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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,313 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,313
Hads: 2,770
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 16.01%
Wants: 140
Gots: 302 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
United Kingdom (England) | website

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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,313 | Hads: 2,770
Photo of GreenWBush
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The English just don't realize how good they have it - Young's, Samuel Smith's, Fuller's - some of the finest.

The ESB is clearly a gold standard by which to measure most quality ales. I remember trying this for the first time years ago and being absolutely shocked by the bitterness. Those days of bitterness super-sensitivity are obviously long past, but this beer is still the Cadillac of its class.

I took my reddish gold nectar from the Victorian pint bottle. I was amazed that this beer's fresh hop aroma survived its long journey.

The taste of the beer is simple and complex all at once. On one hand, you have a beer that is has a freshly baked bread flavor. On the other, the hops are almost overshadowed by malts that are less sweet than they are rich.

Fuller's ESB isn't necessarily super bitter, but its hop bite can clearly be felt all over the tongue. Remember we are talking about UK-style hoppiness, which is a well-rounded flavor instead of a sensation (bitterness).

It is easy to be underwhelmed by this beer. In fact, you can drink one and almost feel like you could've spent your money better elsewhere. But remember, this is a classic. Fads come and go, but after people's tastes evolve towards or away from mega-hopped beer, Fuller's ESB will be available in the most backwood liquor merchant.

I just miss the almost better-than-water cask-conditioned flavor.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.16/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear coppery red appearance with a creamy off white head. Effervescent character and lively carbonation lends this beer a slightly rough mouthfeel. Aroma screams of roasted malt goodness and English hops. Tastes dominated by malt with hints of chewy caramel, buttery toffee, lightly roasted nuts, and faint smoked wood. Medium mouthfeel drying on the palette. Understated and graceful hoppyness. Very drinkable beer that embodies quiet elegance and charm.

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Photo of diablo14
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

one of the worlds best, and the godfather of ESB's. as well, its still the best going around in its class. sets a standard that has never wavered, this brew rightly deserves its reputation as top of the pile.

deep amber color with a thick creamy head and solid bubbles happening. big time malts on the nose with a lovely fruity element and hoppy floral tones. bold malty taste, caramel factors, some zesty dried fruit blasts. full but magnificently balanced and the finish is what really shows where its at. you will not get a better finish on a bitter than you will with this. its firm, slightly dry, but totally complimentary to the rest of the beer. the level of hops in this beer is nothing short of outstanding. a sensation all the way, from the moment it first touches your lips to the second its hitting the bottom.

the muhammad ali of ESB's. without doubt 'the greatest'. nothing more needs be said.

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Photo of CRJMellor
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper-reddish color. Large foam head settles down leaving lots of foamy lace down the side of the pint.
Aroma is sweet malt and carmel with some fruity notes as well. As the beer warms, fruity notes become very prevalent.
Flavor starts with a medium sweet malt and a toffee hint and finishes with some definite bitterness. As the beer warms some dark fruity flavors come through.
Mouthfeel starts moderately sweet but then moves to a gritty, metallic heavy bittering, whihc is not unpleasant
Drinkability - definitely sessionable and has ben done many a time.

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

I have had Fuller's ESB many times on tap before I moved and was glad to find an establishment that offered it in bottle. A bit about the beer:
If you are looking for a bitter beer with minimum fruitiness, this is the way to go. Pours with a beautiful head of tiny to large bubbles. Lacing is appropriate. The taste begins with a mild bitter in the front of the mouth and grows into a warm, rich bitter flavor surrounding the inside of the mouth. Aftertaste is appropriate, but in my case, was usually drowned out by drinking another sip.
This beer is the perfect accompaniment to a spicy meal, particularly well paired with a cup of coffee (brings out the bitterness), and adds a nice contrast to fruity desserts (like pies, tarts, and cobblers).

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Photo of Gasp100
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful dark copper, very clear with an off white small head that does not linger. This left a light lacing down the sides of the glass. The smell was malty and sweet, biscuits with a slightly floral aroma. The taste was sweet with a nice bitterness in the finish. This brew was much more crisp and bright than I had imagined. There was a little bit of hops in the end that lingered on. I found this extremely drinkable, and worth the wait to find it in a "sampler" variety --- I only wish I had more than 2. Next time, a case... I am really getting into ESB's and this is the cream of the crop.

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Photo of Naerhu
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is quite an exceptional warm flat beer. Rock beautiful head, riotous lace amber body. Redefines smooth.

By far the most complex English beer I have ever had. I jungle of toffee and hops. Tangerine some where in here hiding under the with sweet flavors on a dry beer that ended in an rash but lingering hoppyness. Medium body.

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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!

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Photo of crookedhalo
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Golden copper color with a beige head that leaves a fair amount of lacing. Caramel malt aromas mixed with a faint diacetyl, buttery nose. Floral Fuggle aroma. Taste is predominantly malty and butterscotchy, but finished with a mild twang of hops. Very well balanced. Clean tasting and wickedly smooth. Velvety to the tongue. Highly drinkable in respect to it's intricate balance.

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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.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The clear, coppery dark beer sports a yellowy, coarse, bubbly head. Lotsa spotsa lacing. Sweet toffee nose: biscuits, vanilla, tangy. Caramel in the front; fruity, slightly sour, thick middle. Bitter finish with a slight sugary taste. Fruit (sweet apples?) in the finish. Nice grains. This is a nice, sweet, fruity beer with a solid bitter, grainsy finish. Hugely drinkable.

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Photo of marcobrau
3.41/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A red ale with a bit of toasted malt in the aroma. This ESB starts sweet and ends bitter. As this beer warms up I can pick out a bit of fruitiness and some buttery notes. The fruitiness is mostly up front, with the hops asserting themselves more as it goes on, leading towards a nicely bitter finish, but nothing too powerful. I seem to remember this being a bit fuller bodied in previous tastings and with a bit more complexity. I would like this beer to be bottle conditioned, but it is not, and pours very bright and clear without any yeast.

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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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Photo of cokes
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amber, leaning in the orange direction with a moderate topping of bleached tan.
Buttery metallics on the nose with underlying bready maltiness.
Enters with mildly toasty multi-grain bread sensation. MInor flourishes of meat and smokiness. Turns fruitier via figs and pears and cherries, coupled with a dry buttered toffee accompaniment. Hops enter with a quick, quinine, mineral blast, turning toward dry leafy stalks twisted with metal. The finale is plenty bitter, but not off-balance.
On the plus side of medium bodied with a slow-rising carbonation.
Very impressive.

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Photo of ngandhi
2.78/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Amber, good head retention and lacing. A little too fizzy.

Very malty on the nose with some caramel. A ton of solvent. Bocky. Light hops marry well with the malt. The hoppiness is very fresh. Homebrewers might appreciate this a great deal.

Taste, too, opens with solvent and, later, finishes with it. Unpleasant, this note lends a bit of medicinality as well. Otherwise, the malts have the sweetness of a maduro cigar. The hops are indistinct and lend a pathetic, hesitant strike at the back of the tongue. On the tongue, as on the nose, however, they seem quite fresh; the hop oils are well preserved. Also, light dry cider on the finish.

Overall, I find this beer largely confused. The solventy nose, which is really just an incongruity of malt and hops, carries over on to the tongue and suppresses most everything that might be good about Fuller's ESB. I don't know how it ranks up against ESBs, this is my first, but the maltiness makes it reminiscent of a poor attempt at the bock style. The dry finish is odd because the beer is rather sweet at first; it makes the carbonation (which I find a touch heavy) overbearing. I can think of no appropriate occassion for this beer.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presented in an 18.6oz. brown bottle as shown. Had a "best before" date of 02-07-04 on the label. Poured a clear, coppery amber color with a foamy, rocky off-white head that collapsed after a couple minutes.
Smell is an enticing mix of caramel malt, floral hops, and just a hint of apple or pear.
Fullers ESB has a very well balanced taste. Sweet caramel malt flavors form a solid background which a fruity note builds off of. A mild hops flavor finishes things up. Quite tasty!
The feel is medium bodied, smooth and creamy.
Fullers ESB is a well-crafted beer which is very easy to drink. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable beer, one I'd happily get again.

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Photo of byrd
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a huge fluffy thick head that has great retention and is quite sticky. Eventually subsides to a rather thin, spotty lace. Color is a great, clear dark copper that makes for a marvelous picture with the fluffy head perched on top. Caramel malts are immediately on the nose with some slight fruity notes as well. Hops are also noticeable on the nose, but to quite a lesser degree. The aroma is not very strong, however, and I had to move in rather close in order to take it in. The mouthfeel is medium to full and is very smooth with carbonation that is fairly light, but by no means seems flat. Alcohol is well hidden. Lots of malt notes with a restrained sweetness that touches on some fruit and nut flavors. Towards the end, bitterness begins to fill the mouth and lasts through the finish and on into the aftertaste. The bitterness, however, is extremely well balanced with the malts and don’t dominate this brew.

The first ESB that I ever had was a Rogue Brutal Bitter. This was my second ESB, and was quite a bit move mild and malty then I was expecting after having had the Brutal Bitter. Nonetheless, it is an exceptional brew that is very drinkable. This is one that I’ll definitely be looking for again.

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

A very enjoyable ESB...Pours a harvest orange color....big fluffy white head...rims the glas nicely....nose is fruity...and spicy like leather...medium bodied...smooth....a nice caramel malt base....some bready notes...and then a spicy finish...also has a bit of an alcoholic note to it, particularly on the finish...

This is a very tasty ESB..whether I would spend $10 for another sixer is up for debate but I'm glad I bought at least one six-pack of this...a must try for any ESB, Pale Ale or IPA type of guy (or woman)...

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Photo of jlervine
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark amber in color with a white frothy head. Smell is fantastic - hops and malt dancing through my nostrils. The taste is very balanced between hops and malt with a dry characteristic. Mouthfeel is crisp and clean. Very well done. This is definitely a great session beer!

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

Pours a medium amber, nice off-white head that slowly recedes and laces very nicely. Aroma is lightly malty, slightly fruity, and medium on the hoppiness. Flavor is sweet and fruity maltiness, ending with a decent hop finish. Body is on the fuller side of medium, super easy drinking, very tasty.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 20 oz. pint glass. The color was a dark amber, with a good head. The smell was a very nice mix of hop and malt. The taste was somewhat hoppy, but also had a very nice backing of a somewhat sweetness to it. Mouthfeel was very smooth. Drinkability-wise, could definitely have several of these!

A quality ESB, amongst the best in the style. This is certainly a beer that I will have again.

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

Sampled from cask at the Cricketers Arms in Orlando, FL.

Served a crystal clear, antique bronze color with a slight white head. Great lacing that clings to the glass.

Aromas of grassy hops, caramelized malt and some toasted toffee. The smell pulls you close and begs you to drink it.

The tastes is wonderful. Balanced and clean. Sweet caramelized malt and bitter hops. The cask also gives a earth, peat, and must flavor that is unique to casks but a wonderful additon. Good medium body, little to no carbonation and a wonderful clean finish. This could be too easy to drink.

A proper pint and textbook Brittish ESB. This is the bar and its set pretty high.

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Photo of Darkale
4.31/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Very clear, copper-orange body. Full-bubbled tan head with excellent lacing.

Very faint yeasty aroma.

Wonderful mix of sourness and sweetness. Very full malty sweetness in the mouth -- creamy, foamy, and delightful -- is followed by a slightly brassy sourness.

A marvelous beer. Worthy of its ratings and reputation. Solid, excellent, deep and profound.

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Photo of dedalus
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

sampled from a bottle at andy's pub in erie, pa. i must confess to being amazed that this pub would even stock a beer of this quality (the "beer list" includes zima and mike's hard lemonade, and the waitresses look at you like you've got six ears when you ask them for a pint glass).

the beer poured out a dark, orange color, with barely a finger's width of head. head retention was minimal, as was the lacing.

the scent was fresh, grassy, flowery hops with a lightly caramelly, faint sweetness in the background.

the taste began malty, with sweet caramel and toffee flavors at the tip and middle of the tongue. nothing cloying or overpowering, just clean, satisfying sweetness. a lighter, almost honeyish sweetness followed. when the bitterness emerged it was full, earthy and delicate, and the flowers and sweetish, newly-cut grass that were present in the nose came through on the tongue. the finish was marked by a re-emergence of the honey flavors, except now with a definite hint of sweet, baking bread, with the bitterness stepping back just a bit. exhaling through the nose after the swallow accentuated these flavors, which mingled perfectly, complementing each other satisfyingly and appropriately.

throughout, the mouthfeel was exemplary. as thick as it could have been without sacrificing its refreshing, quenching character.

i am still a bit of a newcomer to the world of good beer, but up to this point, fuller's esb is by far my favorite. with only a few exceptions, i crave balance of flavors in a beer, and fuller's esb is so impeccably balanced, so quenching while at the same time so robustly satisfying, so cleanly sweet and so gently bitter, that i'm not sure any beer will ever dethrone it in my book.

the only flaws i detected in this beer were the small head and lack of lace and head retention. but, while appearance is certainly a factor, smell and taste are much more important to me, and in those two categories, this beer was outstanding.


stephano dedalo

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

It poured a coppery brown colour, perfectly clear. A nice creamy head formed and stayed, supported by some neat-looking carbonation.

A cleanly hoppy aroma, with a hint of malt.

Lots of bitter hops make my initial impression. Some caramelly malt comes in next, with a lovely hops flavour filling it out. A slight alcoholic warmth and flavour comes through. Some floral fruitiness builds over time. I also begin to notice an almost citric acidity as well.

It feels nice and lush in the mouth. The carbonation is low but sufficient. A nice lace is left on my glass.

Overall: I like it. I like it a lot. This, to me, is ESB.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 1,313 ratings.