BREWER: Morland, Oxfordshire
STYLE: Premium Bitter
VESSEL: 500ml bottle
The name Old Speckled Hen conjures up images of a farmer’s favourite feathered friend. Or maybe it’s more aligned to a legendary bird that’s tale is passed on from generation to generation as families are huddled around a roaring fire. Either way, it’s a good name for a beer and sits well in Morland’s theme where they play on the Hen name. I imagine that there are fans out there who have lovingly shortened the name to Old Spec, which accentuates the two scenarios previously mentioned to a greater degree.
What needs to be established is whether or not the beer lives up to the name…
In short, it does not.
Old Speckled Hen is by no means bad. It’s just very average. It excels in no area. While I would never turn my nose up at it if it were the only beverage on offer, equally, I would very rarely reach for it if other beers were available.
In the drinking, it’s fairly light and is ok in the mouth. It really lacks punch or bite in the flavour department. You’re left in no doubt that it’s a traditional bitter. But dare I say it, it lacks character. There is no USP in the drinking of Old Speckled Hen.
At the risk of offending many consumers of this well established ale, I would seek refreshment elsewhere if possible.
Sammy’s Rating: 66%
For those of you that read my review of Old Crafty Hen back on the 16th February last year you’ll know my feelings towards Morland’s packaging of their “hens”.
For those of you that didn’t read my review of Old Crafty Hen last year I think Morland’s packaging of their “hens” is terrible.
However, there are two things that help out Old Speckled externally… This bottle is iconic. It’s their flagship. It’s the pioneering hen. This doesn’t improve the look but does make it easier to bear. Also the name in isolation away from the brood of other hens is a cracker. Especially as, unlike the others, Old Speckled Hen isn’t named after a female chicken at all but a bleedin’ motor!! This information comes via our 500ml vessel’s label as well as what food would pair well with OSH. And for that Morland, I thank you.
We are also told by our brewer that this is a rich and distinctive fine ale.
Well let’s find out if it is shall we…
Errrrr, yes it is!
Rich – yes without doubt, it’s oozing toffee and caramel from nose to taste.
Distinctive – now this is a bold claim in the world of a million beers but you know what, I think it is distinctive. I’d like to think that if I didn’t know I was drinking Old Speckled Hen I would know I was drinking Old Speckled Hen if you know what mean?
Fine – It most certainly is. OSH is smooth as you like and has the air of settling in for a long session whatever the weather, shooting the breeze with chums in a cosy pub.
All in all Old Speckled Hen, though not joining the elite, is a great and iconic everyday beer.
But you probably knew that already didn’t you..
Jymi’s Rating: 74%
MUSE ON BOOZE RATING: 70%
MOB review next weekend: KERMIS IN DE ALE by BROUWERIJ BLIKSEM