Being different sits at the very heart of Hobgoblin's DNA, which naturally starts with our brewing ethos: challenging, experimental, fearless and always seeking the extraordinary.
Head Brewer, Jon Tillson and his eccentric but highly experiencedteam of 5, use entirely unique and highly secretive recipes to achieve the distinct colours and flavours found across the Hobgoblin and Wychwood range. It’s the ingrained knowledge, experience and intuition of our brewers that allows us to create our extraordinary range of different beers.
Every beer consists of a mix of malted barley, hops, yeast, and water, but it's how and when you put it together that makes the difference. There's nothing artificial about the Hobgoblin brand and there's certainly nothing artificial in our recipes. Wychwood Brewery beers are all-natural products, using the same ingredients that have been used for centuries to brew beer.
We source our hand-selected winter malting barley from Stowmarket, ensuring the very best quality through painfully tight audits and long-standing relationships.
Barley is malted by steeping the grains in water and allowing them to germinate, breaking down the starch, protein and fat inside each grain. The malt is then heated in a kiln to caramelise some of the sugar and allow it to be stored. The longer the barley is heated, the darker the colour and the more concentrated and caramelised the flavour becomes.
Hobgoblin Ruby blends Chocolate malts (dark and caramelised) with Crystal malts (medium roast and golden) to achieve our colour and flavour profiles.
Hobgoblin Gold blends Pale Malt and Malted Wheat for a full and smooth flavour.
Hobgoblin IPA combines Pale, Munich and Vienna. Delivering a biscuit backbone to the copious hops added later in the process.
To achieve our extraordinary flavours and aromas we source only the very best hops from Kent, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, as well as from around the world, including Australia, America and Europe. Hops have most flavour when fresh, so they are quickly freeze dried in pellet form to ensure we lock in maximum freshness and intensity of flavour.
Hops provide the bitterness, flavour and aroma in beer. There are many different varieties of hops, such as Fuggles, Goldings, Target, Styrian,and Challenger. We use single hops in certain brews and several hop combinations in others to create different flavour profiles. The timing and way that we add the hops hugely affects the flavour. Adding hops early to the brew increases the bitterness of the beer. Adding aromatic hops late to a brew produces more citrus and spicy flavours.
Our yeast originates from the famed Whitbread 'B' family, the most popular ale brewing yeast in the world. The purest strain of this all-important yeast is kept on liquid nitrogen in the National Collection of Yeast Cultures based in Norwich.
Much of the flavour subtlety comes from the strain of yeast used, which can only be used 8-10 times before needing a new batch, all derived from the purest strain.
We use our local and trusted Thames source and then 'Burtonise' it with gypsum and sodium chloride (common salt) in varying quantities dependent on the beer we're brewing.
Burton is famed for having the World's best brewing water, with the region's gypsum beds providing the highest calcium and magnesium content of any major brewing region, as well as low levels of sodium and bicarbonate. Hence the term 'Burtonise'.
The water conservation attitude within the team ensures water saving practices are implemented throughout the brew process.
Brewing is not for the faint-hearted. We brew twice a day, Monday to Friday, with the first brew starting at 5am and finishing at 2pm and the second brew starting at 10am and normally wrapped up by 7pm.
However, it all starts the day before the brew by warming the 'brew liquor' (water) in the Hot Liquor Tank and milling the 'charge of grist' (crushed malted barley), blending varieties dependent on the beer being brewed.
The brew itself starts by mixing the hot liquor and milled malt in the masher. The mash is about 66oC, the perfect temperature to allow the sugars in the malt to be broken down and dissolved into the liquor. After an hour we draw off the liquid called 'wort'.
The initial wort is very concentrated and very sweet, and as we sparge liquor onto the grains, the wort becomes less concentrated as we recover all the goodness from the grain. The Brewer's grain left behind is collected by our local Oxfordshire farmer friends and used as cattle feed.
Once all of the wort has been extracted from the mash, it is transferred to the copper and heated. Hops are added to the brew and the beer is boiled for an hour. During the boil additional hops are added, depending on which beer is being brewed and the flavour and aromas we want to create.
After the boil the beer is pumped into the whirlpool where it is gently circulated around the vessel for 15 minutes, leaving any ingredient sediment as a cone in the middle of the vessel. Again, depending on the beer being brewed, more hops can be added in the whirlpool to give additional aroma.
The beer is then pumped out of the whirlpool and through the heat exchanger, which cools the beer to 16 oC. The cold water inside the heat exchanger heats up during this process so it can be recycled and used for the next brew.
Once the beer has been effectively cooled we add the yeast while the brew travels to the square fermenters in the fermenting room. This is where the yeast starts to grow, turning sugars into alcohol, giving the beers their unmistakable character.
Our experienced team carefully monitor the brew during fermentation and judge when the fermentation has reached the optimum point. The brew is then cooled and the maturation process takes a further 3 days.
The final part of the process involves the beer being pumped either across to cask racking where it is put into casks bound for pubs, or sent to the bottling or canning lines ready for you to enjoy at home.
Extraordinary beer requires extraordinary brewers and we're immensely proud of every batch. Put simply, brewing Hobgoblin is a labour of love.