Morland Brewing (Greene King) - Old Speckled Hen
Serving Temperature:45-50° F
Suggested Glassware:Pint Glass, Wide Flute
This iconic British ale is quite stunning in the glass, presenting a rich reddish-amber hue capped with a moderately-sized off-white head which drops some thin lace as you drink. On the nose, look for light notes of caramel and toffee along with a definite fruity overtone, likely both from esters produced during fermentation as well as Morland’s choice of hops, purported to be a blend of Challenger, Pilgrim, First Gold, and Goldings. On the palate, we were impressed greatly by the beer’s smoothness – medium bodied while being quite round and satisfying. Like many great British ales, the flavor components are all extremely well balanced and complementary. Look for a nice dose of fruitiness amidst the caramel and toffee backbone, while hops supply some tea-like notes along with a little earthiness, a touch of herbal spice, and mild bitterness. This brew is versatile enough to be paired with both savory meals as well as certain desserts, especially those featuring caramel, toffee, or fruit. Morland recommends English roasts, sausages, and pies. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing this beer a couple of times at craft beer bars recently – on nitro. If you get the chance, the nitro adds a whole new dimension, so give it a shot! Cheers!
Morland Brewing was founded in 1711 by farmer John Morland in West Ilsley, a small town in Berkshire less than a mile from Britain’s famous Ridgeway – the oldest road on the island, dating back to Neolithic times. As time went on the business expanded, and after purchasing the Abbey Brewery and Eagle Brewery in nearby Abingdon in the 1860s, Morland moved their entire brewing operation to Abingdon about twenty tears later.
In 1885 the brewing company incorporated and changed their name to United Breweries. It was not long afterwards that brewer and businessman Thomas Skurray joined the business. Under his leadership, a period of growth was launched lasting several decades, including the acquisition of several other breweries and the construction of a new malt house which gave them full on-site control over the germination and roasting of their barley.
Around 1944 the brewery embraced their heritage by returning once again to the Morland name. 1979 saw the creation of one of their most iconic beers, Old Speckled Hen, brewed in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Abingdon’s MG automotive factory. Then in 2000 the brewery was acquired by Greene King, another famous and old British brewery. Founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene (grandfather of British novelist Graham Green), Greene King Brewery has thankfully maintained the Morland brand, brewing Morland’s lineup of Morland Original, Tanner’s Jack, Old Speckled Hen, and Hen’s Tooth at their brewery in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.
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