Nick Carr on July 13, 2015 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Wychwood Brewery Location: Witney, Oxfordshire (UK) Style: Old Ale ABV: 6.6% IBU: ? Hops: English Fuggles, Sovereign, Styrian, Cascade Malts: Chocolate, Crystal Special Ingredients: Eerie Light of a Full Moon Appearance: Cloudy Orange Copper with Frothy Bone-White Head Aroma: Honey Earthiness Sits on the Throne in the Form of Caramel & Toffee; Notes of Spice & Orange Citrus Flavor: Rich, Robust & Rounded; Toffee & Caramel Sweetness; Toastiness & Fruity Citrus Notes; Understated Bitterness; Medium Mouthfeel with Smooth Body Serving Temp: 50°—55°F Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Nonic Pint or Mug Availability: Year-Round Pairs With: Roast Beef, Shepherd’s Pie, Double Gloucester Cheese, Crème Brulee The Wychwood Brewery is located in the small market town of Witney in Oxfordshire, England. They are best known for their flagship ale Hobgoblin. An ale that is the fifth highest selling beer in England and is even well-known here in the states. It is a fine, fine beer. But, I’ve had it before, so when I saw another of their ales gracing an American beer shelf I decided to give another a chance. See if King Goblin could hold a light to the Hobgoblin. Witney’s historical market was first begun in the middle ages and the town was quickly famous for its three “B’s,” bread, blankets, and beer. The River Windrush, is said to weigh heavily into the fame of Witney’s blankets, for it was these waters used in their manufacture. The blanket industry is all but gone now, but the brewing industry seems alive and well, and one can’t help but wonder if the beer does not draw its fame from the area’s waters as well. The first brewery of good size to find its place in Witney was the Clinch’s Brewery, founded in 1841. They also started a malt works. But in 1962 the brewery was closed after being bought out by Courage. The building remained empty until 1983 when Paddy Glenny bought it and opened the Eagle Brewery, which would be renamed Wychwood in 1990 to pay homage to the ancient Wychwood forest that borders the town. This medieval forest has a lot of myths, legends, and hauntings associated with it. Many of these themes have been used in the Wychwood brewery’s ale names and imagery. Be an interesting place to visit, walk around in, and after, one could sit at one of the pubs in Witney drink a Wychwood ale and tell of their hair-tingling adventures in the Wood. The brewery was bought by Refresh UK in 2002 and in this same year Brakspear brewery closed in Henley. Wychwood took over the brewing of Brakspear beers, remodeling the brewhouse to accommodate this increase in production. This included moving much of Brakspear’s original brewing equipment to Witney. Now the two distinct brands of beers are brewed on the same system but fermented in separate rooms, with the Brakspear brews being fermented on their original 1774 “Double Drop” fermenting system. The King Goblin ale is Hobgoblin’s big brother. The pale malt has been nixed and more hops added. It is also advertised as only brewed under a full moon, which I suppose, if they brewed enough to last a month this could be true; but with the realities and uncertainties of the brewing world I find it hard to believe that every batch simmers under the blue light of a full moon. It’s a nice idea though, and who knows maybe it’s true… to some extent at least. Pour and Aroma It sits a cloudy orange copper in the glass. A half finger of frothy head, the color of bleached goblin bones, tops the hazy depths. It disappears rather quickly leaving a misted but mostly clear surface. The remembered sweetness of other English ales greets my nose. A honeyed earthiness presides over this Goblins throne. Caramel and toffee are thick as thieves. A tinge of spice, a dash of orange citrus, a couple bat wings (joking). All whirling, dancing, and tumbling, about it’s darkened, complex depths; like figures flashing in and out of shadowed firelight. Mouthfeel and Taste Mouthfeel is medium, edging toward the higher ground. Body is medium-thick and smooth. Not overly carbonated, just like any English ale should be. It’s slightly mouthcoating. Rich, robust, and rounded as any good king should be. Nice toffee and caramel sweetness at the front. Some toastiness, that never ventures into the realm of full roast. Fruity citrus shows through the middle while the earth and spice of the hops gather steam before settling as a noticeable presence of bickering goblins on the back end. Bitterness is there but understated, as is often the case in English ales. Finishing the Impression This is a great English ale and, I have to say, it outclasses Hobgoblin for its richness; guess that’s a definition of both “special reserve” and “king” though, right? Bigger, more complex, deeper; but still recognizable as one of the people, or in this case, one of the goblins. Would be great as a winter warmer, but could fill the role of a rainy summer night’s sipper too. Maybe that’s why this and Hobgoblin are such big hits in England. All that rain. Cheers!