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OLD SPECKLED HEN was first brewed in Abingdon, Oxfordshire to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the local MG car factory. WHY? I hear you ask. Well, sit back, relax, and I'll tell you.
"The name is actually derived from the term "owld speckled 'un", used to describe an old MG car which was used as a factory run-around. Through time, this strange, canvas-covered saloon became covered with flecks of paint and was dubbed the "owld speckled 'un" by locals."* There you are, simple and completely uninteresting.
* Abridged from: http://www.oldspeckledhen.co.uk
The brewing of Old Speckled Hen was transferred in 1999 from Abingdon in Oxfordshire to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. These days Greene King brews all its beers in Bury St Edmunds.
My son once ended up in hospital after he drank a beer.
Well, it was my last one.
Back to the beer...
OSH is a rich and strong ale and is available as a cask ale in pubs across the country but, for those of us who don't have access to this beer on draught ,it is widely available in 500 ml bottles and cans at supermarkets and off licences.
In the glass Morland Old Speckled Hen POURS to a rich and sparkling, dark amber to russet colour with a warm, inviting, reddish tone. It has a very distinctive AROMA which is sweet, nutty and fruity with very rich, toasted malt undertones. It's also a little floral and a yeasty bakery tone. With good carbonation, there's a fairly decent, creamy off-white head which isn't particularly long-lasting but still leaves a nice lace effect.
It's medium bodied with a well rounded mouth feel and an extremely smooth TASTE that is slightly bitter, but it also has a toffee sweetness. The texture is excellent, frothy and smooth, with a snappy, bitter hop tang throughout that is well balanced by slightly sweet underlying malts. The finish leaves a pleasant aftertaste of hops with a hint of a medicinal flavour.
Apparently the distinctive fruity and malty flavour comes from a mix of pink and crystal malts and a strain of yeast first used in the 1890's. Morland's also use Goldings hops which are a very typical English variety.
At 5.2% ABV, it's a somewhat dry but satisfying beer. OSH is a fairly rich, robust and extremely drinkable Pale Ale. It makes for a great session beer as it goes down really well with no visible effort. It's not the greatest Pale Ale in the world, but it's very pleasant and I would have no trouble sinking a few of these.