Hobgoblin - Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

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very good

2,253 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,253
Reviews: 1,026
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 13.83%
Wants: 68
Gots: 207 | FT: 1
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: 2,253 | Reviews: 1,026 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SirChugsAlot
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured a dark brown with hints of red when held up to a light with an off white head that left nice lacing on the glass smells of nutty and hoppy yummyness. taste just as it smells not too bitter. nice carbonation and crisp. if this was locally available i'd probably drink this one from time to time.

Photo of StargherKing
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this out of a bottle last time, trying it in a can now. Pours a chestnut brown with hints of red. Light, fluffy yellowish head that quickly dissipates. Smell is hops, a nuttiness, and a hint of malt. Taste is much the same, with just a hint of yeasty bread. I didn't notice nearly as much hop flavor last time, it seemed a lot nuttier. Mouthfeel is crisp and refreshing, good carbonation. Drinkability would be a lot better if I liked hops. I don't know if I was just having an off day this time or if I need to stick with the bottled version of this particular fantasy creature, but either way it's not going to kill the beer for me.

Photo of KroMagnon
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a deep coppery brown and had a decent, though not particularly fluffy, tan head. The aroma was clean, I expected more fruitiness but instead got a very light blend of malt, toffee, and caramel. The flavor was a little more fruity, almost that juicy fruit flavor (but lightly so) and also had a nice blend of licorice notes, caramel, toasty maltiness and a slight hop bitterness. Overall this was tasty, a good session beer I think, seems lighter than 5.2% alcohol though.

Photo of biggmike
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Attractive copper pour without a lot of head that definitely did not hang aroound for long. Nice lacing on glass. Flavor is mildly sweet with notes of roasted malt with moderate hoppy bitterness. Mouthfeel was medium. Not bad, would have again. This is one of Michael Jackson's 500 Classic Brews.

Photo of kRaa
3.83/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown-red color with an average size head. Most of the head diminishes. Clear body, but not much carbonation. Smells of roasted malts and resin. Initial flavor is a bit sweet, bitter finish with an average duration. Medium body with a dry texture and flat carbonation.

Photo of Night
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark crimson with scarlet and amber flecks and a large, beige, rocky head. Medium lacing. Aroma is elusive, but suggests caramel, chocolate, toffee, and fruity esters. Mouthfeel is juicy and a bit fizzy. Flavor is malty, nutty, and yeasty with a strong undertone of banana. Plum and grape throughout. Bitter hops reside in the background and provide a spicy herbal kick. Raisin, fig, and vegetal flavors in a somewhat dry finish. Aftertaste is vaguely woody, sweet, and sour.

Photo of beeragent
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz. bottle. The beer pours a deep amber, forming a thin head that quickly fades. Light spots of lace on the glass. The aroma is sweet malts, and a hint of nuts. The taste is very much as the aroma, consisting of thick sweet malts, and finishing with a light peanut flavor. Very smooth mouthfeel and finish. This is easily a sessionable ale, due to the full flavor, and moderate abv. Overall, I was expecting one thing and got another. However, I wasnt dissapointed. This is a decent example of an English brown ale. Try it!

Photo of mshallah
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16.9oz brown bottle. Glad they replaced the clear bottles as the brown ones give a longer shelf-life. Witches on broomsticks fly a ring around the neck of the bottle in glass relief. Love the creative halloween feel of the packaging. Doesn't seem to drive up the cost as my sample was only $3.95/bottle. Pours dark ruby-red brown with a light fluffy creamy head that lasts. A unique color, this beer seems in between brown ale and ESB. Smells of chocolate malt(milk choc & cocoa power) and it's inviting me to taste. Taste is on the sweet side but overall flavor profile is fairly mellow. Has a salty banana fruitiness. Good balance of bittering hops with a background taste of salty sulfur towards the end to give a semi-dry finish. Mouthfeel is very creamy. Tried it when it first hit Mass. and liked it right away. Makes a great cool weather beer. Think I'll jack up the A/C and have another.

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Almost 8 years ago on a vacation in London I found this beer at an affiliated Thai restaurant. Oddly they didn't have it on draft, bottles only. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the dinner as well. Why do I relay that bit, well it has to do with the glass bottle. It's been in NH for about a year or more now and I'm super leary about England beers in glass bottles. I have not had a great success rate to say the least (skunked). So after much deliberation I thought I'd try this one again.

A - cinamon brown with a small off white head.
S - molasses and rich sweet malts with a touch of floral hops.
T - similar to the aroma but with a syruppy aspect. Kind of a split between as Sam Smith's nut brown and an english breakfast stout.
M - light to medium bodied with a buttery / syrupy aspect that is intruiging but not overwhelming.
D - Sessionable and quite good paired with a steak tip and gorgonzola cheese salad and soy / ginger salad dressing.

Photo of theformula
3.58/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark amber color with a small, cream-colored head that dissipates pretty quickly. Semi-sticky lacing.

Rich and malty, notes of cramel, hops, toasted nuts.

A little oily/viscous mouthfeel, making it velvet-y. Very conservative carbonation gives it only a little zip.

Rich and somewhat thick taste. Nice toasted/nutty flavor initially. Caramel, dark malt, yeast and faint hops. Also some chocolate and coffee in there.

Average beer. I don't know how to put it any better. Viscous and filling. Almost in between a porter and a brown ale. Just not too interesting IMO, as there is much better out there. Sweet label though.

Photo of basica
3.15/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The Hobgoblin is an Ale by Wychwood brewers in England; they are the same folks who brewed
the Duchy Original Organic Ale which I tried a few days ago. The Hobgoblin comes in this
interesting transparent bottle with a Goblin on the label; at 5.2% it was called a Strong
Dark Ale... I was honestly amused. Anyway this ale pours out a dark brown color with a good
thick looking head. I think it smells lagerish to start with but whatever it was, it was
definitely not something impressionable. It's taste was not fruity or really ale like; it
tasted like a not bad lager; the malty ale taste only came during the finish of a mouthful
and in the shortlived after taste. The only thing that was a little more impressionable was
this malty, yeasty after taste. The mouthfeel was disappointingly light and thin bodied. I
could really ignore the slightly over-carbonation but for an ale of this nature the body
is just too thin to satisfy me. It seems washed-down, blend and lacking in character if I
were to compare this to most Belgian dark ales. I do confess that I was pretty underwhelmed
by this beer; I had higher expectations to start with.

Photo of allengarvin
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Out of a can, into a nonik glass. This beer is a slightly murky walnut color with a foamy, frothy head about 3/4ths of an inch thick. Toasty, caramel-tinted malt nose with some sweet fruitiness and a touch of hops. Quite malty flavor, caramelish, with a hint of toffee. Bitterness is moderate to low, with emphasis remaining on the malt. Fruity and sweet in the finish. Less carbonated than the bottle form, with a more English-pub level of carbonation.

Very nice. I'd avoided the cans thinking they were nitro-injected. Happy to find they're just straight cans.

Photo of DESTRO
3.55/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a nice shade of brown with a small head that quickly dies into a ring. leaves some lacing. smells fruity and tastes much like the nose. fruity, a bit nutty with a nice caramel malt backbone. taste isnt light but def. "clean". just enough to keep things interesting. the right amount of carbonation rounds things out, this has session written all over it.

Photo of Kulrak
3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark reddish brown with a tan bubbly head that sticks around for a while and laces the glass. Smells of roasted malt and caramel with a tiny bit of coffee in there as well. The taste is very sweet and malty with lots of coffee flavor along with some dark chocolate and enough bitterness to keep it from finishing sour. The mouthfeel is fairly creamy but a little on the thin side. Overall, it's very drinkable and a tasty brew, without coming on too strong.

Photo of ski271
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark chestnut-brown with a small, creamy, light tan, slowly diminishing head and good lacing. S- Moderate caramel malt most notable along with chocolate, butter and alcohol. T- Smooth. Moderate malt flavors take center stage. Grain, caramel, chocolate, light cereal, cola, and some very light clove(?). Moderate to light hops that show up mostly on the finish, adding spice and fruit. M- A little brothy, buttery yeast in the too.
It has a medium-full body, dry texture and low carbonation. D- Easy drinking & interesting without being a big challenge on the taste buds. I could drink several of these in a sitting easily.

Photo of jmalex
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This was one of my gateway brews into the wonderful world of craft beer. At the time I was completely blown away by it, but I haven't revisited it in quite some time. I hope it still stacks up as one of the best brown ales.

APPEARANCE: Poured into an imperial pint glass a hazy russet brown with crimson and salmon highlights. The head is modest but falls to a hearty collar and a thin layer of foam.

SMELL: The aroma is slightly toasty and nutty which is joined by an odd hotness of alcohol (strange since this is only 5.2%). Fruit tones are subtle but detectable.

TASTE: It starts out a little empty, but soon enough some sweet caramel malt comes to the forefront. Flavors are nutty, but nothing to write home about. What I love is the finish which is so incredibly clean and keeps the sweet nutty flavors on your tongue until it all disappears.

MOUTHFEEL: A tad thin but not too bad. Carbonation is just what I would expect.

DRINKABILITY: Session, session, SESSION. Session beers do not get a lot of credit, but one like this deserves it. Okay, 5.2% is on the high end for sessioning, but it's certainly within reason. And the drinkability of this exemplifies what I'm looking for in something to drink all night long.

You certainly could do worse than Hobgoblin. After a long hiatus, this will be going back on my shopping list for a long time. Tonight I had the 12 oz.-er, but I'm seeing a few of the 16 oz.-ers in my future.

Photo of hunteraw
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Came in a brown bottle rather than the clear one shown in the picture, and a more normal shape too..

Appearance: Smallish head over a rich, ruddy body. Some retention. Very clear, few bubbles streaming up from the bottom - appears lightly carbonated. Some lacing.

Smell: Fairly light aroma - sweet caramely malts, some ale fruitiness. Fills out a bit as it warms.

Taste: Some cola like caramel, and toasted malts. I don't really pick up any diacetyl. Some nuttiness in the aftertaste. Not molasses-y like Newcastle.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, carbonation on second thought is fine.

Drinkability: Sessionable - much better than Newcastle.

Photo of cracgor
4.65/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark red color with a pillowy tan head. Amazing smell, caramelly, sweet, fruity, a little hop in it. Caramel flavor, quite delicious. Sweet, smooth, and a little fruity. A lot like the smell only quite a bit richer. Nice texture, smooth, creamy. This could be a nice session beer. Easy to drink and something I won't grow tired of easily.

Photo of jongillin
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From Notes on: 4/8/07

Pours a crystal clear amber color with a light head that dissipates quickly.

This beer has a mild aroma that is mostly of ripe fruits and sweet malts.

On the first sip I noticed a fruit flavor (dark cherries I think) which then gives way to caramel and coffee and finishes with a little bit of hop bitterness. Fairly complex.

Mouthfeel is a full bodied but the carbonation helps to give this beer a bit more of a clean finish.

This is a great one to have at least a couple and enjoy the complexity. A very lively beer and full of flavor. A good pairing might be a coq au vin.

Photo of alephilmac
3.4/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a 500ml I bought at Sainsbury's, an attractive redish-brown ale, with a bit of cream-colored head, lasted part-way and left decent lacing

S: Rather sweet-smelling, with hints of toffee, brown sugar, and maple

T: beer is slightly sweet and features a subtle malted sugary flavor with some nice fruit flavors (raisins?) Not a great deal of hops

M: there is a decent amount of carbonation that remains constant throughout the beer and not unpleasant

D: decent beer for a mass-production in England (I think this is produced exclusively for supermarkets) wouldn't pay for it in the States though

Photo of pmcadamis
2.98/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Dirty brown russet color with the slightest suggestion of maroon tinting. A smallish sudsy dishwater head comes back readily with a few swirls, and some nice tan lace is left on the glass.

S - Smells very "to style." Mellow toffee with hints of chocolate, nuts, and marshmallow. A very relaxing scent.

T - Very sweet and syrupy. Maple syrup, loads of brown sugar, toffee, and caramel. Hops only show themselves in the aftertaste, and even then they are quickly overpowered by cloying sweetness. This would have been pretty good if it weren't so damn sweet. There is also a hint of dirt...(not earthy, just plain old dirt) not a bad thing at all.

M - Heavy and syrupy. I wouldn't call it full bodied, but the sweetness coats my mouth and feels viscous.

D - This is not that bad, but it's not as drinkable as a lot of other English browns, and IMO drinkability is a major factor for this style.

Photo of eballard
3.25/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a clear brownish red. With a nice thick head that settles into a heavy lace. It has a strong malt smell with a sweet caramel. The taste is much like the smell it’s very sweet and malt. It has a smooth feel but it’s a little heavy and sits in the mouth. In all it’s a good beer and has a good taste but lacks any thing that sticks out all that surprising.

Photo of Shovelbum
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a thin off-white head over hazy amber-brown body. Head drops nearly immediately. Almost Belgian-like aromas of vinous goodness mixed with a substantial caramel malt. Flavor is similar, although the balance and lead shifts to the caramel malt and the fruit is much more subdued. Flavors of chocolate, nuts, and saltine crackers. Mild balancing bitterness. Low carbonation, Lean to medium body. Drying finish.

An extremely drinkable English brown. Enough complexity to stay interesting, after a few pints—although the price is a bit steep. Definitely best enjoyed on the warmer end of celler temperatures.

Photo of xymyl
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Deep copper/red, very clear, head is loose and falls quickly to a ring, some lace but no real structure.

Aroma: Soft floral hops show a hint of spicy bitterness and a lightly sweet malt background, vanilla and cherries emerge from distant caramel.

Taste is fairly unified with a bitterness that hovers like a cloud above each sip. A not so much perfectly as interestingly balanced sweet to bitter to dry shell game plays out, but it is easy to find your card. There is a slight coffee/black malt quality and it ends with an unexpected dry/oily combination.

Overall: This beer doesn't have complex flavors, has a very light body, smells a bit odd/cheap when first opened, doesn't look bad but doesn't look overly impressive, but the combination is great. The combination of flavors, textures and sensations is pure synergy.

Photo of auxiliary
4.33/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearancea - Nice dark ruby color, poured a nice head and left some lace.

smell - Toffee and malt.

taste - Nice mellow malt taste, not too sweet, not much hops.

mouthfeel - Medium body with some carbination.

drinkability - Very nice malt drink, not too sweet. Balanced right enjoyed it.

Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
85 out of 100 based on 2,253 ratings.