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Hobgoblin - Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd


Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,891 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1891
Reviews: 989
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 14.17%

Brewed by:
Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-15-2002)
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Ratings: 1,891 | Reviews: 989 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of stoutscout

Russian Federation

2.63/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

I tried out this beer several times and probaly it was never meant to work just for me. Its overall appearence was pretty attractive, it looked like any classic strong dark ale really should look like. If I recall it correctly, its smell combined slight notes of caramel and coffee together, which wasn't bad in itself as well. But what didn't strike me too well was the taste of this beverage. Unfortunately enough, every sensation supposed to derive from Hobgoblin became overshadowed by a strong bitterness which couldn't be associated with barley, malt or whatsoever. It truly had an awful alcohol-like bitterness about it and an even worse aftertaste, which almost ruined the whole picture of this ale for me. To be honest, I've had a hard time drinking it as well as finishing the bottle. The quality of this ale might have depended on storage conditions and the time it had to spend on the shelf. Still I'm afraid it couldn't have affected the taste badly.
I must confess I've also tried several other Wychwood varieties including Scarecrow (ex-Circlemaster), Fiddler's Elbow, Black Wych, and Wychcraft. Hobgoblin is by far the least interesting and captivating blend of them all. This, in fact, surprises me greatly (as the brewery itself considers it to be its flagship or core product).
I'm terribly sorry, as I know I'm treating this beer rather callously, but 2.63 is probably the only mark I can give to this ale.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2014 09:11:44 | More by stoutscout
Photo of jlux21

New Jersey

4.05/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice dark English Ale
I enjoy this beer goes well with food doesn't overpower what your eating like many dark beers can. Stands up well by it's self and can be enjoyed year round. I would put it on par with the likes of Bel haven all around smooth and refreshing.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2014 14:15:48 | More by jlux21
Photo of ghisty

New Brunswick (Canada)

3.63/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

pours dark. deep red, as promised on the bottle, very thin head, typical for the style, not over carbbed , well balanced , tight lacing. most if all of the head dissipates to the sides and makes lacing rings for each drink.

sweet, but not the sort of sweet from fruit, more like..a BBQ sauce, its not overly powerful in anyway for the nose, id imagine its smell will increase as it warms.

its smokey, but with a sweet grainey bit that comes in partway thru, slightly slick,
sharp, but not overly bitter, there are tastes of fruit in there , its a pretty complex range , the after taste lingers bitter for a second and then breathes out a bit sweet and nutty, its enjoyable.

like an ESB should be. not overly carbed. with some crispness and good texture,only reason i chose to score it a bit lower on mouth was its a bit slick. not a trait i prefer in a bitter, or any beer for that matter. but .. still good.

im going to wait a min and drink the remainder of this pint until i write the overall..
...*drinks pass*....

these style of beer often miss the mark, for me at least, overly flashy packaging,
claims of legendary styling. ..this stands aside from that generality..
its smokey, but fruity, and malty, yet has a bitterness that comes strong.
its complex. but drinkable, and not heavy, I don't know if it's something I could regularly drink.. but as an option for a beer to enjoy slowly, while relaxing, I could see it's appeal. If the sweet side of dark and bitter is your thing, give this a try.
It's a different offering..but I do enjoy it, and I will be buying again sometime.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2014 00:12:15 | More by ghisty
Photo of Zetcha7x


3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz single from CJ's Doghouse in Lansdale. poured into what I'm told is a porter glass

A-amber color with an inch of off white head that didn't stay around too long. Decent lacing.

S-not a whole lot going on here. Some dark fruits and caramel malts. I kind of pick up on the metallic smell others mentioned.

T-sweet but with a bitter hoppy finish, what you would expect from the smell...some dark fruits and malt flavors...nice

M-light, smooth, slightly creamy, but with that bitter finish

O-nice English ale, pretty much what I was looking for when I made the purchase. sweet and malty but has that little kick at the end. I would definitely have enough.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2014 19:31:40 | More by Zetcha7x
Photo of puboflyons

New Hampshire

3.61/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

From the 330 ml. bottle. Sampled on February 28, 2014.

Very attractive medium to dark amber pour with a modest off-white head that lingers. Beautiful clarity.

The aroma is modest to say the least but there is a nice caramel malty character, light sweetness, and toast to it.

The body is light to medium but smooth.

It tastes like a British Bitter should with an upfront toasted caramel maltiness and an emerging, boastful earthy bitterness that lingers at the end.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2014 23:48:13 | More by puboflyons
Photo of SoupKitchenBeerSnob


2.38/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

Never saw this one before and thought I'd give it a shot. Eeh... Tastes like amateur hour at a local micro brew... Looked good on the pour, but ultimately unsatisfying. There are hints of things, but those elements seem to get muddied by the hops. I can't even recommend this to a hop-head, because the hops-- while being the most pronounced of the flavors-- just come across as weak and half-hearted. Don't think I'll be returning to this one. Nifty looking bottle though.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2014 03:00:27 | More by SoupKitchenBeerSnob
Photo of brewbattles


2.99/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

We conducted a blind taste test with this beer and 5 other brown ales to objectively determine which one was best. The 5 beers were: Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, Lost Coast Downtown Brown, Big Sky Moose Drool, Newcastle Brown, and Wychwood Hobgoblin. You can view the video here:


Serving type: bottle

02-11-2014 17:49:58 | More by brewbattles
Photo of keithmurray

New York

2.95/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - crimson color with beige head

Smell - metallic odor (copper), toffee, grape

Taste - metallic taste comes thru, a bit of toffee and grape

Mouthfeel - medium body, hgh carbonation, metallic and sour in the finish

Overall - I don't know if this is a bad bottle or what but I can't enjoy this. Drain pour

Price point - $1.75/11.2 oz bottle

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2014 01:10:19 | More by keithmurray
Photo of FickleBeast

New Jersey

3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a copper brown color with a slight ring of foam at the top. Aroma is very malty, with plum and sweet crystal malts dominating the nose.

First sip quite malty, with toffee and crystal malt flavors. Minimal bitterness on the finish. This is a simple, sweet, malty beer with a lot crystal malt flavors, but nothing particularly exciting. Solid, enjoyable, and traditional, but nothing that I'd go out of my way to get again unless I was much closer to the source.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2014 03:42:07 | More by FickleBeast
Photo of Dsimenson


3.48/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pilsner. It produces no head, but sim mild lacing that does not cling to the glass as you drink it. It has little aroma--mild malt. Flavor is mild, malt, mild hops, a bit of a chemical aftertaste. Mouthfeel is very bubbly but thin. Overall this is a good ale, not as dark or interesting as my favorite porters, similar in color but not as exciting as a very good red ale.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2014 03:33:56 | More by Dsimenson
Photo of GorgonSed


2.03/5  rDev -45.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Nice dark red-amber color. Clear. No head at all, disappears instantly.

S: Nearly no smell to it. Smells like a raisin box.

T: Sweetness with a bitter end. Metallic notes which are unpleasant. Aftertaste is of cooked white rice.

M: Surprisingly carbonated for the lack of head.

O: Would not have again. Taste is unappealing. I do like the label artwork though.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2013 04:13:50 | More by GorgonSed
Photo of jhartley


3.79/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into a shaker pint glass.

A-Reddish-copper body with a 2 finger head. Great label art and an embossed bottle.

S-Dark ripe fruits - Plums, malts.

T-Raisins, some spiciness-clove(?) and cinnamon.

M-Light carbonation and a nice sweetness, not cloying, carbonation evens it out.

O-A very easy drinking beer, not too sweet, a bitter hop bite on the end.

Originally reviewed 08/22/2012

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2013 11:41:40 | More by jhartley
Photo of Das_Reh


2.58/5  rDev -31%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

I've been seeing this one the shelves for a while now, finally decided to give it a try.

Poured from a bottle into a tulip. Color is a deep mahogany, very little head and little lacing.

Smells of cherries, raisins, perhaps some brown sugar or molasses, somewhat boozy.

Taste is very sweet, cloyingly sweet in my opinion. Cherries, raisins and caramel, sugar and booze. This tastes like a much higher ABV beer than it is, reminds me somewhat of a Belgian dark ale but not in a good way. There is a sharp bitterness but no actual hop flavor, which is a shame because this beer needs it to help balance out the boozy sweetness.

This beer lacks carbonation, which it desperately needs. There is nothing to cut the sweetness and cut the body a bit. This isn't very palatable in my opinion, it's too sweet and difficult to drink. Not quite a drain-pour but not something I'll ever buy again.

I do not like sweet, high alc beers, with few exceptions. This beer, at only 5.5%, tastes like a beer that is 8% or higher, and does not sit well with me. I found the sweetness overwhelming and the alcohol character almost fusel, and there was virtually no hop character to cut the sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2013 10:25:13 | More by Das_Reh
Photo of beergoot


3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice, reddish-copper color with a great, soft foamy head. Strong caramel and toffee aroma; malty. Warm and buttery grain flavors; some spiciness; big hop bitterness at the finish. Medium-light body; somewhat fizzy; semi-dry finish.

A pretty well-rounded ale, flavor and appearance-wise. I even get a bit of rye spiciness with the taste. Kind of rough around the edges with the mouthfeel, though; not as smooth and a tad weak. Still, the pluses outweigh the negatives. Definitely should appeal to those who favor malt-centric beers.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2013 02:51:42 | More by beergoot
Photo of Kevichella

United Kingdom (England)

4.03/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured this from a 330ml bottle into a pint glass. Got a bit over eager and ended up with a big frothy head. It settled down quickly though to leave a small bubbly head

Look: The head is a bit bubbly for my liking, but I love the dark brown colour below it . When held to the light, it gains some warmth

Smell: There is a slight chocolate smell, i'm not sure what else i pick up.

Taste: I read someone had put the taste as raisiny and now tasting this i cannot get that out of my mind, so i'm gonna go with that. Except i don't like raisins but i do like this. There is a chocolatey taste in there too, though it is faint.

Feel: Feels watery and with an ever so slight fizz

Overall: I like this ale, it has a pleasant aftertaste that means it is quite hard to stop going for another sip, and before you know it, you're off to the bar for another pint. Lovely.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2013 18:20:12 | More by Kevichella
Photo of bluedaisyboo

North Carolina

3.76/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A: A nice golden red; slightly darker than I would have expected of the style.

S: Not much of a smell, but the predominant scent is a light raisin bread smell. Overall quite pleasant.

T: Exact what you'd expect from the smell... raisin and a bready malt taste are foremost. Hints of oak, chocolate, and caramel underneath, but the raisin lingers after swallowing.

M: Overall a light mouthful, slightly watery but finishes slightly denser than I would guess from initial sip.

O: A quite pleasant ESVB/ale with moderate bitterness. Easy and enjoyable to drink.... definitely worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2013 01:41:14 | More by bluedaisyboo
Photo of CMUbrew


3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Dark copper-brown color and a clear body. Head only stays full for a few moments. Carbonation doesn't appear to be overly active.

S: Toasty malt aroma, slight earthy hop, just a touch of raisiny oxidation.

T: Sweet caramely malt, a little toasty, and a balancing grassy/earthy hoppiness. Remains a little on the sweet side.

M: Light, but not thin or watery. Carbonation is on the lower end.

O: Overall, a really nice English ale. Definitely makes me want to seek out similar English beers of this style and others.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2013 01:57:03 | More by CMUbrew
Photo of inglebk

South Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a mug.

A: a pretty translucent brown/ amber with an inch and a half white head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Toasty malt and bready yeast. Caramel. Not much for hops.

T: Get the slight hop bitterness that wasn't in the nose. Big biscuit yeast with the roasted malts bringing up the rear. Pretty light. Very sweet.

M: On the watery side but not to the point where it was unenjoyable. Hops left a nice bite and the carbonation was about perfect.

O: Overall I could definitely drink this beer again. I like sweeter, malty beers and this one definitely embodied that. I'll have it again if offered to me.

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2013 05:47:58 | More by inglebk
Photo of admiral


4.16/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Excellent, flavoursome beer and easy to drink

aroma: toffee, caramel, raisin and ripe fruit

taste: toffee, spice, raisin, chocolate, ripe fruit and slight grapefruit

great beer and well balanced - sweet with some nice bitterness to balance it out.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2013 08:34:08 | More by admiral
Photo of Andrew041180


3.24/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A - Poured a predominately brown with amber highlights. Small head recedes quickly, although the film did leave a pleasant lacing on the glass.

S - Very little here. I was at a restaurant and didn't want to act inappropriately, but I took a big whiff and smelled some vaguely sweet malty notes.

T - Not bad, but nothing special. Smooth maltiness on the lighter side.

M - Very smooth, albeit somewhat watery.

O - I wasn't really impressed with this one. It's not offensive, but nothing about it stood out to me as being much above average.

Serving type: bottle

10-13-2013 12:28:17 | More by Andrew041180
Photo of djoprahwinfrey

Manitoba (Canada)

3.61/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - pours a dark brown with some of that ruby red glow at the edges, 1/4 finger of bubble filled tan head, dissipates rather fast leaving nice lacing throughout

S - a pleasant sweet malty aroma, fruity; grape and lemon, a hint of Irish Spring soap

T - malty sweetness, blackberry, tangerine, some sour grape, mild hops near the end, slightly bitter but pleasant finish

M - i found this a bit dry at first but overall wet and refreshing, fairly high carbonation, medium-high bodied, pretty light on the tongue and easy to drink

O - This was my first time trying Hobgoblin and i thought it had some very tasty and interesting flavors and aroma. It looked good and tasted good. This was well balanced. I enjoyed this more than i first thought i would so i am glad i picked this one up.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2013 09:26:58 | More by djoprahwinfrey
Photo of BeerBateo

Ontario (Canada)

3.19/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured into my fast food mug, it reminds me of expired juice (minus the mother).

See: Clear, watered down blood color with very little bubbles. Nice beige head 2 1/2 fingers high but shrinks quickly, to a small ring with a very thin cover on top. Wonderful lacing resembling spooky hallowe'en type shapes (vampire fangs, grim reaper pointing finger, goblin profile, hanging one-legged woman, eyes of every kind and flying bat). Maybe this beer is "laced" with something extra to enhance its effect.

Smell: Hamster pee, a bit of syrupy pancakes and well-used Scottish country dance shoe aroma.

Taste: mildly sweet, blandish beer like blend.

Hear: Thought I heard a tingling sound but realized it was my earing hitting the glass.

Feel: Watery with a bite, then smoothness turning bitter to the end.

Blanket: I like the label better than the beer but will buy it again because I am under its spell.

AKA: Be Nice or Be Cursed

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2013 01:47:13 | More by BeerBateo
Photo of CalgaryFMC

Alberta (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark red amber to brown, with light caramel colored foam. Aroma is sweet and nutty, with a decent blast of fruit. This beer is malt forward but with a lot of fruity character as well. Caramel and sweet bitter nuts (like pecans) along with earthy hops and raisins, bramble fruit (raspberries). The brown sugar combines with sour fruit and bitter nuts to yield a pleasant complexity (albeit less complex than Fuller's ESB), yet the body renders the beer quite drinkable. Solid bitter or mild ale with a tea leaf dry finish and nice hoppiness compared to macrobrewed examples of the style. I also get a sanguine tang in the finish. Wouldn't do much different other than maybe temper the bitter finish a little.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2013 01:39:52 | More by CalgaryFMC
Photo of BMMillsy


3.81/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber from the bottle with a small off white head. Aroma of big dark fruit, black cherry, figs, plums, raisins, some bites, sweet candy sugar, some yeast. Really smells like a quad. Flavor follows the dark fruit with some cherry and slight bitter. Medium bodied, a bit slick, with low medium carbonation. This comes off as a Belgian dark ale to me, and is not bad at all.

Serving type: bottle

09-19-2013 23:47:50 | More by BMMillsy
Photo of cbutova


3.61/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Crimson red ale into a tulip from the 12oz bottle. Small off-white head forms to about one finger with a foamy-creamy texture. Falls to a thick ring and cloud atop the beer fairly quickly and the beer itself appears like it might be low in the carbonation department. The small ring leaves fairly impressive webs of thin lace.

S- Malty and fruity up front. A nice sweet, dark caramel malted grain aroma blends in nicely with the esters from the English Ale yeast strain. Brown sugar, toffee, toasted grains, nutty malts and bread also comes to mind. Some earthy hop aromas.

T- Malts, yeast and hops all come together nicely in a multi-dimensional flavor. Malts lends depth to the taste with caramel, toasted nuts, biscuit and very slight roast notes. Hops are earthy, grassy and herbal and just below the level of malt flavor but moderate in strength overall. Yeast brings everything together with fruity esters (raisin, fig, cherry come to mind) and some fresh bread hints.

MF- Medium-light bodied overall feel with a noticeable lack of carbonation. Texture is close to being watery but still silky enough despite the lack of bubbles. Moderate bitterness lingers on the palate in the finish.

Solid ESB that has Brown Ale elements with the high use of toasted and even roast grains. A low end carbonation takes away from a beer that could truly shine.

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2013 03:17:02 | More by cbutova
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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
84 out of 100 based on 1,891 ratings.