Hobgoblin | Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

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2,661 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: 2,661 |  Reviews: 1,106
Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml can with a BB of Jan 2012. Features an image of a hobgoblin that has become the icon for this brewery.

Poured into a Sam Smith's pint glass. A clear ruby-brown hue with medium carbonation. Produces a nice thick head of tan foam with a creamy consistency and good retention; eventually subsides to a surface layer. Smells rich and malty with notes of roasted grain, caramel, brown sugar and dried fruit. A hint of spice and alcohol.

Tastes of sweet roasted malt with a mild dry finish. Notes of caramel, brown sugar, dried fruit, stewed leaves and subtle burnt grain. A faint background hint of solvent/alcohol. Mouthfeel is smooth and dry with pleasing carbonation, but a bit thin. Bitter, malty aftertaste.

A decent brown ale and one I would happily drink again. The sweet caramel notes are nice, although there is a background off-flavour that could be improved. The mouthfeel also seems a bit insubstantial for the style. Worth trying if you come across it.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rereview, this brew being one of my first beer reviews on BA. It's a favorite of mine and deserved another glance.

Poured into a nonic glass. Nice foamy head, great retention, surviving as a thick ring with sticky lace. Dark amber, only slight ruby hues when held to the light. Great-looking brew.

A malty, sweet nose, with some lovely cherry, chocolate, butter, and fig notes. Slight metallic twang typical of an English pale. A touch of bitterness to it as well.

Sweet, malty, good fruit and chocolate notes, nice dry bitter hopped finish. Robust enough to enjoy sipping slowly, but smooth enough for some serious drinking. Medium bodied, mild carbonation, slight dryness to the finish. The hop bitterness lingers long after each sip.

A solid brew, very tasty. Good default sippin' ale.

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Photo of MEsoJD
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Ruby red amber. Head dissipates fast yet retains nice lacing.

S: Smells of malt, toffee notes, and dark fruits.

T: Taste of sweet malt with dark fruits, chocolate, tart, and slight bitterness.

M: Smooth, medium body, and light carbonation.

O: Very tasty beer, especially for the price. Would defiantly recommend and buy.

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

A - A deep ruby red and light brown in appearance. Starts with a two centimeter head that shrinks to foam around the edges of the glass.

S - Smells of malts, apple, spiciness, earthy hops, there is also a very noticeable solvent type aroma as well.

T - Predominantly the malts, spice, a rich earthiness, chocolate, and some zesty notes as well. A nice bite from the hops pulls through, though it not overdone in the least.

MF - Mild carbonation that doesn't take away from the flavours, luscious and rich body overall.

O - A very decent brew, taste and mf combine for a solid drinkability.

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Photo of EricMichael
4.22/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

appearance - Little head at the start and disappeared quickly. Some lacing. A little more clear than I'd expect for a bottle labelled "Dark English Ale".

smell - A smell like toffee butter on top of a chocolate/coffee.

taste & mouthfeel - Light on the tongue, but heavy with flavor. Some chocolate sweetness with light hopping... maybe some caramel. A very noticeable toffee-butter finish.

overall - This started off as a decent beer, but I let it warm in my hand and the flavor came out making it far better. Don't drink at refrigerator temps.

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Photo of DUBinMIA
3.41/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

served from a bottle in an English pub glass.

clear dark brown with a hint of amber color. pours to a 1/2 in medium thick head that dissipates to about 1/8 in. and lots of lace.

smell of malt and woody hops

taste is started with sweet malt, caramel is dominate, and finishes with a bitter hop bite towards the end but its not overpowering.

mouth feel is decent. normal carbonation and medium body.

Overall a good beer.... better as it warms i started at ice cold and it definitely got better as it warmed up a little

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Photo of aeolianshredhead
4.12/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Nice murky, deep ruby red colour. Achieved a medium caramel coloured head with a slightly aggressive pour. Head depleted to a thin coating on top within a minute.

S- Notes of toffee, what seems to be almost a red apple sweetness and a little chocolate on the back. Smells pretty good.

T- Nice and sweet on the front and middle with the toffee-chocolatey taste definitely coming through mostly. There is also a maple syrup like taste which is very welcome! Thankfully, I find the carbonation does not get in the way of the taste. A slight bitter after taste on the back. Excellent mixture of complementing tastes.

M- Silky and velvety on the tongue with a medium to light body. This is seemingly offset with a fair level of carbonation which is there but no real complaint.

O- This is a great beer. It tastes great with a dessert- like quality. Maybe, just maybe, the chocolate flavour could be a little more accentuated, but it is still a fine taste. Highly seasonable at only 5.2%.

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Photo of
3.57/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Kildare House.

Appearance - reddish brown with a small head that fades rather quickly. Looks kind of flat and dull in the glass.

Smell - Nice malty aromas, but not much going on. The smell fairly subdued.

Taste - Sweet dark fruits, chocolate malt, buttered bread, nice touch of English hops bitterness.

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Photo of VMWhelan
3.25/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours brown with some reddish/amber hues and a finger of light tan head. Good retention.

Smells very malty and sweet with a lot of caramel, a typical brown ale. Some smokiness and a little bit of hops.

Bitter hops stick out first, followed by the maltiness. A lot less sweet than the nose, but it is there. Slightly roasty.

Mouthfeel is light but sticky. Lingering aftertaste with is rather bitter.

Overall it's decent. Expected a little more flavor from the smell and the aftertaste is a little much. Easy to drink though.

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

came in a brown bottle.
maghogany with nice tan head.

lots of malt aroma. lots of sugar sweetness in the nose. a bit of solvency, vinegar like notes.

hoppy bitterness, with some midpalate fruitiness and some sweet on the finish. the hops lingers and dries out the palate for more beer.

i like this even though its on the sweet side. tasty stuff

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Photo of MacQ32
3.71/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice dark amber into my samuel adams glass with a fluffy 1+ khaki colored finger head with great lacing and retention, really nice.

S - Dark malts, nuts, and dark fruits (raisin/prune type smells). Aromas OK

T - Delicious caramel and roasted malt flavor definitely dominates (in a good way), toffee/milky hints as well. Some ripe fruit tastes and a minor bite at the end, slightly dry finish. Great taste!

M - Perfect mouthfeel, medium bodied+, appropriate carbonation. very drinkable!

O - Taste is great, not going to dominate the tastebuds but a fairly complex range of flavors and everything else plays the appropriate role. smell is a bit underwhelming

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Photo of IPA35
3.92/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Finally, after drinking lots of lager for a while I have got myself a proper drink.

Pours a dark ruby beer with a small slightly off-white head.

The smells is wonderful, but I expect most beers to smell great after drinking and reviewing lager for the last few weeks.

Smells of dark malts, caramel and dark fruits. The scent is not very strong.

It has quite a strong dark malt taste, it is quite bitter (typical English hops flavour) and it is sweet with a hint of fig and it has a dry aftertase with a little bit of that sweetness and hop bitterness.

The mouthfeel is only slightly creamy, with enough (but quite weak) carbonation.

Overal this is a decent English ale.
It was my first Brown Ale, I only had some bitters before which I liked a little bit better than this one. Quite expensive here in the Netherlands but one of the most common British ales (they are rare over here) available so I would recommend this to Dutch people who want to try one of those beers they have seen in Midsommer Murders and such.

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Photo of soju6
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a chestnut brown with a tan head that fades to bits of lacing.

S: Has a dark fruit aroma with a trace of nuts and roasted malt.

T: The dark fruit continues into the taste, with some malt. Smooth finish.

F: Fairly medium body, smooth and well balanced.

O: I have to admit I was enticed by the unique bottle shape and label. Nice enough English Brown Ale, but nothing special.

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

Ahh, the ole Hobgoblin. Back before I knew a single thing about beer other than it got you inebriated, my friends and I would buy these bottles (a great deal owed to the label art) and would blow on the empty tops and liken them to war horns. Fast forward six or seven years, and I find myself with a brown bottle to review. The old ones were clear, glad to see they've made the change. Poured into a nonic pint glass.

A - The beer looks the same, just as the label does. Dark brownish colour with a nice head of froth. Iconic, I give it a perfect rating here.

S - Nuts, and toasted malts, with a fruity like characteristic. Not the strongest aroma, yet pleasing.

T - Figs, and other dark fruits dominate the sweet body. An earthy and nutty quality can be detected before being washed away by the mildly bitter aftertaste.

M - Light bodied, mild carbonation level.

D - Still good to me after all this time and experience with other beers. Great gateway brew and not a bad English ale to boot.

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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

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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.


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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
Beer rating: 3.76 out of 5 with 2,661 ratings