65. “Old Speckled Hen”

Posted: August 11, 2010 in ale, International beer, traditional looking label
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“Old Speckled Hen”

Company info:
Morland Brewing
Suffolk, ENGLAND


Bottle size sampled: 355 mL

Alcohol: 5.2%
Standard drinks: 1.4

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for AU$5.99

Label info: ‘Named after an unusual, speckled vintage MG car, Old Speckled Hen is a pale ale which owes its distinctive character and dry taste to a unique strain of yeast, first used in 1896.

The individual blend of flavours reflects skills developed across more than 280 years of independent brewing history’

What the label really means: Speckled is a curious word that has me most intrigued. The label tells of a grand old MG but denies us an explanation on the origin of the speckled-ness. It’s a little confusing but undeniably intriguing. I am looking forward to tasting this beer steeped in history.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: In order to review this label I really have to review the over-all appearance of this bottle. At first glance I believed this was a liqueur rather than a beer. It’s shaped like a Johnny Walker bottle, and this combined with the dark, toffee-like colouring of the beer had me easily befuddled. The label reeks of something you might find containing ‘Grandpa’s ol cough medicine’. It immediately conjures up images of musty old cigar lounges filled with elderly chaps prattling on about health care and their hunting memories. It’s a little dusty for me.

I give it a label rating of 5 out of 10.

AROMA: Toffee in colour, toffee in aroma. It’s rich, malty and complex.

Taste: GLASS – Very strong in taste, “Old Speckled Hen” is a warming, full-bodied, smack in the mouth kind of beer. It’s dry and not refreshing in the least but there’s a character behind each sip that endears this ale to the soul. A beer for big flavour lovers. I like it, but it’s so dry I can’t see myself drinking too many of these.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 6.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Smoother, easier to drink, and even more lovable. Drinking this from the bottle it maintains that warmth, that love, and that full-bodied smack.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 7 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Consume this fowlish creature alongside a warming, hearty, roast pork dinner complete with crackling as a fireplace warms the rest of you.

Best season to appreciate: This is a real Winter warmer if ever there were one.

All-nighter beer? Probably not an all-night beer for me as it is a little too dry, and a little too dark in taste. I don’t think I’d last the distance.


  1. Skamps says:

    Hell-Cat, you’ve tasted a beer that I have recently done an ‘all-nighter’ on, though straight from the tap in Shropshire, England. I can definitely confirm that ‘specky hen’ (as the locals call it), is certainly not an all nighter for me. The dryness in the end drove me in the end to a pint of cider as a nightcap. After sampling some of the best ales in England, this was certainly not high on the list for me. Get back into some Kent ales – thats where the real hop flavours are!


    • Mason Hell-Cat says:

      As I suspected, Skamps! At least you’ve tested the theory now.


    • BargeDave says:

      Hear hear Skamps. I’ve tried Spitfire, what other Kent ales would you recommend?


      • Skamps says:

        Sorry slow to respond to this… been on the list of things to do.
        When I was in Kent I tried a few other really nice ales. Again, from Shepherds Neame, my favourite has to be ‘Bishop’s finger’. A really cool beer, which I also had half a night on was one called ‘Incubus’. Man, if you can get this in Oz through some importer try and get your hands on some! Check out there site – http://www.hopdaemon.com/incubus.html
        So many other good ones, I don’t think I tried a bad Kent Ale though!
        On a different note, I have just put a Coopers real ale home brew into the tank, using raw sugar to bring out a really malty ale. This should be fun!


  2. BargeDave says:

    It’s been a while between Speckled Hens for me but I will give one a burl this week. The review certainly describes this beer as I recall it. I find it a tad more flavoursome than that other toffee-malt English classic Newcastle Brown. However both these fine beers come in clear bottles, which can not be good for the photo-sensitive hop flavours. Poms are weird.


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