Beer festival sees Greene King launch new lighter ‘old hen’

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BEER lovers visiting this week’s Great British Beer Festival were in for an extraordinary treat as Bury St Edmunds brewer Greene King revealed its newest ale.

Old Golden Hen, a lighter beer than its Old Speckled Hen friend, is brewed to appeal to premium lager drinkers, as well as existing ale drinkers and has proved an instant hit at 4.1 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume).

Festival-goer Tim Barton, 46, said: “I think it’s a lovely beer, they’ve developed something really sophisticated – it’s strong enough for the gents but still mellow enough for the women.”

Bernie Ruffles, landlord of the Fox and Hounds in Thurston, which has been named Camra’s Suffolk Pub of the Year, will be among the first pubs to offer the new brew, which will be served in 500ml bottles.

“I’m immensely proud and deliriously happy,” said head brewer John Bexon, “a lot of people have said that it’s an interesting beer, smooth and easy to drink.”

The brew, created using pale malts and a rare Tasmanian galaxy hop, is the first one that Greene King has ever launched at the prestigious festival, which started on Tuesday and runs until tomorrow in London’s Earl Court.

Among the many varieties of British and international beer and cider on offer, visitors have also been enjoying cask versions of Greene King’s award winning bottled ales, Old Crafty Hen and Very Special IPA, brewed especially for the event.

Excitement had been mounting for Old Crafty Hen, as the beer’s necessary aging process has meant that only 1,000 barrels could be brewed.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” said Greene King’s deputy managing director Steve Magnall.

Marketing director Dom South said: “I’ve been delighted by the reception of the beers we’ve got on our stand, especially the new ones.

“We’ve had everyone – from Camra (Campaign for Real Ale), regular consumers and other interested consumers – praise the beer.”

Camra, which hosts the annual festival, turned 40 this year and Greene King marked the milestone birthday with an impressive beer-shaped cake.