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Hen's Tooth | Greene King / Morland Brewery

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231 Reviews
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Hen's ToothHen's Tooth

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

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-02-2001

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Reviews: 231 | Ratings: 360
Photo of trondo
5/5  rDev +45.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

i was moved to review when i read someone say it was a worse version of new castle. when new castle goes to sleep at night it dreams of being hens tooth. this is a glorious masterful delicious beer that will replace bass or new castle in your cooler. youre welcome.

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Photo of mjc410
4.85/5  rDev +41.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This bottle looks wonderful - some friends mistook it for whiskey at first, noting the style of the bottle and the color of the ale.

Poured into a Sam Smith tulip, the ale offers up an off-white, large-bubbled rocky froth which recedes slowly, leaving fanciful lacing. The liquid is clear copper, more golden along the glass's edges. A great sniff brings the aroma of fresh white country bread (compared and verified this morning, even the leftover, unwashed empty bottle retains this marvelous odor), and earthy yeast. Pouring in the yeast increases the aforementioned earthiness, and adds a bit of citrus to the nose, as well. On my first sip, I'm amazed. It's just like eating a warm loaf of bread, perhaps with a bit of marmalade to provide the citrus burst. The bread analogy ends, but the beer does not. It progresses to a spreading, dry bitter finish. In the mouth, it is unexpectedly thick, very low in carbonation, and wildly warming. This is a fiendishly strong bitter, quite complex, and yet easy to savor on all of its levels. The crafty deception of its abv only increases my joy. Buy this, and HOPE it has been stored properly - you won't be disappointed!

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Photo of midnite2sixman
4.65/5  rDev +35.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16.9 oz bottle from Siciliano's Mkt in Grand Rapids, Michigan. THis one is always interesting to open and I advise you to open it as slowly as possible. A super slow pour is necessary as well.

IT pours a reddish amber with a huge frothy pearl head. The head on this one looks like the surface of the moon! WE LANDED ON THE MOON!

This beer also has more lacing than a set of victorian curtains.

Smells smooth like an english ale with the right amount of fruity complexity.

Incredibly smooth. Huge flavor. Biscuity and bitter.

My favorite english ale.

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Photo of Offa
4.6/5  rDev +34.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is flavourful, pungent yet smooth and highly satisfying.

Reddish copper, it has a fairly big, rather dense off-white head that shrinks steadily dissipates to a thin but lasting head.

The aroma is very malty toasted grain, leaves, and lemon.

The taste is robust and pungent yet smooth with the pungency stopped just short of being sharp. The body is malty, toasty, nutty, with tea leaves and floral-citrus hops. It has a light spiciness to it and has a long finish of toast after the light, spicy, leafy, citrus bitterness.

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Photo of TheGenesisOfElegance
4.51/5  rDev +31.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Poured half of the bottle into a 12oz ale glass, with plenty of room to breathe at the top. It has a deep brown color with a nice hint of red. Moderate carbonation. Thin head, no lacing.

S: English toffee, nuts, yeast and malt.

T: Tastes like a classic brown ale but obviously with better care taken throughout the brewing process.

M: Slippery but also a bit dry. Good carbonation.

Then I poured the remaining four inches of the bottle, containing the sediment at the bottom, into the glass and let it mingle. This changed the dynamic considerably. The flavors and aromas exploded and it suddenly became a whole new beer. If I had a bigger glass to contain the entire bottle it would have been this good from the beginning. I will buy this beer again.

Highly recommend.

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Photo of TheLiterati
4.5/5  rDev +31.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The fact that this hard-to-find ale (at least in So Cal) comes in a clear pint bottle was enough for me to pass on it when my neighbor called from a nearby local beer-lover's heaven, Galco’s Soda Pop (and beer) Shop (Highland Park, CA) and offered to buy me a pint or two.

Years ago, after a four-year search, I’d paid $25 to have a six-pack of Morland’s sister brew, Old Speckled Hen, shipped to my home, only to find that the clear bottles held a disappointingly weak ale.

Still, there was something about the Speckled Hen’s sibling that intrigued me. So I drove over to Galco’s today and snagged a pint, which sported a fancy hangtag that proclaimed, “One of England’s finest traditional ales.”

Admittedly cynical, I bought the pint for $4.59 and put it in the chiller as soon as I got home.

“England’s finest”…Sure, I thought: I’d heard that before.

Still, the sediment at the bottom of the bottle bore the promise of a nice brew. I gave it a good swirl, popped off the top, and gave it a pour.

Beautifully orange in color with a rich tan, two-finger high head, the clear-bottled Hen’s Tooth had all the necessary elements of a great ale, in spite of its packaging.

Still suspect, I sniffed. The caramel-fruit aroma wafting from my glass seemed to reinforce what I suspected all along: even with the 100-year old yeasty sediment, this would likely be another English ale that’s high on syrupiness and low on complexity.

Even so, I sipped.

Clear bottle be damned, this truly is a surprisingly rare English ale. A delightful effervescence gives way to a pleasant dryness, as all the while hints of fruit, caramel and yeast dance around on the tongue. Every sip held a nice surprise, and as Morland head brewer John Bexon proclaims on that fancy hangtag, this is “Truly an ale of rare quality…as rare as a hen’s tooth!”

In addition to drinking Hen, I am also eating crow and savoring every moment!

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Photo of bark
4.47/5  rDev +30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle fermented. The colour is medium dark amber; the finger thick beige foam dissolves into a thing lid rather quick. Looks nice to me!

The smell is quite delicate; lots and lots of aroma hops, chocolate chip brownies (!), and a sour - metallic touch.

The carbonation is soft, mellow and very pleasant, perfectly for this style.

The taste is full of full-bodied, somewhat sweet malt; there are notes of diacetyl (toffee), Ceylon tea, salt gravy, chocolate-toffee and sweet dough. The finish got subtle notes of sour yeast and dry hops.

I really liked this ale, and I found it very enjoyable although the label text, which goes something like ”the closest thing to a real ale that you can get in a bottle”, isn’t really true. I will get back to this one!

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Photo of putnam
4.47/5  rDev +30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Climbing up the wierdness scale now,

this beer is a menacing orange color. Lots of gunsmoke occurs as the cap is removed, something that promises authoritative yeast influence. I am not disappointed. Rangy, sweet and spicy aromas appear sometimes like horse poop, sometimes like the inside of a shower stall, sometimes like a bag of apples with an inch of penicillin growing on them. Deep, pure, aged brandy or Calvados, like smelling it from a barrel, lurks there as well.
On the palate I am wrenched from experiencing the wild spiced yeastiness of a dark Belgian to falling gently back onto a classic English-ale pillow of flavor. The wildness becomes a fleeting memory, until I introduce another sip.
Fine, active bubbles greet the tip of my tongue and carry with them the sweetness of glazed almonds and the bitterness of coffee beans. Somehow sticky pollen fragrances rise up throughout the drink. Lemon curd, cottage cheese and green stems echo faintly from mid to finish.
Perhaps it's the novelty, but I like this beer.
Use for serious contemplation or rustic farmhouse dishes.

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Photo of drperm
4.43/5  rDev +29.2%
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.

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Photo of theopholis
4.41/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours a brilliant, very clear, orange body with a HUGE, foamy, light beige head on top. Excellent head retention. Excellent lacing.

Smell- Malty, slightly grainy scent with a jolt of sourness from the mash. Just the barest hints of bread and a light fruitiness. Some bittering hops come through.

Taste- Fairly complex for a English pale ale. I have to admit, I'm impressed. A fairly well-blended mix of soft, malt sweetness (unusual for a British beer) with a toastiness that is very appealing. Also getting some toffee and the taste of dark bread. . Slight English ale fruitiness. Very subtle interplay of bittering and flavoring hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. The carbonation is just a hair to high. But it has a very nice mouthfeel.

Drinkability: It's excellent for an English pale ale.

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Photo of fx20736
4.35/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16.9 oz bottle into a Nonic, served chilled.

Had this beer once before but the bottle was skunked so I did not review it then. Even with the skunking I could detect the promise of good beer and since I like the other Morland brews; Old Speckled Hen, Tanner's Jack and Old Crafty Hen I decided to buy an unopened case to avoid a repeat of the skunking. I am so glad I did.

Burnished Copper with an old. faintly yellowed linen head that leaves decent lacing. The aroma is Crystal Malt, Jolly Rancher fruitiness and a faint whiff of English Hops. Mouthfeel is effortless and smooth with a slight tickle of carbonation. Taste is Pale malt, apple fruitiness and a mild herbal bitterness on the aftertaste. This is a lovely and delicious beer that I eagerly savor each swallow. Great stuff.

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Photo of hustlesworth
4.35/5  rDev +26.8%
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.

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Photo of ark57
4.35/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours a dark orange with some brown and is mostly clear, though there is a slight haze. The light tan head is a good size. The aroma is malty, fruity, and hoppy. The smell of the english hops is very nice. It has a fruity maltiness and some sweetness and woody notes. It finishes with a nice dry bitterness (Fuggles and EKG?). It is a great bottled beer that could almost pass for a cask ale.

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Photo of Loki
4.23/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber brown with a thick, creamy head that last through-out the beer. Watch out for overflow, this beer develops a head quickly and easily. The nose screems hops and alfalpha. The taste is creamy, sweet malt, and hops. Just bitter enough for taste and substance. The finish is smooth and creamy. Great beer.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.19/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked this up in LV

Poured into a true pint glass a very nice cloudy golden amber color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice two-finger foamy off white head, which leaves some very nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is very nice sweet, malty, with a slight hop note. The taste is very nice sweet, malty, with a touch of buttery thrown in. Medium body, the finish is sweet on the lips, dry, and very slightly bitter. Overall this is a very tasty brew, would definitely buy again when in Vegas.

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Photo of Sigmund
4.16/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle conditioned. 500 ml clear bottle, courtesy of Cardinal pub, Stavanger. Beautiful amber colour, huge and fluffy head lasts "forever". Lovely hoppy aroma, also notes of red wine vinegar, oak and barnyard. Interesting flavour with a substantial hoppy bitterness, oaky and vinous notes. Relatively dry. Notes of balsamic vinegar too, but the beer is neither sour nor sweet (does that make sense?). A very good beer in my book.

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Photo of rebel1771
4.11/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a crystal clear dark amber color with almost no head.

S: Mild malt aroma with a slight hop note in the end.

T: Solid malt flavor up front that fades to a slightly fruity/floral hop flavor.

D: Not an earth shattering brew but damn tasty. This is actually a pretty excellent beer.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.1/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Morland Hen’s Tooth has a thick, spongy, quickly-dying, cream-colored head, a murky, tan appearance, with bubble streams of tiny and large bubbles, and practically no lacing left behind. The aroma is of sweet, white bread crust, light fruit, caramel, and a sharpness from the hop extract. Taste is of those elements, with some cellar mold, noticeable, straightforward bitterness, and brandywine. Mouthfeel is chewy and slimy, and Morland Hen’s Tooth finishes semi-dry and harsh, but in a good way, if that makes sense. Overall, this is an interesting, fairly perplexing, and very delicious beer.


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Photo of Globetrotter
4.1/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Stopped by one of my favorite (because of the good, varying beer selection) supermarkets yesterday and found them unloading a case of this beer. I immediately grabbed a bottle. Tall and clear, the bottle sports a white and red label promoting the fact that the brew is bottle conditioned and strong. Sure enough, there's plenty of sendiment here. Ingredients conform to the purity law. Best before 10/20/04, I opened it on 4/2/04.

Poured a clear (I kept the sediment in the bottle on the initial pour) dark copper verging on red under a one finger light tan head that settles to film fairly quickly. On the secondary pour, the liquid become slightly cloudy. The nose features sweet malt and yeast, with a touch of cherry. The mouth is very well carbonated and medium-bodied. The opening is nice and smooth, with lots of yeast and a hint of cherry. This is followed by an ample portion of typically British hops. There's a nice bitter finish and a crisp aftertaste. I quite enjoyed it, and noticed no skunkiness at all. A very smooth, quite drinkable brew.

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Photo of ryantupy
4.1/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a Bright rich golden amber with a tannish foamy head on top. This beer requires you to pour slowly as there is yeast sediment on bottom.

Smell: I noticed the aromas almost instantly upon opening this bottle. Very grainy and bitter its actually quite nice.

Taste: The first thing I noticed was toasted malts then a pleasant dtrness with hints of fruit. I noted a lot of flavors in this bootle through out it probably due to the rawness and yeast. Very tasty and nice though.

Mouthfeel: Very dry and smooth it goes down quite easy and quenches your thirst.

Drinkability: Great! Again it goes down very smooth and tasty. Its as real as ale gets when bottled.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.08/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Its slightly hazy (bottle-conditioned) copper body displays bronze and ruby highlights beneath a short, creamy head of off-white foam that drops readily but holds a thin cap throughout the pint. The nose displays and iron/mineral character, some delicate apple-ish fruit, and some leafy hops over a caramelish malt. The body is full, creamy and smooth in the mouth with a very fine, natural carbonation that just lightly caresses the tongue (similar to a cask-conditioned pint!). The flavor delivers a biscuit-like maltiness, some lightly-dry and apple/pear-ish fruitiness, a distinct note of diacetyl, and a subtle touch of blood-like iron all backed by a solid bitterness and some leafy, tea-like hop flavor. It finishes dry with a lingering character from almost all of its attributes except for its slightly elevated alcohol which seems to remain hidden at all times. Quite nice!

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Photo of rupert_turtleman
4.07/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Aggressive pour in a full pint glass led to about 4 fingers of head, but I let it settle before pouring the rest after giving the yeast in the bottle a good swirl. Also, I let it sit for a bit after taking it out of the fridge to let it get to cellar temp (about 50 degrees). Solid cloudy brown amber color with heavy lacing. Smell was a bit floral but not as strong as the malty taste. Very complex flavor with malty sweetness (vanilla and toffee) along the sides of the tongue that mask the 6.5% ABV even with the warmer drinking temp. Very smooth with low carbonation after letting it settle. Overall, was pleased that it wasn't skunky given the clear bottle. Reminded me of "real ales" from London pubs. I'm thinking a tilted pour with a small head leaves the bitterness that others have mentioned. Drink the yeast!

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Photo of Brian700
4.05/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear brown/orange color. I couldn't put my finger on the aroma exactly, Mild hoppiness and alcohol. The aroma instantly made me curious of this beers flavor. It has a good head that stuck around for at least half the journey. Unique flavor. It has a bitterness to it that makes it very original. There are some fruity esters. Semi-sweet at first. good mouthfeel. This is an excellent ale and it is very unique. I'd love to learn how to replicate this ale at home.

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Photo of belias
4.05/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass, deep red/amber with a sizable offwhite head. Some yeast sediment from the bottle got into the glass and the beer went cloudy and the head quickly dissipated, lacing was minimal as well. However, ive had much better head retention with this brew before. Smelt really good, malty scents mixing with fruit (apple was very apparant) and strong yeast smell to round it off. The taste had a lot going on, a little malt sweetness, some apple taste, almost spicy hops and yeast. The mouthfeel is nice as well, its fairly carbonated, nothing that hampers the enjoyment of one or two, but i definitely wouldnt want put down a number of these in one night. Overall not a bad english ale at all, and my second favourite Greene King offering right behind "Olde Suffolk".

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.03/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear bottle dispenses a clear reddish orange alixer with a half finger white head that melts to top capping lacing.
Aroma is faint sweet malt and dry apple peel.
Taste is really british..hahaha.
Uh, there is a sweet malt with a drying biscuit like yeast being used and some nice bittering hops that are not too citrusy. This is an interesting brew. I can surprisingly taste and feel the alcohol on the swallow making this more of a sipping beer than merely an English Ale.
As it warms it also grows on you.
Honest bottle conditioned steady carbonation in this beer that leaves a sharp taste in your mouth...a clean drying...and a wonderful warming as the alcohol settles down in your belly.
I read some of the reviews on this beer and didn't think I would like it.
I think it's a wonderful sipping brew.

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Hen's Tooth from Greene King / Morland Brewery
3.43 out of 5 based on 360 ratings.
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