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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,304 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,304
Hads: 2,740
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 135
Gots: 286 | FT: 0
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 (38) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,304 | Hads: 2,740
Photo of Sammy
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Initially the bitterness I was looking for, but then seems malted out and wasn't so drinkable and refreshing as I wanted. Nice amber colour. Some toffee carmel nut. On cask it's one of the best cask beers, mellow and delightful citrus hops with great fruity aroma, and I have kept the rating that way.
On cask december 2007 it was fine above-average.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear orange color with a small 1/2 inch light beige head that fades to a thin film. Nice latticework of lacing forms on the sides of the glass on the drink down. Smells of biscuit-like malt and citrus zest hops. Taste is of biscuit-like malt, honey, and a very nice citrus and citrus zest hop flavor. A slightly acidic citrus aftertaste lingers after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and clean mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good and easy drinking beer. I am very impressed with this one from Fuller.

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Photo of metter98
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: It poured clear light amber in color with a moderately sized head that gradually settled down into lacey patterns. A moderate level of carbonation is visible.
S: There is a light malty and somewhat sweet aroma.
T: The taste creates an interesting seesaw between malty sweetness and hop bitterness on your taste buds. The malt flavors taste lightly toasted and buttery with some hints of caramel, while the hops are subdued but create a little bitterness, particularly in the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and very smooth.
D: This beer is very easy to drink and goes down smoothly.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.84/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

really interesting to have this one side by side with the one from breckenridge here in colorado. they are so different, but yet so similar, and as the label says, this is indeed the esb by which all others are measured. honestly i like this one a little less. its not quite as rich in the malt build, this is a maris heavy version, and although its awesome beer, it doesnt quite have the grain depth as the breck one does. that said, i like the yeast better here, its more traditional and it speaks louder in the overall reverberation of the beer. that is to say its more flavorful, and it takes me to england the way the breck one never could. its also well balanced with a healthy hopping for the style, much more bitter and bright in the hops than others, with just the right amount of caramelization to balance it in the boil. carbonation is also high for an enlgish pub ale type, it feels so much more alive than some of the crusty old ales of england old. i like this a whole lot, and when its fresh, it truly does set the standard for the style coming out of europe. also, definitely one of, if not my single favorite of the fullers beers.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as copper color with a thick looking white head on it. The lacing was nice on the glass. The smell of the beer was malty, not much else really but had plenty of malts and some other fresh grains. The taste of the beer was sweet and had a nice caramel like flavor with a slight bitterness at the end. The mouthfeel is very smooth and easy to drink. Overall it's one of the better ESB's I've had over the years. Worth a try.

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Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color with a beige foamy head that dapples the glass with lace

Smell: Caramel malt with some earthy hop elements

Taste: Starts with a toasted fruit and nut caramel flavor that betrays a touch of alcohol, mid-palate; after the swallow, an earthy, but spicy bitterness comes in to balance out the elements; just a touch of diacetyl and vanilla on the finish which is not inappropriate

Mouthfeel: Gloriously smooth, with a medium body and moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Just a superb example of an ESB; a standard for the English style

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Undoubtedly a true Godfather of hoppy English Pales. Though I doubt if I have ever had this beer fresh, as the brewery intends, I always have room in my pint glass for this masterful beer.

A floral, spicy, and earthy nobility rises from the solid copper / light ruby-brown hue. Lightly pungent and aromatic with a deep flowery hop character that blends seamlessly with the classic fruity English yeasts. Bready to taste, much like fruitcake only in lower tones. A non-descript fruity flavor offers a complexity, smoothness, roundness, and character that is lacing from American varieties. The beer has many subtle flavors and each one comes to life as the beer warms and the carbonation escapes, seemingly to alternate with each sip.

Both elegant and gentlemanly with its attention to detail, non-flashy demeanor and with enough strength to withstand mediocracy. Balances supurgly well not to let the malts nor hops to take precidency, the beer allows just enough caramel sweetness to linger into a dry finish to keep me wanting more.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brownish copper with a decent white head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Tasted malt with a bit of caramel going on.

T: Medium malt with some sweetness to go along with a bit of bitterness. Something in the full package just doesn't fit perfectly for me.

M: Medium body and fairly smooth.

D: Pretty drinkable, although something is missing. All around, a quite good, readily-available beer.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tap: Poured a clear light brown colored ale with a small creamy head with standard retention. Aroma is quite weak with only light roasted malt being noticeable. Taste is quite refreshing but again a bit weak on taste with some roasted malts and light dry finish. I was quite disappointed by the strong watery finish and I’m wondering if this one wasn’t shot through nitro before falling into my glass. Anyway, I still persist with my belief that Fullers beers should only be drank from cask.

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Photo of largadeer
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9 oz bottle into a nonic, Fuller's ESB pours a bright, clear amber, and rests in the glass with a dark caramel color topped by thick off-white head, which retains impressively well. The nose brings to mind butterscotch, dark honey and light esters. There's a touch of floral, earthy hoppiness, but it's buried beneath the malt. The taste is neither as rich nor sweet as the aroma implies. It's amply malty, but balanced by a big hop bitterness. There's a hint of buttery diacetyl up front, but it's quickly overwhelmed by flavors of roasted malt, earthy hops, toasted nuts and fruitcake. Very flavorful, almost heavy beer for its modest 5.9% ABV. Flavors of grapefruit and toffee linger on in the long, bitter finish. Very enjoyable stuff, I'd love to try this on handpump.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. Had this many times on tap around town in the various English and Irish pubs. Time to get down to business.

This beer pours a medium golden amber hue, with two fingers of tightly foamy, somewhat bubbly off-white head, which leaves a random pattern of upshot speckled lace around the glass as things evenly abate.

It smells of biscuity, crackery pale malt, with a decent addition of caramel sweetness, some middling black pepper spiciness, over-steeped black tea, and a crisp, fresh hay, wild grass hoppiness. The taste is semi-sweet pale malt, an earthy citrus sweetness, further floral and grassy hops, and a subtle musty mineral essence - nothing worthy of overt concern, really.

The carbonation comes off as supportive, and mostly frothy, if in an understated sense, the body a decently rendered medium weight, with a muted floral, rather sedated hoppy finish.

This would (and indeed does, for me, at least) make quite a fine session ale, in those places where hoppy North American offerings aren't featured by design. Anyways, it's sure nice to enjoy this beyond early-day Euro Cup game times around these parts.

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Photo of zeff80
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500ml bottle
Date: 23 May 08

A - Poured out an orange/amber color with a good deal of carbonation. It had a bubbly, tan, three-finger head that left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of mild hops and grassiness. There was a light malt aroma and some grain smells.

T - It tasted of caramel malts and mild bitter hops. Well balanced and quite good.

M - It was smooth and soft. A medium-bodied beer.

D - It really is one of the best ESB's around. Just great flavor and it is easy drinking.

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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.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is it, the gold standard for ESBs (or so I'm told). I wanted to try Fuller's version now so that I could compare all future ESBs to the supposed benchmark.

Absolutely clear coppery orange; looks a little like an IPA. The head is dark cream in color, average in size, and leaves speckles and spatters of lace on the glass. The lid eventually falls to a thick film and leaves chunky sheets of lace. Very nice. The nose isn't all that hoppy, which surprises me. It's of caramel malt with undercurrents of earthy-herbal hops. It's also pretty subdued; I had to almost dip my nose to appreciate much.

The flavor is an improvement on the nose, but still isn't a world-beater. It isn't even particularly bitter. More malty than hoppy with elements of toasted caramel malt, earthy-herbal hops and a wee bit of alcohol lurking in the background. In reminds me of a weak Old Ale in some respects. The mouthfeel is solid; smooth, but not quite creamy.

It's obvious by the appearance and the mouthfeel that this is quality beer, but the flavor didn't impress me as I'd hoped it might. I'd like to believe that there are better versions out there, because if Fuller's is the epitome, then ESBs won't be one of my favorite styles. Perhaps, as with IPAs, I'll much prefer what the U.S. brewers have to offer.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this one a ways back, like late last year for the first time and was not that impressed to say the least. I figured I should go ahead and give it one more chance, to see if maybe I was just having an off day...

A - Poured a very dark amber, almost a mahogany color with a two inch head that faded slowly and left a nice quarter inch layer of lace on the top. Lots of visible carbonation as well as a good amount of side glass lace.

S - Aroma was very bitter, sour would be a more appropriate word. Sour grapes and some bitter english hops. Almost a wine like smell coming off of it.

T - Muted and kinda dull would describe it. I thought it was alot more bitter when I had tasted it last. Had some notes of caramel malts, and even a subtle sweetness to it. Therre was definatly some bitter finish and a touch of grapes maybe in the back.

M - Smooth feel, with not too much of a lingering finish. It was a bit slick, not very crisp at all. Decent carbonation let you explore the flavor on your palate.

D - Fairly decent, I could put down a couple with no issue. It was a little plain to me, but seems decent as a session beer.

Overall the opinion I had was ill founded. This was actually a pretty decent brew. Very sweet flavor which suprised me, and had a good session quality about it. I would not mind ordering this up anywhere really. Will have to try some of the others as well.

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

A - One finger white head with good retention. The body is amber colored with good clarity.

S - Fruity aroma with noticeable caramel and notes of sweet plum.

T - Biscuity and very malty with hints of caramel and some chocolate. No hop flavor but enough bitterness to balance.

M - Medium body and moderately low carbonation.

D - A very drinkable, classic example of the style. The malt character is particularly enjoyable.

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

A: The beer pours a clear copper sort of color with a finger or two of white head sitting on top.

S: Mild honey aroma with plenty of floral hop notes and a definite earthy hop quality. Sweet malt of bread, caramel, and lots of toffee. There is a nice toastiness to it as well.

T: The flavor is similar but more enjoyable. Nicely sweet and malty with the same reliance on toast, bread, and toffee, but a more intense hop flavor. Plenty of floral and earthy hops with a moderate bitterness.

M: Medium in body with a rather lively carbonation, especially for an English beer.

O: One of the better English offerings that I've had thus far. Solid beer.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Best Before: 30/APR/07) Hey! Hey, wait a minute. Hasn't Fuller's switched the label from Black/Red to Blue/Gold? This is nothing but Black and Red... good grief.

Appearance: Pours out a dark amber body with a foamy, off-white head.

Smell: Pleasing aroma of bread dough, honey, and caramel, with a few fruity notes as well.

Taste: Essentially malty, with flavors of caramel, burnt sugar, and, to a lesser degree, golden raisins. Exceptionally light citrus hop flavor with an equally light hop bittneress that comes and goes fairly quickly. Ultimately, this beer finishes fairly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a curiously flat mouthfeel.

Drinkability: An enjoyable, eminently drinkable ESB.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Nice to see something so vaunted show up at the local TJ's, especially given their awesome pricing. This stuff pours a clear sunrise russet topped by a finger of dusty tan foam. The nose comprises toffee, grass, flowers, light orange peel, very light cocoa, very light mild coffee, minerals, and a touch of oak. The taste holds notes of biscuits, mandarin oranges, flowers, grass, buttery caramel, light wheat, light banana, very light chocolate powder, and that same light touch of oak. The body is a rather light medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a lightly smooth feel. Overall, a very nice ESB, clearly worthy of its reputation. Now to find some on cask...

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A classic English ale! It's slightly hazy and deep amber/copper in color. The ivory head drops quickly but keeps a decent creamy collar and light surface covering. The Fuller's yeast is quite clear in the aroma that expresses a mineral/iron note, a touch of diacetyl, some light fruit and very mild hops over a distinctly caramel maltiness. The body is medium, and combines with an exceptionally fine (very tiny bubbles), low level carbonation to create an astonishingly smooth and lightly creamy mouthfeel. Very nice. The flavor starts with light soft fruit and a mild mineral / iron component (ie. not nearly as "bloody" as Bateman's XXXB) atop it's rich caramel maltiness and then slowly falls away to a dry, bitter and hoppy finish that showcases the earthy, grassy, and leafy hop character that runs throughout. A very bold beer with lots of sweet caramel malt and lots of brash bitter hops; and yet it's incredibly balanced and rather easy to drink!

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Photo of oriolesfan4
1.8/5  rDev -55.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Bought a 16 oz single of this for $0.99

I wanted to like this, I really did. But, this was one of the worst tasting beers I've had. It smelled and looked alright, but the taste was so bitter and rough. I actually couldn't take more than a few sips and I had to pour it, I was actually gagging. I tried another bottle a few days later and got the same result. I hope I just bought some bad bottles because this seems like a well respected historic beer.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap 4/10/08 at British Beer Company in Walpole, MA, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a medium brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, roasted nuts and good amount of hops.

T: The taste is well balanced with flavors of nuts and caramel up front and then a mild but complimentary hops presence comes in quickly to balance things out. The malt character is hearty and on-target for the style. The after-taste is bready and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, very good representation of style, this is style that has been steadily growing on me and this beer is a nice one that I could drink for a long time.

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

I had this with dinner last night, enjoyed with some steamed cockles in ginger/cilantro broth.

The color is russet with good clarity and thin cap of beige with tight bead. The smell is very fruity and has a moderate amount of caramel from the malt. The yeast gives a nice ester which seems to blend with the slightly twiggy hop aroma. The feel is a good combination of the elements, they seem almost completely integrated with malt sweetness and yeast fruitiness The moderate carbonation is nice with some clean hop bitterness and semi-dry finish.

This is a pleasant strong pale with gentle yeast flavor which is mildly pear/apple tinged and slight herbal quality of the hops giving a nice balance to the sweetness of the malt which is slightly caramel in flavor. I like the semi toasted note which keeps the flavor form seeming sweet and the tinge of woodiness of the hops adds some contrast which is nice. The ale finishes more dry than anything with some yeast flavors lingering. I enjoy this beer a lot, it is a good example of the style and was complimentary to the food without overpowering the flavor of the shellfish I recommend this with dinner or on its own.

 1,172 characters

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.

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

First had: on tap at Elephant & Castle, Chicago, IL

Pretty good stuff. Nothing like a good ESB when you don't know what you're in the mood for. Poured clear amber, with a nice white head that receded rather quickly. Smooth malts and nuts on the nose. Malty taste with some toasted bread and mild bitterness. Finishes pretty dry. Light-medium mouthfeel, and drinkable. Not too memorable, but nice.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 1,304 ratings.