Old Crafty Hen
Greene King / Morland Brewery

Old Crafty HenOld Crafty Hen
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Strong Ale - English
Ranked #27
Ranked #32,449
3.77 | pDev: 13.26%
Greene King / Morland Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Very Good
Old Crafty HenOld Crafty Hen
Notes: A strong fine ale combines the malty taste with a smooth raisin finish.

Challenger provides a key herbal dry hop character, First Gold and Goldings give some citrus fruit and crystal malt provides warming toffee in the main beer of this blended ale. The use of some old 5X 12% ale adds dried fruit and raisin and produces a complex flavoured and richly satisfying ale. The tradition of brewing a Strong Suffolk Ale and maturing in Oak Vats is one that unlike other UK brewers, GK have continued - the practice is mentioned in 1810 in connection with GK.
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Reviews: 97 | Ratings: 290 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund from Norway

3.1/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

500 ml clear bottle, as Morland Old Crafty Hen, from Tesco Express, Belfast. ABV is 6.5%. Beautiful brownish-red colour, moderate off-white head. Strong aroma of lightstruck hops, oak, toffee and caramel. Medium sweet flavour of malts, caramel and oak. Too modest hops. No masterpiece.

Apr 22, 2021
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EmperorBevis from England

3.41/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottled and watched whilst drinking the Pip episode of South Park
Pours a crystal clear burnished bronze body with good white head
Aroma is slightly nutty
Malt malt and more malt in the flavour

Oct 03, 2019
Photo of James94
James94 from England

3.64/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L: Dark amber/red, two fingers of head, good lacing
S: Grainy, dark fruits, some skunkiness
T: Bitter cherries, malts, some lighter fruit notes
F: Quite intense for its ABV

O: 3.75

Jun 03, 2019
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Oragyn from England

4.96/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Great toffee aroma, hints of fruit. It has a deep copper, almost red colour. Punchy toffee flavour, subtle raisin/fruit background. Very moreish aftertaste. A total winner in my opinion, but I can see it not being to everyone's taste.

Sep 09, 2018
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JonnoWillsteed from England

3.84/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The following is a 2nd 'follow-up' review. My original review (at bottom) seems have been on an unrepresetative day for my palate, which was materially impacted by typical mid-summer allergies. I have updated both my comments, and ratings. My original ratings are listed on my earlier original (at bottom).
L- Deep chestnut, clear, pours with 5mm pale tan head of ultra fine bubbles holding well (much later forming lacing right down the sides of the glass).
S- Toasty and biscuity (reminiscent of McVities Digestives), it is quite subtle though for what it's colour and 6.5% ABV suggest.
T- Deeply roasty-toasty, going into a balanced complex richness
F- I see it's balance now, it manages to remain quite a refreshing beer 'depsite' it's quite deep flavour and 6.5% foundations.
O- I'm very glad I got to try this again, it cautions me to take care reviewing beers in hay-fever season. I do like this and I would buy it again. At £1.75/pint bottle in Waitrose (that was not an 'On offer' price either) it's something of a bargain.

Original review:
L- Mid to deep chestnut. CO2 quickly clears to lacing = 2.5
S- Sadly indistinct vs my high-summer/city congestion, so I have to rate this aspect 2.5/neutral = 2.5
T- [Please gimme something more positive that I can find].... .... Cold, dry, ale, that's nice. I still feel there's a lot more going on here that I'm currently oblivious to. = 3
M- F Dry, quite crisp. A short way into the bottle I now clearly sense this is 6.5%. 'Ding-dong, you won't make a session beer of me!'. It is striking how moving from say 5.0% beers to just 6.5%, and give it an hour ... and the difference in impact is clear. = 3
O. I know this is a quality brewery; and I like other beers they do, and recognise their complexity. Maybe summer is the wrong time of year for me drinking more subtle beers like this. Note to self: Try again when summer/pollen season has passed. = 3 = Overall 2.85 rDev -23.6%

Aug 06, 2018
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darktronica from Indiana

3.73/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

One of those old classics that you wonder why they're classics. I always enjoyed the crafty hen when I was younger, but now I'm in a situation where any bottle of it I find is gathering dust in the shoppe. While it holds up reasonably well, this particular bottle is a tad musty. Tons of floral, classically British pale notes, but with some oak and malt as a backstop.

Dec 02, 2017
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Spike from England

3.94/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 500ml bottle.
L: Clear, dark copper colour. One finger of loose, off-white head reduces to a few spots.
S: Dark fruits and a little spice.
T: Lots of toffee
F: Light/medium body with a rich, spicy finish.
O: An enjoyable, powerful blend of English pale ale and barleywine. Complex but drinkable. Improves as it warms.

Oct 17, 2017
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VoxRationis from New York

4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted from a 12 oz bottle into a conical pint glass; no production information.
A: Pours a hazy, copper color with an off white, three quarter inch head, which rapidly dissipates to a rim, and some lacing.
S: Nose largely caramel, pepper, and spice, but there is a distinct burnt peat note at first.
T: Sweet and peppery up front with caramel, raisin, and whiskey. Very little bitterness at the back end.
M: Medium bodied, low carbonation, leaves a tingling in the mouth.
O: Cannot say I smell or taste the oak, but a very fine and moderately strong English Strong Ale.

Sep 12, 2017
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monkist from Hungary

4.74/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had the pleasure to taste a terribly good classic, Old Crafty Hen. Known and tried Old Speckled Hen but it is nothing in comparison with the ole Crafty.
It is an oak-aged vintage the bottle tells you as if it was some sort of a whiskey - and in a way nothing could be more spot on! Looks and feels like a bourbon or at least something beyond your average ale, and to a mortal like me it is still a mystery how they are able to produce this kind of taste. Guess aging it in specific barrels for excessive periods of time does the trick.
Raisin, cherry, sherry and above all, malts dominate is taste and in what a way! This is extremely good, really overwhelming - as I am typing these lines drinking it I need to keep focusing on staying put. It is THAT much outstanding.
A classic indeed. Full stop.

May 23, 2017
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ygtbsm94 from Utah

3.41/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Nose caramel, malt, toffee, burnt orange, honey, faint wood, light carbo. Taste lightly sweet malt, caramel, raisin, slight oak, bready, medium body, slightly dry finish.

Feb 02, 2017
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Vader444 from Scotland

3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle pour into pint glass.

This sounded right up my alley on paper but the cask influence was overbearing for my tastes. Too much sweet vanillin and not enough body. Pleasant fruity, malty base which I feel did not need the massive woody supporting cast. Not a repurchase for me I'm afraid.

Oct 30, 2016
Photo of GregBlatz
GregBlatz from Ohio

4.33/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Deep amber color. Head laces the glass. White head with a bit of tan.

S - Slightly metallic. Rich butterscotch and raisin aroma. A lot of esters and diacytel.

T - Very toffee like and a lot of caramel. Nice bitterness to smooth it out.

F - A bit of a chewiness.

O - wow, this is a nice English beer with all of the flavors I was hoping for

Oct 11, 2016
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ThisWangsChung from Maryland

3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper color. The head is slightly over a finger high, and off-white in shade. It has a very soft, whipped cream-like texture almost like a nitro ale - retention is great, too. Only niggle is that minimal lacing sticks to the glass.

There's quite the lush fruityness to the aroma - not just raisin, plum, and fig; but cherry, apricot, and peach as well. Combined with the prevalent toffee and caramel qualities the malts give off, this kind of smells like a fruitcake. A good fruitcake, not those rock-hard bricks known to penetrate the Earth's crust when accidentally dropped. Some of the old ale used in this also comes through with notes of must, earth, and sherry oxidation. Plain and simple, this offers a very intriguing and complex nose.

It doesn't seem to taste as fruit forward as the nose indicated. It's definitely there near the end, but the general maltiness seems to dominate initially. I first taste plenty of caramel and toffee, and the middle has a surprisingly assertive hop bitterness. Not too assertive, thankfully - the mild tobacco and earth still give the finish of dark fruits plenty of breathing room. All in all, this is a rock-solid offering that offers more depth than many 10% brews out there.

There are quite a few facets to this brew that make it seem bigger than 6.5%. First is the thick, bulky (yet soft and creamy) texture, second is the mild residual sweetness that stays behind on the palate, and third (and most surprising of all) is the little bit of booze presence that appears. Since the carbonation is fairly low, that makes this beer a slow, steady sipper.

A little of this can go a long way. This isn't something to be slammed down in 20 minutes - it requires your full, undivided attention. Having said that, this beer is definitely worthy of said full, undivided attention. I'll probably get this again in the future.

3.85/5: How 'bout that, it actually is quite crafty!

Oct 08, 2016
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superspak from Ohio

4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 7/7/2015. Pours clear reddish copper color with a 1-2 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big caramel, brown sugar, toffee, brown bread, toasted biscuit, nuttiness, oak, light vanilla, raisin, plum, apple, herbal, mint, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and moderate fruity yeast/earthy hop notes; with great strength. Taste of big caramel, brown sugar, toffee, brown bread, toasted biscuit, nuttiness, oak, light vanilla, raisin, plum, apple, herbal, mint, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate herbal/spicy hop and tannic oak bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, toffee, brown bread, toasted biscuit, nuttiness, oak, raisin, plum, apple, herbal, mint, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt and moderate fruity yeast/earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-moderate dryness from bitter/tannic notes as well. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, fairly creamy/grainy, and light tannic/sticky balanced mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a great English strong ale! All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt and moderate fruity yeast/earthy hop flavors; very smooth and easy to drink. Really solid amount of oak presence for only being a small blend. A very enjoyable offering.

Aug 13, 2016
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

3.93/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thoroughly enjoyed via the bottle in a snifter from a friend at work---Thanks Randy!
This fine brew pours a clear mahogany with a reddish tinge and a light head of white foam that settles
to a thick ring, thin pool, and light lacing. Nose of caramel, toffee, figs, dates, and cherries with a touch
of booze. Flavors exceed the nose with toffee and cherries hitting on the front and sides, lightly warming booze
hits on the middle to rear, and a subtle grassy hop note takes hold on the back and aftertaste giving rounded
character. Very nice mouth feel, coating and warming with a dried fruit note on the aftertaste. Very nice for the
style. Glad to have tried this one.


Aug 10, 2016
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Ferb from Missouri

3.59/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I've had Old Speckled Hen, so I was expecting something like that only "more." My expectations were answered "yes" and "no."
It is dark amber, beautifully clear with a one finger head after a gentle pour. It smells like leather and wood. The first word out of my mouth at that initial sip was "apples." To me it has a ghostly cider taste that, after it warms to more than refrigerator temperature, evolves to add malty, grassy (English hops?), citrus and apple skin/raisin notes. English ales have been confusing to me so far (bitters that aren't bitter, appellations like "extra fine" and "extra special"), but I generally enjoy their balance and flavor, and this one is no different.

Aug 06, 2016
Photo of dar482
dar482 from New York

3.89/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

The beer comes in a medium to deep amber, ruby and clear.

The aroma offers toasty malts, rich bready sweetness, nutty malts, a bit of butterscotch and low amounts of diacetyl, fruity British ale yeast offering cooked apple and raisin, woody hops.

The flavor follows with butterscotch candy, with that lingering slick buttery flavor complemented, fruity ale esters of shriveled apple peel, dried cherry, chewy bready malts, crusty toasted stale bread, nutty malts, onto earthy and woody hops that balance the beer more the butterscotch and malts overwhelm. The finish has a bit of tannins and medium bitterness to finish out the experience.

Jul 29, 2016
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stevoj from Idaho

3.43/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep orange/amber with silky/creamy head. Head stays with the drink and coats the glass. Taste of toffee with some bitterness. Some of the oak barrel comes through in the flavor. Different from the usual English bitter....

Jan 19, 2016
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Greasy from Kentucky

4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice raw umber/sienna color with a frothy head that faded away after a moment.

S: The aroma is not overpowering. Soft notes of caramel malts and some earthy characteristics.

T: Beautiful flavors of sweet caramel, dried fruit, and hints of tobacco.

M: Feel is soft and smooth. Carbonation is good. Medium body.

O: A tasty brew from the UK that does not remind me at all of other old ales that I've tried. Maybe closer to an English Strong ale. Recommended.

Jan 15, 2016
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FLima from Brazil

3.62/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice copper color with a thick beige head with medium retention and leaving some laces.
Aroma with notes of English hops, toffee, mild ginger, fresh tea leaves, pear and white grapes.
Flavor with notes of English hops, a bit of licorice and plums, distant oak, minerals, ginger, toffee, nuts, butterscotch, grapes, apple juice and vanilla. Dry aftertaste with a mild bitterness.
Light bordering medium body with appropriate carbonation. Alcohol of 6.5% is not felt.
Tasty Old Ale, a bit less intense than other exemplars, but still it tires a bit. Though the style is rather broad with different blending.

Dec 04, 2015
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Dan-76 from Virginia

2.6/5  rDev -31%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.75

Poured nice and smooth without a lot of concern for too much head. About 1/2" with light lacing. Smell was dark fruity...fig/raisin like. Taste was not far off from prune juice with an alcohol burn at the end. Mouthfeel was great and light. Was hoping for a better taste from a barrel aged ale.

Jul 08, 2015
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pat61 from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

Jun 22, 2015
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Tone from Missouri

3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

May 14, 2015
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

May 01, 2015
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puboflyons from New Hampshire

3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

Mar 11, 2015
Old Crafty Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 290 ratings