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Wychwood Brewery Wychwood
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founder(s) Paddy Glenny and Chris Moss
Headquarters Witney, United Kingdom
Production output 50,000 UK barrels (8,200,000 litres)
Owner(s) Refresh UK
Wychwood Brewery is an English brewery founded by Paddy Glenny in 1983, and located in the town of Witney, Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom. It is owned by Refresh UK, a subsidiary of Marstons plc. The company's flagship brand is Hobgoblin, a 5.2% abv ale, described by Wychwood as a "Ruby ale".
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 the United States, Canada, Sweden, France, Australia, Russia, Japan, and Israel.
The brewery is noted for its intricate, fantasy-based label artwork, inspired by the myths and legends surrounding the ancient mediaeval Wych Wood Forest.
The brewery is sited at the old Eagle Maltings, built in 1841 to malt barley for John William Clinch's brewery. Clinch & Co Brewery was respected in Southern England with an estate of seventy one pubs. In 1961 Courage bought Clinch's for its pub estate and closed down the brewery.
In 1983, the original Clinch's Brewery site was purchased by Paddy Glenny who christened the building The Eagle Brewery, but named the brewing company Glenny Brewery. Chris Moss became the founder after Paddy Glenny moved away. In 1990, the Eagle was re-named the Wychwood Brewery after the ancient Wychwood Forest which borders Witney. The brewery was taken over in the spring of 2002 by Refresh UK.
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%) on cask, and is described by Wychwood as a "Ruby ale". 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.
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 from his constituency area Witney. 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?".
King Goblin, essentially a stronger and more flavourful variety of Hobgoblin, is a 6.6% abv "Special Reserve" ale. To date it is available bottled in Morrisons supermarkets, Draegers supermarkets in the U.S., and on draught during "real ale" festivals at Wetherspoons pubs.
Scarecrow, formerly known as Circle Master, is a golden pale ale made organically at 4.7% abv. 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, 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 bitter brewed by Wychwood and available in bottles.
A recent addition to Wychwood's selection, Wychcraft is a blonde beer, which is 4.5% abv bottled and 3.8% abv in cask. It was released by Wychwood as their version of the more popular pale lager style of beer.
Recently, Wychwood began selling an oak aged 6% abv cider called Green Goblin, under their branding, but produced by Thatchers.
Wychwood and Brakspear
Wychwood took over the brewing of the newly-acquired Brakspear beers in October 2002. 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.