Wychwood’s Special Reserve is a brilliant pint. It is smooth, the chocolate and crystal malts offer a solid backbone and the four varieties of hops dance across your mouth. It does pour a little thin, though when it’s in your mouth it feels as thick as porter – my fears of a watery brew were allayed first sip. If you see this around (it’s bottle only) be sure to get some. It is great – and at 6.6% you can’t go wrong.
“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.” J.R.R. Tolkien
With the rousing melody of Hall of the Mountain King (yes, okay, I initially thought it was titled Goblin King) in the background, I popped the cap and sauntered warily into Wychwood’s Special Reserve, their Real Ale brewed only under a full moon. A familiar musty scent lures me in and, though I can’t see through the bottle, this smells as dark as its brewer’s name and as authoritative as its own title. I’ve heard good things about this beer and I have a sense the Wychwood are going to be taking me on an adventure.
It pours with an unexpectedly high viscosity; I was expecting something a little thicker, whilst its beige head dissipates quickly. It looks like a bubbling cauldron. Well done, Wychwood, you have my
First sip is meaty, what’s left of the head is almost chewable. I don’t know enough about folklore to remember if Goblins are good or evil (any Goblin who taunts lager drinks like this can’t be too bad in my book) but I’ll quite happily sup on this potion. If this review suddenly ends, I’ve been poisoned. Send a prince, quick.
This is possibly the smoothest ale I’ve ever had the utter pleasure of drinking. It coats your mouth, but leaves not gritty sensation, it flows down your throat almost too easily. Those chocolate and crystal malts are a perfect base for the hearty mouthful and at 6.6% you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
This Real Ale was initially described to me as the ‘posh’ Hobgoblin, or Hobgoblin on ‘roids. I can’t agree with either of those. Hobgoblin on steroids (besides making me think of this) would be much more aggressive, much rougher. ‘Posh’ Hobgoblin would be far more delicate. This is just a mystical pint, clearly given a touch more attention (it is Special Reserve after all).
As I near the end of my glass I begin to feel a touch of regret: I should have bought two. But as the malt nymphs and hop fairies play out their final dance across the forest of my tastebuds and I return to the road, away from cauldrons and goblins and Gimli, I muse that maybe this is how Wendy felt after meeting Peter Pan. Well, I have no chance of growing up anyway, and a King Goblin is far more accessible than Neverland. So I’d like to thank Wychwood and their wizadry because I’ve bloody missed those adventures.