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Old Crafty Hen | Greene King / Morland Brewery

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BA SCORE
85
very good
86 Reviews
Old Crafty HenOld Crafty Hen
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Greene King / Morland Brewery
England, United Kingdom
greenekingbeers.co.uk

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by GreenCard on 10-17-2008

BEER STATS
Reviews:
86
Ratings:
262
Avg:
3.79
pDev:
22.96%
 
 
Wants:
12
Gots:
46
For Trade:
0
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Reviews: 86 | Ratings: 262
Photo of Giuseppina
4.58/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: fantastic mahogany colour, thick head that disappears quite fast.

Smell: malty, faint but pleasant.

Taste: here this beer really shine, full very round deep malty taste, in the aftertaste you can really feel the aging, almost wine-like.

Feel: smooth, very pleasant.

Overall: one of the best beers I've ever tried.

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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 BlackHaddock
4.47/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It is a sunny yet cold Sunday afternoon in Shropshire and I want a decent pint before my Sunday Lunch. I have choosen this beer from my stash.

The clear 500ml bottle was poured into my 'La Chouffe' tulip glass three times (to catch the aromas and force a good head out of the beer). It had almost a year left of its life, so was fairly fresh when reviewed.

The beer poured a deep rich amber and on each occasion had a well formed off-white foaming head. On each pour the head fell away to a thinner covering and some laceing on the glass.

Oak aged beers always remind me of coal fires and childhood Christmas's, the aromas in this one followed the same trend. A warm and comforting smell, a 'Sod the Credit Crunch', 'Balls to the Recession' type of richness only the well off can have. This is a boardroom of the rich beer.

The taste also brings back memories of sitting round the fire and warmth. A deep malty richness and depth of the body give this beer a really good glow and feel.

The 6.5% is well hidden within the brew and even though it is a mix of two beers (Old Speckled Hen and Old 5X), the blender has got it just about perfect. This is the best GK beer I've ever had.

One small note, 'Old 5X' isn't sold, it is a 12% Oak aged (3 years) brew that is blended into other GK beers.

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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 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 GregBlatz
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
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

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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 pat61
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

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Photo of delta490
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Pours a deep clear Amber with a thin light tan head. The aroma is rich and malty with a hint of earthy hops. The flavor is deep malt, dark fruit and caramel, balanced by the hops. A nice weight to the body and a smooth feeling. A great ale

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

50cl clear bottle. Some code stamped on bottle, but no freshness date.
Served in a Nonic tumbler.

It pours a bright tannish/copper color with a solid, but fast-fading off white frothy head, along with lots of lacy rings.
Smells of toasted malt are upfront. Just underneath are a lively mix of peaty malt, citrusy and tea-like hops, distant whiffs of sulfur and a dose of amber rum.
Flavors of roasted malt, toffee, strong tea and honey, maple, figs, rum and tobacco are easy to notice. Distant tastes of lime-like citrus, dark berries and an ever-so-slight metallic tang lie in the finish.
The body is full, yet not thick. It’s buttery, but not oily. There’s a bubbly carbonation, yet it’s not spritzy.
It’s a bit potent, but not overwhelming
I’m VERY impressed with this ale! It’s Old Speckled Hen’s busty and sexy mother.
Well Done!!!
Well, all except for the clear glass bottle.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.21/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Old Crafty Hen has a very thin, off-white head, and a mostly clear, deep, brilliant, amber appearance with some bubble streams and lacing. The aroma is of of rich, sweet caramel and toffee, bread crust and maybe some raisin. Taste is of those elements, with some mellow, but distinguished bitterness at the end of the sip. Mouthfeel is medium and soft, and Old Crafty Hen finishes wet, sweet, rich, and delicious. Overall, a most excellent beer!

RJT

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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 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 smcolw
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thick off-white foamy head. Leaves ring of lace after each sip. Orange, light brown color with a touch of haze.

Smells like cut soured cherries. Some sweet melted sugar.

Rich, almost oily body. Lower carbonation enhances this feel. Potent, lightly toasted malt base. Some alcohol warmth on the tongue. A touch of sourness but less than the smell implies. There's a bit of hop to prevent the beer becoming cloy. Short Carmel candy aftertaste.

Seeing the other scores here, I think it might be worthwhile to find this one on tap.

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Photo of biegaman
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Say what you will about British dental hygiene but their ales are often perfectly manicured and make a stunning first impression; Old Crafty Hen is tanned, polished, and drop dead gorgeous. It has a lightly coppered auburn colour, deep tone but perfect clarity, and just a sprinkling of bubbles. Its head is fine as moss and sits on the beer like fresh dew over blades of grass.

The bouquet is an intriguing combination of toffee and hazelnut, with a hint of iodine and peat; it's vaguely scotch-like owing to the sharp maltiness, earthy hops and subtle wood spice. I can't even smell an English Old Ale like this without fantasizing about how magical it must be to drink from a fresh cask. Alas, I do not live in Britain, and that is my misfortune.

This beer is a blend of Old Speckled Hen and the allusive Old 5X (which is aged in oak vats for two to five years). The resulting flavour produces a perfect balance of wood spice, tannins, dried fruits, toffee biscuits, nut brittle, and lots of wholesome breadiness. Despite its substantial maltiness a strong sherry-like profile constantly intrudes. No issue there though.

Hence, the palate also features a lot of raisin flavour, but isn't sugary or overly sweet in the least; pungent and resinous Target hops add a taste of grassy, vegetal spice and a bitter (almost astringent) taste of spent green and black tea leaves. These resins are earthy and, owing to the oak, make for an aftertaste loosely reminiscent of moss and peat.

The Brits have a particular talent for making intricate ales without compromising their drinkability, without making them boozy, steroid-driven monsters (like the Americans do). Old Crafty Hen is as mellow and manageable as any pint of plain, but it is just that much more alluring and complex. It is a drink most refined; a perfect fireside companion.

Indeed, if Rhett Butler wanted to find somewhere there was left in life charm and grace, he should have settled in Suffolk, right next to the Morland brewery - Old Crafty Hen is nothing if not charming and graceful. English Old Ales like this one - and the Fullers Vintage Ale, which it strongly resembles - teach one how to relax, properly reflect, and appreciate life.

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Photo of celticfutblclub
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A - copper body with no little carbonation present. nice fluffy off white head two fingers thick. very good retention and ok lacing.

S - toffee caramel sweet malts and raisins.

T - caramel and sweet malts and raisins most present here. nice oak flavor as well. theres a pretty decent grassy hop bitterness to it (more than I expected at least). really tasty stuff.

M - moderate carbonation. unbelievably smooth with a good dry finish nice astringency and nice feel of alcohol on the tongue and throat, its subtle but its there.

O - very good brew so glad its finally made its way state side.

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Photo of Greasy
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 mL bottle poured into a tulip stout glass.

Appearance: Clear and bright coppery color. Off white foam upon pouring with that typical English ale mix of bubbles and foam (some really large, most quite small). Some lacing noted, but not very persistent. Good looking beer.

Smell: Malty - toasted malt mostly with some hints of caramel thrown in.

Taste: Buttery toffee, roasted malt bitter finish. Clean, simple flavor profile, but deep and rich in those simple flavors. Back of the bottle talks about some raisin-like finishes, but I'm not getting that very much. Maybe raisins taste different in the UK? Regardless, I'm not tasting raisins much, but in spite of that, this is a very very good beer.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation, little bit chewy. Combined with the taste - felt very much like a rich English ale.

Overall: A very nice English ale. Went fantastic with fish and chips and I think it would be even better on cask. Definitely something I would pick up again. A little bit weak in aroma, but it more than made up for it in taste.

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

Reddish amber colour. Decent head and lacing.

Aroma is mild. Sweet and syrupy smelling with a hint of booze.

The taste is very malty. There is a significant nutty flavour. There are hints of raisins and dried fruit. The taste is well balanced as some earthy hop bitterness cuts through the sweetness.

Overall a very well rounded and balanced beer. Highly drinkable and subtly tasty and even complex with various sweet flavours intermingling. Recommended as a winter warmer when not craving hops.

83/100

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Photo of T100Mark
4.06/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A 500ml Euro-bomber poured into a Nonic/Imperial pint glass (exactly the way it deserves to be served). Great looking bottle/label!

Appearance - A dark copper color. Very good clarity. Big head that settles down after a while. Weak lacing.

Smell - A mild malt nose.

Taste - Subdued malt flavor. Slightly bitter (black licorice). Slightly nutty. Slightly sweet. Mild hop hit finish. Smooth but with a bit of an edge.

Mouth - Fine carbonation. A touch oily. Nice.

Overall - A fine English ale. Balanced. Sophisticated. Also, this beer does a fine job of hiding the 6.5% abv. My only knock on this beer is that it might be a little too subtle for its own good.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500ml bottle into two white wine glasses. Thanks to Heidi & Tom Morris for the hook-up! Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

BBE OCT 09

A: Pours a clear, dark orange-brown with just a tiny bit of off-white head and, sadly, no lace. Lazily carbonated.

S: Aromas of toasty malt, white grape/raisin, and hops. Vaguely woody, as well.

T: Toasted malt, white pepper, buttery oak, toffee, raisin, earthy hops, and a pinch of mint.

M: Dry and prickly with just the right amount of stickiness from the oak and hops. Finish is tangy and coating.

D: Very enjoyable and an excellent surprise just brought back from England!

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Off white and tan three finger nice wonderfully forming head with a thick foamy character. Some good retention, sitting on a gorgeous shining copper red crystal body.

Nose is extremely dry and malt biscuity. Almost ripping grain but dense and dry malt character hinting of toast but more dense than powdery. Interesting, quite neat.

Taste brings rich malt density, with large biscuit and soft graham cracker chews. Cookie rich, finish almost has a fruity banana ester quality to it but doesn't detract from the rich malt body. Carbonation feel is moderate and hardly noticeable, taking nothing away from the pleasure of this beer. Moderate dry palate on the finish but almost refreshing and cleansing in feel.

Overall, solid. Really enjoying this one. Lovely, as the English might say.

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Photo of ArrogantBastage
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 pint 0.9 fl oz, clear bottle poured into an appropriate mug

A- Pours a bright, clear, rich copper with a nice dense, creamy head. Some lacing clings to the glass as the head settles slowly and the beer is sipped. Nice cap of foam lingering for the remainder of the session.

S- Rich bready malts tinged with some raisins spiked with herbal, spicy and floral hops.

T- Intense malt starts off the experience followed swiftly by spicy hops lending smoothness to the beer. The middle is loaded with intense sweet, bready malts, rich English hops, and a subtle tartness. The finish is ever so slightly sweet but kept in check by a nice dose of hop bitterness that slowly fades between sips.

M- Medium bodied with a nice amount of carbonation leading to a creamy smoothness to the beer which accentuates the taste.

D- Absolutely enjoyable and easy to have more than one back to back.

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Old Crafty Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
3.79 out of 5 based on 262 ratings.
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