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Hobgoblin - Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,100 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,100
Reviews: 1,007
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 13.87%
Wants: 61
Gots: 131 | FT: 0
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,100 | Reviews: 1,007 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.23/5  rDev -13.9%

Pours a medium caramel brown with a short head that quickly dissappears.

Smells lightly of toffee with a faint hop background. Not much there.

Taste is not bad, but not a homerun. Very malty woth a treacly flavor and an underlying saltiness. Sort of like saltwater taffy thats been a little carmelized? There is even a little bit of iodine on the finish. Somewhat intriguing flavors, but nothing spectacular here.

Mouthfeel is very soft with light carbonation.

Somewhat drinkable, but a little sticky and bland for my taste.

Georgiabeer, Nov 19, 2006
Photo of JoeyHotrod
3.75/5  rDev 0%

Not a bad beer here, just not a great one either.

Nice looking enough with a dark black color and decent head.

The smell is dried fruit mostly, though some malt sneaks in as well.

The taste is malty with just enough hops to let you know they are there.

As mentioned before this is by no means a great beer, it is however a decent enough drinker and I wouldn't be opposed to enjoying another one from time to time.

JoeyHotrod, Nov 16, 2006
Photo of stcules
2.98/5  rDev -20.5%

Deep red. Scarce foam, not long lasting.
English ale typical smell. Frutiy (orange), and some caramel.
At the taste the same notes, with a new dried fruits note. Caramel, and quite malty. Licorice and dried fruits.
Pleasant and drinkable. Quite good body.
Same in the aftertaste, with even some roasted hint, licorice and dried frutis. Quite long.

stcules, Nov 12, 2006
Photo of JanM
4/5  rDev +6.7%

The name and the transparent bottle has kept me away from this beer for a long time. But recently my wife bought one by mistake. She was looking for Scottish beer in Edinburgh and returned with it, I'm ashamed to admit. It poured with a darkish red-brown color. A small amount of foam settled quickly. The smell was of roasted malts, sweet bread, herbs and citrus. The bitter IPA:ish taste was of sweet oranges with bread notes. Maybe a hint of that advertized chocolate too. I did not think I would like this beer but I actually do.

JanM, Nov 07, 2006
Photo of BuckSpin
3.75/5  rDev 0%

In that this was a new tap at my favorite haunt in Belfast (Rollie's) I decided to give it a try.

A pretty beer, sharply crisp & clear, warm, subset-brassy, tea stained hue. A nice parade of carbonation from the bottom, head was 1 finger of tight cream colored foam that faded quickly, however it laced the glass innards like curtains....cool.

Nose was light, some wood tones, mild fruit, a little yeast peek, some subtle spice.

Its initially crisp, sharp on the tongue, roast malts, even, a little earthy. The hop bitterness bites softly & rises on the pallete and lingers on the swallow, then fades. No real aftertaste to speak of, some lite bitter tones if anything.

It was refreshing, but seemed confused. Like a roller coaster it peaked early, then all downhill. It wasn't bad, but it didn't really impress or wow me. It did go well with my burger & fries. I would recommend trying it, and I would drink it again if nothing else caught my eyes (and tastebuds).

BuckSpin, Nov 06, 2006
Photo of xav33
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%

Wychwood Hobgoblin
500 ml bottle
Recent brewing, spellbound 11/06
Medium pour in a Hobgoblin gift set shaker glass!

Poured a clear ruddy brown with an off white frothy mostly lasting head with good lacing.

Smelt of moderate nuts, veggies, light coffee and earthiness.

Taste was upfront moderate sweet toffee and bitter mild coffee and flowery, almost citrusy, hops followed by a rustic yeasty and burnt malt bitterness on a mostly light bitter wet earth long finish. Mouthfeel was light, watery, and softly carbonated.

Overall, the flavors and aromas aren't extremely bold or complex, but distinct and clean. Easy drinking and tasty.

xav33, Nov 05, 2006
Photo of terrabyte
3.68/5  rDev -1.9%

Pours a clear, dark ruby brown color. Since this was served at a bar, I didn't see any head.

Aroma consists of creamy roasted malts, toffee, and nuts.

A roasted malt base, creamy caramel, some chocolate, faint wood, and quite nutty. It ended in a healthy dose of hops and bitterness. I'm not quite sure, but it seems that there wasn't enough room for the nutty flavor and the bitterness. They seemed to clash, and it was a little distracting. I really wanted to enjoy the nutty flavor, but it wasn't very consistent.

Mouthful was creamy, medium body.

I had no problem ordering more than one of these tonight. Problem at this location is that it has serious competition on tap next to it. Definitely worth a try and a retry, but for me they just fell short of perfection by trying to be too many things at once.

terrabyte, Nov 04, 2006
Photo of chilidog
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%

A fine english ale to be had. I got thisone as a gift with the pending Holloween in mind.
It poured a nice reddish copper with a tan head that spotted lace. The aroma of a sweet malt, toffee and churned butter. The taste was that of the sweet malt, toffee some chocolate with a slight hop bitterness towards the finish.
The beer is smooth, silk like, yet the mouth is left with a yeasty finish.

chilidog, Oct 28, 2006
Photo of HoustonTX
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%

The infamous Hobgoblin. Let's check this one out.

Dark ruby in color, with a large fluffy white head. Carbonation looks well done. Smell has an aged dark chocolate malt flavor about it. Bourbon aged in nature. Cherries and toffee follow soon after as undertones.

Upfront has a solid chocolate/toffee malt backbone. Neither sweet, or bitter. Just balanced, and pleasing to the palate. Along, with getting some cherries and leafy hops in the finish.. Solid brown ale, and unique in it's taste blend. Mouthfeel is creamy, and tingly on the palate. Euphoric to a certain extent. Drinkability is good.

A solid English Ale all around.

HoustonTX, Oct 21, 2006
Photo of BeerSox
2.68/5  rDev -28.5%

500mL brown bottle into mug.

Extremely dark ruby red, making a brown appearance. Light tan solid head slowly disolves into a razor thin cap.

Very mild smells, somewhat stale fruit scents.

Light bodied barely roasty malts with a very thin taste. Bitter finish (maybe from some hops?), with a metallic lingering feeling. Not much complexity to this one.

This one seemed like it was missing some of the characteristics that I usually find in English Brown Ales. It also seemed a little bland and watered down. I don't think I'll be revisiting this one.

BeerSox, Oct 15, 2006
Photo of hckyfn9999
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%

Pours a hazy orangish brown color with a small head that doesnt last all too long and leaves a thin layer of lacing.

There are toffee, carmel and some hops present in the smell as well as a little bit of a skunky smell.

Taste is sweet initially with the toffee and carmel dominant followed by a hoppy bitterness. Pretty pleasant taste. No skunkiness that was present in the smell.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are both pretty good. Not a bad brew that I may purchase again.

hckyfn9999, Oct 15, 2006
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%

12 oz bottle.

AP: Deep and clear, reddish brown with amazing red hues. Thin, white head, really good activity.

Nose: Sweet malt with molasses and a fruityness and some minor nutty smokiness.

Taste: A nice complex malt with nuts and oats and wheat flavors, finishes with a leafy mildly bitter hop.

MF: Medium body, feels light on the palate, dry with a good bite.

DA: Not exactly hard to drink.

GratefulBeerGuy, Oct 12, 2006
Photo of BlackHaddock
3.9/5  rDev +4%

I have always drank this in cask condition before (draught in a pub) and liked it very much. I haven't tried it in a bottle before, this review is for the bottled variety, I haven't had a draught one since joining the BA world.

The bootle version is not (in my opinion) as good as the cask, but here goes anyway.

Looks good, dark amber, ruby brown in colour, with an inch high off-white, cream coloured head, which stayed throughout the pint, although it was a lot thinner by the end.

Sweet and malty, with a hint of fruit, apples maybe, not sure.

A good honest ale taste, a little sweet, but to my tastebuds, about right. Malty aftertaste which stays until the next mouthful.

Fairly thick, it hangs around for a time, not heavy, but a pleasant body to the beer.

Very drinkable in my book, still prefer the draught, but after a hard days work and 3 hours on a University course and then a drive home, this beer did the trick and I was normal again half way through it.

BlackHaddock, Oct 04, 2006
Photo of GimpyCane
2.3/5  rDev -38.7%

When I first spotted this beer I thought this would be a winner, but I really wasn't impress. Nice ruby red pour w/ a hint of toffee and maple syrup but that is about all for this brew. Sweet start and ending w/ not enough body or taste. Remember this is only my opinion.

GimpyCane, Sep 25, 2006
Photo of WetCoaster
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%

Appearance: Deep ruby with brown undertones. Firm off-white head with great retention.

Smell: Chocolate and coffee, smoky malt right off the bat, but a general, round sweetness is the end result.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Pretty much as promised; dark chocolate, bittering hops, metallic hard water bite, a bit of chewy maltiness, though no real defined fruit flavors. The mouthfeel is light and crisp.

Drinkability: Good. Perhaps a bit less robust than the label boasted, but a solid brown ale.

WetCoaster, Sep 23, 2006
Photo of pweis909
2.9/5  rDev -22.7%

One pint, 9 oz bottle, CLEAR. This is an important distintion. I recently just tried Wychwood's Fiddler's Elbow, which came in a brown bottle. I had hoped that the dark malt in Hobgoblin might prevent skunking. Wrong. BEWARE IF SKUNKAGE!

This brew is dark brown, translucent, with thin white foam.

Alas, the brew smells and tastes of skunked hops. I'll be honest. I don't mind skunkage. It's a taste that I actually kind of dig, andis is pretty much the only way I know certain beers that I like, or at least, don't mind (e.g., Becks). But I can't help but think the skunkage dominates the smell and taste to an extent the the brewer's intentions are poorly served. Particularly an import, which is going to have a lot of opportunity to skunk. Sadly, the folks at Wychwood would be better putting this in brown bottles.

Texture is promising, drinkability all depends on your tolerance for skunk.

Some folks have argued that you shouldn't review a beer if you know it is off. I counter, that this beer is off in a way that the brewers could compensate for, so they need to deal.

Even skunked, I find this is a likeable beer, but it could be much more.

pweis909, Sep 11, 2006
Photo of klewis
3.03/5  rDev -19.2%

Brown 12 oz. bottle

A: Pours copper with a small head and clingy carbonation. No lace.

S: Malty smell with caramel and honey aromas.

T: Like the smell. Very light and subtle in flavor.

M: Light bodied with fine carbonation.

D: Session, session, session. That's this beer's calling, and for my tastes, its only good purpose.

klewis, Sep 08, 2006
Photo of barefootbrewer
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%

This beer poured a brown color with a small head. The smell was malty, sweet and slightly floral. The taste is malty and a bit sweet with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The mouthfeel is full but not thick or chewy. I'd consider this a very drinkable beer.

barefootbrewer, Sep 05, 2006
Photo of Clockwork420
2.17/5  rDev -42.1%

Hole in the wall shop - $7.00 OR $8.00 4pk cans (Wychwood.com)

I poured The can into a glass in a perfect swoop. There was zero head, But a little lacing. Just the smallest amount on the edge of my glass. There was no bubbles. Completely still.

The smell was fairly sweet. Didnt really notice anything special really.

The color was a dark Red in the light. And almost as dark as a Draught from Guiness without the bright light present. Beautiful Presentation overall. Pretty Impressive.

Light on the palate. Intensely sweet. Wow. Really sweet.
This would also be my first ale. Sugary. Very sweet. Almost overbearing.

Oddly, its easy to drink. Goes down easy, and its not too bad. Just really sweet. But since its my first Ale I will be generous.

To put it simply. Dont buy unless you want to drink a sweet easy Ale. If your a Guiness guy like me, Maybe try it if you want somthing new. If not stray away. Chimay kinda?

(Not to mention it was the last 4 pack of cans there. That may have somthing to do with it?)


Clockwork420, Sep 04, 2006
Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Compared to the bottle, the beer pours a lighter-than-expected brown with ruby and golden highlights. Well carbonated and shows nice retention and lacing. The tap blends the flavors into a very suble yet heavied sweetness, hiding the chocolates, fruits, and nutty flavors. The flavors take on malty sweetness without the differentiating flavors that I noticed in the bottle. Though nice, smooth, and malty rich, the character is a bit empty without the individual flavors and fruitiness noticed. But this won't keep me from trying another.

BEERchitect, Aug 26, 2006
Photo of TexIndy
3.48/5  rDev -7.2%

Re-review on 7/11/10: Poured from a 11.2oz bottle that I got in the BOMC. Code on neck but couldn't decypher it but assume fresh enough since in the shipment. Was cola colored with slight carb streams. It had an average sized head that settled into a collar and thin foam cap. Good sheeting but none sticking.

The aroma was caramel and toffee malt with a slight biscuit quality. Also had some dark fruits to sweeten it. Good for the style. The taste follows the aroma but is a bit sweeter. The dark fruit and the caramel are dominant with not much else to offset it. A bit too sweet to have many of these at a time. Back in my malt heavy days this would have been a good one. But in my current hoppy phase this one lacks complexity in both aroma and taste. The mouthfeel was light with a watery element to it. Good carb and decent aftertaste.

Overall, a great beer for the style but just a good beer for what I'm wanting these days. A bit too sweet in aroma and taste. Needs something to offset it. Recommend if you like the style. Avail here in TX. Rotation - it's good for what it is but I like more complexity and hops these days so while glad I tried it again this is enough for now. [N;N]

Original 8/23/06 review: 4/3.5/3.5/3/3.5: Poured from a 500ml clear bottle with no freshness date. Had some foam, little lacing and light carbonation. Smell was chocolaty/toffee, coffee smell. Mouthfeel was a little watery but the taste was pretty good. I had on draft at the Saucer and it tasted much better there so I may have had a few bad samples or just one incredible draft so only a 3.5 drinkability for now but if I can repeat the draft it's a 4. (3.5, RR, T,Y)

TexIndy, Aug 23, 2006
Photo of headlessparrot
3.03/5  rDev -19.2%

My sister was compelled to buy me a bottle of Wychwood's Hobgoblin based entirely on the image adorning the bowling-pin shaped bottle's front. This is, of course, a testament to the power of marketing - something that many craft brewers should note. I'd previously tried Wychwood's Fiddler's Elbow and wasn't impressed - but for free, I'm willing to give anything a chance.

Appearance is nice. Obviously, Wychwood's bottle presentation is pretty brilliant, but it also pours nicely from the brown (they've recently switched from clear glass) 500mL bottle into my pint glass a surprisingly light colour for an English Brown Ale (at least in my experience). It's sort of a reddish-auburn-copper shade. Capped by two fingers of good-looking head that subsides to about a half-finger, but lasts at that level. A fair bit of lacing rounds out the look. Respectable, but I've seen many brown ales in my day.

Smell is malty. Mostly roasted malt, toffee, perhaps a slight hint of chocolate. Nutty. Buttery yeast. Licorice. A touch of dark fruit (raisins? plums?). No real hopping detectable. Somewhat generic. More complex than... say Newcastle, but not more tempting, unfortunately.

As for taste, wow is this beer pretty dry. From the moment it hits my tongue I can just feel the dryness, which isn't especially appealing on a warm day. Roasted malt, however, makes it fairly appealing. Toffee, bitter chocolate, a touch of barely detectable hop twang on the finish. Buttery yeast. Nutty... but an almost unpleasant nuttiness. Some indistinct fruity characters. Reminds me a bit of Muskoka Brewing's Brown Ale, which I was not at all impressed with. Finishes - obviously - quite dry, and leaves a sort of chewy barley taste in the mouth. Not bad, but I'm not particularly impressed.

Mouthfeel, in its defense, isn't too bad. Carbonation levels are appropriate, and aside from the chewiness of the beer, the body is fairly nice. Drinkability, however, isn't great. The dryness just makes it impossible to session and difficult to stomach. Like I said, it's not bad at all, it's just not nearly as appetizing as any number of English Brown Ales - most of which are simpler, but much tastier.

Wychwood seems to have a problem. Their marketing is easily able to sell the first bottle, but for me at least, they've never been able to seal the deal and sell me the second one. I might sample their other varieties, but I can't say I'll ever be on the lookout for one of their beers. Worth a try, I suppose, but colour me generally unimpressed.

headlessparrot, Aug 22, 2006
Photo of TheFeintingGoat
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%

Pleasantly surprised finding this at a local deli. 1 pt. .9 oz. bottle of, as the cap says, "The Legendary Hobgoblin". A bit pricey at 3.99 a bottle.

A - Looks very nice, on the whole a dark color that resembles raspberry iced tea. Moderate head that dissipates to a resiliant film.
S - Smell of apples and cider permeates the mix; a fresh, crisp odor overall. Quite nice.
T - There are some caramel/sweet tones on the front that segue into a nice bite on the tounge. There is a stringent feeling in the middle that becomes very tart. On the very back there is a cappucino type roast bean flavor that permeates a wonderful aftertaste.
M - The mouthfeel is ok, the balance between the tart and roast flavor seems out of whack, and the overall feeling is that of a taste war.
D - This beer is a bit too tart to session, however this doesn't linger after the drink is done. Overall it's a tasty beer that gets a bit too tart at times, but still moderatly drinkable. I'd buy again, but only if it was not in summer. It, and the style's, unique taste pallette offer something different than what I can get up here normally, and for this I am grateful.

TheFeintingGoat, Aug 22, 2006
Photo of vancurly
2.88/5  rDev -23.2%

Copper, with light beige head that fades.
Noticable hop aroma, which I think is Fuggles. Dark sugar/toffee, choc malt notes. Touch of banana ester. Even some ripe plumminess.
Flavour again showing banana, some subtle coffee, but not much else. A bit disappointing on the palate.
The nose promises a lot, but the taste doesn't really live up to it. It is drinkable, but for $9 AU, it is not worth it.

vancurly, Aug 21, 2006
Photo of trevorwideman
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%

500ml Bottle poured into a pint glass. Dark, nearly opaque brown with a hint of ruby. Pours with a 1/4 inch cola-like head and a medium carbonation, from what I can see through the murk. Leaves very little lace. Smell is sweet, almost candy-like, some plum aromas, roasted malt.

Taste is quite sweet but very mellow. Roasted cocoa, dark chocolate, caramel, butter, nuts, fruitcake. Almost a bit Christmassy. Hop character is extremely mild, there's a slight metallic acidity somewhere in the middle of it all, but if not for that and the roasted flavour, this would be way too sweet for my liking. Fortunately it's not that bad. Mouthfeel is full bodied and extremely creamy with a mild carbonation. I find this a refreshing change from so many thin-bodied English ales. Maybe a bit sweet, but extremely drinkable.

trevorwideman, Aug 17, 2006
Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
85 out of 100 based on 2,100 ratings.