Fantasy-inspired Brew Goes Down Easy
Truth be told, I’m a really big fantasy nerd. I’ve never gotten through Tolkien’s “Silmarillion,” though I’m about due for another try. The majority of books on my shelf do involve a sword at some point and time, however. I’ve been an avid “Dungeons and Dragons” player for quite some time now. Cracking open a beer while rolling some oddly shaped dice is one of my favorite pastimes.
This week, I might have just found the perfect beer to do that with, Wychwood’s Hobgoblin. It’s out of England and is named after the perennial fae creature. You might know of some recognizable ones from literature, such as Shakespeare’s fantastic character, Robin Goodfellow. They are spirits of the hearth and helpful creatures that do chores while humans sleep. The downside, however, is that they have a tendency toward mischievous practical jokes. As anyone who has seen “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” knows Puck creates all sorts of problems but is never outright violent. He does transform the character Bottom’s head into that of a Donkey, though, which leads to much fun word play.
Frankly, I hoped the beer would make me feel half as mischievous as an ill-intentioned fae. Barring that, I hoped it would make me at least slightly buzzed. I was sure one of these things would happen.
The pour certainly gave credence to it being called an English ruby beer. The dark red color had copious bubbles rising through it and just a bit of smoke when I first opened the bottle. As far as head went, it had maybe half a finger’s worth, which faded quickly. The sides of the glass stayed clear as I drank the beer, leaving no lacing.
The brew offered a really fun scent, with roasted malt and dark fruit, like figs. The yeast was present in the scent, as was just a hint of lemon. “Nutty” came to mind with the malt in the nose being similar to a biscuit.
The first gulp did not taste like it smelled. I expected a lot more sweetness. Instead, it seemed to focus on the biscuity malt and had a surprisingly more aggressive hop profile than I anticipated. The finish was really dry, with a lingering astringent aspirin taste. None of this was unpleasant, but it wasn’t particularly noteworthy either.
As with many beers, especially those of the English persuasion, the taste opened up as it warmed for a bit. It definitely got a bit sweeter, although it never reached the cloying point that I expected. The roasted malt became more apparent, almost like a sweet toast with some subdued raisins. There might have been just a little bit of caramel and even bananas from the yeast. That dry finish was still quite prominent throughout.
The body was a bit thin. I feel like I would have enjoyed this beer a bit more if it had a little bit of creaminess to it. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly wasn’t bad. The thinness of the body just didn’t do it any favors. The upside to its current form is that the brew is really drinkable. It goes down pretty easy. Still, I don’t know that I’d want to drink too many in one sitting. It seems becoming a fae is not in the cards for me tonight.