Friday 9 September 2011

On Golden Hen

Old Golden Hen is a brand extension of Old Speckled Hen, and is Greene King’s attempt to gain a share of the growing market for refreshing golden ales. I recall them producing a beer in this style a few years back called Triumph whose performance in the market rather belied its name.

I haven’t so far come across the cask version, but the bottles were included in Tesco’s 3 for £4 offer so I thought I’d give it a try. It comes in the same clear, square-shouldered bottle as that used for Old Speckled Hen. Some decry the use of clear bottles as tending to lead to beer becoming “lightstruck” and developing off-flavours, but I can’t say it’s something I’ve often noticed.

The label describes it as a “refreshing crafted beer” and says “This light golden beer delivers both flavour and refreshment. Brewed using the finest pale malts and the rare Galaxy hop to give a light golden colour, subtle tropical fruit notes and a deliciously smooth finish”. The strength of both cask and bottled versions is 4.1% ABV.

There’s a very distinct “New World” tropical fruit aroma as soon as you take off the cap. It pours an appealing mid-gold colour with a slight orangey-red tone that distinguishes it from the straw colour of classic lagers. There’s a fairly restrained carbonation and a thick initial head that persists to some extent all the way down the glass.

Despite initial impressions, it’s far from being a hop-bomb and indeed is rightly described as a subtle beer. The grapefruit and mango notes remain evident and, while overall fairly light in body there is, as with all Greene King beers, a solid malt underpinning, together with a hint of caramel. It could be regarded as an undemanding introduction to New World hop flavours.

It’s a beer that needs to be served chilled and if too warm will come across as distinctly underwhelming.

In summary, a decent enough beer that successfully avoids having the characteristic Greene King house character. It’s not something I’d go out of my way to drink, but if in good condition could be an enjoyable, refreshing summer pint.


  1. You didn't put it head to head with Foster's Gold?

  2. just picked up a bottle in Tesco, my local branch have just started stocking the finest 750ml belgian wheat and belgian abbey beers too

  3. Those Galaxy hops are only rare because GK bought up most of the available crop for this beer...


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