For the best part of a decade, I’ve been knocking back bottles of Hobgoblin with wild abandon. Partly, that’s because it’s a decent ale; mostly, it’s because it’s often available at little more than £1 a bottle. Wychwood’s other beers were a curiosity, there to be sampled but largely ignored in favour of their more famous, cheaper cousin.
Now that’s all changed: Hobgoblin has now put its name to a series of other beer styles. Whether they’ve just rebranded their less famous brews or come up with something genuinely new remains to be seen.
Wychwood, Hobgoblin IPA
The IPA is copper and clear with a lively white head. The aroma starts off citrussy and sharp, mostly grapefruit with some orange; after a little time to open up the notes turn much maltier, more like grapefruit marmalade on brown toast and breakfast tea.
The palate is weaker than I’d hoped for from a beer at this strength (5.3%). There’s a hint of grapefruit juice peeking out from behind the damp cardboard and some very English hop bitterness, but not a great deal more. The bitterness lingers on the finish, which leaves my mouth watering, yet I’m not reaching for another sip.
Full credit to Wychwood for trying something different and not ending up with a series of different coloured clones (as Guinness have done). They’ve created a fairly ordinary English style IPA; no bad thing, but it’s not going to set the world on fire. 2/5
Wychwood, Hobgoblin Gold
At this point in the evening my dad has accidentally burst open a packet of Walkers “Max Strong” wasabi flavoured crisps, which claim to be the perfect accompaniment to drinking beer. They’re certainly not bad.
It’s not quite clear whether this is an entirely new “gold beer” or the Hobgoblin Gold we’ve seen grace our supermarket shelves before. The strength is a little higher than that older iteration, 4.5% vs the older 4.2%, though that may just be a matter of watering it down a little less.
True to its name, HGB is pale gold and very clear: surprising, given the wheat content. The head is white and loose, quickly dissipating to a lacy top that clings to the glass. Its aroma is malt-first, lightly roasted barley malt with the slightest citrus overtone floating on top.
The flavour is a little more entertaining here: it’s lighter than the IPA, as you’d expect from the strength and colour, which means there’s less cardboardy notes holding it down. Instead there’s toasted white bread, lemon zest, and a metallic iron twang. The iron lingers on until the finish, joined by biscuit maltiness that coats the tongue.
Again, this isn’t going to set the world on fire (does it show that I’ve had The Ink Spots on repeat this week?). But it’s a much more quaffable beer than the IPA, and one I’m enjoying more as it goes down. 3/5