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Hobgoblin | Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

1,069 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-15-2002

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Reviews: 1,069 | Ratings: 2,530
Photo of woomThomas
2.78/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

The beer is not clear and has a dark brown color. The foam is beige with large bubbles. The foam disappears leisurely quickly and leave fine traces. The aroma of caramel and syrup loaf. Aromas of caramel. A little beef-like notes and bread. The taste is slightly sweet and medium bitterness. Roasted notes, roasted malt, caramel. There are some nuts and spices. Easy medium body. Soft and slightly greasy. Medium carbonation.

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Photo of SuperRevs96
3.33/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Special ordered this beer after a friend of mine went to the brewery and really liked it.
Poured into a glass.
Look: Rich red color, very thin head, heavy lacing on the glass.
Smell: Subtle caramel aroma.
Taste: Malty with caramel, tiny hints of bitterness
Feel: Not very carbonated, thin, pretty drinkable.
Overall: Pretty good, good balance of caramel, pretty drinkable. My friend didn't disappoint!

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Photo of Beginner2
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed in Roger Protz' CAMRA classic "300 Beers To Try Before You Die!"
Listed in the "1001 Beers To Drink Before You Die," this one will have to wait for my review as I can't find my notes.

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Photo of JustLikeMyDad
2.89/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured into a glass mug.

Pours dark, like coffee, not much of a foam head, foam sits around the edge of the glass.

Smells nutty, maybe a caramel note.

Tastes like roasted malts and maybe a little nutty.

Feels thin, not a lot of carbonation and drinks very easy.

Overall, it's pretty good stuff, easy to drink and enjoy. Plus the name and label are pretty cool.

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Photo of q33jeff
2.79/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

AROMA: Pleasant but weak....caramel, malt.
LOOK: Deep Dark Caramel color.
TASTE: Nutty, caramel, bread. slightly soapy
FEEL: very light carbonation,

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Photo of kitschiguy
4.19/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Writing as I drink.

500ml bottle poured into English pint glass.

Dark ruby brown with a nice fluffy off-white head to light brown head that faded gradually but left lots of lacing.

Nose is lovely but not assertive. Malt, caramel, brown sugar.

Palate is very nice - brown sugar, caramel, toffee and a little coffee. Very malty with low bitterness.

Mouth is a bit light which was disappointing but it's well balanced on the palate.

Overall this is very nice. fairly easy drinking and sessionable. This is an interesting beer. It reminds me of a light chocolate stout/stout with less bitterness.

Beeradvovate calls it an ESB while the brewery calls it a "Ruby Beer" which I think is a much better description. Compare it to Fullers ESB - and it's completey different. Thumbs-up for the ruby beers!

Highly recommended.

*edited because I'm already on my second beer and already feeling a bit squiffey - I forgot to finish the review

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Photo of Grindelvasdrum
4.2/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pint bottle poured into glass stein.
A-Black with pretty red copper that shines through
about the edges when held up to the light. 1.4 inch head
that faded quickly. Mild lacing.

S-Faint sweet caramel, woodsy, roasted malt.
T-Strong bitter that endures throughout, burnt brown sugar, nutty, woodsy, earthy
with a mineral quality. Hints of charcoal, coffee & roasted malts.

M-Moderate carbonation with good creaminess
O-I really like the complexity of the flavors with sweet, bitter & earthy.
It's a beer I've had multiple times through the years & will hopefully again.
I can see why a hobgoblin would like it too!

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Photo of Dentist666
3.62/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

0,44l can.
Pours clear ruby beer with thick beige head, good retention, some laces.
Smell - somewhat fruity, caramel.
Taste - toasted malts, dark fruits, decent hop bitterness.
Smooth body, soft to medium carbonation.

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Photo of Delbertogrady
3.94/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark beer with hints of red. Needs a fairly robust pour to develop a reasonable head that is off white with hints of red/brown.
Got an almost fruity/berry aroma which was very pleasant.
The fruity/berry flavours continued on the tongue, and lingered for the aftertaste with a pleasant feel on the tongue.

Overall a very nice beer.

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Photo of josanguapo
3.84/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Can vs bottle. From cervezasespeciales (bottle) and carrefour huelva (can). In Ikea's english pint glass. Watching Sons of Anaechy 7x10. High drinkability and good balance between sweetness and bitterness. One of the best usage of english hops ive seen. Not much difference between can and bottled version. They use a good can! Maybe can version feels a bit more smooth and bottle version feels a bit more bitter? Not sure...

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Photo of D-HopSupreme
4.07/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby body with an almost yellow foam for a head. The scent is very boozy, with some notes of malt and very sharp English hops coming through. The taste has high bitterness along with some neat dark fruit notes and a bit of spiciness. Despite its bitterness, the beer is very smooth. Overall an enjoyable bitter.

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Photo of stevoj
3.69/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This is what I consider a classic British ale. All is right in nose, taste and color. Soft smoky, peaty aroma, dark cola/ice tea color, thin beige head, taste is oak barrel, peat, hops and malt. Would like to enjoy this by a roaring fire on a cold, wet day in the English countryside.

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.1/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: crystal clear; medium brown - looks thin, like watered down cola; <1 finger off white head that receded quickly to a very thin collar; no lacing;

S: sweet, dark fruit, caramel, toffee;

T: nutty sweetness up front; a little tobacco from the middle through the finish; mild bitterness at the end; a hint of smokiness in the aftertaste;

M: light to medium bodied; light to moderate carbonation; lightly dry finish;

O: a malt lover's dream; can't tell how old this is - no date stamp, only a code;

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Photo of BranfordBound
3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep ruby color, clear, with a frothy head from a mildly aggressive pour. Leaves great lacing along the side of the glass. Smell is fruit and malt dominant, sweet raisin. Taste is a little bread and toffee sweetness, then that malt comes out in full force, very dark and fruity, finishes clean with bitterness, a hint of herbal and earthy hops at the most. Body is medium, very smooth and easy drinking beer, best served around 50 degrees F to start. Overall a nice English ale.

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Photo of MaximalC
3.46/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a transparent plum-bronze color with a fine, tan, frothy head. Aroma smells of honey, toffee, and earthy, herbal hops.

The mild, balanced taste features apple skin, noble hops, some nuts, and traces of caramel. It reminds me very much of an Oktoberfest, to be honest. Warming introduces some toasted bread and tea. Medium body and moderate, fine carbonation make for the smooth, creamy mouthfeel so commonly found in English ales.

Overall, this is a palatable session beer with just enough going on to give you something to something to ponder, though it hardly demands attention. I tend to prefer much bolder beers, so take my appraisal with a grain of salt.

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Photo of SitkaSteve
4.22/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This was poured into an English pint glass.
The appearance was a hazy burnt orange color with a one finger white foamy head that dissipated at a nice pace. Some white foamy lace roamed around the glass.
The smell had the sweet English malts up front with a light toffee, nuts, light biscuits and a little bit of coffee to balance.
The taste was mainly sweet through the malts. Coffee is mostly not there. There's a long lingering malty aftertaste arranging into a semi-sweet wet finish.
The mouthfeel was about light to medium bodied with a crisp sweet sessionable feel all around. Somewhat creamy, lingering.
Overall, in my opinion, this one is definitely a very nice ESB and quite welcoming at this time of the year. Also, definitely a great pairing with fish n'chips.

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Photo of LennyOvies
3.28/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Best by date: May 31, 2016.

L- Dark ruby red, clear, filtered. Very light carbonation visible. Creamy tan head, persistent, nice retention, good lacing.
S- Faint caramel malts, not much going on nose.
T- Chocolate, toffee, toasted grains. Leaves a dull roasted aftertaste.
F- Medium, slightly watery.
O- Good decent beer. Expected more from the ratings above.

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Photo of Malt_Man
3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served at cellar temperature into pint mug.

L) Dark copper colour, clear, off-white bubbly film.

S) Fairly weak odour of roasted malt.

T) Nicely toffee-ish roast malt bitterness.

F) Clean mouthfeel, a nice bit of fizz and no wrong aftertastes.

O) Decent beer, worth a try. I suspect this one has subtle aspects that work well on cask.

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Photo of Oleg85
3.69/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

L: Clear brown, 3-4 fingers tall thick beige head that doesn't reduce much.
S: Smells more like lager. A bit malty, a bit hoppy, dried fruits.
T: Nice, the same as smell. Dry and slightly bitter finish (35 IBU I think).
А: Light-bodied, low carbonation.

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Photo of superspak
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle into pint glass, 4BFH bottle code. Pours slightly hazy deep reddish copper color with a 2 finger dense and rocky light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of caramel, brown sugar, light toffee, toasted bread, light nuttiness, herbal, wood, grass, light plum/apple, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, moderate earthy hops, and restrained yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of big caramel, brown sugar, light toffee, toasted bread, light nuttiness, herbal, wood, grass, light plum/apple, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate herbal/woody bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, toasted bread, light nuttiness, wood, and herbal/toasted earthiness after the finish for a good bit. Awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, moderate earthy hops, and restrained yeast ester flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/bready, and slightly sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish as expected of 5.2%. Overall this is an excellent ESB style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, moderate earthy hops, and restrained yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of KGilmour
4.59/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: ruby red in sunlight, light head.

Smell: Malty, roasty, chocolate. Not overpowering.

Taste: Rich notes of chocolate and roasty malt. Caramel. Maybe a hint of cherry. Finish is slightly acidic--almost citrus, but not. Much like a perfect blend of a dark ale and a lighter European lager. Delicious.

Feel: Light and smooth. Slightly creamy.

Overall: This is an easy drinking ale, well rounded and flavorful, without a huge ABV or a heavy feel.

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Photo of mynamewastakendamnit
3.24/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

From the 500 mL into a pint glass.

L: A really nice looking dark ruby color. Would've been a perfect looking beer if the off-white head hadn't immediately dissipated. That was disappointing, but otherwise it's fantastic looking. A bit cloudy but with a really intense red color.

S: Chocolatey and kinda sweet. Maybe a bit bready? Earthy and floral notes.

T: A nice roasted dark chocolate taste. Some malty sweetness, almost buttery. A nice balance between sweet and bitter imo.

F: Light. Swirls around the glass like water, with almost zero lacing. It's got a nice dry finish and while I'd prefer a thicker body, it's pretty sessionable if that's what you're after. Light to medium carbonation.

O: Not bad. Not amazing either. A little on the lighter side but it has a pretty great taste and smell to it. Overall hobgoblin is a pretty solid drink. Something I'd recommend for somebody looking to try a moderately complex dark ale.

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Photo of Beer_Rabbit66
3.94/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look is a dark ruby, tall large head 3 fingers high, and it stays around the whole time you enjoy it.
Smell strong malty but this is brilliant in my opinion
The taste is great, really malty but not to Bitter, nice crisp finish, leaves the palate with a smooth malty taste which lingers.
Feel is so smooth and plesent, it goes down really really well, crisp finish.
Overall a great beer. This and a nice cosy pub in the country
= best combination

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Photo of Ant777uk
3.12/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Intense dark ruby colour with foamy head.

Loving the deep mystical hoppiness of the aroma, possibly that is partly the incense I am burning.

The feel is creamy and foamy.

About 10 years ago this was one of my favorite UK beers, many fond memories of drinking it on tap at the Kings Head in Guildford during summer. It is better at room temperature than straight from the fridge, definitely..! The complexity of it's taste does not match a Belgian ruby beer or a Polish Mocne. It fares better when compared with an English bitter at room temperature.

So in conclusion, I used to really like this, though from tasting it today, it is actually not that great. It has a fizzy water taste to it (like fizzy water has been mixed with beer), which is kind of how I would expect a tesco value beer to taste. If they made this into a 10% beer it would be quite good.

I am sure it is much better on tap. The bottle does not seem to have the same flavour, however this review is for the bottle.

Though I would much rather drink this than the standard Euro lager, that uninteresting men in pubs and students seem to like...

However, currently Hobgoblin is £1.25 in Waitrose I believe and possibly even less in Aldi, so top notch value, however still more expensive than a Polish Mocne, which I would much rather have.

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Photo of bendythumb
4.81/5  rDev +29.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

To aptly summarize my review below -- this is probably the closest thing to a perfect beer for my palate!

The experience of Hobgoblin begins with the bottle itself -- a traditional, old-fashioned bottle shape with majestic, fantasy-themed artwork combined with beautiful typography that suits the aesthetic of the brew within.

When poured into glass, the brew is a very dark and burnt red; a colour combination between amber and ember. A small amount of head is present. When held up to light, the red essence within the brew glows within a brown shell -- like the fire within a goblin's forge.

The smell is fairly weak - but notes of chocolate, yeast and malts are present in the nose. The subdued smell of the brew stands juxtaposed to the taste of it; a clever trick played upon human tasters by the goblin brewmasters.

Drunk extremely cold, a strong taste of yeast and malt is present, with moderate notes of chocolate and toffee. As she warms, a cornucopia of flavours explodes with every sip. Sweet fruity overtones perfectly balance the heavy richness of the malts. While I usually dislike a strong yeast presence, the brew offsets a heavy yeast presence with these fresh, sugary notes.

The mouthfeel of the beer is magnificent. It can be best described as heavy (yet not thick), with a moderate amount of carbonation and a hefty amount of crispness. I love the thick, almost sludgy consistency of a stout; but this type of mouthfeel isn't perfect for every occasion. While this brew goes down as easy as a pilsner, the explosion of taste and heaviness of flavour is a definite sign that you're drinking a true brew.

Overall, Hobgoblin is akin to a symphony composed by Beethoven; a perfect balanced brew for any occasion. The traditional and fantasy-themed aesthetic of the beer fits the brew itself perfectly. In an era where American adjunct lagers run rampant, and the hyper-corporate macrobreweries create millions of bottles of tasteless pseudobeer for the unthinking masses, Hobgoblin stands in stark contrast to brews drunk by filthy casuals. Get ready to hold hands with goblins and dance around their goblin-sized campfire!

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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
84 out of 100 based on 1,069 ratings.