Old Speckled Hen Gluten Free Pale Ale
Originally brewed by the Morland Brewery, which is now owned by Greene King Brewery, Old Speckled Hen is a premium bitter.
The first batch of Old Speckled Hen was brewed in 1979 at Abingdon, Oxfordshire, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the MG car factory, which occurred on November 30th of that year.
As a result of Greene King’s acquisition of Morland in 2000 and closure of the Abingdon factory, it has been manufactured in the Greene King warehouse in Bury St Edmunds.
It is available in bottles, cans, and on tap from barrel and keg in more than twenty different nations worldwide.
Old Crafty Hen, a 6.5 percent alcohol by volume brew, Old Golden Hen, a 4.1 percent alcohol by volume golden beer, and Old Hoppy Hen, a 4.2 percent alcohol by volume pale ale are now available under the Old Crafty Hen brand.
The brands and trademarks have an intriguing history, as for AMG cars we know now.
This restaurant was named after an “MG” car which was used to carry employees of the Old Speckled Hen manufacturing plant.
The car’s paint stains accumulated over the years of service, earning it not only local fame, but also the nickname “Owl Old Speckled ‘Un,” which was later translated into Old Speckled Hen by Ian Williams, the Abingdon factory’s personnel manager, for the stout that Morland first brewed in 1979 for MG, which had commissioned him to create a celebratory beer for the company’s 50th anniversary.
Another version of the tale of this automobile is that it was ordered from the factory in 1929 with the “speckled” color scheme (gold speckles on black on the “canvas” component of the bodywork) by a lady who resided in Abingdon-on-Thames and was well known to the people and pub goers of the town.
It was presumably a model 14/18 and pictures are on the driver’s side with an intelligently dressed woman.
In addition, the speckled paintwork is only visible on the canvas-covered bodywork.
There are no speckles or excess paint on the roof, glass, bumpers, wheel spokes, grille, or anything else.
A unique beer recipe had been developed in the garden shed of Daniel O’Leary (brewer and formerly cooper) in Abingdon, and the recipe was employed when the brewery chose to make a commemorative beer to mark the MG’s anniversary.
Beer produced at the brewery was an amber-colored Pale Ale with a light malt flavor.
For the 50th anniversary, everything was brewed with a gravity of 1,050 in order to honor the occasion.
One thousand and two hundred twenty-five casks and 1,200 dozen half-pint bottles were manufactured, primarily for promotional purposes at MG, as well as for limited availability to Morland households in the Abingdon vicinity.
An initial batch of what was intended to be a one-off celebration beer proved to be extremely popular, and a batch had to be brewed in order to be ready for the main celebrations, which were to take place in Abingdon during the royal anniversary weekend.
As a result of financial restrictions and the brewery’s decision to go in a different way, considering that this future lay in lager production, production of Old Speckled Hen dropped, and the beer was offered almost entirely in Morland’s pubs until 1990.
With the return of Old Speckled Hen in 1990 and the introduction of the cask version in 1991, Morland began to explore the possibility of expanding its ale production beyond its own estate. Old Speckled Hen proved to be a product that Morland could successfully market outside its own estate.
Old Speckled Hen was named “Beer of the Month” in January 1993 by beer reviewer Michael Jackson in his weekly column for The Independent United Kingdom magazine.
In June 1997, Morland’s interim profits increased by 8.9 percent, which was attributed to the relaunch, according to company officials.
Greene King said in December 2003 that it was extending its brewing capacity in response to whatever it called “frothy” orders of Old Speckled Hen in particularly, after previously announcing that it was running at 96 percent of its maximum brewing capacity.
As recently as April 2009, Fiona Hope, the marketing director at Greene King, speculated that Old Speckled Hen could perhaps follow the model of GK’s IPA and also be available in a so-called ‘dual-pour fountain.’ This would allow customers to choose between two different styles of beer on tap, although this has not yet been confirmed by any sources.
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