Brewery: Greene King/Morland Brewery| Beer: Old Speckled Hen
Style: English Pale Ale | ABV: 5.2%
Serving Method: 14.9 oz. nitro-can poured into pint glass
Old Speckled Hen was first brewed in 1979 to commemorate the anniversary of Greene King's fellow Abingdon townsmen, the MG company. As it was the 50th, the brewery designed the beer to have an original gravity of 1.050. Everything else about the beer was designed around that gravity figure.
While MG has since moved on from Abingdon, Greene King still brews Old Speckled Hen. The name refers to a beloved MG company runabout, know as "the old speckled one." Really, any beer brewed to honor a British sports car legend gets bonus points in my book.
In the American market, Old Speckled Hen is available in both clear twelve-ounce bottles and 14.9 ounce nitro-cans. Pitched as "a great choice for those who enjoy a rich, strong beer to drink," it's an English Pale Ale. Here's how the brewery describes the beer:
Old Speckled Hen has a superb rich malty and fruity aroma. When tasting it you will experience a wonderful warming flavor that is bursting with body. Malty (malt loaf) toffee flavors from the pale and crystal malts combine with bitterness on the back of the tongue to give balanced sweetness which is not cloying. This is followed by a dry finish, surprising for ale of this strength.If it measures up to that lofty description, Old Speckled Hen would be one of the most complex English Pale Ales I've ever tried. Here's hoping.
Appearance: Rich orange-amber body with the tightly packed, creamy head one would expect from a beer equipped with a nitro-widget. The head is a finger high and features brilliant retention and lacing.
Aroma: Rather weak, with lots of banana and some caramel malt notes.
Taste: Nice earthy, mildly bitter tones from the hop department with a somewhat solid toasted brown sugar malt base. Still getting a lot of the banana here, but it's not totally unwelcome. It's just a little bit thin in the flavor department, and there are definite metallic tones every now and then. The moderate booze occasionally rises up to the surface.
Mouthfeel: Standard nitro-can creaminess and low carbonation levels, but with a somewhat watery body. The finish is slightly dry.
Drinkability: Goes down smooth and easy with just over five percent alcohol by volume, making it a good session beer.
Verdict: Old Speckled Hen is a solid, but generally unexciting beer. Nice enough flavor profile, very sessionable, and has the brilliant creaminess that you get with a nitro-can. If you're looking for something in a nitro-can besides Guinness and Boddingtons, you won't go wrong here.