Friday, February 13, 2015

Old Crafty Hen (2013 vintage)

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (1281) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 13, 2015
I don’t tend to drink that much English beer mostly due to the fact that much of what’s for sale in my area is old and stale. That’s fine if the beer is intended to be aged, or at least is not harmed by aged. Greene King/Morland’s “Old Crafty Hen” – a blend of fresh and vintage “Old Speckled Hen” is the kind of English beer that’s apparently unaffected by age. It has the palette I associate with traditional British pub-style brews (even though I’ve never been to a pub in the U.K.). It’s held up surprisingly well despite its age and clear bottling. I should drink beers like this more often.

I poured a 500ml bottle into an English pint glass. It was bottled on 8/23/15 and cost $4.79 ($0.28 per ounce).

Appearance: Beautiful burnished copper hue; slightly cloudy but constant carbonation is visible. Pours to a two-finger, white, frothy head which retains and laces extremely well.

Smell: Noticeable skunky aroma from the clear bottle, though the genuine malty aroma is present as well. Sweet fruity and confectionery notes are detectable.

Taste: There seems to be a gray area when it comes to differentiating between beers of the “Old Ale” style and the “English Strong Ale” style. I think Old Crafty Hen probably fits either category due to the fact it’s a blend of new and old beer, though the former is a classic BJCP-recognized category and the latter is New School. Disirregarless, the flavor here is surprisingly flavorful and appealing. The malts comprise the classic British flavor notes of caramel, toffee and raisin bread. It’s almost pudding-like (“Spotted Dick” to be specific) in its composure. Little in the way of hops, but it’s in no way sickly sweet or cloying. Minor notes of vanilla or rum from the alcohol, but it’s well-blended with the palette to accentuate, rather than distract from, the base brew. I do notice a slight tanginess from the lightstrike and/or the old ale blend. A slightly cleaner brew would be pretty amazing I’m sure, but what’s here is damn tasty.

Drinkability: One thing I absolutely love about English-style pub ales like “Old Crafty Hen” is how extremely soft, smooth and comfortable they ale. This isn’t just a great-tasting beer, it’s a pleasure to have in the mouth as well. Medium-bodied, though still slightly crisp; yet it has distinct weight and doesn’t finish completely clean. The aftertaste is tolerable. At 6.5% ABV it has the drinkability of a session cask ale, but the robustness of a strong brew. A 500ml pint is the perfect serving size. It makes a great night cap. 
Grade: 9/10

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