King Goblin 6.6% Special Reserve

21 11 2010

This is what Wychwood have to say about Hobgoblin’s big brother, King Goblin:

Brewed only on a Full Lunar Moon. 

As the full moon casts its eerie light over the shadowy old Eagle Brewery, a magical brew gurgles forth from the casks.

A beer enlivened by the energies of the universe, when the elements are converging into a harmonious alignment. Truly a brew fit for a celestial majesty.

As much as I would like to imagine that this beer was indeed only brewed on a full lunar moon I can’t see that this is anything more than marketing spin on the part of Wychwood.

One thing that is a bit special though is the presentation of the beer itself. the label features the hobgoblin we all know and love but this time he is surrounded with a little silver border which is repeated on the neck label. There is also a little booklet attached to each bottle advertising their hobgoblin/king goblin  engraved tankards which is a nice touch if not quite to everyone’s tastes.

The aroma from King Goblin is reasonably strong there is a rich, sweet maltiness along with a definite hint of citrus fruit, grapefruit if I had to try and pin it down.

The beer pours to a deep rich coppery colour with a fair sized off white head which lasts well whilst drinking and leaves a reasonable amount of lacing, so far so good!

The flavour of King Goblin surprised me in a pleasant way, quite often when you find a “special reserve” version of an existing beer it can be a bit of a let down, it either tastes nothing like the original and they are just cashing in on an existing brand or the extra alcohol kills the flavour of the beer. King Goblin falls prey to neither of these traits.

You can still taste the fact that this is a beer that is based on Hobgoblin; there is still the same toffee sweetness backed up by deep rich malts but the fruitiness that was present before is far more prominent, you get a full on hit of grapefruit and citrus.

You can also get a definite taste of rich dark chocolate coming through alongside the malt which all goes towards making King Goblin have a bit  more complexity than his little brother.

There is a nice smoothness to KG that means hat it goes down oh so easily, the body does feel a little on the thin side though, not watery but just not quite matching the level of alcohol.

Whilst speaking of the alcohol content you do notice that it really does drink it’s strength in fact I have heard some people say that if they didn’t know better they would put it above the 7% marker…

I actually think that in some ways King Goblin does the job of a winter warmer far better than some of the actual winter warmers I have reviewed recently, that said I would be more then happy to enjoy a few anytime of year.

4.5/5

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Bah Humbug! 6.0% Christmas Ale

19 11 2010

 

As with many real ale breweries Wychwood have a range of seasonal beers that are released at different times of the year only to be spirited away again ready for the next in line.

As you can probably guess from the name and the rather Dickensian label Bah Humbug! is their Christmas Ale.

As usual top marks for the whimsical nature of the label, who better to feature on a beer called Bah Humbug! then Scrooge himself assailed by spirits.

Whilst on the subject of the label I am going to point out that this is the 6.0% version, it is my understanding that the bottles of Bah Humbug! on sale in the USA, Canada and elsewhere are a rather more ordinary 5.0% as such there might be some differences between my review and those of some of  my colonial cousins.

Disappointingly there is very little of an aroma from this beer, it does improve as it warms but even so there is just a generic spiciness a bit of malty sweetness and the slightest hint of fruit, I wasn’t expecting to have my nose blown off of my face but I would have liked a bit more oomph.

Bah Humbug! certainly looks the part when poured, it settles to a deep coppery amber colour that suggests a nice richness to the pint, the head is an off white colour and fades away rather quickly leaving very little if any lacing.

The taste of BH is pretty good, certainly a lot better than the previous seasonal ale I reviews – Rocking Rudolph, which tasted mostly of nothing.

There is a lot of sweet rich maltiness that is prevalent in the beer with a slight hint of honey coming from the maris otter malt that is used, there is a certain spiciness to it but you wouldn’t necessarily pin it down as being Cinnamon from the offset, it doesn’t really come through clearly until the finish. There are hints of butterscotch but in a nice way, certainly not in the sense of diacetyl.

You can pick up the note of banana in there as advertised but I couldn’t really get any of the fruity Christmas cake of mince pie flavours that I would have been expecting.

The finish to BH is surprisingly bitter with a slight hint of alcohol to it this balances out nicely with the sweet maltiness of the beer and works really well.

The one let down that I do have with Bah Humbug is that it is doesn’t really have as much body as I would look for in a winter warmer, it is a little thin and I would imagine that at the lower 5.0% ABV might be a bit wet.

Overall I think that Bah Humbug is a perfectly drinkable beer that has the right sort of flavours for this time of year but lacks the depth and body to really make it stand out as a Christmas Ale. Sure I will probably have one or two of these each year but it certainly won’t be at the top of my list to Father Christmas.

3.8/5





Hobgoblin Ruby Beer

12 07 2010

I realised yesterday evening that  I have been rather tardy in posting any new beer reviews lately so I decided that it was time to start clearing out the backlog and what better way to do it than with a beer that always keeps me coming back for more.

Hobgoblin from the Wychwood Brewery

I have been a fan of Hobgoblin since I first encountered it about 12 years ago and it’s  not just because I like the oft fantasy inspired artwork that Wychwood use on their labeling.

Because Wychwood are the UK’s largest brewer of real ale and Hobgoblin is its most popular beer you can find it all over the shop and I have known a few people turn  their noses up at it as being a “gateway beer” or “too mainstream” well yeah it IS a gateway beer for many people and you know what I say to that – GOOD…

If more people were drinking something like Hobgoblin maybe the brewing industry in the UK wouldn’t be in the state it is and there would be more decent beer around as opposed to just superchilled flavourless rubbish.

Well rant over.

Hobgoblin is indeed widely available across the UK and overseas, most people will have seen it in it’s bottled form at some point or another gracing the shelves of their local supermarket or offy, it is also available in a can and can be purchased on tap in an awful lot of good pubs across the country.

The bottle bears the Wychwood logo of a Witch riding a broomstick and the Hobgoblin label shows it’s namesake wielding a rather nasty looking axe against a dark blue background, all in all fairly unmistakable!

The beer itself is 5.2% a.b.v in it’s bottled form and 4.5% a.b.v on cask (I do remember years gone by when cask hobgoblin was tipping the scales at 5.6% but ce la vie) and regardless of which you get your hands on is a dark ruby red beer which is clear when poured and has a nice compact creamy head to it.

The aroma that you get from a freshly poured pint of hobgoblin is one of almost chocolate like toffee with a nice background hint of citrus, it’s not overwhelming but it’s very definitely there.

Hobgoblin is a wonderfully smooth beer to drink and although it isn’t the most complex beer around it has a lovely full-bodied feel to it, not watery in the slightest. The predominant flavours are that of toffee coupled with a nice hit of roasted malts.

There is a refreshing fruity background that has just the right level of citrus to cut through the sweetness from the toffee and stops it from being cloying.The finish to the beer has a light yeasty taste to it  and you get a nice crisp hint of alcohol dryness on your tongue.

Because of its ease of drinking and the fact that its flavours are well balanced I find hobgoblin to be a great beer to accompany food as well as being a superb session beer.

Whether you are a seasoned beer drinker or someone who is just trying to find their feet in the world of real ale consumption hobgoblin will have something for you, the bottled beer is excellent but it is even better when you find it on tap.

A real English classic

4.7








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