Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Old Speckled Hen | Greene King / Morland Brewery

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
911 Reviews
Read the review
Old Speckled HenOld Speckled Hen

Brewed by:
Greene King / Morland Brewery
United Kingdom (England)

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 911 | Ratings: 2,032
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 Haydn-Juby
4.2/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a can which notably was not nitro.

Pretty much the pinnacle of an amber/copper color, typical of ESBs/English pale ales. One finger of head ,even after a vigorous pour, suggests low carbonation typical of imitation cask ale; head stuck around throughout the experience, however. On the nose I get mostly caramel malts, a touch of bready malts and yeast, some fruit esters, and perhaps a touch of English hops, just to tie everything together. On the palate i get a rich , yet balanced and not overly dense, caramel flavor, coupled with some slight fruity esters. Toffee and a touch of butterscotch are also there. Bitterness is well managed and makes the beer very quaffable. This could be easy to drink many of. I personally found it subtle, yet refreshing. It embodies many of the qualities that make a good bitter, yet in a more subtle, drinker friendly manner

 876 characters

Photo of abner
2.82/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I wasn't expecting much and what I got was slightly more than that. Nice on the front end but the after taste was reminiscent of a run-of-the mill brew.

 152 characters

Photo of BcCraft710
2.48/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Had one a few years back and enjoyed it, baught a case as it was on sale. Think I got a bad batch the taste was quite savoury almost like a V8, very unexpected

 160 characters

Photo of SmashPants
3.6/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Format: a clear embossed 355mL bottle with a traditional, iconic label.

Appearance: pours out a vibrant deep golden with constant carbonation across the profile. A one-finger off-white head drops to a creamy thick cap. Plenty of lacing down the glass.

Aroma: the aroma is dominated by caramel and treacle, with some bread malts behind. Fairly one-dimensional, but not suffering from it.

Taste: the flavour in the mouth is lighter than on the nose. The caramel and treacle are definitely there, but are joined by heavy fruits in the background. Really rather nice.

Aftertaste: quite sweet on the finish, with much more of a malt-driven profile rather than hops. Nice.

Mouth feel: a medium feel with moderate carbonation. Well enough to carry the flavour quite well. A touch cloying on the finish.

Overall: quite a nice traditional English Pale Ale - driven by sweet malts, and definitely something one doesn't put away too quickly. I found it a bit cloying if I tried to down it - better to just read the paper, chat to the barman and enjoy it over a decent session. By the time it gets to us in Aus it is usually expensive at AU$83 a case, but I'll take a 6-pack every now and then.

 1,188 characters

Photo of cbish68
2.5/5  rDev -28%

The Old Speckled Hen is a caramel colored ale with a thin head and very light lacing and low to medium carbonation. I found this beer to be very hoppy and bitter with a mediciny aftertaste.

 190 characters

Photo of NickTheGreat
4.03/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I thought I'd had this beer before. But it sure didn't seem all that familiar once I opened it!

L (4.5): Beautiful color. Deep copper/red color to it. Almost photograph worthy, really
S (4): Had this intriguing fruity/brandy/port wine smell to it. I almost thought it was barrel aged or something.
T (4.25): Again, this fruity/brandy/port wine taste to it. Not a lot, and not distracting. But really tasty. I might be crazy, but I just couldn't shake it. (Not that this is a bad thing either!) Not hoppy at all, but I don't know if it really should be.
F (3): Nothing to write home about here. Not much of a mouthfeel. Smooth, but unexciting. No head really. Some of this is nature of the style, but I expected a little more here.

Overall (4): Solid beer. I am going to purchase another one next time I'm at the beer store.

 848 characters

Photo of willfman
5/5  rDev +44.1%

Drink this everyweek. Best home beer in a bottle you could want. Not a big fan of chilled beer but a cool 'specklage' hits the spot. Love this beer. If you have not tried it please do.

 184 characters

Photo of BrewUSA
3.27/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Greene King Old Speckled Hen

Look 9/10
Smell 12/20
Taste 32/40
Feel 8/10
Drinkability 19/20

Overall 80/100

Nice English Ale, smooth and easy to drink... Doesn't have an overwhelming taste either way. Makes a great session ale with nice malt presence~

 336 characters

Photo of Giuseppina
4.13/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My expectations were pretty low on this, maybe it was the label not particularly fancy, maybe the price, maybe the lack of designation on the label, generally marked "beer".

I tell you what, wrong I was. That's a really smooth and wide pale ale, with strong taste and smell of grassy hops and a fantastic, bitter, aftertaste. Low carbonation like from a cask, it's a real pleasure to drink.

 392 characters

Photo of seedyone
2.5/5  rDev -28%

Moreland Old Speckled Hen
Have Tried ▼
12/19/12 On tap at Rattle n Hum. Great looking pint arrives. Inviting color & thick creamy looking head. First sip hit me as acidic& turned metallic. Mediocre body.

Once is enough on this one.

Just saw that this is the same brewery that makes Innis & Gunn Oak Aged. Both are bottled in clear bottles. I was warned long ago about beer that is not protected from the light. Never had a reason to come down on one side or the other on this point. What I do know is this brew needs a little sumpin' sumpin'. Gnome sayin'?

 564 characters

Photo of barczar
3.65/5  rDev +5.2%

Reviewing from a distant memory, but this one always stuck out in my head as being dominated by toasted, lightly sweet malt that reminded me of caramel corn, accompanied by floral hops.

 185 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 FLima
3.38/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber copper color with a thick beige head with medium retention. Lots of apparent carbonation on the glass wall.
Predominant aroma of caramels and hints of oranges peel.
Flavor starts with a malt sweetness but ends with English earthy and herbal hops bitterness. Lots of musky, which makes you wonder. Hints of oranges, herbal, caramels, green apples, toasted malts and nuts. Dry and bitter aftertaste.
Light to medium body with medium carbonation.
Relatively easy to drink but still with a bold English bitterness. Loved the feminine musky notes.
Ap.3,5 Ar.3 Sab.3,5 Sens.3,5 Cj.3,5

 584 characters

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.

 953 characters

Photo of Nightwing
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Poured from can. Strong aroma of caramel. Clear amber color with white head. A light sweet taste. Medium body, creamy texture, with average carbonation, and a very mild bitter finish. Overall a very smooth brew that goes down easy.

 235 characters

Photo of TheDoctor
3.76/5  rDev +8.4%

BEST BEFORE: 5/31/2015

Pours a crystal clear amber with a big whipped cream dollop of light tan head that takes its sweet time settling to a lumpy finger's cap that is solid as a rock. Great retention; lots of even lacing. (4)

Cereals and fruit. Powdery spiciness with citrus rind, touch of overripe dark fruits, warm dark bread, caramel really comes out as it warms. (3.75)

Bready sweetness. Earthy dryness, hard water, orange pith, bread, fairly neutral malt flavors. (3.75)

Thin-medium bodied with okay carbonation, a thick, creamy head, smooth finish; super drinkable. (3.75)

Tasty English Ale.
I am by no means well-versed in English styles, but this tastes to me like it at the very least touches every point that makes English beer and pub culture identifiable.
It pours really nice with a lovely cream head that sticks around and leaves beautiful concentric lace designs. Smell and taste are both very pleasing, but are quite subtle (at least to me). It is definitely more robust than a big macro, but it is also pretty inoffensive and accessible. Very easy drinking. It definitely should be served pretty 'warm' (by average person standards) to bring more of everything out.
Not the second coming of Christ, but a solidly made, highly drinkable beer with its own personality.
Would have again; worth trying. (3.75)

 1,482 characters

Photo of captaincoffee
3.3/5  rDev -4.9%

Part of a London supermarket beer tasting I just worked through after moving here and finding a place that has a reasonable selection of less-than-high-end-craft beers.
Actually, the first time I had this beer was at an Irish bar in the Japanese area of Bangkok about 10 years ago, so...just in case you wanted to know...
Pours an orange-hued amber with off-white head...some retention. Like most of the English ales I've tasted this week, the nose is quite weak, but does give some malt, must, and sweet bread. Flavor is better than expected. Balanced malt, brown bread, and some fruity notes. No lingering off flavors that I've experienced with most of the other cheaper ales here (Bombardier in particular, but also with Bank's bitter and others).
At 5%, this is a little higher ABV than what I would call a good session beer. But then again, I probably drink a little more than I should, so I'm likely to find myself drinking a few more of these until I find myself a good supplier of better micros.

 1,010 characters

3.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Solid brew overall. Really drinkable and approachable. Mellow body and slight cinnamon apple feel going on towards the end of the palate. Apple feel is more on the green side. One of the first beers that I really enjoyed when getting into craft beers nearly 15 years ago.

 275 characters

Photo of Bobhoya
3.32/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had from cask at the Iron Duke Pub in Victoiia Station, London. Had a bit of a sour taste from the cask. Don't remember that from a bottle. Love most cask ales but would pass on this one in the future - unless it was all hey had. We are in the UK and Ireland for 42-days are hitting 2 to 3 pubs per day.

 303 characters

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.

 1,417 characters

Photo of archyquaffer
4.25/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 440 ml (15 ounce) nitro can into a schooner glass. The can doesn't have a nitro ball, but a "nipple" attached to the bottom. Crack, fizz, let settle and then a gentle pour that produces about 2 inches of creamy, golden-white cascading head that settles down to about 1/2 inch. The color is a ruddy pale amber with curiously very little carbonation. Sticky, sticky lace on the sides of the glass. A very attractive and enticing appearance.

I get that mineral, sweet, malty aroma and flavor that I've grown to crave from these English bitters. The overall effect is of a dry, yet curiously sweet and creamy brew with low to medium bitterness and some caramel. Easy drinking, creamy and smooth mouth feel and flavor with satisfying burps. Not a ton of complexity but very satisfying. The aroma is lovely and doesn't fade away, and complements the overall flavor.

I really dig English beers and this one is a definite winner. American pale ale drinkers who become weary of all the hops in American ale should try this as a change-up.

This beer was purchased as part of a 4 pack of 15 ounce cans at Hennessey Grocery in Butte, Montana. I had not seen this particular brand before. The price was $11.59, which struck me as reasonable in comparison to the other exotic brews available, though I wish it were cheaper....

An extra note (bitch) for you English exporters out there: What gives with the chincy, metric 440 ml can (a weird, odd size that doesn't correlate to anything except a ball park proximity to an American pint). GIVE US IMPERIAL PINTS!! If these cans were a wee bit bigger, they would fly off the shelves and we wouldn't feel like you were trying to pull a fast one on us (Perfidius Albion!).

 1,721 characters

Photo of burnerfinger
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

poured from the 12 oz bottle into my new belgium goblet:

A pours a deep honey color - and a nice 1 finger head that settles to a this foam but no lacing

S bland really - not much to the nose, a bit marco style

T ahh much better on the palate - malty ness takes the front seat by far,

M smooth and silky

D: very drinkable - at 5.0 id say it's a true session beer.

 368 characters

Photo of generallee
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: It was poured from a clear 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. The label lists the abv at 5.2%.

Appearance: It has a light amber body with good clarity and a small quick fading white head.

Smell: The aroma is light overall. The hops are up front and offer very light mineral like notes with a slight skunked presence over a very pale thin malt.

Taste / Palate: The flavor has a nice bready maltiness up front along with some mild caramel and toffee sweetness. Hop flavor comes in quickly and adds some dryness and mellow bitterness to the finish.

 561 characters

Photo of reebtaerG
3.62/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Twisted Victoria on 4/5/14

A-Pours dark orange with a wonderful waterfall effect with a two fingers of creamy white foam sites on top while carbonation slowly releases to meet the head.

S-Aroma of caramel and malt.

T-Taste is malty, a little sweet, a little musky and a bit of hop on the back end.

M-Palate is creamy and smooth.

O-Overall a great beer was surprised how tasty especially for breakfast.

 423 characters

Old Speckled Hen from Greene King / Morland Brewery
3.47 out of 5 based on 2,032 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!