Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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2,656 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,656
Reviews: 1,308
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 111
Gots: 241 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.90% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 07-08-2001

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (35) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,656 | Reviews: 1,308
Reviews by M_C_Hampton:
Photo of M_C_Hampton
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: poured from a 330 ml bottle into a pint glass, orange amber colored with a white head that dissipates leaving some lacing, clear

S: caramel, honey, peppery hops, whole grain bread

T: peppery hops up front, caramel, grain, lemon, slightly sweet middle, finish bitters with slight pine

M: medium with lower carbonation

O: quite refreshing, nice bitterness without being overpowering

More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.65/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance – The body is a slightly hazy brown with a nice orange tint. The head is off-white and full, made up of beautiful tiny bubbles that showed good retention and left a bit of lacing.

Smell – Oh, yeah, this is an English ESB. This is THE English ESB. The malt is remarkable in its clarity. The light grassy hops round things out and there is indeed a bit of caramel afloat, but the huge malt base makes up the bulk of this nose. It is both generous and wonderful.

Taste – Oh, man. I’m actually laughing at how this beer tastes. It is so good, and so true to form, that it’s funny.

The malts are encased in wood and eek a sense of maturity not found in any other beer that I’ve had to date. I don’t know where they get this flavor from, but it is delicious and quite amazing.

The caramel and toffee notes are the best I’ve ever had. There is nothing cheap about this beer. When I think of English ESB this is what comes to mind. This is the standard; no question about it.

Mouthfeel – Perfect. So smooth, so well-blended, and so thoughtful, this beer was made with the mouthfeel in mind. Talk about your “happy place”.

Drinkability – To answer all those stupid, “If you were stuck on a desert island with only one beer . . .” questions, this would have to be it. On-tap this has to be a “5”. This is THE standard for English ESBs (or any ESBs for that matter).

Photo of MNAle
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%

Amber color. Pleasing malty aroma. Light carbonation. Slight hop bitterness is present, but this is dominated by the slightly sweet malts. Excellent body. Wonderful bitter, even considering this was the USA import version rather than the cask version. Very nice malty finish with some hops presence. Interesting fact: English Bitter, despite the name, is not particularly bitter. All of the American bitters I have tasted thus far are too hoppy to be a true English-style bitter.

Photo of sjccmd
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear deep orangey amber. Small off-white head that fades quickly. Some lacing. Fairly low carbonation.

Rich malt in the aroma with significant fruity esters. Loads of caramel and toast. Some spicy and fruity hops, but those are in the background. A hint of diacetyl, but within appropriate range.

Caramel and apricot in the flavor. Finishing with toasty nutty malt. Medium bitterness and some fruity spicy English hop character. Sweet and fruity upfront finishing quite dry.

Rich and filling mouthfeel with low carbonation but not chewy. Dry bitter finish with malt lingering on the palate.

Rich and refreshing ESB. Definitely a classic example if that even needs to be stated.

Photo of oberon
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the most satisfying beers I have ever had.Great rich color,great malty taste with good hop ending.Maybe the standard for an English ESB with it's fruity maltiness and subtle hops in the finish.A mellow sessionable beer that I need to try on cask.

Photo of tectactoe
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is supposedly the quintessential ESB, right? Maybe I should have started with this one to have a better benchmark for the style. Pours an amber-copper hybrid with nice clarity and a quality of pureness to it. Beige-ish head, sticks around for a bit but doesn't really do much. Nose is kind of weak and hard to pick up specific notes. Certainly malty and full of bread and yeast; dry and woody, nutty with a bit of caramel/toffee to it. The taste follows right along, hitting with some caramel malts that slowly sink into a sea of sweet, woody flavors. Floral notes are abundant but not overpowering, some fruity sweetness and mild citrus flavors come alive a bit more when the beer gets warmer. It still retains a sharpness to it that is hard to explain, but relevant to the character of the brew. Still very woody and a touch nutty all the way through. Surprisingly not that bitter, especially for an ES"B". Thin-medium body, medium carbonation.

I'm not a super-huge fan of ESB's, but I haven't really had enough to make a judgement call. I will say, however, this is one of the best of the bunch. I wish I would have tried this one before all the others, to get more acquainted with the style. This one goes down smooth and quick, high drinkability. It probably wont be in my regular rotation, but it's still pretty good.

Photo of boston2bburg
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Super clear copper body with lots of carbonation, and a pillowy large head that really holds together well.

Aroma is pretty standard but pleasant, caramel malt with sweet, earthy UK hops.

I don't think I've tasted one of these since I first started really appreciating good beer four or five years ago. I was impressed then and remain so now. The balance and fullness of flavor are unparalleled for the style. Big caramel malts provide a sturdy base for the earthy hop bitterness. Finish is dry and sits well. Great beer.

Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.01/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I never thought this beer was much to look at really, and this bottle seems no different. A plainly bronze colored beer with thin, foamy, fading, white head reminds me beer is ultimately there to drink, not look pretty. It all winds up the same color in the end right?

The nose is delicious. Very fresh malt with a slight sweetness and big bubbles of fresh fruit waft up. The taste is classically british. Very soft, subtle, flavors of sweet light malt and ale (or hop?) fruitiness play quietly off of eachother until a quick snap of hop bitter in the finish.

The mouthfeel is almost thick, and very smooth and creamy. If it was more affordable, I'd drink gallons of this.

A note about food pairing... This seems like a natural choice for fish and chips. When I had them together, I don't know why, but the beer took on a very boozy character that was almost overpowering. I'll definately go for something else next time.

Photo of wesbrownyeah
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fuller's ESB pour into German Becker glass... Had to use two ll.2 oz. glasses to fill the 20oz glass so I went all the way on this one.

A- Beer pours a amber red color fluid that produces a nice one inch head that falls slowly to an excellent froth leaving patchy lacing relentlessly sticking to the glass.

S- Scents of metal upfront... iron? Then a soft but fresh smell of bitter citrus and carmel malts come out.

T-M- The taste for an English Bitter is dead on. Tangy hops dominate the palate with the mix of citrus, grassy noles, mild hop oil and a bitchin' bitter bite following. Not to bitter, but a bite that leaves you begging for more... on top of that saying "please". Finishes with a pronounced malt backbone of caramel and burnt barley. Mouthfeel is excellent due to the complexity of the beer smooth, slightly creamy and refreshing on the buds.

D- This beer is empressively drinkable with little to deter you from drinking pint after pint in a pub... cheers!

Photo of SIRIUS2
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Darker clear amber in color, minimal light colored head, good lacing.

S: Very faint caramel malt. Not very aromatic.

T: Smooth full balanced flavors combine with boldness on the tongue. The complex heavier flavors are complimented nicely with fine but persistent carbonation. Clean finish.

M&D: Full mouthfeel, deceptively heavy for the clear color. Filling and satisfying.

This beverage just has 'classy' all over it. For a brew this full it sure does go down easy. This is the first time I've tried this and I'm really liking it. The flavors stay solid throughout the experience and it just seems to get better with every pull. So far I haven't been disappointed with a Fuller's product.

Photo of skybluewater
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best by date: Dec. 13, 04. Pours an orangish-amber color. Nice rocky head, very little lacing. Caramely, malty smell, but there's also a nice frutiness. Tastes biscuity, malty, fruity, but with a pleasent bitterness...very nice. I'd love another pint, but this is my only one...

One suggestion: Drink warm.

Photo of NWer
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the 74th Street Ale House.
Appearance is red. Clear. Nice head. Poured into a tulip.
Served a little too cold for the style but blossomed nicely as it warmed.
Taste is balanced with smooth maltiness and a mild hop feel that balances out very nicely in conformance with the style but not overly bitter.
Will definitely keep an eye out for this beer in the future.
A very enjoyable beer.

Photo of Todd
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a semi-hazy copper beer with a foamy head that quickly settles to a thin ring lace with slight stick. Aroma is soft, but of coarse hops, but for the most part rather clean.

Medium in body, and smooth. Juicy, chewy mouthfeel. Mildly fruity. Lots of mineral flavours (from the water), followed by a woody, earthy, hop leaf, and coarse flavour and feel. Pear-like texture at times. Little sweetness, it's all body. Touch of roasted malt character in the background. Dry. Sharp bitter edge. Salty. Tingly. Herbal / spicy. Hops kick it all the way into the finish, and stick around long after the mouth party is over.

"The World's Original Extra Special Bitter" ... perhaps, but there's better interpretations of the style in my opinion. Still, the quintessential ESB and a beer everyone should try -- at the very least for the sturdy, impressive bottle.

Photo of twi1609372
2.9/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

To me i should like this beer more than i do, yet i only think it's ok. Yes it has a medium body, bold taste, yet if having a taste was all that mattered i could drink motor oil. this beer's flavor to me was overall poor. normally i appritiate this kind of beer, yet i found myself unable to order another. Justa matter of opinion and personal taste i guess.

Photo of grynder33
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Blew out of my bottle , but still had a small head, amber brown color. Had a really nice malty grainy aroma. Wonderful malt hop balance in the taste, coupled with a lovely carmel honey sweetness which stayed right to the end. i always thought other Fuller products were overrated but not this one.Could be my favorite non-stout brew.

Photo of Jason
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz brown brown bottle with a best before date on the back label.

Appearance: Caramel copper in colour with a thin but fluffy bubbly lace that leaves several rings on the glass.

Smell: Caramelized sugars with a hint of toasted nearly metallic malt, some fruity esters give of a whiff of alcohol.

Taste: Medium body with a stream of smoothness that is textured to a t. Bit of fruitiness and esters on the mouth. Rich and sweet caramel maltiness with a big flavourful malty palate, finishing off with a steely crystal malt flavour (vague hint of carob) and a semi sharp hop bitterness.

Notes: A supreme ESB, and a superb beer overall. The cast and mold for all ESB's brewed across the world.

Photo of tjthresh
3.38/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1 pint .9 fl oz bottle poured in to a nonic glass
Best Before 14/OCT/05

Appearance: Brilliantly clear. Thick white head that sticks to the side of the glass. Med/Light Carb

Smell: Big malt aroma. Caramel, toffee, some fruity esters. I couldn't really detect much hop aroma.

Taste: Mild hop bitterness. Malty sweet. A bit of lingering alcohol. Some oxidation

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Moderate carbonation. Some alcohol warmth.

Drinkability: Not bad, but I had really high expectations for this beer. I'd like to try another. Maybe draft or a cask version.

Photo of merlin48
4.68/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz brown bottle with "best before 07/June/04". Pours a pristine clear coppery amber with an attractive beige head. Nose is molasses and caramel. Mouthfell is medium bodied and satin. This brew is divine in the mouth. Taste seems a balance of English malts, fruitcake, and a hint of smokiness. Dry bitter finish lets you know there are some hops in the mix. This style is a favorite of mine and this one hits the mark of near perfection. Extraordinary ale!

Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

midsized bottle,comes with best before dating printed on the label. Pours a nice orangy shade of maple. Clear and with a soft, tiny bubble head, that leaves well striated and finely patterened lacing. Nose is of malt, maple and toffee. Maltly layers of sweet and smooth flavors carry the freight here. Mellow, understated and British in attack. This is a classic sessionner. Great all year round. Allways enjoy this stuff. Fine quality and a must try for any British ale lovers.

Photo of Homebrew35
3.74/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a half fingers worth of white head. Clear golden pale body.
A bit more head world be better imo. But on to the smell

Big english bready yeasty notes which is so typical of the style. Big white grape like fruity qualities as well. Some carmel and toffee mixed with some grainy notes.

Tastes fruity, carmel, toffee, sweet brown sugar malts. All the usual suspects I expect to find in the style.

Mouthfeel is medium thin bodied. Medium carbonation. A hint of bitterness on the finish but very malt forward.

Overall a solid brew, nothing breathtaking but none the less very satisfying. Highly drinkable.

$2.25 a single

Photo of tigg924
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: clear, amber, small head, medium carbonation

Smell: grapefruit, hops, and pine dominate the nose

Taste: same as the smell, once the initial bitter hops shock the tongue, you taste a sweet malty finish

Mouthfeel: bitter and more bitter initialy. once my palate got adjusted, I tasted some slightly sweet tastes especially in the finish

Drinkability: This one grew on me. My first impression was very bitter, but its complexity came out after the first few sips. This is a sipper, but one that I will have again

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours copper brown with a one-finger off-white head. The aroma is caramel and toffee with some earthy hops. The flavor is caramel malt with some spicy, earthy hops. There is also some fruit character. The beer ends with a sweet, nutty finish. Medium mouthfeel and low carbonation.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep red, white head encircles the glass. Visible carbonation.

Smells of malts and caramel, maybe a bit of berry.

The taste is very crisp, loads of lightly-roasted maltiness. A bit of fruits and spices to the finish, which is surprisingly sweet. Not finding any hop flavour here.

Mouthfeel is thick, full-bodied. Not overly carbonated.

A superb brew, one of my favourite bitters. Definitely worth a go.

Photo of Byeast
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: Poured a clear , darker brown. Head is about an inch , dissipates to a ring of creamy white.

Smell: sweet brown bread , some light, buttery diactyl , hearty but clean malt , herbal-tea like hop aroma.

taste: smooth malty flavors,bread, grain and slight sweetness , bitter and earthy hops flavors.

Mouthfeel: medium body , lightly bitter dry finish

Drinkabilty: soooo quaffable. This bitter is flavorfull smooth, and satisfying , with an appetizing aftertaste that begs for another deep sip.

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Capital Ale House.

Deep copper in color. Off-white head coats the glass in distinct rings. Aromas are of toffee, caramel, fruits. Very well-balanced hop flavor. I expected a much more bitter flavor, but was pleasantly surprised by how tasty this beer was. Right before the lingering hop bitterness is a hefty dose of caramel sweetness. Aftertaste is all hops, bitter, earthen, grassy. Mouthfeel is very "large" and really infiltrates the palate. Very, very drinkable. I can't believe I've waited this long to try this beer. Thankfully, it's available on tap and in bottles here in town. Very well-done.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,656 ratings.