Old Speckled Hen | Greene King / Morland Brewery

2,072 Ratings
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Old Speckled HenOld Speckled Hen

Brewed by:
Greene King / Morland Brewery
England, United Kingdom

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: 923 | Ratings: 2,072
Photo of bcgoldtoe
1.22/5  rDev -64.8%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1


Words cannot express how nasty I found this beer to be. I have NEVER dumped part of any beer, but I was pretty much tempted to toss half this can.

A=The best part. Dark brown with a decent head.

S= Just plain nasty.

T= Disgusting, skunked.

M= Too thick for my taste, probably about right for this style though.

D= With a smell and taste this noxious, I can't see anyone asking for a second.

 419 characters

Photo of Vendetta
1.37/5  rDev -60.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Original Rating Date:
October 11, 2008

Not a big fan of English bitters but my father brought this home so I decided to give it a try. The clear bottle is an immediate turn-off, the aroma follows suit. Horribly skunky, so much so that it blocks out any discernible beer aroma. The beer looks alright, though- rust colored with a medium, lasting head. The taste follows the aroma -- horribly skunky. Nothing really here. I really need to get this brew on tap and re-rate, the clear bottle was awful.

 499 characters

Photo of GeoJ
1.52/5  rDev -56.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Clear bottle, nice copper color, poured into a pint glass giving a 1-finger head. Not much aroma other than faint malt. Mouthfeel was *ok*, nothing outstanding. I found that any malt taste was quickly overpowered by bitterness, and not the good kind.

Nasty, overpowering metallic after-taste that settled in after the first sip and would not let up. After 5 sips it turned into a drain pour - I could not force myself to drink any more.

I'll give the benefit of the doubt and say I had a VERY badly skunked bottle and would be willing to try it on tap, as I do enjoy English ales. There is an English Pub in town that serves it, so I'll give it a try with a good plate of bangers and mash and post another review.

As far as the bottle? Not a chance I would buy it again.

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Photo of hardy008
1.56/5  rDev -55%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

14.9 ounce can pours clear amber with a one finger creamy white head, which has nice retention and lacing. The aroma has an unpleasant strong yeast smell with some bread malt. No hop aroma for an English Pale Ale.

Has a bland, stale bread and biscuit malt flavor with some grain. No other tastes, and no hops. Very bland.

Light bodied, almost watery with light carbonation. There is no date on the can, just a code which does not tell me how old this beer is. Since thereis no date, I will review as if this is a fresh beer. Not impressive. Will not buy again.

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Photo of JayS2629
1.62/5  rDev -53.3%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

A- Orange with huge creamy head that took way too long to die but left descent lace.

S- Sweet and boozy with skunk spraying all over it.

T- Like a skunk with a licorice stick and a bottle of whisky. Boozy, skunky, and sweet. Not a good combo. No hops, but a fruity biscuit with musky skunk. Awful.

M- Creamy and watery with booze burn

D- Overly sweet and skunky with booze taste. Won't buy it again.

 403 characters

Photo of woosterbill
1.64/5  rDev -52.7%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Handpump half-pint at the Windmill in Stratford-upon-Avon.

A: Slightly cloudy light-brown body with a 1/2" cap of frothy tan foam. Surprisingly good retention for such big bubbles, but practically no lace.

S: Umm, watered down wort? Slightly sweet and malty, but weaker than a newborn.

T: Terrible. Musty, astringent, cidery, and watery. Almost no flavor, and what is there is bad.

M: Medium body, almost still. Limp.

O: Perhaps this was a poorly kept cask, but the other real ales at this pub were just fine. This was probably the single worst ale I encountered in the UK, and I tried plenty of clunkers. Avoid at all costs (which is depressingly hard to do, since this beer is often the only cask ale offered at a given pub).


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Photo of rKunda
1.72/5  rDev -50.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This tasted like a darker version of a skunked Heineken. There are some good reviews, so many my batch was bad. But overall, this was terrible. It looks and pours great. Smell and (mostly) flavor, that's where it stops.

I thought it was terrible. I'd try it again, I suppose, but I won't buy it again. And now I have a few bottles I really don't want.

 352 characters

Photo of budsboy
1.78/5  rDev -48.7%
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.

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Photo of nickfl
1.83/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

A - One finger of white foam on top of a crystal clear, amber body.

S - Some malt hideing behind a huge note of skunky hops.

T - Acrid, burnt malt and skunk.

M - Fairly light body and moderate carbonation.

D - Horrible. This was just about undrinkable. I seem to recall the canned version being a lot better, but it has been a long time. They should never have put this in a clear bottle.

 392 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
1.85/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Maybe its the clear bottle, but this stuff doesn't look attractive at any point of its life, be it in the bottle, or poured into a pint glass, it takes on that ugly yellow color with not much head and certainly no lace or head retention to speak of. Aroma was vinegary kind of skunky, not the kind I actually like in a lager.

Thankfully vinegar was not the taste, old english style beer, absent hopping, sweet taste of alcohol to it, corny. As it warms, it gains an even greater alcohol mouthfeel. Wow, how do people like this is kind of my thinking, I'm usually pretty tolerant, but for some of the people who swear by this stuff, sheesh. Gets all musty on you.

 664 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
1.85/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 1.75 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.75

Ugly urine like appearance in a clear bottle. Aroma was rotting vinegar garbage, what the hell.

Taste stayed away from the acetic acid, but also stayed away from any malt sweetenings or hop bitterings. Alcohol comes out massively in the mouthfeel. Musty, rank, soggy beer.

 278 characters

Photo of SchmoTerp
1.85/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Apparantly I'm not in the majority when it comes to this beer. Tried this one at a bar in Louisville, KY on a road trip to Munster, IN. First thing I noticed when it was given to me was that it looked like a flat diet coke. The taste was no better as it left a terrible aftertaste that just hung around. Nothing in this beer was redeeming in my view. As for drinkability, I struggled to down 12 oz in about 45 minutes....on second thought, I probably should have just "accidentally" dropped the glass.

I would not recommend this or try it again.

 546 characters

Photo of pjordan29
1.86/5  rDev -46.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I have never had (to my knowledge) an English Ale. If this is indicative of a typical English Ale, then I will never consume another. This was just not for me, and I love beer.

A - Dark brown with a nice head. Very attractive.

S - Like a beer with a hint of fish.

T - Skunky, fishy. Unimpressed

M - For me, too watery and light in the mouth.

D - For me, not at all drinkable.

I will be avoiding English Ales in the future.

 430 characters

Photo of CrescentFresh
1.89/5  rDev -45.5%
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.

 469 characters

Photo of photogadam
1.93/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I decided to try one of these since I own an MG and have heard good things about it.

Anyways, it was pretty plain. Almost no smell, and almost no taste. I probably should have stuck to water.

Clear, light amber body, with a decent head. There wasn't much to taste, but a slightly bitter aftertaste. I really can't think of another way to describe this except a watered down beer. There are plenty of other pale ales to try, but this one could have definitely been left on the shelf.

 484 characters

Photo of goochpunch
1.95/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Pours out a still-looking copper body with a barely there head that eventually settles to a ring, leaving no lacing. Some decent maltiness and a touch of diacetyl and noble hop in the nose, but there's an odd aroma of rubber bands. Starts off with a bit of toasty malt then comes a bit of hop bitterness. All of a sudden this horrible flavor of rubber bands comes through and rides it out. Gross. Mouthfeel is so-so, nothing bad nor good about it. This is a pretty hard to drink beer. The rubber bands flavor and a weird yeastiness make this hard for me to finish. Maybe I got a bad bottle.

 590 characters

Photo of mmmbeer
1.95/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

440 mL can with nitro widget - served in a nonic. After the pour, it cascades for about 45 seconds and settles to an unfiltered dark tea/copper color with low carbonation and a 2 finger almost white head that consists of insanely small bubbles that slowly recede and leave huge sheets of lace on the glass. Beautiful. However, it's all downhill from here. It smells sweet - almost too sweet - with a touch of caramel and it's rather flavorless, with light cardboard, caramel, maybe some vinous malts, and a mild bitterness at the end. The body is light to medium and fairly smooth, but it is really hard to drink and I came close to pouring it down the sink. I chose the can because I didn't want to risk a skunked beer from their clear bottles, but I'm not sure if I made the right choice. Doubt if I'll try it from the bottle, but if so I'll post a review.

 858 characters

Photo of JackTheRipper
1.96/5  rDev -43.5%
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.

 593 characters

Photo of woemad
1.97/5  rDev -43.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

My first drainpour of 2009.

12oz bottle purchased at Huckleberry's in Spokane for $2.19. No freshness date on the embossed, clear bottle. I've never tried this in bottles before, but it was the first beer I'd ever had on cask at a pub in London in 2001. At the time it seemed like the cat's meow, but from what I read on BA, I expect to be sorely underwhelmed. Oh, well...

Poured a copperish amber color, with an inch of white foam perched on top. The head dropped fairly quickly, leaving streaks and spots of lace.

Unpleasant smelling. Solvent-like odor was the predominant aroma. Some apple-like fruit scents hovering in the background, but definitely second banana to what smelled a bit like paint thinner. It wasn't strong enough to be truly nasty, but it didn't bode well.

Milder in the taste than in the smell, which turned out to be a blessing, but still a pretty damn small one. . Fruit-solvent mixture taste, with a faint, bready maltiness in the background. Very mild dry zap at the swallow.

Carbonation was too low for the style, leaving a dead, leaden-like mouthfeel.

I expected to be less impressed than when I had it on cask at the George Canning, Camberwell, but I was a little unprepared for just how lame it turned out to be. Made it about halfway through the bottle before I concluded it's best use would be to pass through my apartment's plumbing. If I encounter a fresher sample on cask, I'd try this again. Otherwise, drinking this beer has been the beer equivalent to the old saying, "You can never go home again."

 1,546 characters

Photo of bewareOFpenguin
2/5  rDev -42.4%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

If I could write the word "bland" and be done with it, I would. It poured the color it appeared in the clear bottle it was in, an amberish color. I couldn't get a head out of it. It just had a "flat" non-inspired taste, like drinking a dreary countryside. The last two frm the six pack have been regulated to the fridge for at least a year.

 340 characters

Photo of BeerDrinkersWorldTour
2/5  rDev -42.4%

Poured into a Branded glass in Paddy O'Ryans, Leeuwarden (Netherlands).

I feel a little bad about posting what is to follow but I can only review and post on the basis of what I had on this occasion....

A – A deep red amber colour with a finger of light head that dissipates to thin cover leaving mild lace with no activity in the glass.

S – Straw and hay notes with an oddly eggy whiff. There are even some slightly sweet candy smells, some alcohol esters some faintly bread smells and a little pine wood. To sum it smells like an old egg sandwich served in a wooden hay shed.

T – Bready hop with mildly sweet malts no real fruit flavours but some alcoholic apple tinges. Definite egg taste again along with the slight hint of pine wood.

MF – Fairly creamy with sulphur and metallic edges.

O – Not particularly well balanced this one is palatable but it is not especially nice. I could drink this if there was literally nothing else to drink.

Again I do feel a bit bad about this review, and based on what others are saying here I wonder if I got a bad one or the bar hadn't cleaned their pipes in a while. Certainly I have had Speckled Hen before a long time ago and I don't remember it being that bad, so I feel there is a good chance something was up here. SO, I promise to give it another day in court back in the UK and see if it improves any, If it does I will re-post.

 1,394 characters

Photo of TheAlamoWrocker
2.01/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a 440 mL nitro-can into a Blue Star Brewery Pint Glass.

A: The head is a solid one fingered head that appears nice thick and creamy. This appears as a nice Mahogany. The head does last, but does not lace.

S: This simply appears to have a slight malt smell. Maybe it's the thick head that it pours that makes it difficult to smell.

T: The taste of this is slightly malty when first taking this in. While this is firmly in the mouth a caramel taste makes a nice appearance. The aftertaste is really nothing to speak about, either you get nothing or you get a undesirable spice to it.

M: Since this is a nitro-can it holds a creamy head so when you take it in you can feel it. The body is watery and not very appealing. I hardly feel any carbonation to this.

O: I will avoid this in the future. The consistency is what really killed this drink for me. In all reality the reason I picked this up was just because it was a nitro-can and this was obviously a bad way to pick a beer. If you enjoy a watery beer then you might enjoy this, but this is not for me.

 1,074 characters

Photo of merlin48
2.05/5  rDev -40.9%
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.

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Photo of mark5692
2.08/5  rDev -40.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

A bit disappointed with this beer. Had a decent color but lacked any strong scent. Hint of a bitter caramel. Tasted watered down. Pretty dull and disappointing but there is worse out there.

 189 characters

Photo of Pavlovian_Programming
2.14/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Just awful. Tasted like water with slight hints of gross-ness. No carbonation at all, yet had a head that had the texture of custard and tasted as much like beer as custard does. Do not recomment.

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Old Speckled Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
3.47 out of 5 based on 2,072 ratings.
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