Thursday, 4 June 2015

Craft Beer Review: Old Hoppy Hen from Morland

Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's real ale review is for Old Hoppy Hen from Morland.

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I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed Old Hoppy Hen. It was a light orange astringent bitter with a predominantly citrus profile and herbal background of thyme and dill. No bitter after taste that you sometimes get with beers on the herb-y end of the spectrum. Smooth finish.

Old Hoppy Hen... you might be thinking that sounds like...

Yup, you guessed it. This beer is not craft beer at all. BURN! It is made by Greene King of Old Speckled Hen and Greene King IPA fame. So why does it say Morland on it? and 1711? Well, I will tell you.

Or maybe I will just give you a link to the wikipedia page and say in more general terms that the subject of brewery history in Great Britain is an interesting tangled web of little guy vs big guy becoming big guy and buying the little guy but keeping the little guy name because CRAFT BEER.

Morland was indeed a small independent brewery in 1711. But then all breweries at around that time were small and independent. Basically your mom made beer and sold it. Seriously. Women made the beer.

Then you get into the pre-industrial age of enlightenment. People started to DO BUSINESS and commodify products. Like beer. Small independents became large independents and bought up the competition.They industrialised. This is what you are supposed to do in capitalism. Get big. Get Rich.

This is why I can't really hate Meantime for selling out. They got big. They got rich. Wanted to get bigger. And sold up to an even bigger and richer business that would help everyone get bigger and richer.

What is really hilarious these days is the big brewers and PubCos who have gotten big and rich through years of buying out the little guys (like Morland did in their time before being eaten by Greene King) like to keep their craft beer cred and brand loyal consumers by brewing beers under old names and brands. Wells and Young are really bad for this. Greene King as well.

The irony being that Morland hasn't been craft beer for over 200 years. They even did a Greene King on themselves by changing their name BACK to Morland after being known as United Breweries for 75 years. But the Morland name sells better than Greene King if you are not in a Greene King pub. And there are more not Greene King pubs than Greene Kings so it is just good business sense.

I don't get why it matters. Not being a beer snob (I am totally a beer snob) I don't look at the pump clip and say to myself I am not going to try that beer because it isn't handmade in a garage in Islington. That is just stoopid and elitist. Perfectly tasty beer comes out of big brewers.

This is kind of how I have a problem with the terms Craft Beer and Real Ale. So much of it is marketing. I have heard people wax lyrical about a beer and how it is artisanal or craft and that is so much better than big brewery beer only to find that the brand is actually made by Marstons.

I go back basics. Just ignore the brand and brewer and pick the beer with the punniest name. Try it first though of course. To see if, I don't know, it is actually NICE TO DRINK!

The Beer in Review is a blog about beer. Mostly British beer because that is where I live. I post a review every week day. Make sure you check in on Friday which is when I reveal BEER. OF THE. WEEK!