Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

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English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #59
Ranked #26,596
3.78 | pDev: 13.49%
Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
England, United Kingdom
Very Good
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Reviews: 1,124 | Ratings: 2,717
Reviews by the Alström Bros:
Photo of Jason
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 16.9 oz clear English looking bottle with no freshness date to be found.

Appearance: Deep reddish copper with a patchy spidering light tan lace that holds its own.

Smell: Chocolate and coffee with hints of malt sweetness and a buttery nose from the yeast.

Taste: Close to being silky smooth with a nice fullish body. Malt sweetness is dominant in the front though soon lets in some vague nutty and chocolaty flavours with a slightly subdued hop bitterness. More chocolate flavours become noticable as well as a light buttery yeasty finish.

Notes: A tasty rounded and full bodied brown ale.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of superspak
4.08/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle into pint glass, 4BFH bottle code. Pours slightly hazy deep reddish copper color with a 2 finger dense and rocky light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of caramel, brown sugar, light toffee, toasted bread, light nuttiness, herbal, wood, grass, light plum/apple, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, moderate earthy hops, and restrained yeast ester notes; with solid strength. Taste of big caramel, brown sugar, light toffee, toasted bread, light nuttiness, herbal, wood, grass, light plum/apple, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light-moderate herbal/woody bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, toasted bread, light nuttiness, wood, and herbal/toasted earthiness after the finish for a good bit. Awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, moderate earthy hops, and restrained yeast ester flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/bready, and slightly sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish as expected of 5.2%. Overall this is an excellent ESB style. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, moderate earthy hops, and restrained yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of gumbee86
2.5/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Nice flavour. After taste to sharp

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Photo of BlkHawkFan01
3.32/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Thought this one would be more full bodied than it was. Poured into a tulip glass. Beautiful dark amber color, nice head with decent retention. Nose was almost non-existent. Very light notes of cocoa, toffee and coffee. Taste and feel were consistent with the nose, light and a bit watery. Expected something richer and more full bodied. Not really an English Ale drinker, so I don't know how this stacks up against the leaderboard. It was okay, cool bottle which I'll keep!

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Photo of bendythumb
4.81/5  rDev +27.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

To aptly summarize my review below -- this is probably the closest thing to a perfect beer for my palate!

The experience of Hobgoblin begins with the bottle itself -- a traditional, old-fashioned bottle shape with majestic, fantasy-themed artwork combined with beautiful typography that suits the aesthetic of the brew within.

When poured into glass, the brew is a very dark and burnt red; a colour combination between amber and ember. A small amount of head is present. When held up to light, the red essence within the brew glows within a brown shell -- like the fire within a goblin's forge.

The smell is fairly weak - but notes of chocolate, yeast and malts are present in the nose. The subdued smell of the brew stands juxtaposed to the taste of it; a clever trick played upon human tasters by the goblin brewmasters.

Drunk extremely cold, a strong taste of yeast and malt is present, with moderate notes of chocolate and toffee. As she warms, a cornucopia of flavours explodes with every sip. Sweet fruity overtones perfectly balance the heavy richness of the malts. While I usually dislike a strong yeast presence, the brew offsets a heavy yeast presence with these fresh, sugary notes.

The mouthfeel of the beer is magnificent. It can be best described as heavy (yet not thick), with a moderate amount of carbonation and a hefty amount of crispness. I love the thick, almost sludgy consistency of a stout; but this type of mouthfeel isn't perfect for every occasion. While this brew goes down as easy as a pilsner, the explosion of taste and heaviness of flavour is a definite sign that you're drinking a true brew.

Overall, Hobgoblin is akin to a symphony composed by Beethoven; a perfect balanced brew for any occasion. The traditional and fantasy-themed aesthetic of the beer fits the brew itself perfectly. In an era where American adjunct lagers run rampant, and the hyper-corporate macrobreweries create millions of bottles of tasteless pseudobeer for the unthinking masses, Hobgoblin stands in stark contrast to brews drunk by filthy casuals. Get ready to hold hands with goblins and dance around their goblin-sized campfire!

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Photo of tectactoe
3.25/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Old Chicago. Pours an off-shade of brown with minimal head and lacing. Up front, the beer has a woody smell, full of roasted malts and caramel with some nutty undertones. It hits the tongue with a slight bitterness that grows and grows. The taste is somewhat standard, a bit boring, with the usual malty taste, a bit of caramel and yeast, with a super bitter aftertaste. The bitterness is welcomed at first, but by the end of the pint, it grows a bit tangy and tiresome. The body is medium thickness with a somewhat dry finish and a nice helping of carbonation.

Not bad, but not great either. The ESBs are an acquired taste, so if you plan on getting into the style, I would recommend starting elsewhere. Otherwise, it's still a decent brew to try if it's available.

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Photo of JoLight
3.25/5  rDev -14%
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 Rijtjeshuis
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look ~ pours a deep coppery to ruby color. the head is decent: it comes up about two or three fingers, is cream colored, and falls at a usual pace with some decent lacing. clarity is very good with some nice visible carbonation.

Smell ~ overall, pretty good. it had a nice balance of hops and malts, though i'd characterize both as in the moderately-low range. the malt is pretty standard for the style (light, crystal, and some dark malt) and not too complex. hops are of the earthier english varieties (though i can't really identify it). some nice fruity esters round out the finish.

Taste ~ good, well-balanced, flavor. a little richer than what i got off the nose, although the character is more or less the same. the malt isn't too complex, but has a decent depth between primary malts (bread-like) and secondary malts (very light caramel, some chocolate/coffee). the malt is balanced nicely by a prominent earthy hops with a hip of floral in there. a bit of fruitiness on the finish.

Feel ~ medium-full body with moderately low carbonation. no alcohol warmth. nice mouth-coating feel.

I'm a big fan of this one. while it's not as complex and deep as Fuller's ESB, it achieves a great balance between hops and malt with some nice fruity esters in there that round out the flavor well. great sessionability.

I had this with some great english fare like yorkshire pudding, lancashire hotpot, and shepard's pie.

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Photo of DiUr
3.72/5  rDev -1.6%
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 Premo88
4.35/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

11.2 oz. bottle poured into nonic

L: dark orange/amber ... brown ... it's a fantastic array of darker colors, crystal clear; head is smallish and dissipates quickly, tan colored, does keep a nice collar; no sticking and very little lacing

S: buttery sweet malt with a good English ale fruitiness (peach, apricot) ... fruit note is almost toasted, again the malt showing through; after tasting it, I can start picking up the earthy hops in the nose, but they're very subtle; sour grain underneath

T: classic sweet/bitter dance of the good English ale ... the brew has plenty of sweeter malt flavors including bread, nuts and butter with a hint of sugar, and the fruit note in the nose comes across like a toasted peach in the flavor; a generic bitterness balances it, "generic" as in there's little flavor to the bitterness, just something bitter ... typical earthy hop note

F: solid all around, great carbonation for a good crispness that works well to my American palate ... love it

O: for the longest time I figured this brew was just a bit -- a subpar beer with a fancy label and cool name to help market it to the masses. it's much more than that. compared to the general array of English imports in my area, Hobgoblin is as good as any ... a nice English pale ale fruitiness mixed with a subtle-but-detectable earthy hop bitterness make it a pleasant quaff. it's a good beer and one I'll revisit.

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Photo of davidperez
3.48/5  rDev -7.9%
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 TripelJ
3.76/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Now Quaffing: Wychwood Hobgoblin

Pours a deep translucent mahogany, with a medium-sized fluffy white head. The head recedes with nice lacing to form a creamy ring around the top that enhances the mouthfeel of each sip. Aroma is of sweet malts and faint hops with a little mustiness (says chocolate on the bottle, but I'm just getting sweet.) Taste is sweet at first with some roasted malts, followed by a vinous, semi-dry finish. Mouthfeel is smooth and nearly full bodied. This could definitely qualify as a session ale, with high flavor and a moderately low ABV. Overall, I had high expectations for this beer and they were definitely met.

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Photo of seanyfo
3.73/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

50cl bottle poured into standard UK pint sleeve

BBE 31 May 2012

A- chestnut brown with excellent clarity. 3 tan head slowly reduces to a sustainable crown with some very good lacing.

S- nutty quality with a hint of vanilla, faint toasted malts.

T- lots of toasted malts up front, has an almost sour quality about it. A little bit of nuttiness and toffee but the more toasted malts take the lead with a medium finish and low hop character

M- medium body and carbonation

D- looks well and a nice aroma. A good toasted malt quality on the palate but this almost sour note from the high levels of toasted malt never really goes away. Id like a bit more toffee like sweeter malt quality in there. Otherwise a nice example of the style

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Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of meich75
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%

Photo of PuckPuck
4.5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of freeHorizon
3.25/5  rDev -14%

Photo of PaF
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of Bluegrass49
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of bonertime98
3/5  rDev -20.6%

Photo of Snowcrash000
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a beautiful deep amber coloration with a small, fizzy head. Smells of bready, caramel malts with notes of chocolate, toffee and just a hint of grassy, citrus hops. Taste is malt forward, but with an excellent hop balance. Caramel, bready, slightly roasty malt and grassy, citrus hops. Notes of toffee, chocolate and red berries. Finishes with a light bitterness and some toffee covered red berries lingering in tha aftertaste. Full mouthfeel with a medium body and carbonation. A fantastic brew that combines the complexity of darker Ales with the drinkability of a Bitter. Great balance of flavor. Hobgoblin has been a longtime favorite of mine when I was living in London and it will always be one of my favorite English Ales.

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Photo of woemad
2.89/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle purchased at Huckleberry's in Spokane for $1.65.

Poured a dark brown with amber highlights. Modest, off-white head that dropped quickly, though there was a halfway decent amount of lace and a foamy collar.

Wasn't much going on in the aroma department. Mildly toasted malt, very minor brown sugar and very mild raisin aromas. Kinda weak.

Taste was a little more interesting than the smell. The brown sugar taste was a little more dominant. Still, this is a very restrained brown ale. I think my last Newcastle had more character than this, and that's kinda sad.

This is the most light-bodied brown ale I've ever had. It's far more watery than it has any right to be. Carbonation is there, but it's very mild, like the rest of this beer.

This is a brown ale that is scared of it's own shadow. It's incredibly meek. If it doesn't run and hide from you in the beer store, there's not much point in picking it up.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.72/5  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.

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Photo of Proteus93
4.04/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A murky, iced tea colour... not much head at all, and whatever was there didn't stick around long.

S: Sweet, English malts. Candy sugars. Very pleasant and soft.

T: Like the smell... quite sweet malts. A bit of dark fruit esters as it warms. This is quite a nice tasting brew.

M + D: Moderate & easy going. Juicy & clean... very nice, and equally drinkable. Something I would personally find very sessionable, being so friendly. A little light in mouthfeel, but good nonetheless. No idea how this would compare to the experience in the clear bottles, as I can be a little wary of them, unless I feel confident in the general quality of the store carrying (and even then... ), but since this is a canned release, I figure I'll stick to that format.

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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 2717 ratings