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Old Speckled Hen | Greene King / Morland Brewery

906 Reviews
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Old Speckled HenOld Speckled Hen

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

Style: English Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Quaffer on 10-23-2000

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Reviews: 906 | Ratings: 2,009
Photo of jed
3.93/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Pours a beautiful amber/reddish color with a sizeable, offwhite head. Good head retention, excellent lacing.

Smell: Distinctive, hard to describe malt aroma with some caramel sweetness and a slight vegetable smell.

Taste: Very smooth, creamy nose is dominated by an almost buttery toasted malt, with slight hints of caramel. More sips reveal the nicely balanced hop backbone; hops become more predominant as the beer warms. The finish is creamy and sweet with some caramel and a small herbal hop aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and creamy. Initially almost buttery, becomes chewier as the beer warms up without getting too thick.

Drinkability: Cost aside, would make a great session beer, nice flavor and easy to drink.

A solid example of an English-style pale ale, with especially good use of malt and an excellent mouthfeel. Definitely one to try, and something I'll come back to from time to time.

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Photo of genaro
2.81/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On-tap this beer was a dark/amber color capped by big creamy head that lasted for a while. It also had really good lace. The aroma was herbal/earthy. The taste was slightly metallic with some sweetness and elements of caramel and citrus. I didn't care for the finish. It seemed to be metallic/grassy and dry with a bit of astringent aftertaste. I've tried this beer a few times and it never tastes any better.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From the nitro-can.

Pours a bright copper with a mouth-watering, off-white, creamy, dense head. Lots and lots of lace and the familiar nitro settle. Not alot in the nose but some light carmel aromas and some hops in there somewhere.

Taste is creamy pale malt with hints of caramel followed by some well-balanced hops and light citrusy flavors. A light hops finish but it does it's job in this subtle ale. Very creamy with a light hoppy aftertaste. Nothing earth-shattering here but a pretty fine, smooth-drinking brew. Much, much better than the bottle. I'll get it this way or on tap from now on.

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Photo of Suds
3.39/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a nitro-can, the beer looked beautiful…perfect, thick head with a creamy consistency…too bad I always think it’s a big gimmick. The color is a burnt golden hue…It really is attractive. Biscuit like, bread aroma and flavor. Moderate sweetness up front and subtle English hop balance. Very mellow, very creamy, very smooth. It’s certainly drinkable, but it’s also restrained, understated, and polite. Not bad for a relaxing afternoon with friends, but I’d rather reach for a more flavorful brew.

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Photo of CBFanWish
3.85/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A good beer to drink when with friends. This one pours a clear gold colour with a moderate head. It has a nutty aroma and taste that everyone will like. Well balaced with a slight hop feel evened out with the right amount of malts. Just a good one to sit down to every now and then.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge, MA, in a four pack of draft cans. Classic English-style appearance to the can.

Upon opening, the widget goes to work nitrogenating the contents. Poured in a pint glass, excellent cascading effect, which concludes with a tall, thick head on the dark golden contents. Nothing much jumps out to the nose, but the smoothness of the product down the hatch is incredible. Pleasant bitterness, nice body, all in all, a great beer, and one of my favorites. Always a standby whether you're having one at the pub, or a few watching the game.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.43/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I love the packaging for this brew. The label has a classic, simple look and the bottle is very "English" in both style and shape. I am not a fan of clear bottles, but this beer looks really good in one due to its pleasant color.

Appearance: This was a crystal-clear, amber beer that is just about the perfect pale ale color. The almost white head rose up to two fingers and was quick to disappear. The majority of the coarse bubbles were gone quickly, leaving just a right of foam around the circumference of the glass. A few "speckles" of lace decorated the glass when the beer was gone, but they were few and far between.

Smell: After an initial hit of strong sulpher died away, there was left an aroma that was comprised mainly of sweet malt. It contained notes of caramel and bread, but was pretty straightforward overall. A hint of hops and a light fruitiness was evident on the nose as well, but they were both very light.

Mouthfeel: Thin-bodied upfront, but it became a little fuller and chewy as it moved back in the mouth. It was slightly buttery on the tip of the tongue, but was by no means coating.

Taste: The hops flavor was rather strong for an English pale ale in my opinion. It was the dominating flavor from start to finish, though it did gain strength and some herbal characteristics on the finish. The malt seemed to be almost non-existent up through the finish, though I know it was there due to the balancing effect it had on the hops. Not to say that the flavor was balanced, because it wasn't; it was definitely hop-heavy. But it would have been much worse if there hadn't been a malt counterpart backing it up. Finally, some malty sweetness did shine through in the aftertaste.

This was not a bad brew, but it was a little unbalanced on the hop side. Not what I expected from an English made pale ale. Definitely drinkable, though.

A big thanks to noclueaboutbeer for hauling this one out to Kansas all the way from Connecticut.

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Photo of Naerhu
3.52/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: orange with an ale haze. Super creamy whitish head.
Smell: barely any aroma as is usual with nitro beers. sweet malts in the background.
Taste: Toasted, caramel. Lemony hop flavor finishes on a dry hoppy bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Extremely creamy and silky, as with all nitro cans.
This is the first nitro beer I have had that I found enjoyable. Four pints of this put me down for the night.

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Photo of Garin
3.79/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's a nice clear golden amber ale, with a thick and creamy head supported by lots of bubbles in the beer. Lovely lace clings to my glass. Looks tasty!

On the nose, a hint of hops and some kind of sharpness. A little malt and alcohol comes through as well.

The flavour starts out a little sweet and with a slight metallic twang. I also find a sort of appley sweetness. A healthy bitterness cuts that out about half way through, only to give way to more metal. Strangely enough, this kinda works. A nice grainy maltiness is building over time.

In the mouth it's clean and refreshing. It's very easy to drink, though the aftertaste kinda gets to me a liiitle bit after a while.

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Photo of marburg
4.38/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sometimes you forget just how good that ale was that you had a two years ago... You remember it fondly, but there are always newer and more exciting things.

But this is a pretty exciting thing -- especially for, what is for me, an "old friend" of the beer world.

Thick and chewy -- creamy with the nauseating phony texture of some truly creamy (or nitro) ales. Some real legit malt sweetness up front, but this brew is just an example of balance to the rest of the English ale world. I mean, man. Perfect hop domination at the end. Zen like finish. A little nutty -- and kind of bitter in the way of chewing on the peanut shell instead of the peanut itself.

Good. Beer.

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Photo of PZuke
3.43/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer poured a nice copper color with a nice white head. The smell is of caramel and malt. This beer had a very nice English quality to it not in your face and yet with some very subtle notes in the background. Not my favorite English Pale Ale but it is a nice example of the style. This is a very drinkable beer while this would not be my first choice it would also not be my last. I feel this beer is a little better then average.

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Photo of Globetrotter
3.83/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I remember loving this in the pubs of London prior to my BA days, so was thrilled to see it appear at a Moscow grocery store near work. It comes in a clear half liter bottle with a long neck featuring a very slight bulge. The label is plain, and proclaims this a "fine strong ale." At 5.2%? The extra Russian label identifies the list of ingredients - which conform to the purity law. Best before 8/27/04, I opened it on 12/11/03.

Pours a clear deep copper under a thin off white head that settles to film fairly quickly, leaving a bit of lace. The nose is big, with some malt, but mostly flowery hops and just of touch of cough syrup. The mouth is very prickly and surprisingly light for an English ale. I like the taste, starting with a bit of malt, but quickly transitioning to some fairly hearty hops and a bit of bready yeast. The hops linger nicely, with a bitter tingle in the jowels lasting well past the disappearance of the liquid. Not a great beer, but a perfectly respectable brew.

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Photo of koolk
3.27/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A clean red copper colour and a ft juicy cream head (thank you nitro!).

Clean aromas of toffee, dark fruit and caramel malt. Very mild and somewhat spicy this is very decent.

Thick, dry and creamy palate. More toffee and roasted flavours but compared to the bottle it is not as malty. Still it is very refreshing and tasty.

Enjoyed this more on nitro than I did out of the bottle, with the cream adding another dimension to this beer.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
2.17/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bronze color, nice white head.
Aroma: not to my liking, puts me off, cloyingly sweet, tinny, flinty, just not right...
Taste: small hops, mellow mouthfeel, light body, some slight maltiness, drinkable, downable, but altogether unexciting.
Not my cup of tea at all. I can get why it's so popular (been showing up on numerous taplines these past few years), for those who enjoy the untroubled and the uninteresting, but I can't forgive that awful smell, and will pass on this one from here on out.

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Photo of diablo14
3.73/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

theres plenty better english ales than the old speckled. this does hit the spot tho, and manages to represent what this style is all about. as with most other english beers, it knows where it stands. could do with a tad more complexity, but still manages to put a lot of other draught beers to shame quite easily.

color wise it looks like your average english ale, but the thick creamy head comes on like an irish beer, and goes the distance. gotta love that. nothing too potent on the nose. dried fruit and malt are there as they should be. same in the taste, but after that is where this beer stakes its claim. finishes very bitter and quite dry for the style, it still doesnt lose the factors that make it great. a cheekily well balanced brew. loks full on, but is pretty light in comparison.

id never buy bottles of this, but on tap, im always giving it a nudge. and geez, why wouldnt ya? comapred to what else id be drinking in oppostion, i know where im at.

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Photo of saskguy
3.06/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I like the look of a copper coloured beer and this fit that look.

A dense creamy styled head more guiness than ale.

A strong malty smell to the beer. No off flavours, malty with a dry finish, a middle road english ale taste. Weak on the mouth feel. Drinkable but not a must drink.

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Photo of grynder33
3.33/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very appleish hop aroma, amber gold color, carmelly taste, the regular nitro smooth mouth feel, sweetness seems to stay but carmel taste disappears, what first seems creamy turns a little flat towards the end. Slight bitterness comes on at the end. I would drink somebody else's but would never buy a 4 pack

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.76/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very fine pale in the English tradition; I enjoyed this more than I expected I would. The nicely colored copper body was hazed and topped with a nice cream head. Decent lacing observed from the residual.

The nose is a bit disappointing, giving only small hints of the strong malt base and very little of the hop content. The flavor is very nicely malty and balanced beautifully with pleasing hop bitterness - actually much more bittered than the nose would indicate.

The feel is medium to full with a very fine crisp and clean finish. Very nicely drinkable - this could become a favorite quite easily.

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Photo of far333
3.15/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Orangey color with an off-white head. Flowery aroma and tingly mouthfeel followed by an oddly sweet burnt flavor. Reminds me (not kidding) of a burnt toasted marshmallow. This follows though in the aftertaste. This flavor is too strange, can't finish the glass.

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Photo of granger10
3.73/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This one looked spectacular. Poured a copper color with a luscious tan head. Nose was of strong malt flavor, mainly caramel. Taste was also dominated by caramel along with slight fruit malt flavor and some dextrin sweetness. A hop flavor gives a little kick in the end. However, the flavors were light in taste and texture thus lowering my rating of this beer. This one is alright and goes down easy enough, but not worth the price in my opinion.

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
4.11/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The widget assisted pour is amazing; a beauty swirl and motor like pour of a nice copper colored ale to fill the pint glass, an absolute enormous 3-4 inch layer of froth, creamy and carbonated bubbles. After settling in, a decent malty aroma. Up front, seems a bit thin, yet some great caramel and sweet malty flavoring. Well
balanced and very rich, some hoppy bitterness towards the end. Great first impression from the nitro pour; an awesome session brew, very smooth and quenching.

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Photo of Seumas
3.06/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the first time I've tried the old speckled 'un since GK closed the Abingdon brewery and transferred the brewing to St. Edmundsbury.

It was bland when Morlands brewed it, it's bland now (although it was just slightly better when I had it on cask in Oxford a dozen years ago).

If offered the choice (as I was) between the Hen and Stella, I'd choose the Hen any day. However, give me just about any Brit import or most NA microbrews.

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Photo of putnam
5/5  rDev +44.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

"OK," I said to my friend. "Let's do English beers now."
Old Speckled was an obvious choice, and we paired it with a John Courage. It was all over as soon as the beers were set in front of us. Speckled had a "creamy" head in a way that shames all other uses of that descriptor. I dipped my finger in the foam and it was solid! Creamy, buttery, thick and highly aromatic as it offered caramel and vanilla perfume. Then, on the palate, the same notes repeated, this time with traces of maduro cigar and roasted pig fat. The finish was a battle between candy, bitter plant and ash.
Absolute perfection!

Sabina @ The Berkley Front is to blame. She's more surly than you-know-who.

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Photo of TerryW
2.7/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Coppery red with a moderate head that promptly settles to a film.Gives some lace all the way down, just not a ton and nothing that really lingers.

Sweet and malty on the nose, give it a swirl in the glass and the yeast really busts loose. Let the beer warm and a toffee smell emerges. To taste there is not much beyond the malt. Finishes up with gently bitter hops.

Passable, but not special.

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Photo of nomad
3.76/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a soft ruddy brown color, a tasty brown and reddy color, with tons of light and small carbonation, lots of head, nice but quick lace, and a serious stain. But it only looks like this when in the glorious nitro can version.

Smell was faintly nutty, soft grainy malt, tinges of hops. Taste was fully creamy, walnut nutty, and bitter, with a hearty light-earthy body. To me, a balance of hops and malt so well you don’t even notice how well they balance. Watery mouthfeel but a bitter and creamy long finish makes it refreshing.

A good session beer, have some with friends. Obviously not a great but a tasty one.

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Old Speckled Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
79 out of 100 based on 906 ratings.