Wychwood Brewery

Wychwood Brewery
Location Witney, Oxfordshire, England
Coordinates 51°46′59″N 1°29′18″W / 51.78318°N 1.488229°W / 51.78318; -1.488229Coordinates: 51°46′59″N 1°29′18″W / 51.78318°N 1.488229°W / 51.78318; -1.488229
Opened 1983
Key people Paddy Glenny and Chris Moss (founders)
Annual production volume 50,000 UK barrels (8,200,000 litres)
Owner(s) Refresh UK
Parent Marston's
Website http://www.wychwood.co.uk/

Wychwood Brewery is a brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire, England owned by Refresh UK, a subsidiary of Marston's.[1] The company's flagship brand is Hobgoblin, a 5.2% abv brown ale, described by Wychwood as a "Ruby beer".[2]

Wychwood Brewery produces around 50,000 barrels (8,200,000 litres) of cask ale each year, and is the United Kingdom's largest brewer of organic ales. Wychwood filtered and bottled beers are exported all over the world, including North America, Sweden, France, Australia, Russia, Japan, Israel and Singapore.

The brewery is known for its fantasy-based label artwork, inspired by the myths and legends surrounding the ancient Wychwood Forest.


Hobgoblin being enjoyed by Prime Minister David Cameron with President Barack Obama at the G20 Summit in Toronto 2010

The brewery is sited at the old Eagle Maltings, built in 1841 to malt barley for Clinch's brewery which had an estate of seventy-one pubs in Southern England. In 1961, Courage bought Clinch's for its pub estate and closed down the brewery.

In 1983, part of the original Clinch's Eagle Brewery site was rented by Paddy Glenny, but named the brewing company Glenny Brewery. Chris Moss took his interest in exchange for adebt from Paddy and took over after Paddy Glenny moved away. In 1990, the Eagle was renamed the Wychwood Brewery after the ancient Wychwood Forest which borders Witney, at the same time the brewery moved to the Two Rivers Industrial estate still in Witney. In 1994 the brewery was moved back to the site taking on more of the old site. royalbeers.co.ukThe brewery was taken over in 2002 by Refresh UK.[3]


A bottle of Wychwood's flagship beer, Hobgoblin
A bottle of Circle Master beer, before its re-branding as Scarecrow


Hobgoblin is the best-known and most popular beer brewed at Wychwood Brewery and was created by Chris Moss. It is 5.2% abv in bottles and cans, 4.5% (previously 5.0%, and before that 5.6%, and originally 6.5%) on cask, and is described by Wychwood as a "Ruby beer".[4] Jeremy Moss, Wychwood's head brewer, describes the drink as "full bodied and well balanced with a chocolate toffee malt flavour, moderate bitterness and a distinctive fruity character with a ruby red glow". It was the first bottled beer in the UK to feature an illustrated label, as opposed to a simple text-based one, and it is currently the 5th best-selling bottled ale in the UK.

The current motto for Hobgoblin is "What's the matter Lagerboy, afraid you might taste something?", challenging drinkers of pale lager, a more popular style of beer in Britain, to consume a more prominently-flavoured drink. In October 2004 and 2005, Wychwood used a variation of this motto for Halloween, "Afraid of the dark, Lagerboy?". In 2006 a complaint lodged by a lager drinker against Wychwood to the Advertising Standards Authority that the Halloween campaign was "aggressive" and "offensive" was not upheld.[5]

During a meeting at the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama gave each other bottles of beer from their respective home towns/cities, with Cameron presenting Obama with twelve bottles of Hobgoblin, which is brewed in his Witney constituency.[6] In return Obama gave David 24 bottles of Goose Island beer, from Goose Island Brewery. The President remarked that he would drink his beer chilled, as opposed to the optimal room temperature (15.5 °C/59.9 °F) at which strong ale should be drunk, prompting Wychwood to create a T-shirt in their online store reading "What's the matter Obama, afraid you might taste something?".[7][8]

King Goblin

King Goblin, essentially a stronger and more flavourful variety of Hobgoblin, is a 6.6% abv "Special Reserve" ale.[9] To date it is available bottled in Morrisons and Tesco supermarkets, Draegers supermarkets in the U.S., in "Broken English" shops in Berlin, and on draught during "real ale" festivals at Wetherspoons pubs.

It is stated on Wychwood's site that King Goblin is only brewed during a full moon.


Scarecrow, formerly known as Circle Master, is a golden pale ale made organically at 4.7% abv.[10] It combines whole leaf Target hops with organically grown English barley malt. It sold from the time of its release as Scarecrow in the United States. When it was launched in the UK it was called Corn Circle beer,[11] but the name was changed after a dispute with the Hop Back Brewery who produce a beer called Crop Circle. The new name Circle Master is a reference to CircleMakers, the UK arts collective founded by John Lundberg who have been creating crop circles since the early 1990s. The label depicts a scarecrow standing in the middle of a crop circle. The name in the UK was again changed in 2010 to Scarecrow, as it had been called all along in the US market.


Goliath is a 4.2% abv traditionally craft-brewed ale with pale and crystal malts for a sturdy ruby colour and rich malty taste. With a hefty wack of English Fuggles and Styrian Goldings hops for a classic refreshing bitterness. Brewed by Wychwood and available in bottles only.[12]


A recent addition to Wychwood's selection, Wychcraft is a blonde beer, which is 4.5% abv bottled and 3.8% abv in cask.[13] It was released by Wychwood as their version of the more popular pale lager style of beer.


UK Rock band Status Quo have teamed up with Wychwood Brewery to launch a real ale named after their 1972 classic album Piledriver. Described as “a classic English beer brewed by a classic English band”, its launch tied in with the deluxe edition of the album. Pegged at 4.3% ABV, Piledriver is a traditional malty amber drink with a fruity, hoppy character – and the band report they enjoyed the process of being involved in its creation.

Piledriver went on sale in JD Weatherspoon’s pubs from February 17 before going on general sale in April.

Imperial Red

A toasted malt flavour balanced by a bold pronounced hop delivered in a rich ruby 4.7% abv beer. [14]

Black Wych

Wychwood Brewery's Porter style brew, 5.0% ABV. [15]

Dunkel Fester

A dark beer in the German Dunkel / Dunkelweizen style style with a significant wheat content, 4,4% ABV.

Wychwood and Brakspear

Wychwood took over the brewing of the newly acquired Brakspear beers in October 2002.[3] The new Brakspear brewery was integrated into an expansion of the Wychwood plant, and includes parts of the copper (boiling vessel), as well as some of the fermenting vessels which themselves had been refurbished at Henley. There is only one brewhouse at Witney but two separate fermenting rooms for the separate Wychwood and Brakspear beers. The Brakspear beers are still brewed in Witney by Wychwood and not in Henley, where the original brewery site has been converted into a boutique hotel.

Other beers

Using the name Hatherwood Brewery, the brewery brews Golden Goose and Ruby Rooster for the UK supermarket Lidl.[16] Golden Goose and Ruby Rooster have now been complemented with Green Gecko, Amber Adder, Purple Panther and Gnarly Fox.


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