Old Speckled Hen | Greene King / Morland Brewery

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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: 2,068
Photo of Sammy
3.15/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

light orange, aggressive carbonation but some pleasant taste of hops, a touch metallic finish. Good amount of lace and creaminess of head Very dry aftertaste. Have had mixed results from this brewery, and it seems the LCBO have a relationship so we see a number coming through. OK to share a bottle.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.52/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pour for the 4th Annual LA Beer Week Beer Festival at Union Station in Los Angeles, CA.

Pours a clear orange with a foamy bone colored head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, and some slightly fruity aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is drinkable but nothing too exciting.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%

such a different beer (and far superior) from the nitro tap than it is from the bottle. this is often thin and skunky in its clear glass, but its rich and frothy and malty in that nutty but not too sweet way from the nitro tap. the infusion of the nitro gas helps its feel too, creamy and puffy on the palate with a lasting white head and ring lacing as it sips down. plenty of bittering hops, characteristic more of an esb type than an english pale to me, but it sort of traverses style norms in a number of respects. i like the almost almond flavored malt on the front end, and that it stays pretty light throughout. enough hops to balance it, but remain drinkable. i know this one is a classic overseas that has been largely under appreciated by the north american crowd, but i think thats a little unfair, and that that the clear glass hasnt done it any favors. overall a beer that demands a time and a place, but when those to occur, its delicious.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This Old Speckled Hen pours out as a nice amber color with a decent white head on it. The head settles and leaves behind just axiom without a whole lot of lacing. The smell of the beer is of malts. Much like most of the English Ales I've had. No hops on the nose or anything else really. It smells a little sweet, and has some fresh grains in there too. The taste of the beer is very much full of rich malts and just a slight amount of hop bitterness. The mouthfeel is pretty smooth, the carbonation is very light here. This is something I'd like to try from a cask. I feel that the style would go better with that then from a can. Overall it's a decent brew and worth trying.

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Photo of metter98
3.46/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has no evidence of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high creamy beige head that has good retention properties and consistently left a thin head covering the surface.
S: There are light aromas of fruity yeast and sweet malts in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste is both fruity and malty.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is very easy to drink and also goes down very smoothly.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.41/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

One of many beers that I am tired of passing on without trying. Glad I did. Quite Pale Ale-ish in nature. Moderately bready, caramelly, nutty, and hopped to balance. The nitro gave a terrific creamy texture while remaining clean and refreshing. Nicely malty and yeasty through to the finish. Lightly estery due to the fermentation and hopping adds to the complexity. Easy to drink until the finish where a lightly phenolic-plastic-ey flavor was pronounced that made the swallowing a bit tough. Otherwise, I'm glad I tried it.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.41/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml can, procured at a local beer-friendly (trying, at least) Indian restaurant chain - at least they provide generally appropriate glassware.

This beer pours a clear, bright medium copper amber hue, with two fingers of densely foamy, creamy, and somewhat bubbly tan head, which renders a few broad swaths of paint splatter lace around the glass as it duly settles.

It smells of semi-sweet bready caramel malt, sugary apple and pear, a bit of wet minerality, and earthy, leafy hops. The taste is more sweet grainy, bready caramel malt, broader, yet muddled orchard fruit, an odd vegetal sourness, oversteeped black tea, and weak earthy, musty hops.

The carbonation is soft, barely a nip or a tic on the tongue to be had, the body a decent medium weight, smooth, and even a bit creamy. It finishes off-dry, some over-sugared breakfast cereal and bland drupe fruitiness lingering alongside the needling and strangely persistent herbal, earthy hops.

A fine enough, old-school English ale, to be sure, stiff upper lip and all that, but still just kind of dull, all things being relative. The sweetness does go a certain distance in allaying the heat from my more piquant choices from the lunch buffet, so all is not lost.

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Photo of brentk56
3.33/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy amber color with a creamy beige head that doesn't quite rise to the expected occasion and fails to leave as much lacing as would be anticipated for a nitro

Smell: Biscuity, toasted grain with hints of brown sugar and earthy hop

Taste: Biscuity, up front, but the grainy flavors quickly take a turn in a bitter nut-skin direction that, fortunately, fades after the swallow, allowing the sweeter malt flavors, including a bit of buttery diacetyl, to shine

Mouthfeel: Medium body with smooth, but low, carbonation

Drinkability: Not as good as I remembered this in the bottle, unfortunately; the nut-skin bitterness doesn't appear to work very well

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Photo of kojevergas
2.53/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance: Poured from a bottle into a Hoegaarden (nonreal) pint glass in low altitude Galway, Ireland, on October 19th, 2010. Pours a clear medium amber-gould. No haze. Three finger head is of moderate thickness but a bit lacking in cream, and retains fairly well. Moderately appealing.

Smell: A clean, moderately strong scent of amber and a little cream. Maybe some hops. Difficult to detect with my broken nose.

Taste: Not what I expected from the smell. A light note of cream, then a nice well-built note of ambery goodness followed by a bitter finish. Even for a pale ale, the bitterness is unwelcome. I like what they're trying to build with this pale ale, but I'd like more cream. The bitterness would better suit the beer in the body, not in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Wet but not watery, with a slight dryness at the finish, but not enough. The dryness clashes with the bitterness. Not enough cream. A little overcarbonated.

Drinkability: I'd have another if it were available but I won't be searching for this at the local Dunnes anytime soon. This is worth trying for people who enjoy pale ales, and for people who don't like traditional pale ales, to see what can be done with the style.

Old Speckled Hen is a bold work within the pale ale style but it falls short of its ambition.

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Photo of emerge077
3.56/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the soon to be "old" Red Lion Pub in Chicago. While this pub isn't Beerfly worthy, it's worth a mention here since I went there specifically for an English ale. The place is an old British-style pub that claims to be haunted, and was built a few years after the Chicago fire in 1871. Long story short, they are demolishing it to rebuild a new pub with condos above it...boo.

It arrives with an inch of creamy foam, and has a caramel/amber color to it. Nondescript aroma some husky grain, maybe a touch of honey.

Flavors of butterscotch, caramel, sawed wood, with a mild hop bitterness that surfaces midway and lingers into the aftertaste. Clean feeling, and easily consumable. It leaves a favorable impression, but isn't too suprising or bold. Slightly above average, but worth a try.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.32/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Can: Poured an amber color ale with a medium white bubbly head with average retention. Aroma of floral malt with some fruit-like sweetness. Taste of floral malt is pleasant with some faint fruit-like sweetness and some slightly bitter finish. Overall this is a nice standard ESB that I wouldn’t mind revisiting again.

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Photo of zeff80
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours out a reddish/amber color. It had a short-lived, small head. No lacing.

S - It smelled of pine, yeast and malt.

T - It tasted very malty with a little spicy bitterness.

M - Crisp and slightly dry. It is light to medium-bodied.

D - I was mildly surprised by how good this beer was. It is a nice English Pale Ale.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.11/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a moderate amber-copper color with a creamy off-white head that persists and leaves a good deal of lacing. The nose is quite plain with a bit of bready malt and some very, very faint floral hops. The taste suffers from the same fate as there really is just not much to this one. Mouthfeel is light and creamy. Drinks well enough but just is not a terribly flavorful or complicated beer.

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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.

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

I have had this a few times and always think its gonna be better each time I drink it,its not a bad beer but just seems to be missing a little something.Pours a deep copper/amber with a light head,aroma is slightly musty and malty.A pretty big pale ale nice maltiness but I would like maybe some more fruitiness to it.It is a pretty drinkable ale for the big maltiness.

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Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 11/30/2013. Pours crystal clear reddish copper color with a 1 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with some moderate streaming carbonation. Aromas of caramel, toast, brown bread, plum, apple, honey, herbal, grass, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, yeast ester, and earthy hop notes; with solid strength. Taste of caramel, toast, brown bread, plum, apple, nuttiness, light roast, herbal, grass, light pepper, and yeast earthiness. Light earthy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, brown bread, nuttiness, herbal, grass, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and robustness of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and yeast ester flavors; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Very clean in flavor as well. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a very smooth and fairly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with no warming present after the finish as expected of 5%. Overall this is a very nice English pale ale! All around good balance and robustness of dark/bready malt, earthy hops, and yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.7/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Hazy, amber-orange body topped by a thick, very creamy, deep ivory head that holds extremely well and leaves some very good lace. The aroma is limited (possibly due to the thick nitrogen head blocking the surface of the beer) with just a slight caramel maltiness. The flavor offers a nicely fruity, slightly buttery, nutty, and sweetly caramel maltiness that's balanced by an underlying earthy hoppiness. (I'm going to have to try a bottle of this to compare it to, as the nitrogen pour has clearly altered the flavor). The body is medium with a silky smooth and creamy mouthfeel from the nitrogen breakout and low carbonation level. Well balanced. Finishes with a gently lingering soft malt & hop. An interesting beer that is probably better on draft or in bottle.

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Photo of chinchill
3.75/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

440ml can of Old Speckled Hen was poured into a .6L Austrian mug. Lots of foam from the nitro can; in fact, I was left with a glass completely full of creamy, dense off-white foam .. no liquid!. {And no problems with overflow either}. This settled after a few minutes to a fine looking clear amber liquid with about 2 fingers of exceptionally creamy looking head. This remaining head had excellent durability, with nearly a finger high amount still left when all the liquid had been drained.

Aroma: The beer smells of toasted caramel malt with hints of hops and brown sugar.

Mouthfeel: exceptionally smooth and creamy! Medium body.

The flavor features caramel malt with some over-matched hops, although reaching a nice sweet/bitter balance. Trace of over-cooked flavor, probably from the malt.

O - Old Speckled Hen is a fine English pale ale. It exceeded my expectations. This style, however, is overall underwhelming and hard to get excited about.
Paired well with Mexican food.

Fresh bottle sampled in April 2014 produced a higher taste rating (3.75) but a lesser mouthfeel and appearance.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.11/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On nitro-tap 1/11/07 at The Abbey in Providence, RI, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: After the cascade subsides, the beer is a deep amber color, with a short dense off-white head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of honey, caramelized malt and a little bit of hops.

T: The taste contains flavors of mild spice, honey and caramel. There’s a solid malt character and faint touch of hops bitterness. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, light-to-medium body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish has a little bit of stickiness.

D: Not very tasty, goes down OK, not too filling, I think it’s better than Boddingtons’s but I’m just not a fan of the style.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.23/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served on nitro tap at Drop Off Service in New York, NY

A: Pours a crystal clear amber in color. The beer has a half finger tall creamy off-white head that is retained throughout the drinking of the beer. Significant lacing is observed.

S: Very light aroma overall with subtle hints of malts and hops.

T: The beer has a very mild flavor with some light hints of the malts and hops.

M: Light bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Extremely creamy.

O: Super easy to drink and very refreshing with a light flavor and wonderful creaminess.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.23/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle - $2.29 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep amber body with a frothy, sudsy, whitish head.

Smell: Wafts of skunkiness before I entirely remove the cap. Out of sheer politeness, I'll go do some dishes while it blows away. Alright! So, toasted toffee and dark caramel with spicy, earthy English hops and a light fruitiness.

Taste: Sweetly malty with tastes of toffee candy and caramel and toasted bread. Some slight coinage metallic hints. Touch of apricot fruitiness. Herbal, spicy, earthy hop character with a medium-light amount of bitterness. The malts grow into a pleasant butterscotch taste in the latter half. Finishes dry with some herbaceous, earthy hop tastes.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium carbonation. Just a tad creamy.

Drinkability: Perhaps one to strictly stick to draft or possibly the nitro cans. It certainly has potential, but initial skunk and lingering metal are a real turn-off.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.63/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear orangish copper (noted before the pour due to the clear bottle). The nice looking beige head is on the large side, is persistent and is reasonably firm. Adequate lace. A random smattering of spatters adorns the upper reaches of the glass and a solid collar accompanies the falling surface of the beer.

The initial (slight) aroma of skunk has faded and is now unnoticed. What's left is a sweet, herbal, woody aroma that's more moderately toasted malty than hoppy. It tastes like chicken. Only kidding, I don't believe that any actual hens were tossed into the brew kettles. As the label points out, the beer was named after a vintage MG roadster.

OSH is an okay English pale ale, all things considered. The flavor profile is dominated by an herbal, somewhat earthy, toasted maltiness and a respectable quantity of hops. An initial mild sweetness dries out progressively, leading to a frankly dry, bitter, unsweetened tea-like finish. The body is light-medium and the carbonation is understated.

Old Speckled Hen is a pretty decent quaff. Like the bird that it's named for (okay, like the bird that the car that it's named for is named for) it glides along for brief periods without ever really taking flight. I found it to be enjoyable though and just might buy it again if I could be certain that my next bottle(s) will have avoided that razor-clawed, black and white, odor-spewing, beer-hating little bastard, as this one seems to have done.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Re-Review original below
I enjoyed this chilled from a 12oz brown bottle in a pint.
The color is dark amber which borders on crimson with quick dropping head with pale tan head and fine bead with visible carbonation and spots of lace stick.
The smell is tangy yeast with apple type aroma and no malt in the smell with a faint herbal hop aroma. The feel is medium light in body with moderate carbonation and low sweetness with moderately bitter texture with mild diacetyl in smoothness with mostly dry finish.

The taste is slight pine from the hops with mild fruity malt with slight tangy yeast in the middle with a middle buttery aspect and toasted taste with slight grassiness in the finish. Overall a pretty standard ale with some british character -not terrible but not as good as I remember flavor-wise either.

Look -4 Smell 3.5 Taste 3 Feel 3.5 Overall 4
3.43 cumulative
Presentation - According to the 14.9 oz widget concealing can it is named for a vintage MG with a speckled paint job.

A - A mid range amber hued liquid that allows a pillowy white head to cascade until becoming smooth + glossy like creme brulee and placid after the nitro widget does it's trick. No bubbling action is detected thereafter.

S - A subtle fruit and cream scent with a touch of spice. A small amount of banana and orange peel is hinted at.

M - Creamy smooth fullness effect of nitrogen is felt with thin after effect. Spiced bitter textures are present in the follow up.

T - A tasty smooth pale ale taste. Sweet creaminess is counterbalanced by the slightly spicy peppery hop tinges in the finish. An excellent English bitter ale taste shines through in the draft can. A light ale with clean accent augmented by round edges and fruity undrerpinnings.

D - Easily accessible and a sessionable bitter with sweet creaminess and nice spicy hop dashes.

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Photo of smcolw
3.39/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Wonderful cascading head from this nitro-can. Creamy thick head with a clear, amber colored appearance. Excellent lace as expected.

There is a metalic aroma that detracts from the maltiness. Too bad, since the hop seems to be missing completely. The hop is very present in the flavor, although muted. This is predominately a malty beverage. Unfortunately, the metalic notes persist in the flavor, seriously compromising the malt flavors. Interestingly, I presume the hop aroma to be muted by this, while in the tasting, the malt is affected. Thinner than other nitro-can beers and slightly more carbonated.

Sadly, this had a poor showing in the flight of British Ales tested. I suspect that it would do well against beers that differ from the pale ale category. Head to head, this one falls short.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.81/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to PaulV for sending this one in the Nice Cans BIF.

A: The pour is a pretty looking amber color with a long lasting, thin cream colored head.

S: The nose is very sweet and malty with plenty of toffee and a slightly sour note that I wasn't expecting.

T: The flavor is an odd combination of sour, bready, and lightly bitter. I don't know exactly what to make of this, but I can say that I'm not a huge fan.

M: The body is medium with a low carbonation and a slight bitterness that lingers on the tongue.

D: I really was not a big fan of this beer. Just too many disjointed things happening in terms of the flavor.

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Old Speckled Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
3.47 out of 5 based on 2,068 ratings.
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