Hobgoblin | Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

1,079 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: 1,079 | Ratings: 2,580
Photo of trooperp
5/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Let me just say...I've had this beer ON Tap and in a bottle....It is one of my all-time favorites...tough to find sometimes though...never saw it in bar on tap....I purchased a keg for my home bar...consumed it with two nice Hobgoblin glasses...the bottle looks great too

Turned "ON" a lot of people to this fine brew...even the most skeptical snobs

The appearance is a dark chestnut amber---great coloring--almost glows-looks tremendous in a glass pint

Smells great and nothing like any other beer--a bit toffee, bit fruity--a tiny bit hoppy

This beer tastes like no other--complex and very satisfying...I crave it

very nice mouthfeel--goes in soft and tastey---finishes a bit hoppy---perfect blend of malt and hops

Very drinkable beer--much like Smithwicks---but a definite step up in quality with a more robust flavor and complexity

Overall, again, I will say, I love this beer---tastes even better after it warms a bit---give this one a good try---I always have at least one case on hand at all times....

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Photo of MABrewHound
5/5  rDev +34.8%
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 santomark
4.85/5  rDev +30.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Soooo glad I found this on tap at a local ale house. I've had this before in the bottle and just forgot how much I loved it. When I asked the bartender for my usual drink, he told me it was out, but he had something along the lines and showed me the Hobgoblin behind him. I immediately had to have this.

Appearance - pours a dark red ruby color, with a mild thick head. You can definitely float a quarter on top of this head.

Smell - Nice and malty.

Taste - The head is very frothy, nutty and wonderfully refreshing. The head first hits the palate and gives off this faint chocolate taste. The beer itself is malty, a little bitter with hops, hints of fruit and coffee undertones. Just the right amount of everything for me.

Mouthfeel - The head melts in the mouth and fuses with the ale. It makes this smooth, silky and refreshing texture.

Drinkability - Wonderful, everything is so greatly balanced with it's own uniqueness from other English Dark Ales. This is like an EDA milked right from a unicorn by Da Vinci with a choir of baby angelic angels serenading in the background.

Overall - One of the best Dark English Ales I've had.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of gbarbee
4.82/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great beer overall. First time I had this this beer was in an "izakaya" style restaurant with some great sashimi.

My initial impression was surprise at the smooth character with chocolate and nutty hints.

Appearance: Light brown.
Smell: Clean and light.
Taste: Hint of chocolate and nuts
Mouthfeel: Smooth and light
Drinkability: Overall, great beer.

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Photo of bendythumb
4.81/5  rDev +29.6%
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 VolcomBrewer
4.8/5  rDev +29.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have heard only good about this ale, and being an English-loving ale drinker myself, I needed to try it. So I went ahead and picked up some pint bottles.

A: Pours a ruby hued brown. Creamy tan head that lasts and lasts. Laces very, very nicely.

S: Smells of sweet malts, toffee, and nice floral hops fill my nose. I'm very excited for the first drink.

T: My mouth is filled with joy. Sweet toffee-like flavors with some fruitiness and hop bitterness which isn't too bitter. It flows oh so well throughout my palate. Finishes with a complex mix of sweet and bitter that slowly fades into a dry finish, leaving you wanting more.

M: Smooth, Creamy, light carbonation. Along with the lasting flavors of sweet and bitter, it feels like heaven in your mouth.

D: Smooth and easy to drink. Perfect beer with dinner, Cigar and session afterwords. I could drink these to the end of time and never get disappointed.

This honestly has to be my favorite of English beers thus far...and top 5 overall for sure!

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Photo of Goregazm
4.7/5  rDev +26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Appearance: Dark brown with a slight red tint to it. Has a thick foamy head which dissipates somewhat rapidly, but not too fast. Leaves just a tad of lacing.

Smell: Wonderful smell combination of malts, toffee, and a woodsy scent. Has a very slight bitterness. Nothing to strong on the senses.

Taste: Rich, creamy blend with a malty taste to it, and it blends just right. Has a slight hint of a mildly sweet cream in it. Wonderful.

M: In the mouth it has a slightly thick consistancy, but not too heavy by any means. The aftertaste is rather sweet and leaves a nice creamy feeling behind.

D: This is a great beer to drink anytime, especially while sitting back relaxing after a long day at work. I would recommend eating this with a salty snack (maybe potato chips, Especially Salt & Vinegar) and enjoying how the salty bitterness of the food blends with the rich, creamy taste of the beer. A spectacular choice.

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Photo of velkyal
4.68/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pouring it into my 600ml IKEA glass, it was deep red, when held up to the light it was like a fire ruby, and had an ivory head. The smell of this beer was sweet, reminding me of three of my favourite things in life, condensed milk (loved condensed milk sandwiches as a kid), tablet and povidla - the English translation of "plum jam" just doesn't do povidla justice. On drinking, this was just an explosion of fruit, big juicy amounts of fruit. In the mouth this was a wonderfully smooth beer, like liquid jam that had just the barest trace of bitterness. Is it obvious yet that I enjoyed this beer lots and lots?

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Photo of BeerDrinkersWorldTour
4.66/5  rDev +25.6%
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 Stro23m
4.65/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I love this beer so so much and finally was able to get a six pack today but my god (my beer store doesnt have sticker price tags) so i was very supprised that when they rang it up, well it cost me $12 a six pack so 2 dollars a beer. The thing is i like this so much i didnt mind paying $12 a six pack cause this beer is so hard to find where i live.

To tell you the truth i wanted to rate this all 5's but ive never had a beer that was perfect but this is as close as it gets for me.

My favorite beer out of 100's that ive tried.

An english brown ale that has a fruity, biscuity maltiness and creamy mouthfeel.

This beer goes down so smooth that you literally wont beleive it.

I like enjoying a beer and not slamming it down but this one is so smooth after a couple of drinks i looked at my pint glass and it was empty.

I would reccomened this beer to anyone. I think this beer is so smooth and good that even people that only like budweiser may even enjoy this not just think its ok.


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Photo of Mike_Aguirre
4.65/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Very nice ESB and affordable in Mexico. Nice example of the style, looks deep copper almost brown with a mild white foam head. Smells malty and alcoholic. Taste is malty and alcoholic with a mild bitterness.

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Photo of AlesALot
4.65/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

16.9oz brown bottle. (From other reviews I think the brown bottles may have been an improvement on stability.)
Poors out a dark chocolate brown with a thick light tan head.
The smell is of chocolate and caramel maltiness.
The taste is the same as the smell. The chocolate and caramel linger and don't readily leave the palat. Thick creamy mouth feel that makes this a pleasure to drink all around. Great beer, but $5 for a pint bottle from the packy is steep for any beer. I will look forward to my next one.

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Photo of Offa
4.65/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a nice, flavourful, complex, and very drinkable ale.

It's clear, dark red brown, slightly bubbly with a large off-white head that lasts, shrinking slowly to a permanent, thin foamy top, and leaves some weak lace.

The aroma is rich dark malt with toffee, flowers, earth, leaves and hints of fruit andchocolate.

The taste is full and rich, complex, and very, balanced. It is richly malty, toasty, with hints of chocolate and toffee, with leafy-earthy hoppiness to balance, light bitterness and a light spicey bite. It has an enjoyably smooth, long-lasting, aromatic finish. Everything blends very well together, leaving a delicious and flavourful, yet very smooth and drinkable beer.

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Photo of pkalix
4.64/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

opaque, hazy, burnt amber. very cloudy.
smells very sweet, very malty, but thin.
tastes very sweet, tastes malty, but very thin, almost watery. the watery isnt a bad way of describing, but just thinner. almost a small balsamic vinegar taste to it also.
as i said, a thin feel to it, but this is a great product. it is a bit low in abv but maybe i should try more of these lower abv brews. their website is interesting and they apparently have a 'tripel' also? such an easy drink, i would gladly line up many more of these.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.63/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a standard pint glass. Pours leaving a thick creamy, sea-foam head. It dissipates to a thin film of creamy bubbles, and the lacing is exceptional: a sheath of sticky web. The color is a mixture of deep dark ruby red, and dark rich earth. Think of an Irish ale mixed with dark mahogany. The beer smells of bitter chocolate and a hint of citrus. The taste is amazing, but it took me a while to pick out everything. Slightly tangy citrus tones, mixed with toffee and caramel sweetness, and a bitter chocolate finish ... it's all in there. At one point, I swear I tasted a hint of raisins. A good mouthfeel, and a good session beer if you're into complex session beers. Overall this beer is awesome and fun to experience. I highly recommend checking out the Wychwood website, it's full of information and as fun to visit as this beer is to drink. This is my favorite brown ale, hands down.

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Photo of cracgor
4.6/5  rDev +24%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark red color with a pillowy tan head. Amazing smell, caramelly, sweet, fruity, a little hop in it. Caramel flavor, quite delicious. Sweet, smooth, and a little fruity. A lot like the smell only quite a bit richer. Nice texture, smooth, creamy. This could be a nice session beer. Easy to drink and something I won't grow tired of easily.

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Photo of GerryPendry
4.59/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I don't usually get excited about a beer's aroma, but this one really stands out. It has as much complexity as a lot of "bigger" beers. Superior drinkabilty...I could drink this all day.

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Photo of KGilmour
4.59/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: ruby red in sunlight, light head.

Smell: Malty, roasty, chocolate. Not overpowering.

Taste: Rich notes of chocolate and roasty malt. Caramel. Maybe a hint of cherry. Finish is slightly acidic--almost citrus, but not. Much like a perfect blend of a dark ale and a lighter European lager. Delicious.

Feel: Light and smooth. Slightly creamy.

Overall: This is an easy drinking ale, well rounded and flavorful, without a huge ABV or a heavy feel.

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Photo of StoutishDan
4.58/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I notice that I typically review beers that I've highly enjoyed, and/or beers that I highly respect but don't necessarily (and personally) like - that Uinta Barley Wine being one, man was it a killer, literally.

A - Poured into a pint glass (I've gotta get me a nice Sweetwater pinter or something "real" fancy. This beer is a nice and tasty-looking brownish color with a relatively small head that seems to rather be stagnantly...there, although not encompassing the full glass. The lacing looks sticky which is appealing.

S - Overall the smell is faint, but what seems to be most available is the carmelly note. There's a funk in there that I can't quite put my finger on. It's not a turn off, nor is it necessarily bad.

T - Definitely the better side of this beer. If one were to pick up on the 'funk' and dislike it, the taste might just make up for it. It's not very roasty which has seemed to be something I notice in Brown ales (and 'dark' brown ales). Maybe there's a little roastiness in there, but it's not very pushy. This is fantastic! One of the best Brown Ales I've tried, which as a newby isn't saying too much.

If you know of any killer brown ales, hit me up. Check what I've "got" and we'll see about a trade.

O - This beer is splendid. Wish I had more than just one to enjoy. This is the beer that would and could get me into trouble if I let it.

I drink for the taste not for the slam.

This is D, and

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.58/5  rDev +23.5%
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 shippos
4.56/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

pours a clear light brown witha cream colored dense head. biscuity bready aromas, chocolatly and some flowery hops with a yeasty note in there as well. awesome mouthfeel on this, full of sugary malt and treacle absolutly fantastic. hops are in there but leave the malt to dominate this beer which in my mind works wonders. I've had this on tap as well and I'd say go for the bottle.

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Photo of hippityhops85
4.55/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 500 ml bottle with some very smile-inducing artwork. Love it.

Pour is a deep amber/ruby with a great off-white head that slowly dissipates to a ring around my dimpled mug.

The nose is EXACTLY what I wanted it to be. Simple malts and simple hops. Nothing extreme going on here. Perfect.

The taste is right on par - biscuity, caramel-like malts with a delicate, bitter finish. and the mouth feel is outstanding. Smooth and creaming. It makes you want more and more although it's definitely not a session.

A beer like this will be lost on a "snob" who's looking for the next mouth-ripping wild ale or the most bourbon out of a stout. Delicate flavors that dance together in perfect harmony. Highly recommended.

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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 SilentSabre
4.53/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely wonderful! There mere appearance of this stuff was just fantastic. Poured a few shades darker than say, New Castle. Nice head and decent head retention. Nice thick lacing. Just a wonderful looking brew to behold. The fact that I poured it into an actual "Hobgoblin" goblet only added to the appearance.
The smell is quite delightful, too. I detect a bit of brown sugar, a hint of fresh sliced green apple, some cinnamon, and perhaps a bit of toffee. Very pleasant indeed.
The taste was quite malty and smooth, with what seemed to me, very little traces of hops. There is also a bit of a toasted taste on the finish that is quite nice.
Everything about this brew is truly fantastic. I seem to think so anyway. Smashing!

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Photo of brianlg
4.53/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 Pint 0.9 oz. bottle poured into a tulip. Nice dark amber/copper color with fluffy bubbly cream head. It smells of malts, and nuts. The taste is phenomenal. This is what I think of when I think of how beer tastes. It's very smooth, medium carbonation, just the right amount of malts and hop bitterness. This is going to be my new session beer.

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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
3.71 out of 5 based on 2,580 ratings.
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