Wychwood Brewery

Coordinates: 51°47′00″N 1°29′18″W / 51.7832°N 1.4882°W / 51.7832; -1.4882
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Wychwood Brewery
LocationWitney, Oxfordshire, England
Coordinates51°47′00″N 1°29′18″W / 51.7832°N 1.4882°W / 51.7832; -1.4882
Opened1983
Closed2023
Key peoplePaddy Glenny and Chris Moss (founders)
Annual production volume50,000 UK barrels (8,200,000 litres)
Owned byMarston's
Websitewww.wychwood.co.uk

Wychwood Brewery was a brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire, England, owned by Marston's.[1] Hobgoblin, a 5.2% abv brown ale, was the company's flagship brand.[2]

Wychwood Brewery produced around 50,000 barrels (8,200,000 litres [2,200,000 US gal]) of cask ale each year, and was the United Kingdom's largest brewer of organic ales. Wychwood filtered and bottled beers are exported all over the world by their export partners Sovereign Beverage Company, to countries including North America, Germany, Sweden, France, Australia, Russia, Japan, Israel and Singapore.

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

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) closed the brewery in November 2023.[3]

History[edit]

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 a debt from Paddy and took over after Paddy Kenny 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. The brewery was taken over in 2002 by Refresh UK, a subsidiary of Marston's. Marston's then bought Refresh and Wychwood Brewery outright in 2008.[4] Marston's brewing operations, including Wychwood Brewery, were merged into Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company in 2020.

In September 2023 Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company announced its proposal to close Wychwood Brewery in November 2023 in order to "consolidate our brewing network" amid an "incredibly competitive" UK ale market and a "turbulent economic outlook". At the time of the announcement the brewery employed six people.[3][5] In November 2023 the closure went ahead as announced.[6]

Beers[edit]

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

Hobgoblin[edit]

Hobgoblin was the best-known and most popular beer brewed at Wychwood Brewery and was created by Chris Moss. It continues to be marketed in the wake of Wychwood Brewery's closure. It is 5.2% abv in bottles, 4.5% in cans[7] and 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".[8] 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 second best-selling bottled ale in the UK.

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.[9] In return Obama gave Cameron 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?".[10][11]

King Goblin[edit]

King Goblin, essentially a stronger and more flavourful variety of Hobgoblin, is a 6.6% abv "Special Reserve" ale.[12] To date it is available bottled in Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Tesco supermarkets, Draeger's supermarkets in the US, in "Broken English" shops in Berlin, and on draught during "real ale" festivals at Wetherspoons pubs.[citation needed]

Brakspear[edit]

Wychwood took over the brewing of the newly acquired Brakspear beers in October 2002.[4] 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 was only one brewhouse at Witney but two separate fermenting rooms for the separate Wychwood and Brakspear beers. The original Brakspear brewery site in Henley was converted into a boutique hotel.

Hatherwood[edit]

Using the name Hatherwood Brewery, Wychwood brewed beers exclusively for the supermarket Lidl.[13] These include:

  • Golden Goose
  • Ruby Rooster
  • Green Gecko
  • Amber Adder
  • Purple Panther (porter, 5% ABV)
  • Gnarly Fox
  • Total Legend (golden ale, 4.5% ABV)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Marston's buys Refresh UK". Morning Advertiser. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
  2. ^ "Hobgoblin". Wychwood Brewery. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Carlsberg Marston's Brewing Company proposes closure of Wychwood Brewery". Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company. 12 September 2023. Archived from the original on 25 December 2023.
  4. ^ a b Protz, Roger (10 July 2004). "Beat the bell". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  5. ^ Miranda Norris (13 September 2023). "Carlsberg Marston's to close Witney's Wychwood Brewery". Oxford Mail. Archived from the original on 20 September 2023.
  6. ^ "Ringwood Brewery to close after no buyer found". BBC News. 6 December 2023. Archived from the original on 12 December 2023. Former head brewer Jeff Drew said [...] "Wychwood Brewery shut its doors last Thursday. The writing was on the wall for all the little breweries."
  7. ^ "Hobgoblin Ruby Cans 4X500ml". Archived from the original on 1 July 2022. Retrieved 15 September 2023.
  8. ^ "Marston's boosted by Hobgoblin and Halloween". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Special relationship cemented over Hobgoblin". 28 June 2010. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Hobgoblin helps the UK and USA's special relationship". 30 June 2010. Archived from the original on 19 March 2012.
  11. ^ Wychwood Online Gift Shop[dead link]
  12. ^ King Goblin Beer – Beer profile at Wychwood.co.uk
  13. ^ "Hatherwood The Golden Goose (Marston's 2013 - 2017)". www.ratebeer.com. Retrieved 14 February 2021.

External links[edit]