nitro can may or may not be worth the trouble, but the crazy silky creamy pour is fun to watch, and old speckled hen is a pretty brew anyway -- crystal clear red, the most red/pink brew; the head percolates almost throughout the entire column until it settles into the thickest, creamiest 1/2-inch head of offwhite foam

S: pure english pale ale notes -- malt, malt and malt ... the good light kind of sweet bread

T: follows the nose

F: to my american palette, almost a 0. the nitro can may serve a purpose, but it leaves you with water that tastes and smells like good beer -- feels flat.

O: really cool experience and there is NO question this beer tastes better out of the can than the clear-glass bottle, BUT the lack of carbonation is a hit/miss thing depending on your palette and your expectations.

it feels flat to me but tastes great. something to continue experimenting with ...

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Photo of Jeffreysan
3.6/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Imperial Pint bottle poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a medium-to dark amber color with two fingers of off-white head that slowly dissolved into a nice lacing of foam that covered the entire top of the beer.

Aroma: Lots of toasted malt and sugar, like freshly baked bread and caramel. Reminds me of sweetened cereal.

Taste: Toasted malts and cereal flavors followed by sweet honey and toffee and slightly, very slightly hoppy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth as hell, (on tap, with nitro, its actually smoother) with almost no carbination.

Overall: This is one of my favorite session beers, especially on tap. I love the malty, toffee flavor and the smooth finish.

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Photo of Libationguy
3.09/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Clear reddish-copper color. Fine cream colored thin head that remains after the beer has settled.

Metallic note, iron, cream, honey and light malt notes.

Lightly carmelized malt, metallic, hazelnuts, light malt. No real bitterness in the beer.

Light to medium bodied with a slick mouthfeel. Very mild bitterness in the aftertaste.

Rather underwhelming.

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Photo of T100Mark
3.58/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served in an imperial pint glass, on tap (nitro), at Shakespeare Pub and Grill, in San Diego, CA.

Appearance - A light copper color. Initialy cloudy but becomes ecceptionaly clear as the head forms (must be a nitro thing). Thick, creamy head (again, the nitro).

Smell - The beer smells a bit like a cleaning agent (Pine-Sol?) Odd.

Taste - Malt. Slightly sweet. Minimal hops. Very mild.

Mouth - Buttery smooth. Fine, mild carbonation. Very pleasant on the pallet.

Overall - A similar expieriance to Guinness on nitro tap. Unlike Guinness, however, this beer is a little lacking in character. There is nothing wrong with this beer (aside from the unique aroma). The mouthfeel is cool and it sure is pretty to look at. The taste, however, is underwhelming.

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Photo of gr0g
3.16/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Pours a coppery-amber in color with the requisite nitro-widget cascading head. Very nice head retention. Herbal, tea-like aroma thanks to esters and English hops. Dried fruit is also present. While demure, this fits the bill for an English bitter, and it's an aromatic profile I've come to enjoy.

A malty, fruit-laced flavor profile is let down by a disappointing (and not entirely unexpected) texture. The velvet-smooth nitro texture leads to a thin, watery consistency. With a more robust, darker, and/or higher gravity style like a stout, the flavors work better without much carbonation, but that's not the case here. What you're left with is a flat-tasting ale with notes of ripe pear and apple. Moderately dry through to a clean finish.

A promising ale let down by the draught can format. Except for some visual flair, it just doesn't work for pale ales.

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Photo of recoveringmormon
3.38/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Not sure if it was the can or the nitro but somehow this beer came out with a pretty different flavor than I'm used to on the tap. Part of it is metallic can-taste, which is less enjoyable. I usually think nitro is ok to round off beers with a stronger flavor, but in this case I didn't see it doing a lot of anything, except fun to watch.

Usually though, I agree that this is a reasonably solid standby, on draft at least. I remember liking it best the first time I had it, for its hearty bready malt. Really like a freshly baked loaf of whole-grain bread in refreshing liquid form. Since then I have liked it a little less each time but still regard it as a good first beer.

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Photo of Samp01
3.26/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours a clear ruby amber with a medium slowly fading beige head. Aroma and Taste of toasted cereal, malt, yeast, slightly fruity with a bit of toffee flavor. A medium body, smooth with good carbonation on the palate. The finish is toasted caramel malt, light fruity and yeast notes ending with some sweet toffee and nutty flavors. Overall a good, refreshing session brew

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Photo of Oakenator
3.88/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Pours a full brown color with a good head at pour. Some spotted lacing present on the glass.

S: Bitter hop aroma.

T: Earthy, spicy hops present throughout. Mild roasted malt flavor shows on the back.

M: Somewhat fizzy, and yet somewhat flat.

O: Still a good staple ale.

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Photo of Tobiasmjh
4.15/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Gorgeous summertime ale. Enjoyed poured from bottle on a beach in perfect sunshine! bright golden amber colour, clear as the sky I drank it under with a single centimeter of cloudlike head resting and holding for some time. Scent perhaps obscured by the saltiness of the sea but caught pleasant wiffs of apricot and berrys. distict peachy taste with slight hop bittering just like so many of the ales I like the most. 5.2% but didn't realise until part way through the fourth bottle!! Aha!

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Photo of scotorum
4.1/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Third of the four bottle "Hen House" variety pack I have tried. Somehow Hen's Tooth did not get reviewed.

a. Poured straight from the clear 16.9 oz. bottle into a Samuel Smith English Tulip pint glass. Beautiful translucent medium amber with an inch head which hangs on to a thicker than usual surface film surrounded by good lacing.

s. Mildly fruity. No noticable skunking.

t: As anticipated, refreshing mildly peachy-apricoty flavor.

m: Smooth, with light hop bite.

o: Somewhat similar to the Old Golden Hen already reviewed in its refreshing fruitiness, but OSH is lighter and with more of a distinct peach-like tinge. It was great as a dinner ale, and continued to delight as it was finished afterwards. Perhaps ironic that the entree was...chicken. Surely a fine choice in warm weather.

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Photo of Brenden
3.53/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A brightly clear pale ale, it's pretty much a stright dark yellow color. A nearly pure white head get up to a finger tall, and retention is good. Lacing is left on the glass in some thin legging off of hefty patches.
Toasty malts mingle with earth, wood and a lightly herbal bitterness. There's sweetness, too, from notes of toffee and caramel. A bit of yeast and nut rises up from below as the session continues. Some fruity esters make their way out in the flavor. It's an English pale, and for that it does well enough, but I still think a bit more hopping would do it some good.
There's a touch of smoothness in this beer that isn't particularly crisp. Barely more than light in body, it does seem to be stretching for medium and just makes it.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.54/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bright mandarin with creamy craggy off white head.
Stewed apples and rising dough on the nose.
Granola, toffee and peaches up front with leafy, cedary hops.
Big Werther's finish and mildly bitter vegetal linger.
Soft, lt-med, creamy.

Malt driven, and there is a baseline of quality, but all toned down and a bit dull. A butter bomb when fresh on cask. A case study for Maris Otter.

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Photo of tjsdomer2
3.56/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pinkish brown with excellent, excellent tan foam and perfect lacing.

Smell: Cotton candy..very faint.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Fairly light flavor. Very creamy with a maple cotton candy flavor. Mouthfeel is like thin Guinness, definitely not my favorite.

Overall: Kind of a niche beer. Very similar to Boddingtons, and definitely better.

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Photo of keeganfrank
4.09/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Medium brown ale with a thin head that dissipates quickly. Aromas of nuts, caramel and wood. Flavors of mild spice and wood/leaves. Has a light, sessionable body and plenty of flavor. There was some mild skunk when the bottle was first opened but it became imperceptible after pouring. A great example of English ale.

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Photo of kilustration
3.41/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Light reddish in color, not much head or lacing.
S: Ok smell, taste was better.
T: Sweetish at first than bitter. Somewhat nutty or carmely. Pretty decent overall.
M: Was expecting a heavier mouthfeel, but was light - not at all watery.
O: Would drink again if it was presented.

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Photo of teromous
3.81/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Medium shade of brown with a hint of orange. The head is a thick creamy eggshell white. Brilliantly transparent, and the head coats the glass like thick cream, leaving a sheet of lace.

S: It has an interesting smell. At first it smells spicy, kind of like a gingerbread cookie. There's a bit of caramel scent in there as well.

T: It tastes just like it smells. There's a spicy character to it, which interlaces itself with the hop bitterness. There's a caramel cookie flavor to the beer.

M: The mouthfeel is very thin and watery, but it feels light with smooth carbonation.

O: Overall it's what you'd expect from an English Pale Ale. Easy drinking with just enough bitterness, but not too much.

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Photo of ONUMello
3.08/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass
A: Transparent amber with a one-finger head that settles quickly
S: Light malt, a hint of caramel and citrus
T: Like the nose - malt up front, some caramel on the midpalate and a light citrus note towards the end. Simple but unoffensive
M: Light-bodied with pleasant light carbonation
O: Nothing special here but I would drink this any day over anything in the BMC portfolio

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Photo of WissBrauSean
3.63/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

The bottle gets points for being reusable, but it's clear and so not exactly the best for storing beer for a long time because of UV exposure which makes beer taste skunky. But when I reuse these bottles I drink the beer first from the clear bottles.

The beer pours a crystal clear and deep amber color with a nice thin off-white head that remains throughout the drink as a thin ring around the glass with nice, but minimal lacing.

Initially cold out of the bottle the beer smells more skunky than malty. Not terribly skunky and definitely not detracting from the beer, really. As the beer warms in the glass the beer becomes more caramel malty sweet in aroma and notes of dark fruit and light bread come out. The skunky becomes barely noticeable.

The flavor is pretty much the same as the beer starts off sharp with carbonation then mellows to a lightly sweet flavor and as the cabonation completely flattens out some bitter from hops comes through with a faint skunk taste. Amoung the sweet there notes of caramel and dates, but very light. It finishes with a hoppy note a bit dry, but ultimately sweet overall and could be balanced a little better.

The mouthfeel is lightly sweet and medium to light bodied and it really drops off flat near the end and gets a bit watery. This may be a function of the carbonation which seems plenty enough until you get half way through the sip and it dies. There is a bit of a slimy feel on my tongue in between sips.

Overall I would give this beer high 3s out of five. It's an excellent beer, but not what I would call world class. Would I seek this out. Probably not as I have built up a list of beers in this realm that I like better. I do like it though! Would I recommend this beer? HAYLE YES! Just as I would recommend trying any new beer just to try something different because you never know if this could be the one! There is the chance this could be it for you.

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Old Speckled Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
79 out of 100 based on 875 ratings.