Back in the day, as I’ve written before here at The Brewclub, in 1979, Morlands – a small brewery in Abingdon, Oxfordshire – brewed an ale that they named after a vintage MGA sports car – also made in Abingdon – that was christened the ‘old speckled hen’ for the overspray from within the MG factory.
Fast forward to the year 2000, and Morlands was bought by Greene King and production moved 100 miles north and east to the East Anglian market town of Bury St Edmunds. From whence ‘Old Speckled Hen‘ begat ‘Old Crafty Hen‘ in 2008, ‘Old Golden Hen‘ in 2011 and now (well since April 2014) ‘Old Hoppy Hen’ – brewed with ‘pale malts and American hops’ to
exploit complement Britain’s interest in hoppy, ‘craft’ beers.
While Golden Hen was brewed with ‘pale malts and Tasmanian Galaxy hops’ Hoppy Hen boasts ‘pale and crystal malts, as well as rye malt, and Chinook hops’.
It pours a pale Amber, with a rich white head that is slow to fade and laces down the glass.
The nose isn’t as hoppy as one might expect for a beer that boasts a ‘Hoppy’ moniker; and in the flavour, the Chinook hops are well back in the mix, the rye malt tending to overpower them.
It’s pleasant enough, but frankly not hoppy enough; those ‘Chinook’ hops have been sacrificed in vain. For a ‘craft’ style beer from one of Britain’s largest brewers, I can think of others I would turn to first – such as Marston’s New World Pale Ale.
I tried this alongside ‘Golden Hen‘, purely for research/comparison purposes you understand, and the Golden Hen, with its ‘Galaxy’ hops, tipped it for both nose and flavour.
Perhaps ‘Hoppy Hen’ is a Hen too far?