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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: 2,532
Photo of tekstr1der
4.47/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep redish-brown pour with clingy white head. Nose is all malt and slight caramel. Bright semi-sweet body with lingering malty finish. Very smooth and way too drinkable.

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

A classic English bitter which comes across with big toffee and nutty notes. Light and thin in mouthfeel, goes down very easily, with enough a faint hop presence to keep things ticking along.

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Photo of KonigObHops
4.07/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a very nice dark brown with a finger-width head that is cream colored.

It has a nice fruity taste with a hint of hops.

The initial taste is a bit raisiny followed immediately by chocolate.In the middle some of the fruity notes break through The hops begin to come out at this point. The beer finishes with toasted malt which lingers on the tongue.

The mouth-feel is surprisingly crisp with more carbonation than I expected.

Overall, this is an interesting dark ale. There are a lot of subtle flavors in this beer and it doesn't have the bite at the end that many dark ales tend to have.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
3.48/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Has a slight malt smell, a little sweet with maybe nut, not a strong smell. Taste was bland, would have preferred a lot more malt. A little toasted bread with a bitter, dry finish. Overall I would say only okay with not a lot to offer. I will not be having this one again unless there were severely limited choices.

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Photo of ordybill
4.11/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 500cl bottle into a pint glass.
Aroma- Has a nice caramel and malt aroma.
Appearance- A rich dark brown color with a tan colored head.
Taste-A toasted malt and yeast flavor with a caramel aftertaste.
Palate- A medium bodied brew with light carbonation and a slightly oily feel.
Overall- A really enjoyable ESB for me, I will definitely drink this again.

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Photo of ThaneMcC
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%

A: Dark, reddish brown with fair amount of fine off white foam and lacing.

Smell: a bit horsey, barnyard and yeast, hint of malt and a mild metallic twang.

Taste: hint of barnyard musty, Malt and nonspecific nut/chocolate, finished is fairly well hopped with a fairly clean finish.

Mouthfeel: minimal carbonation, rather smooth without being syrupy.

Overall not a bad brown ale, an odd flavor profile (perhaps I got a bad bottle?), I prefer a maltier, nuttier brown ale, but I wouldn't turn this down, but wouldn't be compelled to stock up on this one.

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Photo of DiUr
3.72/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A full bodied ale which shows in ruby colour with a beige head that stays at half a finger. Smell of malts, chocolate, chestnut, apple pie and dark fruits, the aromas growing up as the beer warms. Taste of malts, earthy chocolate, cream and fruits is balanced by some kind of acidic character. Hints of toffee and orange too, and very subtle hops. Full bodied and smooth in the mouth, with almost no carbonation and good drinkability.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
4.14/5  rDev +11.3%

One of the first I tried, I drink this beer a bit rose tinted but overall I still think it's a very solid beer. Pours a dark brown with a khaki head. The smell is full of sweet flavors with some floral notes from the hops. The taste has dark chocolate and vanilla notes well balanced by the floral hops making for a tasty and refreshing brew.

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Photo of Tilly
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Clear brown. Creamy Lacey head. Malty coffee aroma. Deep dark bitter chocolate flavour slight coffee and just a hint of vanilla. Overall, enjoyable beer. Not an everyday drinker for me but highly recommended!

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Photo of barczar
3.3/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Toasted, lightly fruity specialty malt aroma. Vegetal flavor, with a tangy character that's offputting. Finish is bitter and dry. May have been compromised.

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Photo of chinchill
3.79/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

330ml bottle served in a snifter (original) and 500 ml bottle with a BB date stamp nearly 1 year from review date, purchased and served in Scotland (some minor revision).

Pours clear mahogany with a modest, semi-durable head.

Aroma: raisins and toffee with biscuit and bread base.

Flavor: Light grassy and herbal hop presence but dominated by toffee, bready and dark fruit elements. Slightly sweet overall but decent bitter/sweet balance. Approaches 4.

Feel: nice smooth mouth feel; good carbonation.

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Photo of BeerDrinkersWorldTour
4.66/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Appearance – Deep reddish Amber with great two finger head of beige foam that has amazing retention lasting between 5-10 minutes after pouring. When it dies it is to generous cover and leaves some sticky clumping lace behind.

Smell – Very sweet and fruity. This one has a great toffee aroma with earthy bitter hops, sweet stewed apple, plum and prune. There is also a wonderful smokey phenolic whiff at the very back like fresh baked cookies in a wood fired oven

Taste – Wonderful sweet and roasted toffee flavour with a slight smokey biscuit edge. The same stewed fruit flavours that were present in the smell profile. Slightly spicy middle with a great hoppy bitter back.

Mouthfeel – Full and creamy with the low carbon body common to the style. There is mild alcoholic warmth that makes this a great Autumn beer and a final mouth-watering linger.

Overall – I cannot pretend this beer is anything other than outstanding. It has a brilliant flavour profile with excellent balance and it is a very fine example of the style. It is simply perfect for those long Autumn and winter nights with a roaring fire and plate of roasted pork ribs or a cheese platter!

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Photo of logicalparadox
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Pours nice in the glass: frothy, medium brown, and lively. Nose is characterized by malty aromas that remind me of malt vinegar or fermented asian black vinegar. Smell is malty, with some toast and grain wafting around the suds. Taste is malty, but not sweat, smooth with a medium body but with a light mouthfeel. Flavors of grain, and fresh pumpernickel crust.

Mild, but balanced. Reserved, but refined. Almost a stoic sensibility, but with a dry wit and pleasing charm. Very British! Tasty brew.

I just tried this and it's fall, close to Halloween in New York state and it's perfect for this time of year. The color is evocative of the season, the flavors complement the weather, especially the cool nights, and it's just fun drinking a beer called Hob Goblin in October.

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Photo of byronhicks
4.5/5  rDev +21%

I had this at The Victoria Pub near Victoria Station.

Color was a cloudy brown, with a nice white head.

Flavors were smooth, with a hint of chocolate. The head stuck around for most of the pint. It had a creamy mouth feel and went well with the Steak and Ale pie I had for dinner.

2nd favorite ale I experienced this trip to England.

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Photo of Act25
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%

Finally an ESB to love. Almost belgian in the pour and first impression on your nose.
A: Now in a great looking brown bottle.
Deep mahogany body with patchy lace from an active light tan head. Good looking 4.2

Smell: Bright, malt sweetness and a belgian nose from the yeast. Chocolate, caramel, and coffee with loads of flavor and depth. An espresso drinkers beer.

Taste: Malt sweetness is the first, colored by nutty and chocolaty flavors with a coffee & hop bitterness. More yeasty and complex than any other ESB I have tried. Lots of complexity.

MF: Silky smooth, weight, full body. Like a much bigger more alcoholic beer.

Reach for this when you want a strong beer without more than 6% ABV, or turn your friends on to this if you can find it. Great beer. Must try ESB!

Notes: A tasty rounded and full bodied brown ale. Better than Fullers or Sawtooth.

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.5/5  rDev +21%

Just getting into English Milds, but I liked this one.

The fuggles are there, but not overpowering. Good malt.

Solid beer. Will try to brew something similar.

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Photo of FLima
3.72/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark copper color with a beige head with medium retention and leaving good laces.
Nice aroma of English and yeast hops with notes of tea leaves, caramel malts and tangy citrusy.
Fruity flavor with notes of spices, roasted and caramel malts, mild dark chocolate, Brazilian guaraná, slightly lemon tartness, tea leaves, British earthy hops, sugarcane juice, minerals, lots of nuts and dark fruits. Dry and bitter aftertaste.
Medium body with appropriate carbonation.
Love this beer with full of English tangy fruity notes, very balanced with a unique complexity.
Ap.3,75 Ar.3,5 Sab.3,75 Sens.4 Cj.3,75

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Photo of byronic
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%

Pours a burnt caramel with little lacing. No discernible nose. Tastes nutty with a touch of toffee and a buttery finish. Smooth with medium or slightly less carbonation, well hidden ABV. A little bitter aftertaste. Overall a very nice brew.

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Photo of Michaelcbyrnes
4.25/5  rDev +14.2%

16,9 oz bottle with best before date 21 July 2015

Deep mahogany with a nice chunky tan head which reduced to a sticky film with great lacing.

Aroma of grass and herb on top of a rich malty slightly biscuit and bread undertone.

Flavor is likewise initially dominated by a grassy and herbal hop presence which moves to a plum/ dried apricot and malt sweetness and finishes on a slightly bitter hop note. The beer is thinner than I'd expected it to be but was never water, it has a nice smooth mouth feel and a slight sour tang on the finish.

This is a very nice beer. Wychwood call it a "ruby ale", but I'd call it an ESB even though it is so dark. The hop, malt balance is very well down and the two characteristics vie with each other to produce an interesting and complex ale. Likewise the English yeast strain produces just enough esters to give the beer a unique profile. Very nice ESB!

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