#249 Greene King – Old Speckled Hen

Name: Old Speckled Hen
Brewery: Greene King
Style: ESB
ABV: 5.2%
Source: Waiheke Wines

Ahhh, my dear friend Old Speckled Hen.

While not the brightest, the boldest, or the tastiest beer in town, Old Speckled Hen will always have a special place in my heart.

When I was 23 (not so long ago really) I lived in London for a year. These days I look back with fondness at the cosy pubs, the grand parks, the nightly knife fights that would break out outside our council estate – but in truth I was mostly having a shitter of a time.

I worked in a windowless building at an awful job in a very boring place called Vauxhall, whose only redeeming feature was its position across the road from the pub. A group of us would go to there most days and drink as much Old Speckled Hen as we could squeeze into the lunch hour, before returning to stare at our computer screens and count the minutes until the evening tube.

Nostalgia is a funny thing isn’t it? Even that dreary scene seems somewhat charming to me now, and nothing brings the memories flooding back like a can of Old Speckled Hen.

It’s a malt-driven beer, but fairly light in the mouth and verging on watery. There’s a caramelly aroma, and in the mouth there are sweet notes of vanilla and fruit, along with a bit of grain and metal. The finish is lightly bitter, with not much of an aftertaste.

OK, so I now realise that it’s not really a brilliant beer. It beats most of the other large can beers we get on the shelves here – but as far as ESB’s go you could certainly do a lot better. 

Sorry Old Friend. At least we’ll always have Vauxhall.

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Published in: on April 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Incidentally, I lived just over a mile up the road in Kennington for a couple of years. My local pub was in a quaint Edwardian square, but it only served Shepherd Neame beer, which is almost the definition of boring brown bitter.

    These beers just do not travel, sadly. I have very fond memories of pints and pints of London Pride, but have always been disappointed when I have had it here.


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