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Hobgoblin | Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd

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1,074 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: 1,074 | Ratings: 2,564
Photo of Grindelvasdrum
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pint bottle poured into glass stein.
A-Black with pretty red copper that shines through
about the edges when held up to the light. 1.4 inch head
that faded quickly. Mild lacing.

S-Faint sweet caramel, woodsy, roasted malt.
T-Strong bitter that endures throughout, burnt brown sugar, nutty, woodsy, earthy
with a mineral quality. Hints of charcoal, coffee & roasted malts.

M-Moderate carbonation with good creaminess
O-I really like the complexity of the flavors with sweet, bitter & earthy.
It's a beer I've had multiple times through the years & will hopefully again.
I can see why a hobgoblin would like it too!

 615 characters

Photo of Illini5596
4.03/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A deep dark brown color, with a decent head that promises an excellent beer, a promise which is definitely fulfilled. This beer is typically considered an ESB, and not a brown ale (I strongly disagree with its classification here, despite the color). The taste is rich with spicy hops, hints of citrus, till it almost dances on the tongue. Very refreshing and with a full developed and mature taste not normally found in this sort of beer.

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Photo of goodbyesoberday
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very thorough brown with a hint of red, and very clear. Some of the bubbles on the head were the size of warts on a toad, and the head has receded dramatically.

The flavour is very rich and sweet, almost like a wussy dubbel without the funky yeast. Toffee, some malt and a very faint fruitiness like dried grapes dirty off the rack. Light toffee and fruit on the aroma, though my beer is a little too cold.

The first english brown ale I've tried, it seems to fit in with the guidelines but I'd like a little more hop flavour.

[edit] I'm getting some oxidation from it as I finish it but I'm not modifying the review.

 633 characters

Photo of mterrence5
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served chilled 43 degrees in pint glass. Dark brown color very little head (good pour). Faint earthy hoppy smell. Smooth carbonated feel to mouth slightly thick. Sweet hoppy, slighty caramel taste with a hint of fruit (apple taste). Good drinkability but incosistant earthy dark chocolate aftertaste effect the rating. Depending on the batch I could drink a dozen or maybe not finish a sixer. This maybe be due to time on the shelf at various liquor store. I wish I could tap a fresh keg of this. Highly recommend though

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Photo of Goregazm
4.7/5  rDev +26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Appearance: Dark brown with a slight red tint to it. Has a thick foamy head which dissipates somewhat rapidly, but not too fast. Leaves just a tad of lacing.

Smell: Wonderful smell combination of malts, toffee, and a woodsy scent. Has a very slight bitterness. Nothing to strong on the senses.

Taste: Rich, creamy blend with a malty taste to it, and it blends just right. Has a slight hint of a mildly sweet cream in it. Wonderful.

M: In the mouth it has a slightly thick consistancy, but not too heavy by any means. The aftertaste is rather sweet and leaves a nice creamy feeling behind.

D: This is a great beer to drink anytime, especially while sitting back relaxing after a long day at work. I would recommend eating this with a salty snack (maybe potato chips, Especially Salt & Vinegar) and enjoying how the salty bitterness of the food blends with the rich, creamy taste of the beer. A spectacular choice.

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Photo of towersfall
3.32/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a typical brown for the style that just may be a tad cloudy. Had a nice small head that disappeared quickly.

Smell: The smell of toasted malts, nuts and toffee are there for sure. Nice aroma that pleases the senses.

Taste: Very typical of the style with a nice tea flavoring.

Mouthfeel: Pretty sweet upon second taste. Solid toffee taste with a syrupy feel thus making it have a heavy body. Needs more carbonation in my opinion.

Drinkability: Great English Brown that I would probably not pick up again but it has me interested in what the rest of the brewery has to offer. The tea taste was a little meh but that's probably just because I'm not a big tea fan.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of MikeGill
3.87/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was introduced to Hobgoblin a while ago and it went something like this...

Me-"Hey, what's that stuff with the wicked tap
Bartender-"That's the Hobgoblin. It's from
England I think."
Me-"Cool, I'll have one of those please."

It is good to now approach this beer analytically. 500ml bottle poured into a large rocks glass.

Dark clear copper with red highlights. Head did not stay around long but left ample lacing. Toffee on the nose with some hops and tiny amounts of yeast and molasses coming through. Light to medium bodied with nutella, light coffee and butter flavors. I seem to remember this beer having a more aggressive flavor profile. But, that's not to say it's lacking character because there is plenty. Clean finish, great drinkability, for me a nice session brew.

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Photo of StargherKing
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this out of a bottle last time, trying it in a can now. Pours a chestnut brown with hints of red. Light, fluffy yellowish head that quickly dissipates. Smell is hops, a nuttiness, and a hint of malt. Taste is much the same, with just a hint of yeasty bread. I didn't notice nearly as much hop flavor last time, it seemed a lot nuttier. Mouthfeel is crisp and refreshing, good carbonation. Drinkability would be a lot better if I liked hops. I don't know if I was just having an off day this time or if I need to stick with the bottled version of this particular fantasy creature, but either way it's not going to kill the beer for me.

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Photo of Mryup
3.51/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

A: A deep reddish brown. Small tan head.

S: Malt with some nuttiness.

T: Very mellow toffee/chocolate maltiness. A little bitter and dry towards the end. Not complicated at all.

M: Well carbonated and medium-bodied. The dryness at the end makes it feel thin and anemic.

D: Goes down like grape medicine (if you're in to that sort of thing). Very nice.

 355 characters

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.

 1,029 characters

Photo of bastardface
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was given to me in a bottle. The aroma of the beer was refreshing with a sweet smell, almost fruity in nature. I did enjoy this beer as it had a different mouthfeel to it. It did not leave a bad aftertaste and was easy to drink. I recommend this beer if you have an adventerous spirt by nature.

 304 characters

Photo of Doshkin
4.42/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a - rich brown with a good amount of haze. half inch of head but a layer of tiny bubbles remains for the whole glass. those little guys leave a nice smooth lacing.

s - smells amazing. sweet, almost caramel, malts with the slightest touch of something roasted. extremely inviting brown aroma.

t - where did those hops come from? the sweet malts masked the smell of the piney hops that explode in the flavor of this beer. the aroma-dominant malts try to play tug-of-war with the piney hop taste by coming through in the swallow, but the hops win out by prevailing in the aftertaste. the flavors give this beer an interestingly moderate level of complexity.

m - medium, smooth/frothy carbonation, and a touch of dry bitterness.

o - wonderful representation of a good brown. highly recommend this brew. the smell is incredible and the taste sort of blindsides you with some hidden hops. i can see why my good friend picks this up any time he sees it.

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Photo of MTMugs
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice color; poured well. The head held nicely. But it wasn't the ale taste that I expected. Not hoppy at all. It was a very hot day and it did hit the spot. But for the price and the availability of other brews...I'd choose something else the next time.

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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 olegv40
3.86/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark brown red, almost black unless held up to a light. A thick foamy head formed and laced all the way down the glass.

Very malty and a slight hint of caramel with a nice hopy bitterness. Maybe it was just my bottle, but there was a weird metallic taste like you get sometimes from cans, although this was in a bottle. But even saying that, the true flavor of this beer came though and it was very good. Mouth feel was downright silky. Ultimately, this was one fine beer.

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Photo of GoreStorm
4.13/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - above average dark brown. small and fleeting head. this is much darker that the previous times i've had this beer, and i prefer this level of darkness. this six pack came in brown bottles as opposed to the clear bottles i'm used to hobgoblin being in, i like this. also, the artwork from the label to the caps to the text on the cardboard are all very attractive.

S - malty sweetness with hints of nuttyness and something else...i think i'm storing this beer too cold and it would become more fragrant if a bit warmer.

T - solid here, malty sweetness with faint touches of chocolate, nuts and coffee. there are some very pleasant light bitter notes.

M - simple. smooth and sweet. goes down very easy.

D - this is a dangerous one for me personally, i could drink many of these in the course of a night more than a few nights in a row and be perfectly happy with it. this is a very solid, well balanced session brew.

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Photo of EricMichael
4.22/5  rDev +13.7%
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 gbarbee
4.82/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great beer overall. First time I had this this beer was in an "izakaya" style restaurant with some great sashimi.

My initial impression was surprise at the smooth character with chocolate and nutty hints.

Appearance: Light brown.
Smell: Clean and light.
Taste: Hint of chocolate and nuts
Mouthfeel: Smooth and light
Drinkability: Overall, great beer.

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Photo of Nibbley
3.95/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a nice dark amber with little cream colored head that all but disappears.Good malty/bready taste with a hint of chocolate and coffee.Finishes with a slight hoppy bitterness.I would have no problem drinking these all evening long.
Also, is great with pasta and pizza

 281 characters

Photo of jamiesessions
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown colour and a head that quickly goes away and leaves little lacing. Smells of fruit and nuts, but nothing too pronounced, the nose is present, but not prevelant. Toffee and fruit is noticeable in the taste, and while it's not mind blowing, it is certainly a pleasant taste. It feels good on the palate, and goes down quite easily. Overall, this is not a life-changer, but is a nice little treat that you might not write home about, but you most certainly won't regret.

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Photo of A380
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a dark ruby red, with nice brown head with ok lacing. not that strong though. smells like strong sweet toffee and chocolate tastes the same with a hint of alcohol. overall a food beer i find. tastes great with a steak on a cold winter day! with some lovely asparagus. :) enjoy!

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Photo of anakar
3.81/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pretty good beer - a craft spin-off to the classic English Browns

App - pours amber and bronze. Clear, with a small cream-colored head which fizzes away quite quickly.

Smell - While it has a very classy English smell to it, it also has a bit of toffee in the smell. Not mouth-punching, very subtle smell

Taste - Heavy alcohol, as if you took something like Newcastle or Fuller's and "juiced" it with something stronger. I liked it, it's not as easy-to-drink as the classics but it's pretty good on its own

Feel - Carbier than expected. Smooth and very nice. Great feel.

Overall - Try it, very nice strong version of the classic English Browns

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

From Notes on: 4/8/07

Pours a crystal clear amber color with a light head that dissipates quickly.

This beer has a mild aroma that is mostly of ripe fruits and sweet malts.

On the first sip I noticed a fruit flavor (dark cherries I think) which then gives way to caramel and coffee and finishes with a little bit of hop bitterness. Fairly complex.

Mouthfeel is a full bodied but the carbonation helps to give this beer a bit more of a clean finish.

This is a great one to have at least a couple and enjoy the complexity. A very lively beer and full of flavor. A good pairing might be a coq au vin.

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Photo of mattd017
3.26/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep dark brown with very little head. Has a very sweet, malty smell. Sweet, nutty, almost too sweet. Very thin in the mouth, like carbonated water. Not the best ESB I have had, but not even close to the worst beer. Probably would not buy it again

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Photo of ChugsMugs
4.17/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- mahogany brown. Nice finger head and good lacing.

S- some fantastic sweets. almost strawberry or kiwi, just such a blast of candy or fruit store. raisins maybe? followed up by a bit of nuttyness.

T- liquid dream. Starts with just some of the fruitiness, but mostly a nutty earthy presense. The tiniest bit of bitter on the sides of the tounge. A great rich flavor, a hint of mollases.

M-not thick, but full presense in mouth. mild carbonation. Very smooth.

D- Have had several now over the past few months and everytime I am more impressed. Easy to put down and the perfect go to beer when in doubt.

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Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
3.71 out of 5 based on 2,564 ratings.
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