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: 2,579
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a clear chestnut brown color with a 1 inch off-white head that fades to nothing. Spotty small lacing on the drink down. Smells of roasted malt and caramel. Taste is the same but with a somewhat medicinal essence. Low bitterness on the tongue after each sip. Good carbonation but with a creamy smooth mouthfeel. Drinkability is average as the medicinal taste kind of kills it for me.

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Photo of NedShakeshaft
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Golden brown with a touch of red in the body. The quarter-inch foamy, white head dissipated quickly leaving an intricate lacing on the glass.

Subtle, yet complex nose. Sweet and fruity aroma with a floral touch over top of malty caramel.

Unexpected earthy taste that I'm guessing is a product of the hops. Caramel malts, toffee and roasted chestnuts underneath. Fruity esters, banana in the middle. A lot going on here, but understated.

Thicker body that could use more carbonation. BeerDocT said in his review that it could use another layer of conditioning and I think that's a great analysis.

Overall, a good beer that just misses being a great one. Would have it again in a second, but wouldn't seek out.

As a side note, let's not forget that this is the flagship beer of an older craft brewery, established in the mid-80's. As such, it was brewed for a much different market than the bottle-conditioned, hop-forward crowd of today. In that light, I'll call it an enduring classic.

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Photo of artoolemomo
3.24/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance- Pours up a good amount of head which appears to have some head retention. The head is a light beige with hints of yellow while the body is a very dark amber that glows shows hints of orange and dark amber when held up to the light. Some lacing is left behind. The body is also hazy.

Nose- It's a little weak from the glass but rich and inviting when I smell the bottle. Roasted malts, weak notes of burnt bread and smoke, chocolate, and caramel. The aroma from the glass has softer roasted notes with a gummy or almost generic fruitcake character to it. Some brown sugar and molasses are evident as well. Maybe some raisins, leather?

Taste- Brown sugar with some leathery woodiness are the first tastes that I get. The finish tastes a lot like cardboard which would lead me to believe that this beer may be a little old. This is unfortunate because more hops presence would really balance out the sweet malts. The roasted notes seem a little too sour and have hints of something close to licorice. Some notes of raisin as well. At the moment, this beer lacks balance and integration. I do not see the situation improving. The sweetness of the malt in this beer is definitely too pronounced for my palate.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied with some smoothness and moderate amount of carbonation. A bit of syrup to the texture as well.

Drinkability- Cloying sweetness and a five dollar price tag? This is not this beer's category.

Overall- I am beginning to question whether I like this style- I will have to try Fuller's ESB to test this. This beer was rather mediocre in my opinion and the malt bill is too much for me. If you're a fan of the style, you might want to go for it. I,for one, will not be purchasing this beer again.

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Photo of Andrew041180
3.24/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A - Poured a predominately brown with amber highlights. Small head recedes quickly, although the film did leave a pleasant lacing on the glass.

S - Very little here. I was at a restaurant and didn't want to act inappropriately, but I took a big whiff and smelled some vaguely sweet malty notes.

T - Not bad, but nothing special. Smooth maltiness on the lighter side.

M - Very smooth, albeit somewhat watery.

O - I wasn't really impressed with this one. It's not offensive, but nothing about it stood out to me as being much above average.

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Photo of Hampton73
3.24/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is my first try of this beer from a can. The bottled version is much better. I thought that maybe the can would have a nitro in it, but it did not.

Poured out with no head, just a creamy bubble ring around the glass.

The aroma is of English noble hops and sweet caramel malts, with raisins too.

The flavor is far sweeter than I remember from the bottles I have had before. Maybe too sweet. I will drink just one at a time.

Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, with almost no carbonation.

Next time I will buy the bottle.

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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 tapman
3.22/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark, though slightly transparent, brown with red hues. Head pours 1 finger and rests at 1/4 finger for the duration of the brew. Looks like from the bottle, as this one is from the can. Still, could be creamier for me.

Fruity and buttery, but with a metallic hint to it. Sweet aroma, like dried plums and raisins. Hints of butterscotch and toffee. Very sweet, almost too sweet.

Taste is very very sweet. Liquid raisins with sugar, a mild undertone of dried fruit, especially a tiny bit of spicy dried apricot, but its just so darn sweeet. I'm sure the hops are bready, English, and delicious, but you wouldn't know from the s-s-sweet. For an ale made for a pub, I'm not so sure.

Mouthfeel is watery. The bottled version is not as bad, so I'm guessing this is one of the big reasons why you can get four cans for the price of two bottles. Ah well...

Not very drinkable, which is weird because I like Hobgoblin in the bottle a lot. Just isn't the same for reasons already discussed. (S-s-s-s-sweeetttt!!!)

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Photo of Whyemier
3.22/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've tried this one on several occasions, not my favorite because it is more hoppy than I like, not as bitter as an IPA but still more hops than I normally look for. That should be expected in an Dark English Ale.

Having said that, it is a one I still drink on occasion for a difference in taste.

Dark Amber or Red in color, the body is 'normal' the best I can say about it though much better and far beyond what I term as 'commercial beers'. There is a very slight sweetness, on the front of the tonque and a nut like flavor as you swallow. For me this is obscured somewhat by the hops.

I am not knocking this beer completely just recognizing it is not my favorite. Because it is close to an IPA in my opinion, many would find it an excellent substituion for one of those beers.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.21/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served into a pint glass from a 330 ml. brown bottle with your standard pry off cap. Opens with a moderate hiss of carbonation and pours a medium brown/copper in color with a bit of haze. A half inch of tan foam settles in standard fashion.

Nose is simple and light with a bit of roasted coffee and minor nut influences. Not much to offer yet not negative either.

Flavor shows a light malt character with some roast, bit of chocolate and some light brown sugar. Dry bitter chocolate on the finish is again decent but unexciting. Not a lot of depth in the flavor profile and with a moderately lingering dry finish. A decent ale but a bit too middle of the road for me and with light hop characteristics for the style.

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Photo of minterro
3.21/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Custom six pack from Ross’ Deli in Lakewood

A & S: sweet malts, smoky and a bit of caramel, but pretty darn weak smelling. Dark, murky red-brown colored beer. Thick, foamy tan head that dissolves slowly. Lacing is really good.

T & M: pretty fruity tasting. The taste also includes: smoky and malty tones also. It is similar to the smell in the fact that the taste isn’t very strong. Smooth not very robust, low carbonation kinda watery, medium bodied.

O: not a huge fan of this beer, thought that the two other English browns I’d rated were much better (Majestic Nut Brown MBC, and Samuel Smith’s). Pretty cool bottle design and logo.

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Photo of Lukie
3.21/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured with no head at all, but there was slight carbonation. Seems like it is a cola, as there is no lacing or anything discernable.

Hints of toffee and coffee, with subtle tones of dark chocolate and almost fresh dough.

Slight nutty and malt offerings. Mild chocolate. Not much really.

It is smooth and easy drinking, but I can't understand the complete lack of carbonation. It was in date, it doesn't smell or taste skunky, it just seems to be lacking.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.21/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16.9 oz. bottle. Picked this up in KC, MO. Not available here in Wichita.

Appearance: This one came in an uniquely shaped, clear bottle with a menacing looking goblin on it. He is walking through the streets of a medieval village wielding an axe drenched in the blood of macro marketing execs. The beer itself was an amber, crimson color and was crystal clear, except for the small amount of sediment that I allowed to escape from the bottle. No chill haze at all. The off-white head rose up to a little over a finger. It was dense and took quite awhile to dissipate. A think ring of foam remained around the edge of the glass, but there was no lacing.

Smell: A very light aroma. Vague impressions of roasted malt and fruit were about it. A very dry aroma. As the beer really warmed, there were hints of hops and the fruitiness gained strength, but it was all still very subdued.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied and slightly buttery at times. A little watery at other times. Carbonation was definitely present, but didn't cause any roughness.

Taste: Hints of fruit, but mainly comprised of roasted malt, a muddled hops bitterness, and a sharp astringency. It dried out almost immediately and remained that way. Very dry, overall. I wish I could say more for the flavor, but that was it.

Not a bad brew, but rather ho-hum. The dryness did make it fairly drinkable.

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Photo of peabody
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours out a dark brown clear with black tints. Three fingers of off-white/tan suds.Good lacing.
Smell is dark caramel malt with pungent yeast and butterscotch sugars.
Taste is watery coffee and dark cherry sugar with bitter hops finishing it all off.
Mouthfeel is watery but clean.
Drinkability is OK but could be so much better.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice enough beer to look at, dark brown with a splotchy/bubbly creme coloured head. Aroma for me is very very light..malty, least its not horrible. Flavour is malty and slightly fruity, slight hopping, doesnt have they typical flavoursome tastes that most Englishh made ESBs have..its quite dull really. Palte is alright..nothing to write home about. Its drinkable but I am very dissapointed ..for me the Fiddlers Elbow was better and $2 a bottle cheaper. I will stick to Black Sheep for my English beer drinking pleasure up here in Salem.

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Photo of TheodorHerzl
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a reddish/amber hue with a thin white head. The head dissipated very quick and left very light lacing on the glass. There isn't much to smell on this beer when it is full. I picked up on a slight malty scent and bit of sweetness. As I got about halfway through the beer though the scent at least came to life and I got more sweet/dark fruit scent with a bit of yeasty/fruity esters. The first sip isn't really much to write home about for me. Middle of the road maltiness with slight tastes of dark fruits and also a slight iron/heavy mineral water flavor that got stronger as the beer warmed a bit. The beer is light and actually refreshing. This was just "allright" for me. I wouldn't not drink it if offered, but it isn't going to be my first choice either.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.2/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a medium caramel brown with a short head that quickly dissappears.

Smells lightly of toffee with a faint hop background. Not much there.

Taste is not bad, but not a homerun. Very malty woth a treacly flavor and an underlying saltiness. Sort of like saltwater taffy thats been a little carmelized? There is even a little bit of iodine on the finish. Somewhat intriguing flavors, but nothing spectacular here.

Mouthfeel is very soft with light carbonation.

Somewhat drinkable, but a little sticky and bland for my taste.

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Photo of akajimmyd
3.19/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance – Very cool bottle art. Beer is a deep rich mahogany brown. Light and frothy head.

Smell – Nutty and earthy, hints of sweetness.

Taste – Sweet and nutty malts, very strong. Minimal hops. Brown sugar with a bit of tartness.

Mouthfeel – Smooth but not the most sessionable, I served it a slightly lower than room temp. Carbonation was right on.

Drinkability – I would expect a beer in this style to be a little more mild and balanced. More sticky sweet and tart that I like in a drinkable English beer.

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Photo of kingcrowing
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured in a snifter.

Nice deep brown color with a small light brown head. very malty smooth aroma. It's quite thick and smooth, nice amount of carbonation for an English brown. It's got some bready sweet notes to it as well. I think it's pretty good for a session ale.

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Photo of JohnW
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is heavily promoted in England, in the hopes it will persuade the usual "lager" drinkers to try something with more body and taste. Have to say - to my taste - it fails to impress in any way. It pours medium bronze, with little head at all. The aroma is sweetish and hints of spice and malts, also that musty sulphar smell from the "burtonised water." The taste reflects this, though has less body than expected, and fairly sweet and hints of spice (cinnamon and nutmeg?) but simply fails to impress, especially after all the "hype!" Seems just sweetish and bland with little real character. Wish I could think better of it, as the advertising is aimed at drawing folk away from the usual UK brewed "lagers" to trying real ale, but it sure would not work for me! Not to my taste at all (and same from bottle) can think of many UK 'bitter' beers far better than this.

Regret to say very disappointing, and would not have it over any other decent UK beer on hand pull or from bottle.

B'ham UK

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Photo of connecticutpoet
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is quite attractive... pours out a nice rich ruby red. There is not much head, but it is composed of small bubbles and it lasts for a long time.

The aroma is pretty good too... rich dark malts, with a hint of sweetness and a touch of mustiness.

The taste was not exceptional, though. It was bitter, which I liked... slightly fruity, also, but an odd fruitiness. There was a faint hint of sweetness. The alcohol of the ale was evident though, which I do not like unless I am going for something strong like a barleywine, which this is not.

The mouthfeel was a little thin. Overall it's not a bad beer, but honestly, one 12 oz. bottle was enough for me.

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Photo of bens0n
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer pours a murky brown/amber color with a hefty amount of foamy off-white head that leaves spotty lacing on the glass.

There are no real distinct smells I can pick out, its just a blend of malts and hops. Flavor wise, it has a very sharp hoppy bite and the malts are not there to make this go down smooth. The finish and aftertaste has a herbal/medicinal taste to it that I really do not like, plus way more carbonation than I think it needed.

I had a hard time downing this because it just did not go down easy and there wasn't anything in particular that I really enjoyed about it.

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Photo of karst
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured copper brown from brown 12 oz bottle with unreadable date printed on neck. Aroma very unpleasant- saying horseblanket would be too kind.Redeeming taste of rich malts with faint coffee and bitter chocolate. Some diacetyle but correct for style. Nice hop bitternes in aftertaste. Slick mouthfeel. I would suggest trying a single bottle.

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Photo of WilliamD
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Another murky one. Orange-brown, with only a thin outer-ring of foam. Some thin lacing on the glass.
Mild aroma of wet malts. My nose also discerned a peculiar sour cinnamon smell.
Noticeable malt flavor. This ale has a definite peaty flavor as well, which I find somewhat appealing. Faint, diluted caramel tones. Slightly unappealing sweet aftertaste.
Very flat mouthfeel. Not to my liking.
I've had this a few times from the bottle and thought it was pretty good, but a friend insisted I must try it from the can, as it was much better that way. I'm not so sure I agree with him.

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Photo of BeerBateo
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured into my fast food mug, it reminds me of expired juice (minus the mother).

See: Clear, watered down blood color with very little bubbles. Nice beige head 2 1/2 fingers high but shrinks quickly, to a small ring with a very thin cover on top. Wonderful lacing resembling spooky hallowe'en type shapes (vampire fangs, grim reaper pointing finger, goblin profile, hanging one-legged woman, eyes of every kind and flying bat). Maybe this beer is "laced" with something extra to enhance its effect.

Smell: Hamster pee, a bit of syrupy pancakes and well-used Scottish country dance shoe aroma.

Taste: mildly sweet, blandish beer like blend.

Hear: Thought I heard a tingling sound but realized it was my earing hitting the glass.

Feel: Watery with a bite, then smoothness turning bitter to the end.

Blanket: I like the label better than the beer but will buy it again because I am under its spell.

AKA: Be Nice or Be Cursed

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Photo of TempeBeerMan
3.18/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a nonic pint.

A – Pours a clear chestnut brown with a one-finger head of off-white bubbles with solid retention. Patchy lacing.

S – Skunky musty hops and nutty, caramel malt. However, not nearly as bad as that description probably sounds. Smells like an old, wet, English cellar.

T – Big caramel malt presence, followed by funky almost vegetal hops (I am reminded of celery). HUGE diacetyl taste in the mid palate, brining a taste somewhat akin to artificial movie theatre butter. Hard mineral finish, which lingers on the tongue.

M – Here’s where this beer fails miserably. It’s extremely watery. In fact, water might not be this watery.

O – Reading all the comments above this must be a terrible beer, right? Not exactly. “Different” and “weird” are probably better descriptions. Oddly charming. Definitely nothing out there quite like it. I must say its big brother “King Goblin” is far superior (mainly by way of being far less watery). This one is not something I would buy regularly when having a taste for English ale, as it’s just a little too bizarre and “off” for my tastes.

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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
3.71 out of 5 based on 2,579 ratings.
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