SALES and consumption of Wychwood Brewery's legendary Hobgoblin are expected to rocket this week as Halloween approaches. Reporter Michael Race took tour of the historic ale-producing site as it celebrated being announced the best in the business across the UK.

'WHAT'S the matter lagerboy, afraid you might taste something?'

In the mid 1990s, when the beer marketed was dominated by mass produced, cheap and light beers, this was the slogan that launched Wychwood Brewery on the road to success.

Tucked away behind one of the main streets in Witney, the brewery site has been producing some of the finest beers for more than 150 years.

But in back 1996, the creation of the first Hobgoblin beer with a quirky label and dark, rich taste, became front runner in a new era of traditional English ale.

Its success among a new, younger market has sparked the production of other ales under the brand name, with its latest tipple, a Hobgoblin Indian Pale Ale set to hit the shelves of supermarkets next month.

Halloween is traditionally the brewery's busiest time of year for sales, due to Hobgoblin's association with the festival.

There was a brewery established near the current site in 1841 but it was in 1990 that Wychwood Brewery took on its current name.

This year Wychwood, now owned by Marston's and nestled within Eagle Industrial Estate, The Crofts, has another reason to celebrate after being announced as the UK's best brewery.

Taking 44 per cent of more than 10,000 votes cast through an online competition by, a TripAdvisor rental company, the home of Hobgoblin beat 13 other breweries to gain top spot.

The award was chosen based on the public’s overall experience, and looked at everything from the range of beers to the brewery tours.

Jeff Drew, head brewer at Wychwood, said the award was an 'incredible result' and an 'absolute credit' to the team.

He said: "We pride ourselves on ensuring that visitor experiences are always to a high standard, so to get that recognition from the general public is amazing and gives the team an immense sense of pride."

One of Wychwood's newer ales, Hobgoblin Gold, took home two gold medals at the International Beer Challenge 2017 in London.

Mr Drew and brand manager Alex Harrison said the original Hobgoblin has become the unofficial 'Halloween ale', and that it is now the third highest-selling bottled ale in the country.

In mythology hobgoblins are known as larger cousins of the goblins.

According to legend, the best times to see them are twilight and midnight.

One of the best days to see them is October 31 – hence the marketing of the beer.

Mr Drew said the team at Wychwood, made up of six brewers, had about 100 years of beer making experience between them

He added: "We love coming to work here.

"We like beer and we like talking about it.

"It's sociable, I've been here nine years and it's just flown by.

"There's a family feel at this place.

"It's not about just beer, it's people.

"Tenn or more people can come here as guests and have a look round, have a beer and have a chat – they love talking about it."

Any beer brewed on the site takes seven hours to produce into a cask or bottle.

Wychwood produces 150 barrels – 43,200 pints – in a standard batch.

A batch is produced twice a day.

The brewery has also been awarded an Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor for the experience it offers to visitors.

Mr Harrison said: "It's fantastic to win the awards. When you win an awards like these it means a lot."