BREWER: Morland, Oxfordshire
STYLE: Strong English Ale
VESSEL: 500ml bottle
MOB RATING: 63.5%
It’s all going on with this one!! Let me get straight to it..
Old Crafty Hen in it’s bottle looks wise is not great for me. The generic and ossified Morland Octagon as always takes centre stage and just looks tired, dull and uninspiring. It’s slightly saved by the label’s black colouring and the actual colour of the ale, but overall the packaging is poor.
Now I don’t hate the name, BUT, let’s be honest, it’s not the best. The generic ‘Hen’ thing has begun to get on my nerves… Reason being the beginnings of Hen were from Old Speckled which wasn’t even a flippin’ Hen, it was a car! But Morland then just ran with the Hen theme. I mean it doesn’t even make sense…. the beers are named after Hens from a beer that was named after a car, I mean…….. I’m ranting aren’t I…. Move on Jymi..
The nose of this ale nearly knocked me off my chair. It certainly made me lean back with much vigour! Very strong, very medicinal, not very nice.
Not going too well at the moment is it?!!
This is an incredibly strong tasting big brew. The thought of having a second bottle definitely didn’t spring to mind. That said, two bottles could be done but that really would be that.
Ok, so it doesn’t look very good, the name is average, the nose is awful and you can only drink 1 or 2 of them!!
So, what does OCH have going for it?!
Well, it tastes great!! For all the downsides already mentioned I did really enjoy it. I also happened to have a nice mature lump of cheddar kicking around when I was testing so took my guide from the bottle and fired some up. And yes indeed Old Crafty IS amazing with cheese. I’m going to remember this beer for next Christmas time and will definitely settle into ONE with a cheese board.
Jymi’s Rating: 54%
Morland have a distinctive and consistent approach to the packing of their ‘Hens’. The octagonal label remains across the range, with the colour and name changing.
The Old Crafty Hen incarnation has been given a dash of the black ink and, in my humble opinion, it works well, as does the name. The play on words works perfectly for this stronger crafted version of this little Hen.
It has to be noted that there is a good nose on this for an ale and toffee notes really do break on through. The toffee theme also continues into the taste, which is stand out compared to its lighter sibling, Speckled Hen.
There’s no getting away from it, this is an exceptionally good ale that doesn’t hide behind over-hoppiness to create its taste. It’s well brewed and is unique.
For me personally, the only issue with Crafty is in identifying where and when it might be enjoyed. To be clear, it’s not a beer for all occasions. But it most certainly is one for one-off indulgence, most likely on a chilly winter’s evening. So right now would be perfect.
Sammy’s Rating: 73%