* Prices may differ from that shown
Hobgoblin is and probably always will be one of my favourite beers. It offers a very balanced taste with some elements of bitterness but not to a level of overpowering the whole drink, leaving you to experience and appreciate some of the dark chocolate smoky flavours that crowns it above other common ales of a similar price. I have personally seen it priced as low as £1 per bottle (though admittedly this was on the king of all sales, the prices tend to average about 20p higher) making this a great value product offering a high quality beer for a price people would pay for cheapo lager which for an individual on a student budget such as myself makes it an invaluable asset in a person's drinking arsenal.
Aesthetically, you are drawn in with the striking depiction of an axe-wielding hobgoblin setting this apart from the common, dull artwork from the likes of Bank's and Marston's beers. This appeals to my blatantly obvious geeky, RPG playing, fantasy loving self and makes a perfect beer for playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons with similarly minded friends.
I admit I may be a little biased with this beer as along with Trooper beer it reminds me of many drunken joyous occasions at music gigs and festivals such as Download festival. Never has this beer let me or my fellow drinkers down in these heavy scenarios. Its a versatile beer ideal for savouring but also perfect for brutal drinking sessions and crazy good times.
Ahh, Hobgoblin - as far as I can recall from my first fuzzy-faced forays into the world of dingy rock pubs and biker venues, Hobgoblin has been the staunchest of warhorses amongst the world of ale fans. While I don't quaff anywhere near as much ale as I used to, it is still a firm favourite whenever I wander into the pub and see it on draught amidst ranks of unfamiliar ales. While I like to venture out into the realms of differently tasting ales, if I'm dubious about the landlord's ability to keep beer well, I'll plump with Hobgoblin as it's pretty popular and therefore more likely to be fresh.
Hobgoblin is the talismanic ale for Wychwood brewery. The cantankerous looking fellow on the front is literally the poster boy, cropping up on promotional posters and on t-shirts, stretched over the ample stomachs of many an ageing Motorhead fan. He is usually most visible at Hallowe'en, when Wychwood take advantage of all things ghoulish and promote the ale with the tagline "what's the matter, lager boy, afraid you might... taste something?", with the titular hobgoblin leering out somewhat churlishly. It was a challenge I answered about 15 years ago, as my first steps into the world of beer were somewhat misguided and revolved around lousy cheap lager that somehow always seemed to turn up at the teenage parties I ended up at. Hobgoblin wasn't going to have any of that, oh no.
As with all ales, it's a very different beast out of the cask than out of the bottle, and is definitely better when drawn from the barrel. It's a dark, robust coloured ale, that genuinely pleases the eye before it pleases the tastebuds, and it looks fine with a good solid head. It's a really 'filling' beer as well, not in the sense that it's almost a meal like Guinness (although my limit these days is about 2 pints before I feel full), but in the sense that it demands to be taken in big gulps and almost chewed around. Its flavours are a nice balance of malt and toffee, with a hint of fruit but not so much it intrudes. At 5% it's no session ale, but is one that warrants a second pint as it's one of those rarities that tastes just as good the second time round.
Out of the bottle, it's a lot more gaseous, of course. It settles pretty quickly, so don't worry if it looks like Hobgob has gone to the 'dark' side of trying to be some sort of lager. The bottling process takes some of the edge off the flavour, leaving it less satisfying overall but still pleasant enough nonetheless. The best thing about the bottled version though is the price tag - it regularly turns up in Aldi and Home Bargains from between 99p and £1.19 per 500ml bottle, a nice price in these days of broken economies and unemployment and Ian Duncan Smith stealing your bedrooms and all your coal.
As the mainstay of Wychwood, it's also the main channel they use to put out various promotions and prize draws, which are a blatant bit of marketing but often quite fun to join in on anyway. Tickets to rock festivals and concerts can sometimes be won, as well as the chance to send off for one of their many t-shirts - collect enough bottle caps, stick them in the post with a tenner (plus the obligatory P&P, of course), and they'll send you a picture of one of their characters that looks like it's come straight from a Pratchett novel, printed onto the chest of a t-shirt the size of a tent. Marvellous.
Hobgoblin is great. When it comes to trying to think of all things great and British, there's not much that really makes me swell with pride, but I maintain we do beer (and single malt) better than anyone else in the world. Wychwood have been a solid force in British brewing for several decades now; I have a lot of fondness for them and their ales and I hope the goblins and their spooky allies are around for many more years to come.
Up until May of this year (2010) I was mostly a lager lout if I am honest, buying my Carling or Becks with an innocent grin on my face, not knowing that there was true beer out there that was really much, much better. Then on a walking trip in Skye. I decided to check out some real ale, wondering what all the fuss was. I did. I liked. I haven't looked back! Skye had its own varying types of ale, so when I returned home to England I decided to check out the local supermarkets for other such ales.
One of these I found was Hobgoblin, which is made by the Wychwood Brewery. This was set up as a 'one man band' in Oxfordshire in the eighties and has grown incredibly over the last few years. You can purchase your Hobgoblin in bottles, or cans and you can now buy cases of eight. Although it has grown in quantity, the quality is very good.
Hobgoblin is a very nice and satisfying pint of ale. Quite strong, at 5.2 alcohol, so it is not wise to have a shed-load, it is a tasty ruby beer. It is, and I quote, 'Brewed with roasted malts for a well-balanced rich, smooth taste, full of mischievous character...' The first sip of this ale is a curious one. And that to me is something new. You see, in my lager days, I did not really taste the beer, merely drank it, if that makes sense? Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy my Becks... but it was not in the same way I enjoy ale.
No, with Hobgoblin, and other ales, I have found that it is all about discovery and taste, not just lulling the senses and chilling out. Hobgoblin, does chill you out, but you are sampling the all array of tastes beforehand. I find that this ale grows on you during the first pint or bottle. The first sip in nice, the last sip in great. It is like a journey, one you wish to take again, like a trek up a favourite hill, or a drive along a favourite piece of coastline, all done in the comfort of your own home... Tastes range from ones of liquorice to chocolatey tastes. You swirl the liquid around your mouth and let out taste bud enjoy the flavour.
I am now looking at a Hobgoblin in a can. It is blue and had a picture of a naughty looking hobgoblin on the front with an axe in his hand and a quiver of arrows on his back. It is 500 ml and for a pack of four it cost me about £4.50, which is just over a quid a can.
Since discovering Hobgoblin and other such ales, I find I can't drink lager anymore, and I guess that is said as I did like it. But I just feel that it is weak and insipid in comparison to the likes of Hobgoblin. I have a case of Becks in the house that has been there for months, and every time I open a bottle I find I can't finish it.
I'm quite partial to a pint of ale once in a while, and I thought today I'd share a few words with you on the subject of a cheeky little number called Hobgoblin, brewed by the Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire.
I've sampled this beer on a fair few occasions in the past: at beer festivals, on draught in pubs (when I've been lucky enough to find it), in bottles and, more recently in cans. My most recent experience with Hobgoblin - on Friday evening, as it happens - was from a can (actually, from a glass, but you know what I mean!), so I'll be focusing on the canned variety for the purposes of this review. Basically though, much of what I say about it will also apply to the bottled and draught versions, except that they are even more pleasant for NOT being from a can (as you'd generally expect!) and that the strength is different - but I'll get into that a bit later on....
The dark blue can is illustrated with a picture of the 'Hobgoblin' - a rather sinister-looking fellow, armed with what appears of be an axe and a quiver of arrows, and a banner informing us that this is a 'Traditionally Crafted Legendary Ruby Beer' which has been brewed since 1983.
This beer is REALLY nice to look at! At first it appears very dark, but if you hold it against the light you'll notice a rich deep red colour - presumably where the 'ruby beer' description comes from. It has a fairly dense head when first poured, but this soon all but disappears.
===Taste and general enjoyment===
Hobgoblin has a distinctive taste, but is still very easy to drink (well, I think so anyway!) and would probably serve as a good introduction to ales for someone who'd never really drunk them before. It is made with roasted chocolate and crystal malts and, personally, I can really taste the delicious malt flavour coming through very strongly. In my opinion (I'm not an expert beer taster - although I have tasted a lot of beers! - so I can only tell you what I notice!) it's not overly 'hoppy', which is great for me as I'm not keen on extreme hoppiness in a beer. If 'hoppiness' is even a word? Anyway, the hops used are English Fuggles and Syrian Goldings hops, for those of you know need to know these things. According to the blurb on the can, these add, respectively a 'crisp, refreshing bitterness' (yep, but certainly not overbearingly so) and 'a dash of citrus aromas' (I definitely noticed these, and they help to make the beer nice and refreshing as well as extremely tasty.
The canned version I sampled at the weekend is pretty strong at 5.2% alcohol, so not really one for drinking huge volumes of in a single evening. Not that I'd advise that anyway, as this is a fairly heavy beer and packs one heck of a punch in terms of a nasty hangover if you overindulge. I'd say this is one to be savoured slowly, as a treat, rather than one to drink all night.
I believe the bottled ale is also 5.2%, but the cask ale is a more restrained 4.5% - still probably not one for an all-nighter though!
===Price and Value for money===
We got our pack of four cans from Morrisons for £4, although I think this might have been on a special offer. You can get a 500 ml bottle for around £1.69, but again it's worth looking out for offers on bottled ales - most supermarkets do them from time to time and you can get a selection of, for example, four ales for £5.00.
Hobgoblin is a full-flavoured but smooth ale, which goes down very easily indeed. I've always thought of it as a 'Halloween' beer, and certainly it's better suited to drinking in the autumn and winter than in warmer months - a comforting pint, you might say....
But BEWARE....it is rather strong, and if you overindulge the Hobgoblin will ensure that you live to regret it!
Wychwood may just be one of the most appealing breweries in England. Not only are their creations fantastic, but they also entwine it with interesting artwork and names.
Hobgoblin is probably the most well known of the wychwood beers, and for good reason. This ruby rascal is a dark ale of curious flavour. Hints of fruit are only detected after the initial punch of the dark malt and brooding bitterness is overcomed. Originally 5.5%, I have noticed the goblin has become slightly more stoic in his elder years - now clocking in at a weaker, but still punchy, 5%.
Unless you are lucky to find it as a guest, or live near the brewery, it can be hard to find this fellow on tap (although he makes the rounds during Halloween a lot!) so I recommend going with the bottle. While, with all bottles, it is slightly carbonated, the mature strength of this brilliant ale is still obvious, and will become either a staple favourite or a staunch advocate.
For me, it is the former.
I've been drinking hobgoblin for just under 5 years now. I have had it from draught, bottle and can. Draught is by far superior, followed by the bottle and then the canned.
Bottled and canned hobgoblin is 5.2%, whereas draught is 4.5% (it was 5% previously, but it was changed to 4.5% as apparently it sells better).
At my local pub, a pint of draught costs £2.60, which is quite expensive, but I think that it's worth it as it's a quality British product. Bottles are about £1.50 from Sainsbury's but if you buy multipacks you can get a better deal.
At first glance freshly poured draught hobgoblin may be mistaken for Guinness. It has a deep crimson colour when held up to the light. It has a bold, refreshing malty flavour which reminds me of chocolate and toffee. The taste is quite hard to describe as it is quite unique, but it is certainly a pleasant taste that will leave you wanting more.
The symbol for hobgoblin beer is - would you believe it - a hobgoblin. Its one of the most attractive beer labels I have ever seen.
Supporting British products is important now more than ever. In times of hardship we need to support our local businesses, and what could be more British than hobgoblin!
I buy this beer once a week. What first struck me about wychwood beers was the artwork all halloween - pagan/fairy - devilish artwork.
Hobgoblin is no exception which is ruby in colour. and full bodied. It tastes bitter but seems to have blackcurrent in the background. It is strong at 5.2% and will give you an hangover if you drink to much of it.
Buying the bottled stuff is better than the tinned because you dont get the taste of aluminium.
Here I am STILL retracing old steps and reviewing some classic beers. This one is a strong beer that is well worthy of a review. In fact, Im not sure why I havent written about it already! Today I am sampling Hobgoblin and, although I have tried it both bottled and on draught, I will be reviewing the draught version.
Brewing has taken place at Eagle Maltings (the name of the Wychwood Brewery) since the 1830s, but the Wychwood name dates from 1983. The brewery is based in Witney, Oxfordshire. Since 2002, Wychwood also brew beers that were previously produced by the now closed Brakspear Brewery. Wychwood is also now part of RefreshUk plc~ a company that owns a number of British breweries and beer distribution groups (including Lowenbrau, Ushers and Manns).
Hobgoblin is the most famous of the Wychwood brands, but others are produced, including a seasonal special range. The ones I have tried include Yorick (the February beer ~ a malty tasting brew at 4.3% ABV), Fiddlers Elbow (a regular beer ~ an easy drinking light coloured ale at 4.1% ABV) and the infamous Dogs B*ll*cks (a strong and fruity number at 5.2% ABV).
***A Bit of History and info***
Hobgoblin is the most well known of the beers brewed by Wychwood. It is also their flagship beer is the one you will find most often in pubs nationwide (as well as in many supermarkets and as an export beer in bottled form). Hobgoblin has a distinctive advertising campaign ~ the scary looking goblin taunting the lager boy is a familiar image as well as the beers motto Beware the Hobgoblin .he may work his magic on you. Many stories surround the naming of this beer ~ many of them silly and most of them not true in the slightest. See www.wychwood.co.uk for their explanations!
As a cask ale Hobgoblin weighs in at 4.5% ABV and it is a stronger 5.2% ABV in 500ml bottles. It is brewed using roasted Chocolate malt, with a small proportion of Crystal malt, along with a blend of Styrian Goldings and Fuggles hops.
****Look, Aroma and Texture***
Hobgoblin when served from the Cask is a dark red/brown to copper colour with a reasonably bubbly, but rather quickly dissipating head. Aroma wise, it has a lovely roasty, chocolaty smell. There are also elements of treacle, fruit, nuts and hops ~ in fact a rather nice smell that is quite strong, but not overpowering. The texture has a small amount of carbonization, but is predominantly rich and full-bodied.
***The All Important Taste****
As with the aroma the base flavours of Hobgoblin are dark chocolate and roasted malt. The flavour tastes treacley and thick, with hints of toffee, nuts, liquorice and fruit. There is a rich pluminess that gives an underlying sweetness, combined with a bitterness and citrus hop character. This leads to a finish that is malty, with coffee flavours. The aftertaste is lingering and warm ~ the liquorice is present here too, along with a slight hoppiness and hints of treacle toffee.
~~~WHAT I THINK.
Hobgoblin is one of those classic beers that even people who dont drink Real ale have probably heard of! I usually try a pint when I see it and am confident that it will be a good and tasty beer. I consider it to be more of a winter beer ~ it is full-bodied, rich and warming. I also think that it is a little bit too heavy to be enjoyed during summer months, when something a little lighter and more refreshing is appropriate. The strong flavours and alcohol content combine to make a lovely beer, but one that is perhaps too strongly flavoured for a Session ale, or to be drunk with a meal.
You are never going to forget that Hobgoblin contains alcohol. It is full of flavour, tastes strong and coats your taste buds with a combination of well-balanced elements. The flavours are long lasting and the treacley flavour is reminiscent of winter nights and bonfire toffee. It is a dark beer, with a dark name and a taste to match. Its not one for the lager drinker or for anyone who only likes lighter beers with a less intense flavour. My only criticism is that it has grown in popularity and is a bit TOO common now ~ I like to try new beers, or sample those I cant get very often, so Hobgoblin is a little bit too readily available to be as much of a treat!
I love Hobgoblin and heartily recommend it as a quality beer for the drinker who likes a brew with a distinctive fuller flavour and body. I was drinking some at the Derby Tup Beer Festival (a beer festival held in a local Real Ale pub) and paid £2.20 a pint ~ a pretty standard price for a premium strength ale! It is pretty easy to get hold of and will generally cost around the £2.00 to £2.50 mark for a pint.
Go on give it a try and give your taste buds a treat!
The Wychwood Brewery Co. Ltd.
Oxon. OX28 4DP
Tel: 01993 890800
I have recently really become fascinated with the wide range of beers available and can be found in the beer aisle of Asda umming and aahing and working out which one I should go for. This was me on Saturday afternoon. I eventually went for Hobgoblin strong dark ale from the Wyhwood brewery I had to buy it for three reasons. The first was the name. Hobgoblin is such a nice mysterious name for a beer. I imagine this being served in The Shire to Frodo and co or in other fantasy realms. Secondly I was enchanted with the bottle?s label. It has a rather mischievous little man with arrows and a sword. Perhaps the Hobgoblin is not such a nice creature after all. The third thing that drew me to this ale was the description of it. It was supposed to have chocolate toffee malt. So was this beer good? Do I like old buildings? Hobgoblin is a strong dark ale. The bottle says it is well balanced and full bodied whilst my beer bible says it is robust and mature. I tis produced by Wychwood a fairly new brewery since they only came into existence in 1983, based in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. The brewery although new has had much success with its ales and has won many awards. Hobgoblin is their most successful ale to date. The beer can be bought in any reputable supermarkets and off licences and can be bought for about £1.50 for a 500 ml bottle. Art 5.2% it is quite a strong beer. The appearance. On pouring the beer I was greeted by an unusual sight. I am used to beers being golden in colour. This one is much darker. At first it looks almost as dark as Guinness but on holding it up to the light the ale changes to a wonderful dark red colour. The nearest thing I can describe the colour of this mysterious brew is that it is like blackcurrant juice. It poured very nicely and did not have too much of a head once it had settled. I also noticed it was not over carbonated either so it was easier to drink than some beers The smell At first sniff
I could not tell much about the beer. It just smelled like every other beer to me but after sniffing it a few times a different scent wafted up my nose. This was a rich dark smell and I am sure I could smell the toffee and chocolaty malt that the description on the bottle promised. The taste Here was the real treat from this enchanting ale. This is a really complex beer unlike some of the wishy washy stuff I have tasted. I certainly agree with the full flavour, mature and robust descriptions. The ale has a very dark almost smoky taste to it. I think this may come from the well roasted malt used in the beer that also gives it its divine colour. I know this sounds daft but I think there is almost a hint of treacle toffee in the rich aftertaste. It has quite a bitter taste but it is pleasant to drink. It is a beer to sip slowly and contemplate life with rather than one that young whippersnappers down just to get pissed. I am really glad I chose Hobgoblin. I think it is ideal for the long dark nights around Halloween, Bonfire Night and into winter. I can not imagine drinking this in the summer at all. I think this might be nice with a sausage casserole or some other hearty substantial simple meal. I enjoyed the complexity of this beer, loved the enchanting colour and adore the apt name for it. Hobgoblin is one heck of an ale. www.wychwood.co.uk
What were you doing back in 1983? Anything interesting? Well, one chap in deepest, darkest Witney (somewhere in Oxfordshire I believe) was doing something very important indeed. He was setting up a one man brewing enterprise and producing eight barrels a week of his homebrew, then selling it to nearby residents. Why was this important you ask? Well, it turned out that this particular homebrew was really rather good, indeed so good that the reputation of this little business grew and demand for his ale soared - until twenty years later we now have the Wychwood Brewery turning out 30,000 barrels of varying fermented beverages annually. And not just that insipid lager you find all too often these days, either; proper beer brewed with English hops and other fine ingredients, and recognised for its quality by the Campaign for Real Ale. In fact, the Wychwood brewery has picked up a grand total of 20 different awards since its launch, which isn't bad going at all. The Wychwood calls itself a "fiercely independent" brewer, which is why it is able to produce such a range of wonderfully different and flavoursome beers. They currently have an excellent selection of both draught and bottled ales, with names such as Goliath, Lucifer, Black Wych and The Dogs Bollocks, each distinctive and somehow more tempting than the mass produced "brand" beers you get these days. This review, though, is on their best selling bottled ale (in fact the 5th best selling bottled ale in the UK) - Hobgoblin. - So what is Hobgoblin? As Wychwood's top selling label, Hobgoblin has acquired something of a cult status amongst real ale fans - it has also earned itself the Beer of the Festival award in Blackpool (1993); a gold medal in the International Food and Drink Festival (1997); a silver medal in the Australian International Beer awards (1998), and a silver medal in the EFTA awards (2000). Hobgoblin is a strong and full-bodied ale made w
ith pale malt and a touch of chocolate malt, with 5.5% volume alcohol. It is available on draught at a selection of real ale pubs, but most commonly in the 500ml embossed bottle, currently the most widely stocked bottled ale in British off licenses and supermarkets. The bottle is typical of the Wychwood desire for independence and originality, having the brewery logo proudly embossed on the chunky bottle, above the fantastic label depicting the Hobgoblin itself. If you are unfamiliar with the famous label at all, you can take a look at it here: www.wychwood.co.uk/images/New_Hobgoblin_bottle_label.jpg -The pour Settling myself down with a bottle of Hobgoblin last night, I levered off the metal cap to be greeted with a distinct aroma of hops, and well, something else too. The smell of Hobgoblin is actually slightly sweet - I don't know how else to describe it. As it pours, the liquid is a deep reddish brown colour, but settles into what I can only describe as like a Guinness-esque colour (only less thick), with a frothy head on top. Now the smell really hits you and gets your mouth watering! - The drinking Honestly, the sacrifices I make for this site! Now, I am not a big fan of lager but I have been know to sup the odd ale - and this was unlike any other I had tasted. The first thing that hits you is a rather bitter, hoppy flavour, but it does have an aftertaste of sweet fruitiness (which is presumably what I could smell upon first opening the bottle). Personally, I wouldn't like to drink this with food as the rather strong taste of it might be a bit overpowering, but as a pint by itself then I certainly give it a thumbs up. Being 5.5% it is rather potent as beers go though, so you won't be able to quaff huge quantities of Hobgoblin. But then, this is a high quality brew that you wouldn't buy with the express intent of getting bladdered on it - this is intended to be drunk slowly, to be savoured, to b
e appreciated and enjoyed. And if you should like to do so for yourself, then a 500ml bottle (widely available at any decent stockist of beers) costs around £1.50. - The details The Wychwood brewery can be visited at: www.wychwood.co.uk, where you can find out about the full range of beers available, and where you can hold of exports if you reside outside of the UK. They also have a range of Wychwood and Hobgoblin merchandise for sale, and a free screensaver on site for you to download. The Wychwood Brewery Co. Ltd. Eagle Maltings The Crofts Witney Oxon. OX28 4DP Tel: 01993 890800 And P.S.... This was my first beer review, so I would really appreciate some feedback. I know I am not in the same league as tange or proxam when it comes to writing about booze, but I had a bash at it anyway!
Brewed by Wychwood Brewery in Oxfordshire, this English ale is 5.5% alcohol and is brewed using a combination of strongly-roasted pale malt with a touch of chocolate malt.
The Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire, England began life in a small way in 1983. These days it is a well established brewery, still small but growing in stature daily. They now produce around 600 barrels of beer a week.
Their beers are brewed with local water from the river Windrush and they use English malt, hops and yeast. No additives are used in any of their products.
Enough of that....what about the beer.
Hobgoblin pours to a dark, coppery, ruby-red colour - rather like a tawny port. More like a brown ale than a pale ale, it is medium-to-full bodied, is lightly carbonated and settles with a good but light head at the top of the glass.
The aroma is of hops with definite chocolate overtones and a little fruitiness - somewhat smoky.
The first taste sensation is slightly sweet, and a little nutty. The beer has a roasted maltiness to it and a dry-ish, mildly bitter aftertaste from the hops which balance the brew beautifully. The fruity flavours are there - apples and pears - but are somewhat subdued. The smell of chocolate is stronger than the actual flavour.
It has a strong aftertaste and leaves a toffee/syrupy coating in the mouth which can be quite soothing.
* The Verdict *
This is a well rounded and full flavoured beer. A fun ale from a fun brewery, serious beer drinkers will love this one too.
Hobgoblin is very drinkable, but seems much stronger than it is. (5.5% ABV) The draught version is 4.5% ABV and is much easier to deal with.
The draught version is vastly superior - as you would expect, but unless you live in Oxfordshire you
are probably out of luck. Luckily, th
e trend of introducing guest ales in pubs means that it is possible to sample some of these brews on draught without travelling 350 miles to do so.
500ml bottles at around £1.60-£1.80 are widely available in most supermarkets.
Maybe it was the lable. Maybe it was cause i was drunk Maybe it was the gods. Whatever it was that caused me to try this beer a couple of years ago, they served me a great purpose because this is perhaps the best real ale you can buy at the shops. The taste of this beer is very subtly, but it is also very strong. Everytime you drink this, it is a wonderful experience, because you know that you are drinking something that has possible fallen from the table of the gods. This is easily my favourite real ale, and one od my most favoured drinks, so pour me another...
This is one for all those dark winter nights, especially if the moon is full and bright and your neighbours start howling at 2am! A beer called Hobgoblin. From a brewery called Wychwood. And if that doesn?t disturb you, then you ought to see the gruesomely depicted hobgoblin on the label of the bottle ? a highly collectible label for sure. Who on earth would want a beer called Hobgoblin? Well, it would look brilliant on the table while you were relaxing with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, wouldn?t it? (Erm, that?s the programme, not the actual character, I doubt you?d have time for the beer if you really were relaxing with Buffy ?<wanders into erotic dreams>) Despite the witch flying on her broomstick that is the symbol of Wychwood brewery, it?s apparently named after the forest of Wychwood in the Cotswolds somewhere, and brews many occult-sounding beers, of which this is their flagship ale. So what is it actually like? Well, for a start it is a premium ale of 5 ½%, so a few of these and you?ll notice it. It is a brown ale, the colour is strong and rustic, and the brownness extends to the considerable head you get from the bottled version. It has a sort of earthy, woody aroma, where you can detect the quality of the hops. Unfortunately the bottled beer is a little too fizzy for my liking. As a result when you first take a sip all you can detect is the carbon-dioxide fizz, but this quickly settles into a reasonable malty caramel taste, bordering on sweet but not quite there, so enough bitterness to make this beer a solid taster. There are very faint fruity hints, probably citrus but I?m tempted to say banana, but nowhere near as strong as other bottled beers I can mention. If you like your beer to taste of beer and nothing else, this is a solid contender, though after a few mouthfuls, it feels repetitive to me. It?s definitely ale, and it?s definitely strong, but it?s nothing special. At around £1.59 for a 500ml bottle, it?s reason
able as bottled beers go, and a good cupboard filler for winter nights, when you want a warming alcohol feeling in your tum. Imagine my delight therefore to find a pub called the Hobgoblin when I moved to Somerset, bearing a big Wychwood sign and suitably gothically decorated. However, at the risk of brandishing any other Wychwood pubs with a bad name, this student pub served me a suspiciously watered-down Hobgoblin, with a flat head, that tasted nothing like the bottled beer I was used to. Several other Wychwood varieties tasted similarly off-hand and when I woke up in the morning I felt very dodgy indeed. Maybe I had a bad experience, but I for one won?t be stepping into a pub and ordering this beer on hand-pull, and just in-case, I recommend all of you to stock up on the bottles instead. To summarize: a solid brown ale, with a solid bitter taste, but nothing spectacular. Best to stay on the Hobgoblin?s good side though!
Extra Strong Ale. Powerful, full bodied, copper red, well balanced brew. Strong in roasted malt, with a moderate, hoppy bitterness and a slightly fruity flavour. Brewer: Wychwood Brewery. Style: Ale. Alcohol Content: 5.5%