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Hobgoblin - Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,058 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,058
Hads: 2,487
Avg: 3.72
pDev: 21.24%
Wants: 88
Gots: 395 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Hobgoblin Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,058 | Hads: 2,487
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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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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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
84 out of 100 based on 1,058 ratings.