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
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.