British beers, top-fermenting ales like most of the hoppy domestic craft beers, are different from those. When done well, these are typically subtle with a mild but interesting level of hop bitterness, and quite flavorful and balanced with a nice interplay of hops and malt along with a touch of fruitiness, plus a usually modest amount of alcohol, from 4.5% to 5.5% alcohol by volume. This comparative subtlety – and considerable nuance for fresh versions of the best ones – has worked against the British beers in the American market with a large percentage of customers demanding more aggressive flavors. There is also the fact that the beers are typically tastier and certainly more interesting when served from unpasteurized casks, i.e. real ale, as these often are in pubs in England, which necessarily do not find its way to this country.
But, these British imports can be good beers to sample for a change, or even enjoy regularly, including or especially Hobgoblin. From the brewery that can explain its product in more flowery prose (that is still pretty accurate, too, I’ve found):
“Hobgoblin is strong in roasted malt with a moderate hoppy bitterness and slight fruity character that lasts through to the end. The ruby red coloured Hobgoblin is full-bodied and has a delicious chocolate toffee malt flavour balanced with a rounded moderate bitterness and an overall fruity character.
ABV: 5.2% in bottle & can, 4.5% in cask [which you won’t find around here]
Hops: Fuggles and Styrians
Malts: Pale, Crystal and Chocolate”
Hobgoblin is available at Spec’s, where a four-pack costs $10.52.