Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Hobgoblin | Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

1,071 Reviews

Brewed by:
Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,071 | Ratings: 2,545
Photo of Golden2wenty1
3.36/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a single from Steve's Liquor here in Madison. 500 ml clear glass bottle with a cool curvy design, that clear bottle though...methinks it contributed to a skunky little brew here.

Pours a standard brown ale amber with dark garnet highlights, a nice tan head and some lacing. Smell is a little off-putting at first, adjuncty macro corn/Heineken skunk fades into caramel malts. Taste sadly does the same, skunky then caramel malts, maybe a hint of chocolate. Mouthfeel is crisp, body is a little light. Overall, the skunky Heineken aspect of this beer kind of drowned out the sweet caramel malty tones that I like in a brown. I can't help but think those damn clear bottles that British breweries love to use adds to this unfortunate characteristic. Has potential, but just didn't do much for me.

 806 characters

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

Clear glass bottle from a fresh unopened case delivered to my local store. The owner allowed me to pick my bottle from the center so I am certain that I got this in as good condition as is possible.

Pours a deep clear brown ale. Held up to the light you see a wonderful garnet red highlighting.

Smell is big malt and British ale fruitiness. Other smells, a bit of grass, a trace of sulfur, and faint herbalness.

Taste is very malty and fruity from the very start. Dry in flavor there is a strong herbal hop flavor and a trace of butter. Fairly bitter in flavor there is also faint coffee flavor from dark roasted malt. A tasty ale in my opinion.

Mouthfeel is good.

A tasty and drinkable ale. This has a nice strong flavor that isn't fatiguing on the tongue.

 772 characters

Photo of ppoitras
3.66/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from GCBrewingCo as part of BIF 20. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1" tan head above the clear dark amber brew. Head fades quite slowly, with excellent foamy lacing. Aroma is balanced of grains and hoppiness. Taste is light maltiness upfront, and as with the nose, well balances, but with a bit of an aftertaste that I can't put my finger on. Not off, but not exactly a benefit either. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both average to good, but could even be a bit better if the close was smoother. Nice brew nonetheless, which I imagine would be even better on handpull.

 627 characters

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

Great lablel.Poured a reddish-brown color with a tannish puffy head. Smell is of malt (dark fruit-cherries, plums) and a hint of coffee. Taste is fruity malt with little hops noted. Finish is very light and leaves a mild malt sweetness in the mouth. Easy to drink.

 264 characters

Photo of niangelo
2.81/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought from Chateau Louis in Edmonton in the 500ml glass bottle, served in a pint-glass.

Poured a smoky ruby-brown with a little head... smells fairly skunky, but faints of once it sits for a bit. Mouthfeel is nothing special, a tad watery with some dancing carbonation.

Taste is initally a little skunky, but this fades immediately, leading to a solid malt feel with a toasted finish and dates in between. Nothing that really spins my cap. Too expensive, there's way better local stuff for cheaper.

 505 characters

Photo of Redrover
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

500 ML Clear glass bottle. Love the label and the raised design on the bottle, hate the clear glass part…. No freshness dating.

Beer pours a clear reddish brown with a lingering small tan head.

The beer smells of slightly toasted malts and some fruit.

The taste is slightly sweet with hints of fruit (apples) and just a bit of roasted malt. Turns a bit sour late. Low but noticeable hop levels.

I like the low levels of carbonation. Average enough drinker, but I would prefer something a bit more complex. I wonder if this one is better if it didn’t have to make a trip across the pond. Perhaps a road trip is in order?

 634 characters

Photo of battlekow
3.26/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A nice mahogany, maple syrup color. A little ring of foam is all you've got for a head for most of the glass, with spotty lacing. Smells malty and little raisiny. Taste is really sweet, malty with some prunes. Finish is a little roasted. Weak, dead mouthfeel. Nothing to see here, folks.

 287 characters

Photo of Higravity
2.61/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

What a unpleasent little English beer. Nice label, about the best thing about this beer. It comes out of a clear bottle and into a IMperial pint glass. Pours like water and looks like a standard brown and I got a ok head of off white fluff. After the head sank quickly I was smelling the beer and it has a slight sulfur smell that distract from the decent malt. Drinking it is somewhat of a challegne as it is yet another slated British beer, not too bad like Sammy Smith's but I think the sulfur smell might come from one of these. The hops are pleasently mild and the malt was not too malty and I am quite sure there was some adjuct sugar used in making this. At least this beer is thin so I could chug the rest. Don't bother with this beer.

 743 characters

Photo of mortarit
2.83/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Hazy medium brown with and small,mostlydiminishing, tight head.
Has marketing abilities with the label name.

Smell: Malt sweetness is most dominant among aromas, but I also detect, chocolate, caramel, earth, cherry and grape. Slightly metallic though it carried the english style.

Taste: It has a slight initial english taste that fades to reveal a flavor that follows the aroma with malts being in the forefront, but no real noticeable hops backing it up.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, watery texture, very low carbonation.

Drinkability: Overall, it was good… but bland. It started out alright, but finished off rather lacking in character. Don’t think I’ll be having this again, especially considering the price.

 739 characters

Photo of whynot44
3.6/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Medium bodied, dark coppery brown with a decent ivory head.

Aroma is malty with hints of toast, maple syrup or brown sugar, and coffee.

The taste is somewhat sweet - again hints of maple or brown sugar - with biscuits, coffee and maybe a hint of chocolate at the finish. Some hints of smoke along the way and a bit of hops bite at the end..

Very drinkable, especially for cooler weather. A bit sweet and heavy for hot weather. Great label. Don't forget this one for Halloween.

 488 characters

Photo of jasonpeckins32
2.39/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

This one pours much darker than I expected. Dark brown with copper-colored accents. There is virtually no head retention at first, but a little begins to appear as I make my way through the glass. The aroma is subtle. I notice a faint nut smell alongside extra-sweet malts. The taste is a little wild. There's a lot more going on in my glass than I thought there was. The overwhelmingly sweet malt flavor is definitly in command of this ship, but there are some hops, raisins, dried fruit and nuts, and maybe hints of toffee and chocolate as well. Almost one too many flavors crammed into a bottle. Interesting, though I'm not so sure all the different tastes in this beer are mixing well on my palate. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, maybe more. It could use a little more carbonation. The intense flavor gives this beer a rough drinkablility. I'd have a hard time knocking back a whole lot of these. Not bad by any means, just hard to really put em down.

 956 characters

Photo of Luigi
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

RIch dark ruby color and a sticky tan head. Smells like hints of chocolate, toffee, and fruit. Silky mouthfeel. Malts are dominant up front. Hints of toffee and fruits. A little chocolate malt can be found as the beer warms a bit. Hop bitterness is light but balances out the maltiness just enough. A dry slighty buttery aftertaste. A damn good Brown ale. Well worth the $3.50 a pint.

 384 characters

Photo of HappyHourHero
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Small, light khaki colored head left a decent smattering of lace. Transparent, chestnut colored beer with an orange hue. Mild floral and hoppy tea aroma. Flavor is mild and clean as well. Pale malts and english tea hop flavor. Midway through it becomes just barely bitter. Finish is pretty clean, just a bit of lingering hops. Very nice beer that became more enjoyable halfway through the first glass.

 401 characters

Photo of Ahhdball
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark red with small amounts of foam covering the top. The head dissipated quickly without leaving a trace.
Smelled a slight amount of dark fruit and sweet malt. Nuance tone of toffee but nothing over the top.
I'm not the biggest fans of brown ales but I really liked this one. Toffee, some plum and a hint of yeast. Dark chocolate and very subtle hops finished the drink.
Overall I liked this beer. A good brown ale that leaves the mouth clean with a refreshing taste and feel,

 480 characters

Photo of beertaster13
3.51/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a ruby brown with a tannish head that dwindles to lacing. The clear bottle definetely had an effect on this brew. A nice roasted nut glazed with caramel aroma, hints of deep fruit, plums and alcohol aroma, hints of caramel muffin. The taste is suprisingly light, hints of plum and caramelized nectar, Honey bread with sugar. Medium bodied but goes down and refreshes, very refreshing for dark ale, Not as thick as most. While this is not the best brown I have had, it's not bad, I can imagine this being very nice straight from the source, the trip across seems to have gotten to this one.

 595 characters

Photo of weeare138
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a dark brown with a red tone. A 1 finger tan head fades to the center and outer rims of the glass. Small spots of lacing cling to the glass.
Smell is of sweet toffee, fruit, and nuts with an unsettling skunky grain aroma mixed into the mix..
Taste is of smooth toffe with a slight bitterness that is compimented by the fruitiness that seems to smooth things out.
Mouthfeel is very English Ale like as it is medium bodied and sweet with a bitterness that doesn't creep up or linger too long.

It's ok, dog.

 518 characters

Photo of Shultzerdugen
3.13/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. brown bottle.

Dark brown in appearance with red undertones and a white collar.

The smell is unsettling: uric acid, dank and funky, sweet malts hidden behind the stench.

Medium body with lively carbonation. Classic English flavors, a fruity ale with mellow hops and the typical metallic flavor from hard water. Yeast is also noticable in the taste.

Nothing stand out about this beer, nothing wrong but the smell.

 431 characters

Photo of tavernjef
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Stained crimson glow. Skimpy, baggy, blanched ivory crown. Narrow collar keeps and light skeletal lacing clings.
Vapid aroma of stale graham cracker crust, flat vanilla abstract, and obtuse cocoa.
Flavors usher in a bland and empty front with a mild dark grainy malt. Slow middle with common and infinitely inadequate roast barely reaching the surface. Eases off slow and gradual with a bit more huskiness building with a exaustingly soft effort into a rounded out tameness of roasted grains. Slender sweetness sticks a bit. Slightest of slight hints of vanilla and hazelnut dust sit underneath.
Clean and firm mouthfeel with only a partail carbonation keeping a lighter airyness about it. Tender on the palate but has a slight chalky gracing and softly airs out with a scantly small drying tone.
An average typical English Brown drinker thats altogether bland and boring with meager but acceptable flavors and body to get ya to finish the pint.

 949 characters

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.

 341 characters

Photo of Viggo
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear red/brown, nice carbonation, holds it and laces well. Smells malty and fruity, very pleasant. Has a fruity taste that I really enjoy, sweet malty backbone, slight alcohol taste and taste of maybe its dark cherries. Smooth carbonation and goes down easy. Definately a session beer, I really enjoy this one for everyday drinking.

 333 characters

Photo of horndecker
3.61/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A coppery red brew, with a quick off-white coarse head which left little lace.

The first aromas are of grass and caramel, with a floral smell developing soom after. As it warms there are hints of leather and earth, then something funky and not too pleasant. Hard to pin down, but maybe old fruit would characterize it.

The taste starts nutty and toasty, with chocolate and a bit of fruit. It's got nice body, pleasantly smooth, and finishes with a quite mild, dry and hoppy bitterness.

A nice brew, but there were aspects of the smell that disappointed.

 565 characters

Photo of woemad
2.89/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle purchased at Huckleberry's in Spokane for $1.65.

Poured a dark brown with amber highlights. Modest, off-white head that dropped quickly, though there was a halfway decent amount of lace and a foamy collar.

Wasn't much going on in the aroma department. Mildly toasted malt, very minor brown sugar and very mild raisin aromas. Kinda weak.

Taste was a little more interesting than the smell. The brown sugar taste was a little more dominant. Still, this is a very restrained brown ale. I think my last Newcastle had more character than this, and that's kinda sad.

This is the most light-bodied brown ale I've ever had. It's far more watery than it has any right to be. Carbonation is there, but it's very mild, like the rest of this beer.

This is a brown ale that is scared of it's own shadow. It's incredibly meek. If it doesn't run and hide from you in the beer store, there's not much point in picking it up.

 936 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Perfectly pellucid orangish bronze. The hobgoblin's cap is light beige with a hint of orange. It isn't the typical brown ale appearance, but more closely resembles a robust English pale ale. The head looks respectable enough, stays for a spell and leaves a few arching streamers of lace. Okay, but nothing special.

Surprise, surprise; I received a blast of skunk when popping the cap. It hasn't completely faded, but then the beer has only been breathing for a few minutes. Hobgoblin smells nothing like a brown ale. Dark ale? Maybe. I can appreciate moderately toasted grain, dark fruit and... lingering skunk. Sad to say, this beer isn't that far removed from what Bud Dark (please, may it remain a figment of my demented imagination) might smell like. It's better than that, but you get the idea.

Even though there's more flavor and more personality than the nose suggested there would be, this is still only so-so beer. Dark caramel/toffee is the dominant flavor with a little hoppy spiciness for good measure. Mildly sour dark fruit is present as well. Unfortunately, the flavor profile lacks even a modest amount of complexity.

The body/mouthfeel is light (I might be convinced to call it light-medium given the style). I have no doubt that the lack of flavor, the lack of depth and the truncated finish are due, in part, to the aqueous mouthfeel. Definite room for improvement.

I've stayed away from Wychwood beer until now for a host of reasons, clear glass bottles foremost among them. Overpricing is another. The bottles are well done with an attractive shape and embossed witches on broomsticks; as are the colorful, cartoony, Tolkeinesque labels. It has always looked to me, however, that the brewery is trying too hard, putting more emphasis on the packaging than the beer. Now that I've had my first bottle, I can't say that I was that far off the mark. I take back what I said about Bud Dark, but I have no desire to go hobnobbin' with this hobgoblin again.

 1,984 characters

Photo of beersarang
2.52/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a brown with a nice head. Promising appearance, nice brown.

Smells yeasty, metallic. Yegh!

Tastes a little odd, yeasty, skunky, metallic. I can't put my finger on what went wrong with this beer. I might have to re review.

Thin, watery, light carbonation. Does not do it for me...

 294 characters

Photo of abcsofbeer
2.77/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a twelve oz bottle with no fresh date, but a stamp on the neck that may be it. It pours a rosewood, dark color that is very clear with no carbonated bubbles present.

The head is tannish and thin, only about one finger that dissipates quickly. There are traces of lace. The aroma is kind of grapey, like a sweet white wine. There are other hints of fruit present along with some grassy overtones.

The taste is kind of bland with no tingle of carbonation at all. It almost tastes flat. It is kind of fruity. The aftertaste brings up a slight bitterness on the palate. Also, a slight toffee, malty bitterness as well.

 632 characters

Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
84 out of 100 based on 1,071 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Quick Navigation

    Open the Quick Navigation

  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.