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Hobgoblin - Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,049 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,049
Hads: 2,443
Avg: 3.72
pDev: 21.24%
Wants: 82
Gots: 366 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-15-2002

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,049 | Hads: 2,443
Photo of JLSIV
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%

My first in this beer style, I am amazed at how much I have been missing.

Whoever came up with "Extra Special or Extra Strong Bitter" as a name for a beer style, has done much to promote the prejudice against enjoying English beers and ales.

For years, I heard my dad contribute to this BS, (he like millions of others, had never even been to the UK, much less had any beer there), and it definitely influenced my thought.

Odd. The guy ate Limburger Cheese for God's sake! You'd have thought he could muster up the courage for an ale or two.

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Photo of djsnowman06
3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Clear, brown colour with a slight red hue. Low carbonation (fitting for the style). Little head and very low retention with no lacing (as the temperature increased these qualities improved).

Smokey malts with just a hint of roast. Hops had a grassy aroma with some spice. When i initially served this too cold, i got a subtle dank smell, not at all overpowering, but it disappeared with temperature increase, and a floral aroma began coming through. It was very clean with no discernible yeast aroma.

Again, smokey and roasted malts. Hops had a grassy taste, a little herbal and the spice all but disappeared. Again the yeast was clean.

Surprisingly light, while not thin or watery. Had a coarse bite that smoothed out towards the end. A touch under-carbed for my taste (improved with temperature) but certainly not flat.

Overall Impression
Very clean cask-style english ale. When I opened this bottle, it had a satisfying hiss even though it proved to be a tiny bit under carbed compared to what I am used to. With a “Ruby Red” description, I had expected more of a rich colour, not that its a big deal. I also didn't pick up the “chocolate, toffee, or fruity” characteristics, claimed in the description.

While I was not over-whelmed, it was a very refreshing beer. I can certainly see me drinking one of these on these hot summer days. It was not overly bitter, but the label largely misses the mark, in my humble opinion.

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Photo of TheVenerableMead
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

A - Clear dark brown with red highlights. A short, tan/light brown head that leaves a continuous lace.

S - Lot's of roasty malt and neutral hops.

T - Taste follows the nose plus a bit of chocolate toward the back.

M - Thin and finishes a bit dry. Carbonation is just right for the style.

O - Very good. This is definitely a brown and certainly not an ESB of any sort, by the way. Not a Sam Smith Nut Brown or Fuller's 1845, but darned good. It really lacks the body that I expect from a well-made northern brown. And, as reviewed, it's a bit too dry- which may be due to the lack of body..

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Photo of Leeham991
4.21/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Hobgoblin in a can; comes a little smaller than the bottles, but the better flavour from the totally airtight seal of a can preventing any oxidization makes up for it I feel.

Hobgoblin has always been a favourite of mine. Was only the 3rd ale I ever tried in my life after a brief flirt with the commercial lagers and it's definitely the beer which steered me onto real ale and craft beer.

A nice strong red ale, bittersweet and uncomplicated, and very sessionable despite the ABV being a percent or two above the point most people go for in a session beer. Very good colour and feel to the beer too; always keeps the head and throws an inviting glow around the room

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Photo of SaltofOH
4.45/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

500 ml bottle, served in a goblet at 60 degrees.

Appearance: a bit of "smoke" from the bottle cap opening. Pours an extremely dark brown with a reddish tint. Clear with very little sign of any effervescence. Thick, foamy, 1.5" tan head dissipates to 1/8" lasting cap. This is a really handsome beer, but not quite to style for an ESB. Maybe more of a brown ale?

Aroma: English hops, with bloody/minerally smell; well-roasted malts, apple skins.

Taste: Tart, clean arrival. Tart, roasty mid-palate. Roasty, bitter finish; dry & clean.

Mouthfeel: Light- to mid-bodied. More effervescence than I am used to in an English ale, but they are tiny bubbles.

Overall: This is a more "complex" ESB than the last one I had, but I am put off a little by the higher carbonation in this bottled example, and the darker than usual malts. Aroma & appearance are fantastic, and I definitely will be buying this again.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.06/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled tonight on 7/2/14 but had this once before about 18 months ago. Comes in a single 500ml (16.9 ounce) neat bottle and label. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a glassed-handled stein.

Pours a reddish-dark brown with a good finger of a tan head that settles back down after a bit. Some thick ring-lacing was seen. The aroma is of caramel, toffee and malt. Taste is about the same with some chocolate with nutty hops with a hint of spice. Slight bitter finish but doesn't linger, still not bad overall.

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Photo of Gear54
3.71/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a 500ml bottle into a pint glass

A: Dark amber in color. Cannot see through at all. 1/2 inch of thick foam. The head faded quickly but leaves behind a ton of lace. It stuck to top of the glass even as I was half way through the beer

S: Faint carmel and malt

T: a bit sweet with malty finish. Not a ton of carbonation.

M: On the lighter side and it doesn't hold on to the taste buds for long.

O: Left a bit to be desired on this one. I have a feeling this bottle might have been a bit older. I would be willing to try this fresh and see if that makes a big difference.

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Photo of scotorum
3.74/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First from a fourpack on sale at the Liquor Outlet Wine Cellars in Boonton New Jersey.

11.2 oz. bottle

a: Black with a thin foam head and slight lacing,.

s: Caramel malt.

t: Caramel malt and a little dark ripe fruit over a mild hop bite.

m: Light to moderate with good carbonation tingle.

o: A decent English dark, about as expected.

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Photo of MABrewHound
5/5  rDev +34.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of my all-time favorites! The moderate carbonation and reddish hue make for a very presentable beer. The aroma and flavor have a certain spicy character that I do not recall any other beer having. Not sure of the origin, but the unique flavor keeps me coming back. My perfect beer!

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.58/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle at cellar temp into an imperial pint
Aroma of Wood and fruity malt
Head large (5cm), off white, creamy, slowly diminishing to an irregular layer varying from 2 – 4 mm
Lacing OK – partial rings of small bubbles as well as large irregular islands
Body deep red-amber, clear
Flavor of wood and light chocolate; no hops, no alcohol, faint diacetyl, ends quickly to dry finish
Palate medium, watery, soft carbonation

An excellent Brit beer – what’s sold in the US is pasteurized but still very good. I almost always have some of this in the cellar. The flavor is fantastic, the appearance is outstanding, the aroma and palate are exceptional.

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Photo of SmashPants
3.17/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Bottle: stylish embossed brown 500mL bottle with a decent Wychwood label.

Appearance: mid-dark brown in colour with a one-finger beige head that drops slowly to a creamy cap. Streaks of lace.

Aroma: as with so many English ales, the aroma is far too demure for my likes. Light cocoa and toffee, light malts.

Taste: bread malts and toffee, some chocolate and nut. Reasonable but not massively exciting.

Aftertaste: the light bread malts remain, but much more the drying bitterness on the mouth feel.

Mouth feel: moderate in feel with with a lower carbonation. I couldn't help think it would have benefited from a stronger carbonation.

Overall: not a bad beer, but neither is it great. Similar to Newcastle Brown but with less carbonation. At $80 a case of 12 x 500mL, it is a bit steep a price too.

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Photo of PvtSnowball
4.13/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Purchased from one of the local marts.

A: A fantastic amber with good head and retention.

S: Very nice balance or malt and hop. Very good balance in fact.

M: Rich and satisfying. Crisp also.

T: Very good, almost perfect balance.

O: A fantastic brew. One of the reasons I love ESB's.

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Photo of Kris450
3.08/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This was my first ever cask, room temp beer. Being an American, this was a new experience for me. I am used to fairly tasteless pilsners, that are being tapped from a frosty tap, so this was completely different. Pumped into a pint glass, flat dark color with little head. The room temperature opened up the beer to have a solid hop presence and a full malty taste. I think I would enjoy it more now that I have sampled more cask ales and a wider variety of beers, but I'm glad my first was this one!

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Photo of stoutscout
2.64/5  rDev -29%
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.

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Photo of jlux21
4.07/5  rDev +9.4%
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.

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Photo of ghisty
3.57/5  rDev -4%
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.

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Photo of Zetcha7x
3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of SoupKitchenBeerSnob
2.4/5  rDev -35.5%
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.

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Photo of brewbattles
3.03/5  rDev -18.5%
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:


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Photo of keithmurray
2.94/5  rDev -21%
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

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Photo of FickleBeast
3.69/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of Dsimenson
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of GorgonSed
2.01/5  rDev -46%
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.

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Photo of jhartley
3.77/5  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

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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
84 out of 100 based on 1,049 ratings.