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: 2,580
Photo of BARFLYB
3.43/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A bottle into a Hobgoblin glass from a tin can gift set thing.

A nice hiss from the bottle, Hobgoblin spouts out a ruddy colored pond water brown and a off shade of white on a inch of head that fades quick. A ring around the glass and minor streaks.

Smell is very one demensional, pretty much toasted malt, caramel, and malt. That's about it. Malt.

Taste is very one demensional, pretty much toasted malt, caramel, and malt. That's about it. Malt.

Feel is smooth and luscious, no bitterness at all, sweet, yet not cloying. Aftertaste is minimal and not lasting.

This beer is simple. It packs in the malt, the caramel and if that's your thing, you will probably love this. While im not all that thrilled with this, it's not offensive, and well made. Im glad I got a fresh bottle. Why do they call this a ESB?

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Photo of flagmantho
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 500mL bottle into a pint glass. Mine is in a brown bottle, so apparently they switched from clear at some point.

Appearance: rich brown color with a clear body and a thick finger of compact ivory head. A perfectly reasonable brown ale.

Smell: rich malty aroma with a caramel character and just a touch of biscuit. While the composition is nice, I find the intensity just a bit lacking.

Taste: malt straddles the line between sweet and dry; plenty of caramel character is present here, whereas the biscuit seems to have subsided entirely. Hops are mild and earthy and provide a nice balancing bitterness at the end. Quite tasty.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a decent level of carbonation. Not bad.

Drinkability: actually, quite drinkable. I'd be glad to quaff a few of these down the pub sometime.

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

The light auburn highlights concealed by its deep russet brown skin are exposed when the beer is held up to light. It has cooling, autumn themed tones. A thin spread of ecru blankets the top and stands taller around the perimeter. The little dots of lace seem to be slowly sinking.

Its aroma has the soft, nutty malt character typical of English Brown Ales, although it doesn't stand out for me as being one of the best examples of one. A few sips in and I'd change my mind to say it's not even really a good example. Approximately double the malt with about double the roast would be a good way to start making up some ground.

This would go a long way to solving the issues its flavour faces, too. There just isn't enough malt to give a convincing 'nutty' impression and the level of roast is too little to invoke notes of caramel or butterscotch. There may be a smack of molasses but I fail to pick out any hazelnut, any pecan, and only very little toffee.

I feel terribly cheated on the mouthfeel as well: little malt that has been little toasted makes for little mouthfeel. A well crafted brown ale has that dry, chalky bitterness paved over with the rich, sweet, gooey sensation of toasted caramelized malts. Instead, I get the texture of spent grains.

I think it's fair to say of Wychwood beers that, on the whole, they are pretty underwhelming. This is partly due to the fact that the majority of their offerings are plain old English bitters of one type or another, which are largely unexciting styles themselves. That said, a good pint of bitter won't be displeasing, but this on other hand...

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

Pours a pretty deep ruby-amber color that is topped by a creamy light tan colored head. The aroma is predominantly malty, with a deep fruitiness reminiscent of raisins and cherries, perhaps a bit of cough syrup as well. Quite light on the palate up front, which moves to a soft malty sweetness and the same type of fruitiness as in the nose. Actually this is pretty nice, it is easy drinking and is driven by the light maltiness and the ale-yeast derived fruitiness. Definitely a good session beer.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.9/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz brown bottle.... does not look like the BA pic anymore.. picked up at the Coop a couple of weeks ago.. I don't remember the price.. but it couldn't have been that much because I didn't write the price on the cap... poured into my shaped SA glass..

The brew is a surprisingly clear amber brown.. the head didn't stick around for that long.. but descent lacing for an English Ale..

Sweet malty nose.. caramel.. a little bit nutty.. light fruitiness... nothing at all is wrong with this brew with the aroma.. I bet it would be amazing from a cask.

The flavor doesn't quite deliver.. nutty and brown malts.. some caramel.. toasted malts are definitely there.. very balanced.. and very drinkable.. good bitterness to balance.. not much flavor to describe as expected.. finish is sorta tannic with dry caramel contributions.. slight cherry fruitiness.. lingering finish.. makes me want another sip.. the body is lite/medium with low carbonation without ever verging on flat.. very very drinkable as I come to the bottom of the glass..

It took me a while to come around to the Hobgoblin... but I am leaving a fan..


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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.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

From the 330 ml. bottle. Sampled on February 28, 2014.

Very attractive medium to dark amber pour with a modest off-white head that lingers. Beautiful clarity.

The aroma is modest to say the least but there is a nice caramel malty character, light sweetness, and toast to it.

The body is light to medium but smooth.

It tastes like a British Bitter should with an upfront toasted caramel maltiness and an emerging, boastful earthy bitterness that lingers at the end.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have always drank this in cask condition before (draught in a pub) and liked it very much. I haven't tried it in a bottle before, this review is for the bottled variety, I haven't had a draught one since joining the BA world.

The bootle version is not (in my opinion) as good as the cask, but here goes anyway.

Looks good, dark amber, ruby brown in colour, with an inch high off-white, cream coloured head, which stayed throughout the pint, although it was a lot thinner by the end.

Sweet and malty, with a hint of fruit, apples maybe, not sure.

A good honest ale taste, a little sweet, but to my tastebuds, about right. Malty aftertaste which stays until the next mouthful.

Fairly thick, it hangs around for a time, not heavy, but a pleasant body to the beer.

Very drinkable in my book, still prefer the draught, but after a hard days work and 3 hours on a University course and then a drive home, this beer did the trick and I was normal again half way through it.

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

A: Copper-amber-brown, off-white/light-tan head, some retention, good lacing.

S: Earthy mineral, fruit, rind, toffee & nut.

T: Earthy, orange rind, mineral, figs, pear, toffee, roasted nut, modest bitterness.

M: Moderate body is smooth, almost creamy, off-dry finish.

D: Not overly enticing, but certainly drinkable.

An all-around good brew, considering the style (British brown ales are one of my least favourite).

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This beer pours brown with a red, almost glowing tone. The head is (contrary to what many other rewievs says) rather large, but also creamy and thick with an off white colour. After the dissipation that takes a while there are nice lacings - not the thickest, but nice.

S: Definitely roasted (not to heavy) sweet caramell malt, but also dried fruit, some bitter hops and nice chocolate.

T: Sweet malt is what fills your mouth at first (there are some light roasted notes to the malt, but the smell was more roasted). There are both a freshness from fruit (citric notes) as well as heavier fruity notes (dried fruit), but the twist is the dryness from the bitter hops.

M: A medium bodied beer, but still creamy with moderate carbonation. The aftertaste is interesting: both sweet and dry at the same time, with a nice bitter feeling at the end.

D: This is a great brown ale, rather complex. I've had it many times and never grows tired of it.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Came in a dark brown color with a frothy, one-finger tan head that slowly died and left some lace patches. Had mild smells of chocolate and coffee malts with a hint of herbalness and more sweet malts. Mildy sweet, not overbearing, the cocoa and coffee are subdued. Real smooth, almost slick, with a little bit of creaminess and no dryness to it as it passes down easily and enjoyable. Hints of caramel and/or butter(scotch) around the backend. A very enjoyable beer to have sometimes.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice full-bodied brew, smooth malty finish. Deep copper red, that poured with a good head and leaving no lace. The site has it with "a moderate hoppy bitterness" but it isn't that hoppy. As it warms it becames more mellow. A very good brown. Clear 500ml bottle and it did not affect the taste.

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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.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.55/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Appearance - Clear red/brown colour with an average size frothy beige head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for only a short while.

Smell - caramel, hops, malts, nuts

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I cant taste malts, nuts, and a touch of chocolate. There is also a hint of a pear juice sweetness. The beer finishes with a malty slightly bitter aftertaste.

Overall - You can't really go wrong with this beer. It has a nice well balanced taste and is very sessionable. If you're looking for something exciting however, you might want to look elsewhere.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poued a dark ruby red with a 1+ finger foamy off white head that faded rather quickly.

S: sweet malt and toffee along with light coffee notes and a rich sweet chocolate nuttiness.

T: The initial flavor was sweet with some toffee and sweet caramel which then progressed to a light roasted caramel and fresh coffee. There was some milky lactose chocolate notes, as well before finishing with a good dry earthy bitterness of burnt caramel and chocolate.

M: medium-full with a creamy lustrious lacing on the tongue.

D: Nice drinkability, can definitely have a couple and not get tired.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.32/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased at Liquor Shed in Casper for US$10.45 a 6pack.

This pours from 12oz brown bottle a dark amber bordering on brown with a good 1 finger head of foam and it has some good lacing.

The smell is of caramel and roasted malt and there's some fruit going on there as well....nice nose.

The taste is a nice big load of caramel malt up front...very tasty. After another sip, I get a touch of roasted malt, a healthy biscuit presence, and a surprising amount of fruit...especially when I swish it in my mouth. Cherries, some fig, a little bit of citrus. Very tasty indeed. I've had this before so it comes as no surprise that I'll probably end up giving it a good review. lol

Bottom line: This is a tasty brew....more flavours than I'd expect from a typical English Brown Ale and they work well together. At least to my palate. Will I buy this again? It looks pretty in the glass, has a good inviting nose, is very flavourful, has a good mouthfeel, and is pretty darned drinkable...yep. I sure will.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.45/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep ruby brown, with great clarity just like the bottle promises. Initially, it looks like no head is forming, but after a slight pause, a whole bunch of tiny bubbles coalesce out of the body, leaving a frothy light beige layer on the top. Good lacing. Not a lot of carbonation, but the bubbling that does exist is exceptionally fine. Looks very nice.

A little malty sweetness on the nose, with a hint of dried banana, and a slight port character. A light metallic phenol character is also present, which ensures the nose isn't overly sweet overall. It's quite light, but it's a very nice English ale nose.

Taste is initially smooth, but with a crescendo of darker grain notes and a zing of metallic bitterness. Finish is quite phenolic, as though the natural grain and hop notes have been replaced by something artificial. I visualise it as though what starts in a verdant forest slowly morphs into an industrial city of steampunk pipes. Lacks sweetness and smoothness on the rest of the palate. Mouthfeel is a bit thin, although the latent carbonation becomes noticeable here.

Not bad, overall, but the most important element is disappointing - the harshness on the back is quite disconcerting, and while it stays pretty drinkable, it's not something I'll seek out with alacrity.

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Photo of corby112
4.15/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber/chestnut brown color with burnt orange hues when held to a light source and a frothy yellowish beige head that slowly fades into a lasting ring, leaving minimal lacing.

Nice caramel malt aroma with hints of biscuit, hazelnut and subtle hops.

Smooth creamy body with a lot of sweet caramel malt as well as hints of biscuit and hazelnut. Well balance with a nice amount of bitterness from the hops.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown with almost purplish highlights. The smell is pleasantly malty with a little hint of nuttiness. The taste starts off sweet with a little bit of malty caramel taste and ends up with a slight hops bite that is refreshing. The mouthfeel has a nice thickness and mild carbonation. To me, the big draw of this beer is its drinkability.

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Photo of wl0307
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500ml clear bottle. BB 30 SEP 06. Served slightly chilled in a jug.
A: dark ruby hue with strong brownish hint; nice creamy off-white beer head with decent retention; constant and moderate carbonation; looking healthy~~
S: semi-creamy caramelised black-sugary malts mixed well with lightly sweet berry-fruits and toffee-ish note, with a tinge of tea-leaf and herbal bittering yet semi-sweet elements of hops at the back. But some funky elements appear from time to time, maybe due to it's packaging--clear bottle?
T: toffeeish flavour upfront, developing in the mouth with stronger caramelised sugar and semi-sweet edge of nuts, gradually giving way to a satisfying black tea+licorice-kind of bitter-sweetness and moderate underlying dark-fruitienss at the back of the palate; balanced and pleasantly malty, with a lingering toffeeish and roasted nutty flavour in the long, moderately bitter finish.
M: medium-bodied and flavoursome, while the mouthfeel retains the smoothness throughout, allowing the subtle bitter-sweet elements to gradually prevail on the platform. Well-structured and deceptively quaffable!
D: this is a quality brew, something you don't want to drink too warm on cask; I know, it's a disaster as I've often suffered. You could still bump into a decent Wychwood tied-house somewhere in Oxfordshire, but for people out of that region this bottle is decent enough. Just curious: why wouldn't they consider using brown bottles to maintain a better consistency of the quality of this beer?

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Here comes a weird ESB. Seems more like a British mild or brown ale. Clear bottle. Light colored brown, weak in appearance, not enough heft, malt etc. . . doesn't hold a head, went up to about 1/3" and died quickly.

Almost no hops, something totally off for an esb, same with the bitterness, so muted. You get a little sugar water like Newcastle feel to the mouth feel. Maybe some caramel in there from the malt. Nutty. Pricy, especially for everything it lacks, inconvenient pricy format. Undercarbonated. Pass, would not bang again.

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

(Served in an Imperial pint glass)

A- This beer has a dark amber body that is clear but a bit dense. There is a thick creamy light tan head that last a good while with a good carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smell of bright fruity brown malt has a faint dark honey malt note and the light smell of yellow apple skins.

T- This beer has a dark brown malt flavor with a soft dark toffee note and a light chocolate malt hint that has a fruity edge. There is a light dry soft green hop finish that has a very faint taste of apple skins that hangs on for a second. There is a slight tartness after the malt that is a pretty non-distinct fruit tartness.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a very faint sweetness and hop bitterness in the finish that leaves this pretty neutral.

D- This beer has a good mouthfeel with a interesting complexity in the taste and smell. It reminds me of cask beer and I bet it would be amazing if it were served on cask.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.99/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into tulip 2/4/13

A clear brownish amber with a short lived finger of tan foam that leaves a single thick ring of lace followed by some random patches

S almost smells like a fruit pie, spice, fruity notes, a little bread and some toffee with a slight nutty aspect, not overly strong but quite nice

T more of the same really, slightly more spice and the toffees darker then the nose and the breads darker too, earthy notes add to the mix

M has some body to it and creams up nicely, nice spicy earthy finish lingers for a while

O pretty well rounded and easy to drink, this one works for me

Pretty solid brew that's worth trying for sure, not a bad flagship brew for Wychwood

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Photo of barczar
3.3/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Toasted, lightly fruity specialty malt aroma. Vegetal flavor, with a tangy character that's offputting. Finish is bitter and dry. May have been compromised.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.65/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours an amber/brown color with a half inch off-white head. It smells sweet, mostly like toasted malt, toffee and caramel. The beer also tastes the same way, mainly like malt and no hops that I can notice. The mouthfeel is light/medium, with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's smooth going down. Overall I think this is a decent beer, and it wouldn't be a bad choice as an occasional session beer.

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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
3.71 out of 5 based on 2,580 ratings.
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