Hobgoblin | Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

1,078 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: 1,078 | Ratings: 2,576
Photo of Malt_Man
3.59/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served at cellar temperature into pint mug.

L) Dark copper colour, clear, off-white bubbly film.

S) Fairly weak odour of roasted malt.

T) Nicely toffee-ish roast malt bitterness.

F) Clean mouthfeel, a nice bit of fizz and no wrong aftertastes.

O) Decent beer, worth a try. I suspect this one has subtle aspects that work well on cask.

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Photo of Oleg85
3.69/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

L: Clear brown, 3-4 fingers tall thick beige head that doesn't reduce much.
S: Smells more like lager. A bit malty, a bit hoppy, dried fruits.
T: Nice, the same as smell. Dry and slightly bitter finish (35 IBU I think).
А: Light-bodied, low carbonation.

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Photo of superspak
4.08/5  rDev +10%
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 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 mynamewastakendamnit
3.24/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

From the 500 mL into a pint glass.

L: A really nice looking dark ruby color. Would've been a perfect looking beer if the off-white head hadn't immediately dissipated. That was disappointing, but otherwise it's fantastic looking. A bit cloudy but with a really intense red color.

S: Chocolatey and kinda sweet. Maybe a bit bready? Earthy and floral notes.

T: A nice roasted dark chocolate taste. Some malty sweetness, almost buttery. A nice balance between sweet and bitter imo.

F: Light. Swirls around the glass like water, with almost zero lacing. It's got a nice dry finish and while I'd prefer a thicker body, it's pretty sessionable if that's what you're after. Light to medium carbonation.

O: Not bad. Not amazing either. A little on the lighter side but it has a pretty great taste and smell to it. Overall hobgoblin is a pretty solid drink. Something I'd recommend for somebody looking to try a moderately complex dark ale.

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Photo of Beer_Rabbit66
3.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look is a dark ruby, tall large head 3 fingers high, and it stays around the whole time you enjoy it.
Smell strong malty but this is brilliant in my opinion
The taste is great, really malty but not to Bitter, nice crisp finish, leaves the palate with a smooth malty taste which lingers.
Feel is so smooth and plesent, it goes down really really well, crisp finish.
Overall a great beer. This and a nice cosy pub in the country
= best combination

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Photo of Ant777uk
3.12/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Intense dark ruby colour with foamy head.

Loving the deep mystical hoppiness of the aroma, possibly that is partly the incense I am burning.

The feel is creamy and foamy.

About 10 years ago this was one of my favorite UK beers, many fond memories of drinking it on tap at the Kings Head in Guildford during summer. It is better at room temperature than straight from the fridge, definitely..! The complexity of it's taste does not match a Belgian ruby beer or a Polish Mocne. It fares better when compared with an English bitter at room temperature.

So in conclusion, I used to really like this, though from tasting it today, it is actually not that great. It has a fizzy water taste to it (like fizzy water has been mixed with beer), which is kind of how I would expect a tesco value beer to taste. If they made this into a 10% beer it would be quite good.

I am sure it is much better on tap. The bottle does not seem to have the same flavour, however this review is for the bottle.

Though I would much rather drink this than the standard Euro lager, that uninteresting men in pubs and students seem to like...

However, currently Hobgoblin is £1.25 in Waitrose I believe and possibly even less in Aldi, so top notch value, however still more expensive than a Polish Mocne, which I would much rather have.

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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 jellikit
4.29/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I would call this Amber. Not dark. But it is clear. Medium, foamy head. Nice lacing
Smells like caramel.
Taste: light chocolate toffee. Pretty standard English ale. Clean.
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation. Medium body. Dry.
Overall a pretty solid English ale.

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Photo of drmeto
3.11/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

-pours a clear dark copper with a medium to big,foamy,offwhite head
-low to medium carbonation visible
-caramel,toffee,cherry,brown sugar,toasty finish
-pronounced bitterniss
-light,watery body
-medium carbonation
Decent ESB.Missing some complexity and Body

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Photo of CantankerousCaveBear
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a gorgeous ruby red, boasting a two finger cream colour head. Lots of retention and lacing on sides of shaker pint glass. Smells of toast, earthiness, chocolate and a twinge of sourness in the background. Tastes of biscuit, toffee, roast nuts and an earthy/herbal quality from the English hops utilized. As the beer warms, I am able to detect raspberry jam, black cherries, black currants and raisins. This was not apparent at first, because I served the beer at a near frigid temperature.

Bready malt backbone subsides to a longer bitter finish, some floral notes stemming from the hops. Dry, malt- focused with all aspects of sweetness being minimized. Malt bill is not complex. There are accents of sourness, barnyard mustiness, and some diacetyl presence in the beer. There is a persistent graininess, and a pungent herbal quality throughout the palate. Subtle, but compelling beer, more layers than the smell initially indicates. Smooth, easy drinking bitter. A perfect session beer.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear beautiful rich garnet when held to light. World class lacing and retention, outstanding head volume.

Light, but complex, nose of biscuit with notes of sweet chocolate and a touch of earthy hops. As it warms, subtle notes of dark fruit appear.

Almost medium body with a nice smooth texture that is almost creamy in the finish. Superb carbonation with a nice bit of effervescence in the middle and a tight prickly finish.

While not a typical ESB, this one is outstanding. It hits the bitterness marks with a nice herbal and earthy bitterness over a solid malt backbone. It exceeds typical levels of complexity by providing notes of chocolate, toffee and a light fruit. Balance is perfect. The finish is a slow fade of mild bitterness over a charred grain note.

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Photo of Gajo74
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a brownish/ruby red, massive foam head, soapy lace with great retention. Buttery aroma, dark fruit and malt. Taste very malt forward and buttery . Hops finish adds bitterness. Low carbonation and a full mouthfeel. This one is good especially with a good hearty meal.

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Photo of Dennis-King
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Drank this beer many a time from bottles and always thought it was just an OK beer. Tried it as a draught beer for the first time this week, via a hand pump, and have to say it is far better than the bottle. Nice malt and hop balance.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.91/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up a few weeks ago in Totowa, never having had this before. It didn't taste like an ESB to me and the balance and dark feel of this three me off a bit. It became much more intense as it warmed up even though the alcohol never came into play. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and look forward to picking this up again soon!

This had a rustic copper pour to it with a frothy head that lasted longer than I would have initially guessed. The lacing left behind was some of the best that I had seen in quite some time and certainly from an ESB. Musty smell up front, the complexity came out as this warmed up. Sweetness from the crystal hops, chocolate underneath it, and a metallic undertone all combined for a sharp taste that mellowed as the beer warmed up. Fuggle hops are not ones that I'm accustomed to but they lent a nice profile to this as there was a floral tone underneath all of this. As odd as this sounds, there were even hints of cheddar cheese in the back as I got down to the bottom of this.

The alcohol was spot-on and with enough carbonation and a medium amount of body, the consistency of this beer stayed in the background as I attempted to figure out the nuances of this. A novice to this style would be better of sticking with Fuller's or Goose Island but for something different, this would fit the bill nicely. Worth a second go just to fully decipher what's in this bottle!

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

Pours dark ruby, with a long lasting cream head. Aroma of caramel, toffee, dark fruits, nuts, earth.Taste is much the same. Not to bad at all will try again.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.14/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours clean rich brown. Liverly fresh carbonation gives rise to a simple, toasty malt nose. Hop bitterness it present, but used less as a flavor and more to balances out the malt. Excellent dry finish. I wish there were more classic beers like this on the market.

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Photo of 57md
3.61/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown with reddish edges. The nose has a sour touch. The body is lighter than expected and the malt profile is a tad wanting.

This beer looks like a full flavored malt bomb but looks are certainly deceiving in this case.

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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 Premo88
4.35/5  rDev +17.3%
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 Boardwalk
4.09/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed this beer. Had a smooth toffee taste and pleasant aroma. The caramel color of the beer was beautiful and appetizing. Good tasting beer without an overly strong finish.

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Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4.27/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Brilliant deep copper color. Snow white head. 1 and a half finger height. Decent retention and nice lacing.

S: Toffee, raisin, orange. Buttered treacle biscuit; orange marmalade.

M: Med-light in character. Soft body, but firms up on the edges with quick, moderate carb bite.

T: Nice toffee and malt biscuit character. Treacle comes to mind. Not overly, aggressively sweet. Has an aged, port-like flavor of dried raisins, apple, pear. Spicy hop notes. Woody, cinnamon. Nuanced chocolate.

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Photo of Chris_Burton
4.23/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Hobgoblin is something of a go to beer for me, and I'd been meaning to review it for a while.

It's definitely on the darker of ESB, although not dark or rich enough to really qualify as a porter. The body is a translucent brown with shades of ruby when held to the light. A finger of head quickly disappears. It smells of forest berries and caramel. The taste is a strange combination: light hints of chocolate, a slightly bitter dryness and an aftertaste of cherries. A very balanced beer, being neither sweet and malty nor bitter and hoppy: as Goldilocks would put it, this one is juuust right! Mouthfeel is full enough to support the chocolate and dark fruit without being rich and heavy; this is a beer you can enjoy a few of in one sitting.

Hobgoblin isn't quite my favourite ESB, but it definitely stands out from the crowd. Probably the best beer Wychwood have to offer.

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Photo of TheBierdimpfe
4.38/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy dark copper color. Creamy light brown 1 finger head dead in around 3 minutes. Average legs and highly active.

Strong aromas and flavors of toffee, citrus and fruitiness with some herbal spices. Great combination of crisp sourness and thick sweetness taste with a earthy roasted nut feel.

Slick full body with perfect carbonation. Pleasant balanced finish ending with a sweet mouth coat and smoky bitter clove like aftertaste.

Overall : Tons of flavors and good freshness, well balanced excellent craft.

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Photo of fourstringer
3.79/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 11.2 oz bottle in to a Samuel Smith pint glass. Moderate hand. No identifiable date, but stamped 4CGM 20:24.

A: Classic amber body with good clarity. 1 finger of eggshell-colored head. Ok retention. Moderate lacing.

S: Fruity malt with notes of grape, apple, raisin, prune and cherry. Faint toffee, dark bread, toasted nuts, chocolate.

T: English hops hit first, soon followed by relatively subdued, bready malts. The backbone fades to a decently dry finish. Nice, clean lingering hop bitterness in the aftertaste. Minimal alcohol presence.

M: Moderate to light carbonation with a medium to light body. Feels English.

O: I particularly like the finish on this one. Not quite as "dark" as expected. Fairly straight-forward. I'm good for a few of these.


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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
3.71 out of 5 based on 2,576 ratings.
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