Hobgoblin, Imperial Red & The Black Wych – The Other Half Reviews Three Ales

Hobgoblin Ale

Hobglin Ruby Ale From Wychwood Brewery

Here at Really Nice Food – I’m usually on the receiving end of great new recipes and restaurant reviews. It’s a great position to be in, but often I don’t feel I can contribute much that is unique. As the ‘other half’ I just don’t get many opportunities to share my ‘wisdom’.

However, when Rebecca was asked to review three beers from Wychwood Brewery I jumped at the chance. I’m typically a lager drinker but like to dabble with craft beers on occasion and I’ve been looking to widen my range. The first thing I should tell you is the Wychwood beers are really distinctive in appearance. Even if you’ve never had one, just like me, you will instantly recognise the illustrative labels.

Each beer stands out with a very unique and distinct character – and I don’t mean flavour. I mean an illustrated medieval / folklore character that ties into the beer’s name.

This makes each of them very recognisable and distinctive – and to a certain extent gives a hint as to the flavour. Hobgoblin, being the lightest beer of the three and most mischievous, Imperial Red a flavoursome but not overwhelming ale and Black Wych being the most intense of the three.

Not knowing which to start with, but being eager to begin, I decided to begin with the beer that look the lightest and progress through to the darkest.

Hobgoblin is a ruby beer, a type I wasn’t aware of before. Essentially, it’s a light ale and the reason for the ruby moniker is simple. Hold up a glass of Hobgoblin to the light and it is very much ruby.

Apparently Hobgoblin is also famous because Prime Minister David Cameron presented 6 bottles to President Obama. Brewed in Cameron’s constituency, Hobgoblin is very much targeted at the traditional pale larger drinker.

There is no doubt it has a deeper stronger, flavour than larger but don’t let that put you off. If you are a lager drinker, Hobgoblin has a lot to offer – and isn’t a typical ale.

Opening the bottle, I instantly noticed an incredibly fruity aroma. Definitely not the sort of the thing that you would get from a lager. So, I was more than a little thrown when taking a gulp to discover that the flavour was dominated by toffee and chocolate flavours.

It really shares a lot in common with another ale I like – Red Nook. In other words an Ale that is different from what you are expecting and doesn’t overwhelm you with bitterness.

Hobgoblin was my first experience of a Wychwood beer and got things off to a good start.

Imperial Red, an ale from Wychwood Brewery

Imperial Red, an ale from Wychwood Brewery

Imperial Red was the next beer I moved onto – and there were some interesting difference. Firstly, the fruit aroma was a little less strong than Hobgoblin, but to taste was actually more fruity.

Hobgoblin had a definite citrus aroma whereas I found it harder to pin down the fruit flavour of Ruby beyond ‘berry’ . The aroma of Imperial is far more nutty and toffee like – as is the flavour. The real difference in flavour was a complete lack of chocolate – which whilst I loved Hobgoblin, makes Imperial Beer a good alternative.

For the third beer, BlackWych – there were no fruity aromas or flavours. Instead, BlackWych is an ale dominated by the choclatey flavours of Hobgoblin with a little bit of coffee.

Just pouring a glass, it was clear that this was a much more intense drink. Very dark and dense the liquid has none of the ruby glow of Imperial Red or Hobgoblin.

Put simply, BlackWych is much more full bodied and intense. The flavours are much stronger and I’d suggest trying Golbin first if you’re used to drinking lagers. The lighter notes of the first two beers just aren’t present and the deeper, earthy tones really take centre stage.

For me Black Wych is really compliments food, in particular red meats and salty dishes.

Of the three beers HobHobgoblin is probably the beer best suited to people used to lager. It would work really well at a barbecue – replacing Sol, Corona or another light beer with ease. It brings more flavour to the table but won’t shock with bitterness.

Imperial Red is definitely my first choice for a pint for the sake of it. It has more intense flavours than Hobgoblin and certainly more caramel than chocolate but isn’t so heavy that I didn’t enjoy it.

Black Wych is far and away the most intense – and is a beer I would look to have with a substantial meal as it would really work well. For those who dislike lagers and are seasoned ale drinkers – I think this is going to be the drink of choice out of this selection.

For me – Imperial Red is the winner and will certainly become part of my shop when we get the beers in at the start of each month.

You can find out more at http://www.wychwood.co.uk


Disclaimer: Rebecca was asked by Wychwood Brewery to review these beers. I ended up persuading her to let me review them.

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