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

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The Hobgoblin / Devonshire Arms – Camden

9 11 2010

 

The Hobgoblin in Camden holds the distinction of being the longest surving “Goth” pub in London, both in it’s current guise as the Hobgoblin and under it’s previous name “The Devonshire Arms”.

 I say previous name but the sign for the Devonshire still hangs on the wall and most regulars and locals still refer to it as the Dev’

It’s close proximity to Slimelight has probably played no small part in the longevity of the pub as it ideally situated for having a few drinks before going on to the club.

As previously mentioned The Hobgoblin is primarily a Goth pub and it’s decor reflects this with black being the pre-eminent colour inside the 3 storey mock Tudor building. The walls are liberally covered in posters and flyers for various goth and metal bands and there are the odd pieces of gothic paraphenalia; gargoyles and the like.

I don’t know if it is still the case now but last time I was in The Hobgoblin/Dev the tables had been covered over with various “calling cards” and clippings from porno mags, perhaps not the most child friendly or PC of coverings but woudl you really be in here with your kids or your nan? Probably not.

The toilets in here are and have always been vile, they smell as if a tramp and his friends have taken up permanent residence and they don’t look much better. It is probably for the best that there is no food offering here as I wouldn’t like to think that the hands that touched my sandwich had been in these loos.

The music in here is always good playing a nice mix of classic rock and punk in amongst the heavier metal tracks and there is often a DJ playing of an evening.

There used to be a dress code up until a few years back but that was more to deter trouble makes then to be a pain, now there isn’t officially a dress code as such but you do stand out if you are wearing anything much brighter then black… the admittance policy is now far shorter and to the point – No Wankers.  A policy that I wish far more pubs would operate by.

The quality of the beer can be a little hit and miss but the selection is normally good, last time I was in there were a couple of Wychwood ales on tap along with London Pride.

All in all the Hobgoblin/Dev is alright, the music is good, the decor is interesting and most of the staff and customers are friendly enough.

On the downside the beer can be less then stellar, the hygiene is from the dark ages (cant say I’m overly bothered though) and there are occasionally some overly agressive old dossers in there trying to mooch drinks.

But don’t let that put you off, there are far worse places to have a drink – the world’s end springs to mind and really no trip to Camden would be complete without a pint or two here.





Hobgoblin – the unofficial beer of Halloween

24 10 2010

I wrote a review about Wychwood Hobgoblin a little while ago now (you can view it here if you want)

Since then I have had a few bottles of it here and there and have enjoyed it as always. The other day though I noticed something about the bottle…

There is a pumpkinesque orange label and a tagline proclaiming that Hobgoblin is the unofficial beer of Halloween.

Can’t say there is any better choice personally!

The most important change is on the little label up on the neck; Wychwood are running a Halloween competition that could net you a cool £5000!

Click here to enter and enjoy the Halloween fun.

 





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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