Tonight we reap the benefits of Friday’s Four Seasons’ store visit. As I was standing next to their craft beer shelf, I became more aware of the beers that they had versus what the MBS had. Some prices were cheaper but many were about the same. The shelf they had for beer was about two-thirds the length and the lighting in the store was on the dark side.
I noticed that they had quite few different styles from the Left Hand Brewing Company. I made a note to visit the brand in the future. Beers from Poland, Czech beers and some I’ve never heard of before. What will it be?
Hello. This was odd. I spotted an English ale which beforehand I saw only in cans. This sixpack was the same stuff, only in bottles. And clear bottles at that. A red flag went up. I don’t like to buy beer in clear or green bottle because of the skunk issue. The beer at hand was “Old Speckled Hen” English Fine Ale from Morland Brewing out of Suffolk, England. At $10.99 for the lot, I thought it was a little bit better of a deal than four nitro-cans. For some reason, perhaps on impulse, I grabbed the sixer and wended my way to the counter.
The gentleman behind behind the counter remarked in his Indian accent that this was “really very good beer.” I told him that I hoped so as I would be reviewing it and writing about it on my website. He mentioned that he could get any beer I wanted if I order it beforehand. Interesting. I may take him up on that offer.
Saturday quickly became a hot day, poised in the upper 80s with the humidity about 70%. After spending an hour with the crowd at this month’s Morris Cruise Night downtown, my wife and I made it home for a quick bite to eat.
I made my way out to the Manly Garage and parked my damp cheeks in the throne stool. At 8:30 the temps was still in the upper 80s. My wife visited briefly to take something into the house from the big fridge out here.
She said, “God, how can you just sit out here in this heat??!!”
I replied, “Excuse me, but perhaps you’ve mistaken me for someone else. My name is Frank.” She left, rolling her eyes as she always does.
It was time for fine English ale. I popped the first clear bottle and noticed that it wasn’t a twist-off. I poured the beer down the side of the glass.
Up came the beer looking like iced tea with a quarter-inch foam topper. Tons of large bubbles clung to the inside of the glass and many were rapidly rising to the surface. The aroma was slight, smelling of yeast and malt.
The first sip was awesome. A huge slug of malty flavor filled up my mouth and it instantly made me want another sip. It had a slightly caramel flavor, sweet in the front and a tinge of bitter in the back. The beer had body. There was nothing not to like about this beer.
This brew seemed to have everything. The maltiness reminded me of a borderline porter, the slight caramel reminded me of a stout and the bitter back end somewhat akin to an IPA. It even had a flavor characteristic which reminded me of bourbon barrel aging such as Rocky’s Revenge which I enjoyed last week. Not too light and not too heavy, this a great all around ale.
This is the taste I would expect to get if I was to visit an English pub. Forget about Guinness, everyone knows what that tastes like. This O.S.H. is a special treat. It makes me wonder what the nitro-can version tastes like. At worst, it would probably taste exactly like this.
During all of this luscious drinking, I examined the bottle. It was another one of the double-chinned bottles unique in the industry. Interestingly, the label on the front had the name in quotes, “Old Speckled Hen”. That’s odd.
I went to their website where I picked up this interesting bit of trivia:
“Old Speckled Hen” was first brewed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the MG car factory in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Named after an old MG car which was used as the factory run around, they would park the old MG Featherweight Fabric Saloon outside the paint shop where it would normally get spattered in paint and so it became known as the ‘Owld Speckl’d Un’. This turned into “Old Speckled Hen” when the beer was unveiled. Since then the finely balanced beer with a distinctive rich malty taste and fruity aroma has attracted many fans.
Underneath the word “Hen” on the label, it said “English Fine Ale. Why wasn’t that “Fine English Ale”? I guess if you have the stones enough to put your beer into double-chinned, clear bottles and name it after a car, you can call it whatever you please.
O.S.H. is going up on my favorites section of the Brew Review page. This is a great tasting ale which will raise the eyebrows of anyone who takes a swig. Flavor? This beer is full of it. The next time you’re at your local beer store, pick up a sixer and save it for a special time. When you finally decide to drink it, relish it with gusto.
It’s beers like this that make me feel good about all this writing and picture taking and beer drinking. Well, maybe not so much the drinking part, but you know what I mean.
Taste: A > A magic elixir to treat your taste buds.
Smoothness: A > STP on ball bearings on ice. Downhill.
Drinkability: A > Huge disappointment when they’re all gone.
Bang for the buck: B- > The taste is worth almost two bucks a beer.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sip) It’s bitter. For not being so dark it’s bitter and dry. (sip) Ack. The send one’s worse. The British can keep it. That’s why we revolted. (Sheesh! American women. How can we live with them? Wait a minnit… )