Old Hooky
Hook Norton Brewery Co. Ltd.

Old HookyOld Hooky
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English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #107
Ranked #32,868
3.73 | pDev: 12.33%
Hook Norton Brewery Co. Ltd.
England, United Kingdom
Old HookyOld Hooky
View: Beers
Reviews: 72 | Ratings: 123 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Decko:
Photo of Decko
3.27/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

More User Reviews:
Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours reddish amber under a 1” quickly dissipating white foam cap that quickly dissipates while leaving thick lace.
S: Earthy English hop aromas, fruity and malty
T: Bready and malty with a slight initial sweetness that dries on the finish. Slightly astringent finish with a lingering bitterness.
F: Creamy and soft on the mouth with medium body and medium lo0w carbonation.
O: An easy to drink flavorful sessionable beer.

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Photo of oberon
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have to agree with the Dinger and a few others on the style of this beer,its an English ESB in my book.Poured into a nonic a slight hazed amber/bronze with a thinner but well defined white crown atop.Mainly fruit in the nose with a bit of iron and caramel,nice subtle complexities on the palate,crystal malt flavors and yeasty fruitiness (green apple), mixed with caramel biscuit,a decent leafy hop note emerges as the beer warms in the finish.A solid, bigtime quaffing English ESB here,Iam guessing this would be fantastic on cask.

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Photo of soju6
3.1/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark hazy amber color with an off-white head that fades to bits of lacing.

S: Aroma of citrus and fruit, mostly of berries.

T: Taste of citrus, berries, some caramel sweetness and bit of spice. Decent bitterness and a fairly dry finish.

F: Medium body, smooth but too much sweetness.

O: Decent beer but too fruity to really enjoy.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.93/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Hooky is listed on the "1001" and should be. I wish Hook Norton had broader distribution in the U.S. as this might show brewers how to make a pleasant and subtle bitter.
Old Hooky actually looks a darkish amber and a nice head recedes quickly. I smell the fruits and malts, but detect no hops. They come in after two or three sips... which is the right time for me ... for a balanced ale.

MJ's "1999" guide gave Old Hooky 2.5 of 4 starts and said it "is tawny, smooth, clean and fruity."
Reviewed in Roger Protz' "300 Beers To Try Before You Die!"

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Photo of BGCoon
3.76/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of marc77
2.93/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Tawny bronze hue with a light haze. Vanilla white, filmy head manages soapy lace. Marzipan tinged notes of almond and bubblegum esters dominate the aroma, and are accompanied by tame hints of lightly caramelized brown sugar and butterscotch. Prosaic, yet odd aromawise. Bluff snap of honeyish sweetness initially in flavor yields to a slightly astringent combination of burnt biscuit and hop bitterness. Integral hop flavor melds with the caramel malt presence to lend a welcome, sweetish impression of freshly sawed maple wood mid palate. Singed malt character diminishes belatedly, allowing diacetyl to come to light and leave a simple, buttery brittle suggestion. Skimpy in body, vapidly dextrinous and approaching watery in mouthfeel. Finishes mostly clean, with fleeting hints of treacle and dried dates. Old Hooky started off poorly, but improved in flavor. Overall, it is decent at best. It's akin to Newcastle, albeit with a greater malt backbone and ester character.

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Photo of Mark
4.46/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Yes indeed fizzyfred, this beer is much much better cask conditioned in an English pub. That is just how I had this fine beer. This "pulled" a clear amber, head was off white and lasted. My imperial pint glass was coated with solid lace. Aroma was fresh and hoppy. Malt and hop are in good balance here, there is some citrus notes over the solid malt base. An excellent cask ale served in great condition, totally drinkable. What a wonderful tradition!

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Photo of cokes
3.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Palest brown ale I've seen. More of a toasted golden body. Thin milky head shows some stickiness.
Odd hard water aroma with diluted toffee notes. Decent, but weird.
Taste is true to form english brown. Nutty up front, with buttery hues as well. Sweetness provides a backdrops with accents of toffee and dried dark fruit. Oak and wood flavors play a fairly prominent role. Faint, raw, leafy hops provide closure.
Smooth, cask-like mouthfeel, but on the thin side, for certain.
Good authentic style session ale. Nothing worth hunting down, though.

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Photo of MJR
2.21/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance: Pours a clear, faint copper with a bubbly, tan head that fizzles away to a few random, lonely bubbles.

Smell: The aroma is malty sweet with a touch of honey. A bit of a cardboard, oxidation smell is there, but to a lesser degree than the other brews I've tried from Hook Norton.

Taste: Starts out malty and sweet with some caramel and honey. Going along with what seems to be the norm for this brewery, the hops barely even show up. Midpalate, a strong oxidation flavor takes control and finishes with an astrigent dryness. Papery and metallic. Not good...

Mouthfeel: Light to medium in body, with an astrigent dryness that sends the rest of the bottle down the drain.

Drinkability: Ughh... This is thankfully the last of the Hook Norton brews in my beer fridge. Good riddance...

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Photo of canucklehead
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tastes and looks more like a Pale Ale with a flowery hop nose that is quite enticing. Not a huge beer but well constructed and very drinkable with interest kept by resonable complexity. I could drink a bunch of these as they finish well with a fruity note countering the dryness.

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Photo of whynot44
2.98/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Light bodied, light amber color with little head that disappears quickly.

Aroma is mild, mostly lightly roasted malt, toffee, brown sugar and wet cardboard.

Taste is about the same with a bit of nutty taste up front and a trace of hops bite at the end.

Slightly astringent and watery, but drinkable and fairly smooth. Brown ale for light beer lovers.

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Photo of DrunkMcDermott
3.52/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Fruity esters are the first thing to stand out. Has a malty character that approaches that of a macro American ale. Probably way off style, but I enjoyed it. This stood out a little better in the tasting of English ales my homebrew club conducted this month.

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Photo of diablo14
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of cypressbob
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask locally

Pours with a thick rick amber body. Bubbly white head with good retention. Some patchy lacing up and down the glass

Smell, Thick rich malt, some slight sweetness. Little bit of burnt sugar

Taste, almost no hop profile to speak of. Thick rich almost syrupy molasses tinged malt, little bit of spice and rich almost roasted malt character

A tasty ale, definatly worth a try

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Photo of Macamah
3.2/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Lacquered nectarine with crystalline clarity. If this is an English brown ale, it's the palest one on planet Earth. The words 'Traditional English Ale' are all that can be seen on the label and website. Atop the beer sits several fingers of sandstone colored foam that is firmly creamy and is beginning to lay down a wonderful array of finely perforated lace.

The nose is a dead ringer for an English pale ale. It's primarily fruity, with a bit of musk that must be coming from the hops. There's no way that any of the darker malts are present. More olfactory personality would be nice.

Old Hooky tastes like a classic EPA that leans toward toasted malt rather than untoasted malt. Hook Norton's claim of a 'suggestive echo of crystal malt' is right on the money and is a characteristic that is especially noted on the finish. The hops are both earthy and herbal... and are probably East Kent Goldings.

In the end, the beer is balanced with respect to sweetness-bitterness and malt flavor-hop flavor. The result is an easygoing little ale that is in serious need of a flavor hook. Which is pretty ironic given the name.

The mouthfeel's best attribute is that it makes OH a cinch to drink. That's another way of saying that it's light-medium and gently carbonated. A hint of back end creaminess keeps the score (barely) above average.

It's a shame that in the era of big, bigger and biggest beer, I can no longer be impressed with a simple, well-brewed ale like Old Hooky. In the right circumstances, it would be a fine choice. Just don't expect any bells and whistles.

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Photo of palma
3.71/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

English brown ale this is not. More of an english pale ale or bitter.
Pale orange hue body. Rough pour into a big 16oz pint glass creates a head that is off-white and very rocky. Nice.

Aroma is stale english hops. More yeasty than other english ales. Fruity notes.

Taste is all malt and fruity yeast. Predominant crystal malt. Low profile hops in the end leads to some dryness. Finishes with some slight buttery notes. Nice beer.

Extremely easy drinking ale here. One that I would have again and would love to find on-tap one day.

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Photo of smcolw
3.75/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Two finger head that recedes with peaks and valleys. Very cloudy liquid. Dark amber or light rust color. Spotty lace (light for the style).

Strong caramel aroma from the malt. Light bitter hop. There is the typical English "roundness" that I smell in nearly all of Brit's ales.

Truly matches the profile of a typical English Pale Ales. I would not necessary describe this as a Brown Ale, but it is close. Great balance--malt on the front of the tongue, hop on the back. Interestingly, initially it seems undercarbonated, but the finish is quite bubbly. It is full bodied without being rich.

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Photo of brewQ
3.03/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was a slickly labeled brown bottle 1/2 liter, not the clear glass pictured. That might have helped my experience, as the code date read 2253, which I'd read as Aug03 and I sampled in Sep04. Curiously, the cleaned up label does not tell you anything abut the brew- style or whatever.

Bronze to honey color looked appetizing with a decent head of irregular sized bubbles.

The aroma struck me as a sweet Plum! No big hop notes here. The plum carried into the taste and was joined by woody and malty flavors ... somewhat likeable but funky. This is brown ale?

The finish was a lingering presence of all the flavor elements and a certain dryness- not overpowering, though not particularly refreshing.

Might be nice on a cold or rainy British day but not my pick as highly drinkable.

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Photo of Doiv
2.57/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Coppery colour when poured, leaves a quickly dissipating off-white head, and little lacing to speak of.

The aroma is fruity but largely unexciting. There's also a skunky, almost factory/production plant smell that almost put me off trying the first sip.

The taste is light and fruity, with malty and oily and cellulose tones. It still has that 'factory' taste about it. The mouthfeel is quite smooth, but not great. The drinkability can only be described as mediocre.

If someone offered this beer to me at a party or social gathering, i'd probably refuse it. Average at best.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.82/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

500ml bottle served to me blind by @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a lovely clear amber, bright and clean. Head is a pleasantly foamy beige, that settles to a pocked head of film. Some fine specks of lace as it goes down. Carbonation is fine, body looks like it has a bit of weight to it. Looks good.

Nose is slightly sweet and malty, but with some English estery notes coming through, a little rose and blackberry. Some slightly herbal, slightly earthy hops come through as well, giving a moderately peppery tone to it as well. It's quite pleasant.

Taste is pretty clean and pleasant: light malty entry, some grainy notes with a couched fruity sweetness towards the back. Clean, leafy hop character just dries out the back slightly, but it retains enough sweetness to keep the back palate going. Feel is nice and smooth, but with a lightness that helps the drinkability.

Yep, very drinkable, and really very enjoyable. It's well-made, very clean and consistent, but with enough flavour to keep it interesting. I enjoyed it a lot.

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Photo of DrJay
3.46/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of fizzyfred
2.9/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours clear with no lingering head, leaving the glass as clean as it came. Its a light orange and tan color. The nose is malty, no real hop aroma.Has a malty flavor, with a hint of honey and nut. No real hop flavor, and leaves a tough aftertaste, like a paper dixie cup. The body is light with late astringency. Not the best, but is probably much better on cask in a English Pub.

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Photo of ghurux86
3.38/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

pours a pretty clear light orange amber color, decent size off-white head that leaves a little lacing.
smell is a little above average, malt and maybe carmel.
flavor seems to be somewhat lacking for the smell and price. mainly malt.
mouthfeel seems to be medium bodied with a low level of carbonation.
i could probably drink quite a few of these, i was just somewhat dissapointed overall. a little too expensive for its quality.

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Old Hooky from Hook Norton Brewery Co. Ltd.
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 123 ratings