Hobgoblin | Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

1,080 Reviews

Brewed by:
Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
England, United Kingdom

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: 1,080 | Ratings: 2,585
Photo of Greywulfken
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I've only had a couple of ESBs, having thoroughly enjoyed Fuller's and been okay with the Iron Maiden-themed Trooper. Found this to be rather mediocre, although perhaps good for the style. Opaque brown body, served from tap in a pint at The Good Life in Massapequa with just a slim foam cap on top. Aromas were malty, suggesting sweet dark bread with hints of licorice? Flavors brought forward more malts, molasses-like sweetness, vague and distant wet cocoa, and again something like espresso with anise. Feel was slim, barely carbonated; not a sipper, but still drank rather slow. Meh.

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Photo of mynie
4.54/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled the bottled version a few times before--once it was badly light-struck, and the other times it just overly smooth and pasteurized.

I was fortunate enough to happen upon a cask of this at the British Beer Company in Danvers, MA. I couldn't pass up a rare chance like that.

And I'm glad I didn't. Suddenly, the plaudits this beer received in the the 90s and early 2000s seem pretty much warranted. This is still an old school ESB that's very British, but it's an excellent example of the style.

The aroma is malty, with complex nodes of toffee, coffee, and chocolate against some tangy old world hops. The flavor follows suit, with a malty beginning, lemony hops on the back end, and a surprisingly firm and pleasant warmth of alcohol on the back end.

Again, this review comes with the big caveat that this was the CASK version. If you ever get a chance to try the beer in its proper form, you shouldn't pass it up.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Here comes a weird ESB. Seems more like a British mild or brown ale. Clear bottle. Light colored brown, weak in appearance, not enough heft, malt etc. . . doesn't hold a head, went up to about 1/3" and died quickly.

Almost no hops, something totally off for an esb, same with the bitterness, so muted. You get a little sugar water like Newcastle feel to the mouth feel. Maybe some caramel in there from the malt. Nutty. Pricy, especially for everything it lacks, inconvenient pricy format. Undercarbonated. Pass, would not bang again.

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Photo of Jsteez
4.38/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown with ruby red highlights; a tan 1 finger head, sweet baby! Sticky icky lace on the glass. A nice smell of roasted malt, some cinnamon and caramel. Tastes like roasted malt, cinnamon, some hints of chocolate, and brown sugar; toasted malt and nuts. The backend has a mild bitterness that is rounded out quite dry. It's full bodied, but silky smooth. A nice mild ale. This is actually 4.5 % abv although BA lists it as higher. Oh well....good beer.

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Photo of Pantalones
3.84/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

My last bottle of this one from the four-pack I unexpectedly stumbled across a while back. Best-by date is July 28th, 2017.

This is definitely a nice-looking beer (not to mention the nice-looking bottle -- interesting shape, little added details in the glass itself, and of course some neat art and labeling.) It's a deep dark red-brown color, light enough that you can tell how clear it is at a glance without needing a light but dark enough that it's tough to see the bubbles rising up without one. The bubbles are tiny and swirl up in several rows. Nice fluffy layer of off-white foam on top, too, and it doesn't seem to be shrinking much.

Smell is pretty nice as well. I'm noticing a caramel-like thing, some dark bread, and something else I'm not quite sure how to describe -- sort of a blend of sweet, buttery, and a tiny bit sour? It's an interesting smell, I've noticed something similar in several English beers I've had so I wonder if it's related to a yeast or malt that's commonly used in the English ales. Maybe a bit of an odd mineral thing going on in there, but generally the other smells overpower it.

Flavor is similar to the smell, but with that really nice dark bread (reminding me a lot of bread crust, to be specific) coming out really strong rather than being swallowed up in the caramel like it was in the smell. Also definitely some earthy, almost vaguely spicy-ish hops blending in with that and lingering for a bit at the end. The caramel-like and buttery sorts of things from the smell are present but dialed back a bit, with that nice toasty dark bread coming out the strongest for sure.

Feel is nice as well -- definitely lends itself to drinking through the glass pretty quickly, as I found out by drinking a third of this one in a single "sip" before I had even started writing the non-appearance-related elements of this review! XD It's light enough to drink quickly but also has a nice smooth substantial feel to it -- I guess "creamy" kinda works, though once the foam on top fades I want to say it feels slightly thinner than that implies. Still nice, but it'd be better if the initial creaminess held on a bit longer (or perhaps if I drank two in the time it would normally take to drink one, so it never has time to thin out in the first place?)

Overall, I am really enjoying this one tonight, more so than the previous two bottles for sure. It may have helped that I let this one hang around outside the fridge for a bit first -- I know English ales are not intended to be drank at super cold temperatures. It does seem like the nice bread-crust malt flavor is coming out A LOT better at this temperature than it did in the bottles I had right out of the fridge. I'm not sure what it is, but these English bitters seem to always be beers that I like well enough at first, but end up REALLY liking after I've had the experience of drinking several of them rather than just one glass. I guess that makes sense when you think about it -- these styles were originally intended as "drink a few pints in a row" pub beers, after all!

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Photo of JoLight
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Clear brown color with a finger-width frothy, khaki head that leaves nice lacing.

Toasted malt; metallic; banana bread; molasses. Something smells off....

Toasted grain; bread crust; paperiness; slight sour tang; some noticeable earthy hop bitterness. I think the flavor is a little bland.

Mouthfeel/finish: medium, not really carbonated; finishes semi-wet. Good for the style, but I don't care for the mouthfeel.

This is a highly unusual beer that had some neat attributes but is nonetheless bland and not so great. I suppose it's a good, solid beer for the style, but I don't care for this particular beer on its own: it has an unusual, unpleasant richness in the aroma (not the Aroma notes per se, but something that I cannot put my finger on) that is somehow met with a unsatisfactory blandness. I would not buy this again, but I recommend giving it a try.

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Photo of chimaymandy
3.08/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

first time trying this beer I hoped for it to be a bit darker and a bit heavier but it's not too bad I will finish the bottle that I have and will probably not buy another

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Photo of ArchimedesSox
4.04/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A dark reddish brown, 1 inch off white head, great lacing down the glass

S: Sweet malts, cherries, caramel

T: Sweet bready malts up front, a little of that cherry as the air hits your throat, sweet aftertaste

M: Medium, velvety smooth

O: I really like this beer. Sweet taste and smell, you can tell the quality is there.

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Photo of CultOfKings
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle poured into a chalice, pours a nice brown, borderline copper, colour. A head of about 2 fingers on top that dispersed into a nice cap with great lingering lace. Moderate carbonation that brings forth a nice smell of chocolate and black currant with a hint of coffee, but a nice malt sweetness to balance out the strong flavors. One of the smoothest beers I have ever had with the perfect amount of carbonation to finish off the body. Minor hops bitterness with some tastes of dark chocolate and malt. A buttery like quality appears on the finish. A very well balanced brown ale that I will definitely throw on the bookshelf where I keep my D&D collection.

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Photo of davidperez
3.48/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a nonic pint glass, it pours a perfectly clear dark brown with ruby hues against the light. It forms a two-finger head, sudsy and creamy, with very good retention. Nice lacing.

Sweet and interesting bouquet, though not very assertive.
Slightly toasted malts, dark fruits, hint of chocolate, toffee, butter.

This beer confused me. I remember having it some years ago and really liking it; hence, I was surprised by the recent bad reviews and by its rating… but I must say, this flavor explains it all.
There's no much flavor to talk about. It's not that this beer lacks notes, there are notes, but it lacks assertiveness in those notes, they end abruptly, it has a watery mouthfeel and so is the flavor.
A pronounced bitterness at first, slightly earthy and acidic, followed by some sweet liquor, dark fruits, toffee and milk chocolate. The aftertaste has such decaying sweet notes and is slightly herbaceous and nutty, then bitterness prevails again.
Light body yet slightly smooth, watery mouthfeel, low carbonation, semi-dry.

I wouldn’t buy this again, although I would be interested in double-checking its flavor.

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Photo of Thisdrinkinglife
2.65/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.75

Review: Bottle of Wychwood Hobgoblin Ruby Beer: ABV: 5.2%

There is no doubt that this beer stands out with its very amusing logo, inspired by the local myths and legends of the ancient Wychwood forest.

The appearance didn’t look good at all to be frank. It looked like coca cola, no head to speak of, very flat, dead and unappealing.

The colour was a deep ruby red, and on pour I got a big head, very frothy but dies, and no real lacing. Nice colour but the overall look was disappointing.

A lovely aroma, smelt like a nice stout to me! I got a smell of caramel, toffee and roasted malts, and a slight sour smell, but overall I liked the smell, pleasant.

Taste: Didn’t like this one bit, which was surprising to me as it is very much a hyped up beer. I really wanted it to be good, but alas……

Not much of a beer at all. Too strong for me, had a really strong bitter taste and could feel the alcohol. Very hoppy throughout, too hoppy for me.
Very sour creamy aftertaste,
Harsh flavours, chocolate, toffee and sweet malts, a lot of flavours in it alright, very robust and thick

I found it very hard to drink to be honest, one to sip, definitely not for a session, that’s for sure, for me anyway, lol.

It is a popular beer, but I do wonder if people are more swayed with the hype and the vibe than the actual taste.

Now I know they say that if you are a lager drinker beware, I would say that’s true. I think this is definitively an acquired taste, and perhaps with all the hype one for the nerds who like their war craft or whatever, or an English man and his real ales……….

This is reflected in their ad campaign where they challenge drinkers of pale lager to try a brew with more distinct flavours, “What’s the matter Lagerboy, afraid you might taste something?”. Could be true, lol!

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Photo of woomThomas
2.78/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

The beer is not clear and has a dark brown color. The foam is beige with large bubbles. The foam disappears leisurely quickly and leave fine traces. The aroma of caramel and syrup loaf. Aromas of caramel. A little beef-like notes and bread. The taste is slightly sweet and medium bitterness. Roasted notes, roasted malt, caramel. There are some nuts and spices. Easy medium body. Soft and slightly greasy. Medium carbonation.

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Photo of SuperRevs96
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Special ordered this beer after a friend of mine went to the brewery and really liked it.
Poured into a glass.
Look: Rich red color, very thin head, heavy lacing on the glass.
Smell: Subtle caramel aroma.
Taste: Malty with caramel, tiny hints of bitterness
Feel: Not very carbonated, thin, pretty drinkable.
Overall: Pretty good, good balance of caramel, pretty drinkable. My friend didn't disappoint!

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Photo of JustLikeMyDad
2.89/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured into a glass mug.

Pours dark, like coffee, not much of a foam head, foam sits around the edge of the glass.

Smells nutty, maybe a caramel note.

Tastes like roasted malts and maybe a little nutty.

Feels thin, not a lot of carbonation and drinks very easy.

Overall, it's pretty good stuff, easy to drink and enjoy. Plus the name and label are pretty cool.

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Photo of q33jeff
2.79/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

AROMA: Pleasant but weak....caramel, malt.
LOOK: Deep Dark Caramel color.
TASTE: Nutty, caramel, bread. slightly soapy
FEEL: very light carbonation,

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Photo of kitschiguy
4.19/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Writing as I drink.

500ml bottle poured into English pint glass.

Dark ruby brown with a nice fluffy off-white head to light brown head that faded gradually but left lots of lacing.

Nose is lovely but not assertive. Malt, caramel, brown sugar.

Palate is very nice - brown sugar, caramel, toffee and a little coffee. Very malty with low bitterness.

Mouth is a bit light which was disappointing but it's well balanced on the palate.

Overall this is very nice. fairly easy drinking and sessionable. This is an interesting beer. It reminds me of a light chocolate stout/stout with less bitterness.

Beeradvovate calls it an ESB while the brewery calls it a "Ruby Beer" which I think is a much better description. Compare it to Fullers ESB - and it's completey different. Thumbs-up for the ruby beers!

Highly recommended.

*edited because I'm already on my second beer and already feeling a bit squiffey - I forgot to finish the review

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Photo of Grindelvasdrum
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pint bottle poured into glass stein.
A-Black with pretty red copper that shines through
about the edges when held up to the light. 1.4 inch head
that faded quickly. Mild lacing.

S-Faint sweet caramel, woodsy, roasted malt.
T-Strong bitter that endures throughout, burnt brown sugar, nutty, woodsy, earthy
with a mineral quality. Hints of charcoal, coffee & roasted malts.

M-Moderate carbonation with good creaminess
O-I really like the complexity of the flavors with sweet, bitter & earthy.
It's a beer I've had multiple times through the years & will hopefully again.
I can see why a hobgoblin would like it too!

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Photo of Dentist666
3.62/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

0,44l can.
Pours clear ruby beer with thick beige head, good retention, some laces.
Smell - somewhat fruity, caramel.
Taste - toasted malts, dark fruits, decent hop bitterness.
Smooth body, soft to medium carbonation.

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Photo of Delbertogrady
3.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark beer with hints of red. Needs a fairly robust pour to develop a reasonable head that is off white with hints of red/brown.
Got an almost fruity/berry aroma which was very pleasant.
The fruity/berry flavours continued on the tongue, and lingered for the aftertaste with a pleasant feel on the tongue.

Overall a very nice beer.

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Photo of josanguapo
3.84/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Can vs bottle. From cervezasespeciales (bottle) and carrefour huelva (can). In Ikea's english pint glass. Watching Sons of Anaechy 7x10. High drinkability and good balance between sweetness and bitterness. One of the best usage of english hops ive seen. Not much difference between can and bottled version. They use a good can! Maybe can version feels a bit more smooth and bottle version feels a bit more bitter? Not sure...

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Photo of D-HopSupreme
4.07/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep ruby body with an almost yellow foam for a head. The scent is very boozy, with some notes of malt and very sharp English hops coming through. The taste has high bitterness along with some neat dark fruit notes and a bit of spiciness. Despite its bitterness, the beer is very smooth. Overall an enjoyable bitter.

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Photo of stevoj
3.69/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This is what I consider a classic British ale. All is right in nose, taste and color. Soft smoky, peaty aroma, dark cola/ice tea color, thin beige head, taste is oak barrel, peat, hops and malt. Would like to enjoy this by a roaring fire on a cold, wet day in the English countryside.

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.1/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: crystal clear; medium brown - looks thin, like watered down cola; <1 finger off white head that receded quickly to a very thin collar; no lacing;

S: sweet, dark fruit, caramel, toffee;

T: nutty sweetness up front; a little tobacco from the middle through the finish; mild bitterness at the end; a hint of smokiness in the aftertaste;

M: light to medium bodied; light to moderate carbonation; lightly dry finish;

O: a malt lover's dream; can't tell how old this is - no date stamp, only a code;

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Photo of BranfordBound
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep ruby color, clear, with a frothy head from a mildly aggressive pour. Leaves great lacing along the side of the glass. Smell is fruit and malt dominant, sweet raisin. Taste is a little bread and toffee sweetness, then that malt comes out in full force, very dark and fruity, finishes clean with bitterness, a hint of herbal and earthy hops at the most. Body is medium, very smooth and easy drinking beer, best served around 50 degrees F to start. Overall a nice English ale.

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Photo of MaximalC
3.46/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a transparent plum-bronze color with a fine, tan, frothy head. Aroma smells of honey, toffee, and earthy, herbal hops.

The mild, balanced taste features apple skin, noble hops, some nuts, and traces of caramel. It reminds me very much of an Oktoberfest, to be honest. Warming introduces some toasted bread and tea. Medium body and moderate, fine carbonation make for the smooth, creamy mouthfeel so commonly found in English ales.

Overall, this is a palatable session beer with just enough going on to give you something to something to ponder, though it hardly demands attention. I tend to prefer much bolder beers, so take my appraisal with a grain of salt.

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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
3.71 out of 5 based on 2,585 ratings.
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