Hen's Tooth
Greene King / Morland Brewery

Hen's ToothHen's Tooth
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Strong Ale - English
Ranked #85
Ranked #46,844
3.49 | pDev: 16.62%
Greene King / Morland Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Hen's ToothHen's Tooth
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Reviews: 236 | Ratings: 369 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
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TheLongBeachBum from California

2.12/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Presentation: Rather cool looking 500ml clear glass bottle, wide body with a tall thin neck which has the Morland artist embossed in 4 places on the neck and the words “Morland Established 1711” in raised lettering around the base….seems they didn’t have room to add “and closed by Green King in 1999”. A logo crown cap and a red & black bordered cream colored label both have a quality look to them. Labeled as “Hen’s Tooth” [the name is supposed to indicate its rarity] and as a “Bottle-Conditioned English Ale”. All of this is finished off with a small folded cardboard tag which is the same color as the main label and is held in place around the neck with red string (red is often associated with royal documents, seals, paper, etc.) and also adds a rather high end look to this brew. Listed at 6.5%, but with No Best Before Date that I could find. Cost $2.99 so it wasn’t too expensive, which was surprising give its obvious wish to impress the quality beer punter.

So it’s obvious which sector of the market this brew is aimed at, namely the Fullers and Young’s brews with similar excellent packaging, but I wonder how it will stand up to the tougher London Boys……?!?

Appearance: Beautiful lacing on the glass sides from the light tan head which phases between dirty white and a creamy vanilla yellow depending on the angle of the incandescent light. Scrumptious ruddy body that is clear, despite the thick layer of yeast visible on the bottom of the bottle, which remained undisturbed by the single pour. Head retention is superb and the conditioning is excellent too. A good start then…?...

Nose: ….erm maybe not!! Funky Malts and a whiff of dirty unemptied Teapots laden with cold tea from days gone by. Remember Farley’s Rusk’s?, maybe not if you’re not English, well I get those too.

Taste: From the first sip it’s a let down. Sharp tastes, angular profile, disjointed components that are ill-fitting. The English malts and hops are there, but it’s all wrong. A weird buttery cum fatty bacon taste intertwines with a tannin laden cold tea middle. Finish has some rescuing malts which exhibit a rather dry and strange tealeaf acidity, the hops maybe? I just don’t get this at all. Seems to have the right ingredients, but they are all in the wrong place. A Salvador Dali English Pale Ale if you will.

Mouthfeel: Weak, I hate to repeat myself but I get cold Tea again, and it’s not good, and I like cold Tea.

Drinkability: I worked my through this one…for one reason and one reason only, I don’t think that it is bad, or even “off”, neither is it repulsive…but it is a real surprise, extremely harsh, sharp, acidic and spiky….this is one cheese grater of a brew…..and this makes it very hard to enjoy.

Overall: Great start with the presentation and appearance in the glass, but it’s all down hill from there. Shockingly disappointing…..what happened guys???

I am most certainly not one of the US knee-jerk “it’s clear glass therefore skunked” brigade, this sample clearly isn’t, but I’m wondering if I had an old bottle…yet I KNOW where I bought it from is an exceptionally reputable store, I get all my Samuel Smiths from there too, and I have never had a problem with any of those – so no, definitely not skunked…..though with no discernable freshness date I do wonder if it’s just old…..of course, it could just be utter crap….after all, we are talking Greene King…but wait they do Olde Suffolk which is OK….ahhh fuck it, who knows…..I’m so confused…..I’ll give it a whirl again one day, but maybe whilst back in England…not here in the US.

Mar 01, 2005
More User Reviews:
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Stephen63 from Scotland

3.2/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Amber body and pretty decent head from the bottle conditioning.

S - Fruity without being impressive.

T - Got the hoppy bitterness as being dominant. Struggling to get much else. Felt a bit tinny.

M - Natural carbonation reflects a nice mouth.

D - Interesting enough but looking elsewhere for my next drink.

Bit of a dilemma over this one. A bottled conditioned beer should be an excuse for celebration. The little tag is there on the bottle, looks like it should be special. It just does not deliver on what one would expect. A bit of a disappointment. Not at all moreish, a real pity.

Feb 26, 2007
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rangerred from Tennessee

3.18/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.5

Apr 01, 2017
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

3.77/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A lot of potentially great things going on in this - but Old Speckled Hen seems to have just as much (and likely more) boldness and depth in flavor.

It starts off auspiciously enough with a high and mighty (and thankfully un-infection-derived) foam pour atop a rich-looking, rather bright, deep-tawny-hued liquid. Drinking down, it leaves some broad splotches of thin, crystalline lace. Not bad.

Very fruity (apple juice) on the nose, at first, it lends some hints of lightly-browned caramel, later opening up into some mild toffee. At its warmest, maybe a little tangy, drying bread dough and delicate earthy hop, however, the aromas lose a lot of their steam, surprisingly enough. You gotta strain... Overall, aside from some promise in the malts, a relatively standard bundle of scents, brought on weakly.

Initial palate sensation is hop bitterness, or perhaps some alcohol or yeast bite coupled with the active carbonation - I would even suggest it's a unmistakable (tea-like) tannic quality. Slowly coming through is, more up front, the esters, which added to the apple show some grape as well. Is that some hops in there, too?!....Phantom alcohol and certain floral notes through the finish... The overall taste is nice, but begs to be more (especially in the malt and caramel richness and depth department)...Really comes across as a modestly stronger OSH or other familar-profiled English pale....

The beer drinks rather clean, but has a good bit of bite that I wished would've been met with a more substantial malty body. Seems way too clean and far from heavy.

All in all, it's a fine beer, I suppose, just way too restrained. And I don't believe extended aging will aid in revealing much more.

Feb 07, 2013
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Cyberkedi from Georgia

3.06/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Color is a clear, appetizing reddish-gold amber. Aroma is strong and crisp, but rather typical for an ale. Flavor has a good mix of maltiness and hop bitterness, with just a whisper of smokiness. It is not complex, but it is full without any watery feeling. This beer goes down nice and smooth. Not remarkable, but definitely worth sampling.

Feb 24, 2008
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t0rin0 from California

3.25/5  rDev -6.9%

Nov 19, 2012
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nygannon from California

3.5/5  rDev +0.3%

Aug 03, 2013
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Brad007 from Vermont

3.53/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a mild amber color with a one-finger head into my pint glass. Seems to be a lot of carbonation.

Aroma is sweet with a hint of hop bitterness, biscuit malt and some skunking (from the clear glass).

Taste is full of biscuit malt and mild hop bitterness upfront. A bit chewy. Otherwise, average but nothing offensive.

Mouthfeel is full of the lingering hop bitterness and biscuit malt flavors. Carbonation doesn't affect the flavors much. Goes down smooth.

Not a bad example and actually better than their other pale ale offerings. If I were them, I'd ditch the clear glass though. It really doesn't add anything to their beers.

Mar 10, 2009
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EvanWilliams from Illinois

3.25/5  rDev -6.9%

Dec 23, 2012
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berserker256 from Michigan

3.11/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thick, large-bubbled head with an off-white color. Hazy orange/brown appearance. There's a metallic/medicine scent to it that isn't that bad, really. A hint of malty sweetness. The flavor, however, kind of reminds me when I try to "brew" beer with Mr. Beer. Some kind of apple cidery alcohol overtone that ain't that great. There's a bitter and somewhat sour and yeasty aftertaste. Maybe That's how this beer is supposed to taste but I don't care for it that much. 1 pint 0.9 oz. bottle that I paid $3.99 for... That $3.99 should have gone towards the Paulaner Marzen six pack I had my eye on...

Aug 29, 2008
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mothman from Minnesota

2.96/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Best before date was not stamped on my bottle.

Poured into Sam Adams Sensory Glass. Decent layer of head, but leaves no lacing. Color is a brown ruby.

The aroma is very skunky, nothing to pleasing. No other notable smells. Taste has that same skuny flavor to it. Has some kind of hops, but I can't determine it. Also, there are some bready malts.

Mouthfeel is very crisp and bitter. Leaves a sticky aftertaste. Has an overpowering level of carbonation.

Overall, this is not something I would like to drink again. I received as a gift so I took a shot at it. The worst part about this is that I have over half of my .5L left... oh gosh...

Jan 23, 2009
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Greggy from Minnesota

2.16/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

A- Pours a decent 1 finger head over an orange body with nice sediment. No lacing present.

S- Definite skunk here with some nice hop oil

T- A big fruity hopiness is immediately present with a sweeter malt backbone. Notes of applejuice after you just mouthwashed (honestly), light pinneaple and an odd metallic tart/sour fruity finish.

M- Low carbonation works but the finish is odd, tart, and sour.

D- I have no doubt that this could be good on tap but in a clear bottle, this is pretty hagard. I got some really bad tart sourness along with some bad skunkiness which made this an obvious drain pour.

Aug 08, 2008
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Figgy from Ohio

3.46/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I've got to admit I was impressed by the bottle, it just looks like a good beer. The smell didn't come across much, not good or bad, just smelled like an Ale. The head is a light beige, slightly yellow and the beer itself is a rich tan brown. The taste was not sensational, but has a quality to it. It doesn't have a "different" taste to it, but very drinkable regardless.

But what do I do with the bottle now?

Sep 16, 2007
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baos from Indiana

3.55/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle into my favorite bicentennial Mason jar.

A: 4 finger white head atop an orangish amber translucent beer.

S: Maybe some dried apricots faint malts and cereal grains.

T: Kind of a bitter wood sap taste. Dry and bitter. Maybe a tad of lemon rind. Very tart.

M: This ones okay.

D: A very drinkable beer indeedy.

Jan 27, 2008
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hustlesworth from Ohio

4.35/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

bought on a trip to OBX at an organic market with the best beer selection i've ever seen.

A- clear orange amber brown with 2in of clumpy dense head that had decent retention. i left the yeast in the bottle as i do with all bottle conditioned ales then i drank the yeast and liked it. i enjoyed the little card around the neck of the bottle. that's "as rare as a hen's tooth"

S- dried fruit and cereal, nothing too complex, almost smelled diluted. maybe because of the name it made me think of old speckled hen only aged longer. it's got that english aroma that i love bust not enough of it. in the back there were spicy notes like some sort of spiced bread and faint malt.

T- dry and slightly bitter with with a nutty cashew macadamia finish and undertones like plum and figs. woodsy with herbal reefer hop qualities and a lip smacking grainy finish that made me wish i could find another bottle.

MF- silky smooth and crisp without being too heavy the carbonation was brilliant and quenched my thirst on a hot summer night.

D- i wish this ale was readily available so i could drink it more often but sadly i don't think i'll ever find it in my area unless i persuade some distributor to find it for me. i'd love to try more from moreland.

Aug 14, 2007
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beerpadawan from California

3.5/5  rDev +0.3%

Aug 27, 2012
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philipquarles from Connecticut

3.54/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

50cl bottle. Pours a clear copper with an off-white, fizzy head. Smells strongly of cannabis-like hops. Earthy and herbal with a bit of sweet malt. Hops are lighter in the taste though still very present, alongside sweet malt reminiscent of caramel. Light-med body with a bit too much carbonation. Fairly well balanced.

Jun 09, 2009
Photo of JamesS
JamesS from Indiana

3.93/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured out a nice dark copper color, which still allowed a nice bit of light to shine through. It had excellent head, especially for a bottled beer, with nice lacing. Excellent scent, very sweet and malty for a pale ale. Goes down smooth, too. Very nice taste. Very nice mix of malt and hops. For a pale ale, there was little bitterness, but it had the excellent bottle conditioned ale flavor. Hints of caramel, too. Very nice.

Oct 23, 2007
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SargeC from California

3.5/5  rDev +0.3%

Dec 30, 2011
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armock from New York

3.5/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured an amber color with a tan head that fades fairly quick

S - Is of some fruit and malt

T - It starts with some bitterness then the fruit comes through

M - There was a higher level of carbonation in this beer

D - This beer kinda reminds me of a Belgian beer its pretty easyt to drink so I'd say its worth a try

Feb 29, 2008
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animal69 from Louisiana

3.5/5  rDev +0.3%

Jan 02, 2012
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Trueant1 from Minnesota

2.88/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a golden red. Nice white creamy head. Does not stick around long. Lacing coats the glass.
Smells of older green variety apples. Like a bin that has sat for weeks at a produce store. Spicy. Sweet candy like profile. Sour flavors of spice and apples. Alcoholic. Not so well balanced. Something is off...i think the sourness. Very yeasty.

Decent mouthfeel. Sweet and well carbonated. Almost chewey.

Worh a try for the price....but not a great beer.

Dec 14, 2007
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dsa7783 from New Jersey

3.12/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1 Pint, 0.9 fl oz bottle purchased from Super Saver in Somerville..
Pours a clean, clear, lucid copper appearance with a minimal head that left no apparent lacing...
Bland, non-descript aroma redolent of apple pie, appeljuice, slight sugars, and malts...
Taste, which was pretty unexciting, complemented the aroma, with a subtle, malt suggestion balanced by a touch of hops, grain, vanilla, candied apples, and caramel...
Watered-down, non-suggestive mouthfeel added to the overall mediocrity of this brew...
Decent drinkability, but overall, nothing to really write home about...
Not recommended...

Mar 18, 2008
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drperm from Virginia

4.43/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a Sam Adams tulip glass.

The appearance is burnished copper -- darker than I expected, even with the clear bottle. It glows red and handsome, with (as I anticipated) a thin lacing of cask-reminiscent white foam. Lots of bubbles throughout the drink.

On the nose, it is mild yet pleasant. Overwhelmingly malt-forward, with some English (Goldings?) hops lurking. Biscuit and wet moss predominate, with an undertow of fresh-baked loaf bread.

Taste -- nice! Malty, with good bitterness and a floral/fruit (plum, fig, and pear, mostly) backdrop. It keeps going, too. Lots of good subtlety here -- this is one to drink with undivided attention. As it warms and nears the bottom of the glass, it only gets better and richer. Good to the last drop!

On the palate, it's mostly excellent, but there's just a hair too much sweet malt on the finish for me.

Drinkability - high. Very high. Highest. This is a winner! To me, it's like Old Speckled Hen with a college degree: a bit more sophisticated and mature. I love this English take on a bottle-conditioned beer. I'd love to get some more (provided the bottles have been stored properly) and stick them in my cellar to see what happens over time.
Great on its own; I'd try it with good hard artisan cheeses or even milder Indian fare (anything with whole cloves and chutneys). Speaking of cloves, this would also be great with one of those old-fashioned baked hams.

Sep 29, 2009
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Dougal from New Jersey

4.03/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer is packaged very nicely...the ale is light on hops which do not dominate the paleness or dryness of the beer. The flavor has very light fruit tones with a slight lingering aftertaste of those tones. The abv content does not detract from the beer as it is rather hidden in the beer as opposed to some of the rocket beers out there...if you like epa's and ipa's but would prefer something a bit less dry this is your ale.

Nov 06, 2007
Hen's Tooth from Greene King / Morland Brewery
Beer rating: 80 out of 100 with 369 ratings