Hobgoblin | Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

2,604 Ratings

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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Ratings: 2,604 |  Reviews: 1,085
Photo of radioscooter
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of shufon
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of IPAaron
5/5  rDev +34.8%

Photo of meich75
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of thestranger99
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of xaoslaad
5/5  rDev +34.8%

Photo of mrhartounian
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of Lawnboy33
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of heygeebee
3.46/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a chestnut brown, massive head with large susdsy bubbles. Dies tho.

Restrained caramel, toffee on nose.

Taste is bitter roast caramel, toffee, almost too bitter for a brown ale.

Mouthfeel watery.

Better as it warms, flavours expand, and gets sweeter. Despite Styrian Goldings in the mix, a bit one-dimensional.

 320 characters

Photo of JohnnyChicago
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fresh bottle straight from the UK, poured in a Guinness tulip pint.

A: Pours a deep ruby red with two fingers of off-white head.

S: That familiar burst of earthy English hops rise first. Toffee and buttered, over-toasted bread.

T: Sweet caramel and creme, with a nice balance of dark fruits and raisons. Hops are restrained and pleasant.

D: Smooth, tasty stuff that is refreshing, but still rather filling. Mouthfeel isn't terrible but I can only imagine what it would be like on cask.

Overall: It is a delicious and simple English ale. Not sure why its labeled as a brown ale as it shares few similarities with other English browns (Northern or Southern) that I've had. I wouldn't mind having this at my local watering hole at any given time.

 749 characters

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

11.2 oz bottle into shaker pint.

A: Mahogany with a big, sticky, off-white head.

S: Malt. Fruit. Caramel. Brown bread. Sweet breakfast pastries.

T/M: Malty and sweet up front, with a slight fruitiness. Caramel and brown bread notes come through in fairly equal proportions. Feel is substantial, but not ridiculous for beer of this color and strength. Finish is toasty and nutty with minimal bitterness.

Overall: Nice brown ale. Good execution of the style.

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Photo of phiberoptik
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cask conditioned Imperial pint from the BRIDGE Bar and Eating House in Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport in London.

Deep amber, mahogany color with very little head. Just a small off white ring around the top.

Smells of rich maltiness, brown bread, and a faint aroma of some hops.

Bitter, rich with caramel, some roasted, and grainy malts. Subtle bread or toast flavor as well.

Medium bodied with decent mouth coating. A bit flat, even for being casked.

A great example of an English cask ale. Not familiar in many of the beers I drink at home so it was a nice experience to try this.

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Photo of Pintofbrown
3.6/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was poured into a tulip glass. Artwork and bottle design is really cool.

Appearance- The head builds slowly and ends with an even finger that is tan in color. It's really bubbly and full of air pockets. There is no lace. The body is a deep coffee brown with amber highlights.

Smell- There is certainly bread malt and some sugary dark fruit in the nose. I notice brown sugar buried, only the slightest hint of citrus hops.

Taste- There are tons of malt in the drink, but they aren't as sweet as the nose made them out to be, more bread and maybe caramel.

It isn't until the finish that a little bit of earthy and slightly tangy hop comes through. The grains were toasted due to the slight roast noticeable.

Mouth feel- It is medium bodied bordering on light. The finish is a little astringent due to the watery nature of the beer and the hoppy, roasted finish. It needs more carbonation to smooth it out and make it creamier.

Overall- It isn't quite as good as I remember, but I do have some more experience in the brown ale department as well. The nose is pretty good, but the flavors are a little bland. A creamier mouth feel will undoubtedly help this beer.

 1,171 characters

Photo of Doshkin
4.42/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a - rich brown with a good amount of haze. half inch of head but a layer of tiny bubbles remains for the whole glass. those little guys leave a nice smooth lacing.

s - smells amazing. sweet, almost caramel, malts with the slightest touch of something roasted. extremely inviting brown aroma.

t - where did those hops come from? the sweet malts masked the smell of the piney hops that explode in the flavor of this beer. the aroma-dominant malts try to play tug-of-war with the piney hop taste by coming through in the swallow, but the hops win out by prevailing in the aftertaste. the flavors give this beer an interestingly moderate level of complexity.

m - medium, smooth/frothy carbonation, and a touch of dry bitterness.

o - wonderful representation of a good brown. highly recommend this brew. the smell is incredible and the taste sort of blindsides you with some hidden hops. i can see why my good friend picks this up any time he sees it.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.45/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this one on tap to finish out my lunch at First Street Draught House. Came out in a bulbed pint glass. A dark mahogany color with a finger-width off-white head on top. Sweet nose of caramel, syrup, light floral hops. The mouth is a little more bubbly than I'd like. I thought this would be a bit more smooth and mellow. Sweet toffee notes with some light caramel and a smidge of alcohol on the finish. Not a bad beer by any means. I'd have this again. It was refreshing and a great way to close out my lunch.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - slightly hazy amber, two fingers of off white head with gobs of sticky lacing all around
S - sweet toffee, nutty, raisins, and sour fruit
T - toffee and roasted nutt malt flavours, brown sugar, light leafy hops with a mild fruity finish
M - medium to heavy body with a sticky sweet mouth coating feel with a light dryness
O - top to bottom a solid brown ale, easy to drink and works well with a hearty meal

 410 characters

Photo of fx20736
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9 oz bottle into a British Pint glass. Served at 62f.

Rich chesnut brown that is still as a cup of tea with a meringue like frothy latte colored head. Very nice lacing.

Aroma of rich toasted caramel, a noble type hoppiness and a barely discernible alcohol ester.

Mouthfeel: light.

Taste: Toasted caramel, pruny sweetness, burnt toast.

Notes: oh yeah, this has got it going on and then some. British Browns are becoming a favorite style. Bring more Hobgoblin, please.

 488 characters

Photo of jonb5
3.42/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass. 4.5% abv when in a cask. One little finger head. Nice mahogany colour, not cloudy but not totaly clear. Strong smell of roasted coffee and malts. Tasted quite woody with strong hints of coffee. Smooth enough. Decent pint but not really one to seek out.

 276 characters

Photo of BierStein711
3.48/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5


Served in shaker pint glass.

Overall, this is a bready, biscuity, brown ale that is worth consuming to get more acquainted with the style. I enjoyed this brew, but not enough to track it down to see it in my cellar or fridge. Its a great beer to celebrate fall with, though. Especially, on Halloween night.

 315 characters

Photo of hopsolutely
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Have enjoyed this on tap before, but this is the first time I have purchased a bottle. Although not my preferred style, a very good example of an English brown ale.

Beajutiful dark colour is very clear and pours an impressive off-white head. Aroma is malty and bready, sweet and mild. Taste follows suit, roasted malts, hints of nuts and base-line biscuity goodness. Would recommend.

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Photo of thehyperduck
4.06/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle, best before July 2012. Pours a deep, mostly clear brownish copper-red colour reminiscent of cherry cola. Two fingers of foamy and resilient beige head sits atop the liquid, leaving tons of lacing behind on the sides as it gradually seeps away. Nice aroma, very nutty with lots of biscuity roasted malts and molasses. A bit of ethanol.

Very tasty stuff. Roasted biscuits and nuts feature prominently, alongside bittersweet dark chocolate and toffee. Raisin and plum notes, with some yeastiness. There is some earthy coffee grind bitterness in the finish that lingers only briefly. Perfect balance between the sweetness and bitterness. Medium-bodied, low carbonation with a bit of a chewy/syrupy mouthfeel. Very smooth and easy to throw back, but interesting enough to be worth savouring.

Final Grade: 4.06, a solid A-. Still one of the better brown ales I have ever tried. It has been at least 5 years since I last imbibed some Hobgoblin, which is a shame and really my own loss. Heartily recommended to any fan of bitters or English ales in general, and something I will certainly get again at some point.

[Updated Sept. 28 2013]
Picked up another bottle, in fact I've had several over the last few weeks. There's nothing mind-blowing about Hobgoblin, but it's still a tasty, highly quaffable ESB that isn't too expensive and is available almost everywhere. This is a well-brewed, no-nonsense, sitting-at-the-pub or watching-the-game type of beer, you're not supposed to be getting excited about it. I see no need to alter this one's score - it's superb for what it is.

 1,587 characters

Photo of Kendo
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured into a Sam Smith's nonic-style pint glass. Body is clear, chestnut brown witha small khaki-colored head that leaves a tiny bit of lacing.

S: Toasted grains and bread and a metallic/minerally scent.

T: First impression is more the mouthfeel than the taste: active carbonation. As for flavor, starts out with toasted cereal grains and some fruit. Minerally, maybe grassy hops finish it off - there's a surprising amount of lingering bitterness for a true English ale.

M: Light-bodied; as I noted above, carbonation is a bit too active for my tastes.

O: Decent, not great. Used to drink a lot of these with MRMOJORISIN about 12-15 years ago. Liked it better then.

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Photo of phichifiji00
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from draft into pint glass.

Appearance: Reddish brown, pours about 1 finger of head that fades slowly. Lots of lacing.

Smell: Malty, nutty, caramel malt, sweet, toffee.

Taste: Malty, nutty, caramel, toffee, moderate hoppiness. Bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, moderate carbonation. Smooth.

Overall: Very drinkable. A solid English brown ale.

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Photo of Murrhey
3.76/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour pint bottle into a Pilsner glass on 10-15-11

A: Coca-Cola color with a two finger head that vanished quickly.

S: Nutty, kind of skunky. Not terrible or pungent, but not my favorite.

T: Dark and malty with a coffee sort of bitterness with a clean and clear finish.

M: A tad watery, I was hoping it would feel thicker for the flavoring going on.

O: Nostalgic beer as I had it on tap in Oxford a couple months ago. Still enjoyed it, but not as much as I did when it was on tap in The Four Candles. Maybe the importing took a toll?

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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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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
3.71 out of 5 based on 2,604 ratings.
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