Hobgoblin | Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

2,622 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

Bros Score:
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,622 |  Reviews: 1,090
Photo of Stocean1
3.62/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - one finger head with good retention and sticky lacing - large bubbles - dark amber raisin colour

S - sweet malt and some dark fruit and caramel

T - sweet malt up front with caramel and chocolate notes - nutty character -dark bread - mineral/hard water notes

M - light medium body - little carbonation - a little dry and bitter on the back end

O - decent brown ale with some interesting nuances - will definitely sample it again

 436 characters

Photo of woosterbill
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Handpump half-pint.

A: Clear reddish-brown body with just a thin layer of fine, clumpy tan foam. Nice color.

S: Clean + nutty. Nice malt presence without too much sweetness. Light floral hops. Quite nice, actually. Much better than the bottle I had a few years back.

T: Very nice. Nutty, toffee, caramel malts. Some earthy + floral hops on the tail end. Tasty.

M: Lively (for cask) medium body. Very pleasant.

O: I had extremely low expectations for this beer, but was pleasantly surprised by how truly good it was. I won't be seeking out the clear bottles, but if I see it on cask again I'll order it without hesitation, and would encourage anyone else to do the same. There just aren't enough Brown Ales available on cask (I saw maybe one for every 10 Bitters), so this makes for a nice change of pace.


 819 characters

Photo of Knapp85
3.28/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out as a copper colored liquid with a nice looking creamy head on it. The head leaves behind a pretty good lacing. smell of the beer is mostly malt and earthy aromas. The taste of the beer is earthy as well. There is a pretty nice hop bitterness to the beer too. The mouthfeel was very smooth, just enough carbonation to not be flat. Overall it's a pretty nice beer all around.

 394 characters

Photo of obrendano
4.23/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

as a metalhead/fantasy lover I think this is easily one of my favorite presentations for a beer. great to listen to some Iced Earth for atmosphere while drinking this one

A - great fantasy bottle design. beer is a standard ale brown, the head is dense and khaki colored

S - caramel malt, wheat bread fresh out of the bag, banana-like esthers....nice

T - very prominent caramel malt, ripe fruit notes, even takes on a milk chocolatey taste towards the end. finishes bold with dark malt and just enough fruity hop bitterness to balance everything out.

M - super smooth and medium bodied

O - I really like this one, and it's almost always a steal price-wise. nice to see a beer that holds up even under heavy image and marketing

 730 characters

Photo of Ryan011235
3.94/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 5/30/11

Rustic, faded brown with copper hues and some amber at the stem. One finger cap of smooth foam. Retention is much thinner. Basically no lace until the end of the glass.

Steady, malty aroma with notes of baked dark bread, grains and hints of cocoa. Mild notions of spice. A tad earthy. Doesn't seem overly hoppy though there are scant traces of orange peel to be found. Slight nips of dark fruit. All told it smells pleasant.

Hey there; it seems the hops were hiding, waiting for the first sip. Bitterness is a touch higher upfront, tapering off toward the finish (though it retains its character). Pine resin and hits of citrus zest are backed by a minute grassiness. Solid, flavorful malt backing of cocoa and bread with some toastiness around the edges.

Medium-full body with carbonation that mirrors the progression of the hops; initially lively, becoming calmer toward the finish. Toasty bread and residual hops linger. My only gripe is that it has a coating feel as time wears on.

Starts off just fine while cold and gets better over time (aside from the coating feel). I'm a little bummed I passed on this so long. Worth a shot.

 1,188 characters

Photo of ChugginOil
3.38/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for the extra armock!

This one pours a light brown color and settles nut brown. There are some nutty aromas that are pleasing but not enticing. The flavor is of some sweet malt with a bit of a nutty finish. Ample carbonation is appropriate. Medium-bodied. This is an easy drinker but not the greatest qualities.

 319 characters

Photo of donkeyrunner
2.8/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

@ BBC Hanover, MA

Dark brown with a thin, cap. A collar hangs around for a half the glass before leaving this beer completely devoid of any foam. Sigh, such low appearance standards from English browns.

Aroma is woodsy light cola-esque caramel and old coffee grinds. Taste is similarly unsweetened caramel, and watered down coffee that's been sittin' around for awhile. Lugubrious, swampy hop character. More of a general dark ale than a brown specifically. Low carbonation with a pharmaceutical eh at the end.

There used to be a dive bar called Macatz in Myrtle Beach (maybe there still is, I don't know) that had really crappy beer and Hobgoblin. I remember when I was but a young, burgeoning beer geek I thought this was one of the world's most flavorful beers. Not so much anymore.

 789 characters

Photo of rickyleepotts
2/5  rDev -46.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Brown ales scare me. Not because I don’t like them, but because they ALL taste the same. When I learned that this beer was an English brown ale, I crossed my fingers in hopes that the word English would make this beer taste a little different than the typical browns I drink here in the States.

It smells good, but the nose doesn’t last very long. It’s there… then gone again. The one thing I do like about this beer is the aftertaste. It’s very thick, dark… and reminds me of what my mouth feels like say, ten minutes after eating a piece of dark chocolate. The beer itself is smooth, with a hint of carbonation that I feel could easily be masked as it brings down the overall enjoyment of the brew.

The beer itself has a VERY low ABV. Apparently that helps them sell more of this… but I don’t see it. Regardless, the beer is decent at best. The bottle is cool, and after learning the story behind the hobgoblin I now know the meaning behind it. But that doesn’t have anything to do with the taste of the beer. I’ll drink it, but I wouldn’t order it. Not even sure I would buy this again, unless it was on clearance. If you like browns, find one that has a higher ABV. Thank me later!

 1,209 characters

Photo of zaphodchak
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Ruddy amber body with thin head that recedes quickly, but retains a bit.

Nose is a ton of bitter malt and some biscuity feel to it; it smells very English for what it's worth.

Taste is standard for an English brown, dark, nutty, and malty, but with a dryish finish. Very well balanced and chewy. Flavor isn't intense, but neither is it insubstantial.

Mouthfeel is great, super creamy and smooth. Quite nice.

Drinkable if a tad bitter, a good example of an English brown, close to a stout. Fans of Guinness and the like will appreciate it. Discounters of British beer may not.

 579 characters

Photo of Roke87
3.38/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottle poured into a Duvel tulip at cellar temperature.
Best before date: Feb.23/2012

Appearance- Pours a dark ruby red with plenty of light penetrating this one, has a nice fluffy two fingers of off white head that quickly resides to a nice ring and bubbly little top from the carbonation.

Smell- Not too much going on in the smell department, maybe just some dark fruity flavours, figs, orange peels, and a bit of spice.

Taste- Is a whole other animal, you get some roasted malt flavours, the dark fruit is very present in the taste as well, with a bit of sweet chocolate almost caramel/toffee tastes in there as well but you got to really look for it.

Mouthfeel- Light-Medium bodied, under average carbonation but still smooth and crisp drinking.

Overall- With such a cool bottle I was almost expecting more from this dark ale, the smells are very muted and the taste doesn’t really have anything to write home about. Low ABV that is very easy drinking, maybe a beer to start off with if you’re used to the regular BMC crowd but personally I was unimpressed by this one.

 1,090 characters

Photo of jgirotto
3.99/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A = pours a very dark amber - almost black with one finger white head. Great contrast.

S = almost metallic and seemed sharp to me.

T = much smoother than the smell indicated. Crisper than the color indicated.

Overall, this is a very nice ale. I think that I served it too cold. At closer to room temp the taste warmed up as well and was less crisp. At this temp the chocolate and earthly taste shows up. Much better.

 419 characters

Photo of hiku7
3.61/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle to a nonic. Love the bottle design, neat somewhat of an hourglass shape with witches etched into the design. I bought the beer just because I wanted the bottle for homebrew.

Pours a reddish brown with a tall tan head. Decent lacing.

Smell is light and a bit fruity and doughy. Mostly seems to be coming from the yeast. No hop smell. Not as much malt smell as I expected.

The taste is caramel and roasted malt with a light earthy hop finish. Mouthfeel is smooth and silky, with some fizzy carbonation.

Overall, I enjoyed this sessionable brown ale, but not sure if I'd go back to it.

 613 characters

Photo of mjurney
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber-brownish color, clear. Some bubbles. Egg shell color head.

Very fruity aroma. Some malts. Touch of earthy.

Malty up front along with fruitiness at the end. Caramel malts, just a touch of buttery. Very fruity, I’m getting black cherries and some sweet tangerines. There some hint of earthy hops in the taste. Light-medium body. Carbonation is soft.

Very dry finish that lingers in a good way.

Not bad for a English Brown Ale. Above average.

 494 characters

Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle into a Chimay goblet

A: Pours a respectable white head, falls quickly but leaves a presence and good lace. Deep brown, almost black with auburn tones.

S: Aromas not very strong. Roasted malts.

T: The roasted malt flavor dominates here. Nice (but light) tobacco, dark dried fruit, a distinct bitter, and a touch of candy/molasses sweetness.

M: Very dry. Medium carbonation.

D: I really liked this beer but not very sessionable for me. Worth seeking out and trying.

 481 characters

Photo of TCMike
4.33/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It pours, a nice reddish/dark brown color. Produced about a 2 finger beige head.
The aroma was of malt, caramel, and maybe a hint of cherry.
The taste was the same as the smell, but with a little bit of a creamy taste, and mouth-feel. Fairly low carbonation, and a medium mouth feel. No noticeable hops.
Very drinkable.

 319 characters

Photo of stckhndlr
4.28/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark cherrywood brown color, 2 finger head that doesn't stick around too long. Great lacing. clings all the way up the glass.

S- Dark caramel malts with a touch of smoke.

T- Oh, this is a nice beer. caramel and sweet dark fruit, a buttery finish.

M- semi creamy medium body. smooth finish, not overly bitter.

O- I like this one. A great tasting beer to me and it goes down really easy. Will definitely drink this one again.

 431 characters

Photo of bastardface
3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was given to me in a bottle. The aroma of the beer was refreshing with a sweet smell, almost fruity in nature. I did enjoy this beer as it had a different mouthfeel to it. It did not leave a bad aftertaste and was easy to drink. I recommend this beer if you have an adventerous spirt by nature.

 304 characters

Photo of Sachsenfreude
3.89/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance; clear chestnut brown. Quickly dissipating white head, little lacing.

smell; malty with a hint of buttery Brazil nuts. Mild, mellowed out hops.

taste; roasted nuts and burnt malts, some buttery notes give way to a bitter finish. Noticable alcohol.

mouthfeel; medium bodied with very active carbonation slick a buttery, quite smooth and refreshing. Dry finish.

overall; nothing special but worth a try, pretty good but better options are out there.

 462 characters

Photo of Lauthaha
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a half-liter beer glass.

Appearance: Pours a pure mahogany; the beer is translucent. Ruby and amber tones at times. Head is a frothy tan color, and leaves moderately-heavy lacing as it recedes to a slightly-thicker-than-thin foam on the surface of the beer.

Smell: Rich malt character is glittered with prune-like vibes. Raisin bread, cinnamon, nutmeg...and hiding in the corner like a Fonz-esque rebel are the hops. Pungent, pleasant and poised to kick some tail.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Beer goes in without a fight...things are calm...and then...wham! Medium-level carbonation floods the palate with a cornucopia of color. All the flavors appear at once. There is a pervading bitterness which is attacked by the savory malt character and sweet spices, but eventually overcomes all obstacles. Aftertaste is chewy and mild, like chewing on a banana peel.

Overall: A good beer, all around. Nothing *too* fancy, but definitely a crowd-pleaser at an affordable price.

 997 characters

Photo of Hollenbeck2
3.58/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Good beer not overall super impressive but easy easy easy to drink

Had this in Miami on cask super rare to find on the west coast so I had to try. I would recommend this beer to most anybody on cask although I can see this beer not being as good or exciting normally

Great looking beer with a chocolate brown color and foam ribbons that come and go quickly

Good mouthfeel with no lingering taste

A little expensive at $7 a pint

 431 characters

Photo of mattgreger
3.87/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The pour on this brew poured a dark brown with some great ribbons of ruby red. It also had a beautiful creamy tan head that sat and capped the brew. It had some good retention, then follows the glass with some great sticky lacing.

The aroma is filled with sweet malts. There is a great toffee flavor that hits the nose as well. As the brew warms, I can also smell some great notes of a floral hops. Its smell great, I am looking forward to it.

Once I had my first sip, I was impressed. It has a great sweet toffee flavor that I can taste right of the bat. It then feeds into a dark fruit and hoppy bitterness. Its a nice blend, not overly bitter. The brew finishes with a bit of sweetness that gives this brew a very well round, complex flavor system, that pleases the palate. It also has a great dry finish.

The mouthful on this brew is very smooth. It has a great, light and refreshing carbonation. The mixture of the sweet and bitter flavors of this brew give it a great taste, that has you wanting more.

Great brew to drink. Not super heavy, and great for any season or time of the day. It a great brew, and would be something I would drink on more of a regular basis, if it wasn't so expensive. Its a great brew. I will have to seek out others from this brewery.

 1,273 characters

Photo of Ommy
3.28/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The Hobgoblin pours nicely and forms a bubbly head that lingers for a while, leaving behind a very nice lace. Inside the glass it shows a darkish red which matches the label quite nicely.

The first smells I get on the nose are metallic and copper like. A faint smell of hops is noted with a hint of orange peel. It isn't too impressive, though in my limited experience it is pretty standard with a dark English ale.

The bitter hops prick the tongue quite nicely, but not overly for my palate. The slight metallic smell is also tasted briefly in the middle. The finish has a nice mouthwatering hoppiness feel that leaves me wanting more.

Overall as a relatively new person to a "Dark English Ale" I would say that this is pretty flavorful and enjoyable to try, but not something I would buy again or urge my friends to buy, but it is nonetheless nice to try.

 860 characters

Photo of bjlovers68
3.78/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a 500ml brown bottle. Love the cap, definitley one for the collection.

A-Looks very inviting but not as much 'ruby red' colour as I was expecting. Very brown with hints of red through the glass when held in light, a cherry wood colour. nice looking off white head leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

S-really nice smell, rich and malty, hints of caramel and dried fruit.

T/M-Can catch a little of the toffee malts as mentioned on the bottle, but the bitter, earthen aftertaste is too much for me. Light to medium bodied and quite dry.

O-It seems to get better as it warms in the glass a little. Maybe I tried it too cold, but the aftertaste was unpleasant at any temperature. Nothing amazing but not bad, maybe an acquired taste.

Cool website and interesting bottles and labels.
"whats the matter lagerboy, afraid you might taste something?"

 876 characters

Photo of Kartoffeln
3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Deep mahogany with a dense tan head that leaves spotty lacing as it shrinks to a bubbly cap.

S: Toffee, sweet malts, dark chocolate, and a touch of fruity hops.

T: Sweet malts and toffee. The hops taste more floral than fruity, and roasted, nutty bitterness comes through gradually.

M: Carbonation comes on unexpectedly crisp, but it drinks smoothly. The bitter finish is long-lasting, but a bit too astringent - strongly reminiscent of coffee and dark chocolate, but I was hoping for more hops presence.

D: Though simple, fairly well-balanced and definitely sessionable. A solid, particularly bitter English brown ale.

 626 characters

Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Surprise! It looks exactly like a dark ale. The beer pours a dark mahogany brown, garnet in the light, with a thin tan head of approximately 1cm. I'm drinking it colder that I would typically like to serve an English ale, so the head unfortunately disappeared quickly. The beer appears rich and drinkable, not too watery.

Once again, served colder than I would typically prefer, but still notes of caramel toffee, vanilla, bitter hops, and a little dark fruit. Not too bad, at this point I am really kicking myself for not letting the beer warm some before pouring.
Therefore, in light of my mistake, I am going to give this beer the benefit of the doubt and round up at a "good." When served cold the nose is only slightly better than average.

Sweet malt, smooth and crisp hops, and a roasted lingering aftertaste that slightly overextends its welcome. This is a traditional tasting english ale that does the job right the first time and sticks to traditional roasted malt and hops to give it meaning and value. The hops add generous spice, but this beer balances both the malt and bitterness well.

As stated in taste, this beer is fairly balanced and traditional tasting. Medium bodied beer with roasted malt and bitter hops. My only complaint is in a lingering charcoal that coats the palate for long past its welcome. If you don't see what I'm talking about after only one sip, a few sips will be adequately additive to give you the gist.

This beer is unfortunately overpriced costing approximately $5-6 USD per 500mL bottle. I realize that I this is not the most I've paid for beer, but I've paid a similar price for much better beer than this. Alas, the cost to import from overseas must be taken into account and the beer worth trying once.
Great souvenir bottle to hold on to, very unique with a classy label.
In summary, the beer was smooth and refreshing, but it's hard to be relaxed while paying such an unnecessary premium.

 1,990 characters

Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
Beer rating: 3.76 out of 5 with 2,622 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.