Old Speckled Hen | Greene King / Morland Brewery

2,076 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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Ratings: 2,076 |  Reviews: 925
Photo of surfer4life
2.35/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a pint glass from nitro tap.

A - Poured golden brown, half inch head that stayed around a long time.

S - vanilla, cinnamon, other delicious spices.

T - bitter at first with a lot of sweetness on the end. Not great though. Expected better.

M - again not so impressed, expected better from a nitro. Pretty much was flat.

D - not so much

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Photo of ibbjamin
3.6/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought a six pack of 12 oz bottles from BevMo in San Jose, CA. This is the first I've tried this beer, and I am writing this review on the last beer of the pack. My bottle appears slightly different than the one pictured; it has a red 'imported' label around its neck.

Pours rather silky and creamy leaving about an inch of semi-frothy off white head after a standard pour. Highly transparent amber brown color with no visible carbonation. The head dissipates rather quickly, with minimal retention and lacing.

A light candied fruit aroma, but not overly sweet. Sweet and pale malts balance things out.

The mouth is very smooth, with a nice long finish. Minimal carbonation, light to medium bodied.

Drinkability is this beers best attribute.

Nothing extraordinary, but a unique macro brew that is certainly better than average. I think I'll get this once in a while as it is a good 'average' session brew.

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Photo of bark
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer pours very smoothly; the colour is brass. The finger thick head is warm off-white.

The smell is sweet with yeasty notes of caramel, tobacco (quite a lot of it), some metallic bitterness, rye bread and a fresh hint of fresh vegetables. It is a rather characteristic; I don't know any other beer with this tobacco-smell.

The taste got some lightly roasted malts (whole grain bread, crispbread), butter, some tobacco, turnips and other root crops and a light touch of smoke. The aftertaste is dry and medium bitter with caramel malt, hints of toffee, flour, yeast and a touch of alcohol.

The carbonation is medium to mild, the bubbles are small. The liquid is mid-smooth.

I like this ale... Yet the special flavours make me not want to drink it too often. A few pints a year is enough.

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Photo of wl0307
3.53/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Notes of 25/12/08) Coming in a 500ml clear bottle, BB July 09, served cool in a straight pint glass.

A: bright copper in colour, coming with a thick and frothy off-white with good retention; the fizz runs free and smooth.
S: fruity hops and hop resins abound, giving hints of sweet lemon, apples, and marinated prunes with a faint touch of caramely malts. Quite sweet overall but by no means unpleasant.
T: malt-dominated - with assertive hints of biscuity pale malts with a lighter input of caramelised sugar, followed by lots of fruity-yet-spicy hops (Styrian Goldings?), slowly-expanding herbal-to-tea-ish bitterness and, of course, a sour-yeasty twist so much like other Greene King products. An aromatic finish rounds up the drink.
M&D: quite fizzy upfront, remaining spritzy throughout the drink; med-boied, pleasant pale ale with slightly more fizz than desirable. The cask-version "was" better ("was" because now the cask version has been watered down to 4.5%abv.).

* Tasting Date: 21/11/05
Coming in a big, clear bottle (750ml), BB 25/05/06.
3.5 A: pours a black-tea hue with reddish hint, a big white beer head dissipates a bit too fast; moderately carbonated.
4 S: sweet appleish and caramel malt, brown sugary, with a deeper, sweet aroma of preserved-black dates and underlying floral hoppyness.
3.5 T: richly-malty upfront with a slightly caramel hint, also slightly sour-sweet and a lightly sticky residual mouthfeel in the end, coupled with a deeply fermented Chinese black tea's aftertaste, tannic and leafy~~
3 M&3 D: different from the cask version, the body is way too thin and doubled by the sour fruity edge. On average it's not bad but requires a richer body to round off the overall flavour and its 5.2%abv. Better on cask.

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Photo of TheDeuce
3.6/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Old Speckled Hen...

Appearance- dark orange amber, fluffy large head, heavy carbonation with large bubbles.

Smell-malt, spice, alcohol, some fruit, dark ester flavors.

Taste/Mouthfeel-sweet flavor, lot of malt as well, smooth and creamy with a buttery sort of aftertaste. Decent tasting.

Drinkability-malty and balanced, very drinkable.

Overall- a good decent and balanced stand-by which I really enjoyed on tap. Recommended.

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Photo of erz316
3.31/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into Old Speckled Hen pint glass

A - not quite so pale as it is a dark amber. though it is a very pleasing colour, it should be a bit lighter in my opinion. the poofy head is white, maybe a bit off. Head retention is average, and right now my cat is making it very hard to type. the lacing is omnipresent around the sides of th glass. bubbles continue to come up from the bottom of the glass. and now my cat is drinking the beer.

S - not a highly complex nose as many have come to comment, but when first opening the bottle, there is a definite whiff of malt and esters (?). it is nice in its simplicity, but in no way alluring.

T - for initial taste I cant really pick up on much, but holding the beer in my mouth reveals a slightly hoppy taste. this is the only thing to stick out noticeably, for the malts creat a very rounded and smooth baseafter the finish, but before the aftertaste, right before one opens their mouth, I distinctively taste roast goose. what I am to make of this, I have no clue; but I don't like goose, so this is not really a good thing in any respect. the after taste is a bit of bitter hops, but rather clean. I am not impressed, but nor am I repulsed. However, there is some nice quality to the beer that makes it redeemable:

MF&D - I find that the good amount of carbonation in the beer makes of for its lackluster taste, and seems to cover it up. now, in reality, that shouldn't need to happen, but in turn it does make the beer nice to drink!

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

I had this on nitro tap at the Flying Saucer in Houston.

Served in the large "happy hour" pilsner hybrid type glass, the beer is bronze with a dense creamy white head & awesome lacing.

It has a subtle nose of fruit and floral notes.

The taste is mild with plum and cracker notes. There is a bit of mild bitterness and it is slightly sweet with malts.

The mouth as expected is very creamy.

I would like to try a non-nitro version to see if the flavors pop a bit more.

This is a mild mannered, middle of the road offering.

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Photo of roadhouse
3.91/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I saw a nitro can of this so I decided to go for it. I wouldn't dare go with the one in the clear glass bottle. Poured from a 16 oz. can into a pint glass.

Appearance is of course lovely as the nitro cans tend to be. It's a bright orange-copper in color with a creamy one and a half inch thick off-white head. Retention is ridiculous and tons of lace is left behind.

Aroma is not very complex but is nice and pleasant with caramel malt sweetness being the lead factor. A bit of toastiness comes through as well as some pear and apple fruitiness. Hop character is minimal.

Taste begins with some caramel maltiness with some toasted character that is joined upon the swallow by some earthy and spicy hop bitterness. Fruity overall with the pear tones still present. Linger is good and hoppy.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a nice chewiness. Nitro cans seem to stop me from rating it much higher as I prefer some carbonation.

Not a bad session ale at all. I wouldn't mind getting a four pack of these some night and going to town on them. Better than Boddington's, the only other Bitter in a nitro can I've had to compare directly to.

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Photo of thekanna
3.82/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at Seva in Ann Arbor, MI.

Appearance: Dark copper bordering on maroon. Clear with almost no head.

Smell: Nuttiness pokes its way through, along with a slight maple syrup-like sweetness.

Taste: Very nutty. Malts impart a largely pumpernickel bread-type quality to the brew. Sweetness shows up at the end; hops are largely undetectable.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: The creamy, nutty flavor lets this brew become pretty decently drinkable. Carbonation is toned down such that it mellows out the taste.

Overall: Decent ale. Tastes more like a brown ale than an English Pale Ale, though.

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Photo of BWH3
3.78/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Crystal clear copper ale with thin white head atop. The head vanishes fast. The beer is still and calm.

S/T: The beer is a delightful blend of pale malt and the right quantity of light caramel to give color and flavor. The distinct yeast strains provide a fruit almost pear flavor. The yeast (and likely the water composition) subdue and smooth the bittering hops. The hops are aromatic musk and clearly noble English vintage.

D: A must drink for all beer enthusiasts. I hope to taste it on cask some day.

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

Amber with a small white head. Aroma is bready, malty.
Taste is smokey malts, slightly sweet with a generous amount of bitter hops. From a clear glass bottle. Will have to try the canned version with the widget. Mouthfeel was good. Slightly bitter finish.
Drinkability was good. Would like another please.

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Photo of mattster
3.68/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opened 14.9 fl. oz Nitro can and poured into Nonic Glass.

Once beer settled, it formed a nice, firm 1" creamy tan head that seemed to retain well. Slight lacing on glass. Brew is light tea brown, mostly clear with interesting bubble formations on inside of glass.

Smells malty with a slight nuttiness. Has that traditional earthy and almost "old basement" taste to it. Drinks really easy, but bubbles seem nonexistent on palate. I could definitely have another or two.

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Photo of skeetermoses
4.01/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one was a pretty good beer that I had tried. Not only did I enjoy the brew, but all of my friends enjoyed the brews tasted as welll. I really enjoyed this one, it was smooth, but this beer was very red in colour, it happened to be a really good beer, I will definatley be a part of this one again.

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

On-tap at big ben in Charlotte, NC

Appearance: A rich-looking amber with a creamy head and nice lacing.

Smell: Nice sweet malts

Taste: Very smooth, toasted malts and caramel/toffee. Some light brown sugar and bread/dough.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth; a very well-rounded mouthfeel

Drinkability: Great session beer.

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Photo of biggmike
3.63/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one from the can with the accompanying widget. Poured a light copper color with fluffy cascading white head. Aroma was not a dominant feature of this beer, but it had notes of caramel, toffee, and wood. Flavor was about the same with hop bitterness from start to finish. Mouthfeel was good. Drinkability was good as this goes down with little effort. The whole of this beer seemed to greater than the sum of its parts.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.5/5  rDev +29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at the Old Toad in Rochester, NY. Review from notes.

A - poured a transparent tawny brown with reddish hues. 1 inch creamy head that kept well and decent lacing in an English pint glass

S - fruity, almost white wine like with caramel/toffee malts. Some tobacco and citrus with light hoppiness.

T - white wine fruits and smoky wood, sweet malt, some slight yeastiness and a bittersweet finish. Light touch of alcohol in the finish as well.

M - extremely smooth and medium bodied with light carbonation

D - highly sessionable and drinkable

Overall - I was quite impressed with this beer on tap. I was somewhat skeptical at first... a beer that looks orange-brown?! Then I gave it a smell.... not bad at all! Diacetyl perhaps? Well, something sweet and fruity, like a good Riesling... in any case, it was a delightful session beer that I am sure to have more of in the future. Looking forward to trying it from the bottle. Cheers to the Old Speckled Hen!

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Photo of nighthawk
3.93/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500mL can with no freshness date. Poured into imperial pint.

Pours a mostly clear copper with a large head that settles to one finger and stays that way till the end of the beer.

Nose is initially a burst of earthy pine hops, but mellows into smooth caramel and grain malt smells.

Taste is a blend of caramel and butterscotch with some pine hops. A very earthy blend of bready, thick feeling malts with the bitter pine hops. Very smooth on the palate, light body that is not too thin. Only mild carbonation is felt.

This is a very pleasant brew, pretty good balance makes it an easy-drinker. Doesn't really amaze you with complexity or bursts of flavour, but it's nice nonetheless.

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Photo of Minkybut
2.73/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I poured this off tasting beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was amber colored and poured a tan head with nice bubbles. However the head did not last long. The smell was bland and the taste was bitter and very flat or stale musty tasting. I will not buy again.

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

Poured into a pint glass (not that is was necessary with the clear bottle) this brew has a nice light amber color with a thicker 1/2 inch head the settled into a nice cap leaving some lacing on the glass. An unusual observation was larger bubbles leaving holes in the cap, much larger than seen in most brews. The aroma is definitely hop heavy, but the smell is not overpowering. There are hints of some citrus and floral notes, along with some mild sweetness. The taste is above average, but lacks the bite I enjoy in a Pale Ale. This is much simpler and isn't as aggressive. Despite the larger "bubble holes" in the cap, the carbonation was on the light side, also disappointing to me. This was a decent brew that I could sip on for a while, but for the import price can find better.

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Photo of DuqTroops
4.4/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance - great looking amber in hue. little head, reminds me a lot of a guiness (milk stout), but reddish and lighter in complexion

Smell - malt and barley

Taste - very smooth, tastes like a malta, with lots of great flavors, but easier to taste everything

Mouthfeel - Very Smooth

Drinkability - much drinkability, my favorite part was getting my second one.

like it.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.55/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Found this on tap, hadn't heard of it, so I got a pint.

A: Coppery color. Decent head, some lacing.

S: Mild aroma of hops, but nothing jumps out.

T: Some hoppy bitterness, no complexity, aftertaste, or finish.

M: Smooth, medium bodied.

D: Not bad. I could have another if I were so inclined, but it doesn't stand out so I probably won't.

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Photo of Macca
3.54/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks a treat in the glass. Cascades - love em. A dense solid head. Amber coloured.

A distinct hoppy fruitiness and some sweet maltiness are found on the nose and the palate.

The creamy mouthfeel is fantastic.

Very drinkable when served this way. I'll have to check it out in bottle form.

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Photo of Blake
2.14/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2


I picked this beer out, despite it's horrendous presentation, because I thought I heard somewhere that "Old Speckled Hen" was a pretty good ale. I'm dissappointed.

The smell is alright and it certainly smells better than it tastes.

At first sip, there's the hops and a really nice bitter flavor, but the aftertaste seriously tastes like rotting meat or something else putridly disgusting.

Goes down well enough and has a bubbly head, but the taste kills it.

Maybe this is what mung tastes like.

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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.

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Photo of magictrokini
2.88/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dry beer. Pours hazy gold with a big white head. Straw, stale, dank aroma with a sugary metal. Somewhat sour, but not in a good, hoppy way. Has a mild flavor that is tough to pin down. Kind of like hay, but not in a bad way. It leaves you a little disappointed, but not enough to complain.

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Old Speckled Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
3.47 out of 5 based on 2,076 ratings.
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