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Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

1,329 Reviews
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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 07-08-2001

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Reviews: 1,329 | Ratings: 2,835
Photo of jcalabre
3/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Originally sampled on 24 January 2003. I am writing this review from my notes.
on draught, clear copper color w/ virtually no head. nice maltiness up front w /a slightly bitter finish. This might serve as a nice 'escape' beer, to free the BMC knuckleheads from their confinement & introduce them to real beer. This is a decent ESB, but nothing spectacular.

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

Full copper, with touches of red. Creamy off-white head settles to a thin complete cap leaving excellent lacing.

Nose is rich crackery malt with a lovely Goldings earthy hop element. Touch fruity.

Rich in the mouth, with excellent mouthfeel. Hops balance the malt well, and there is a nice fruitiness from the yeast. Finishes a touch sweet.

This has passed its peak, as the evidence of the dry-hopping is diminished. This was more like a malted-up London Pride. Still a fine pint. Score reflects the beer tasted on this occassion only.

[edited 4/18/05 to reflect fact that beer was not cask-conditioned, but keg served through handpump]

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

This beer pours great with a nice big head. The color was a nice dark amber color. The aroma was good with its citus and hoppy aromas but there was a slight sour smell to it (could've just been the bottle I had, I don't remeber it being sour smelling before). The taste is wonderful, again with a slight citrus hint to it and a great balance of malt and hops. The initial taste is somewhat tart but it leaves you licking the sweetness off of your lips. A Great Beer!

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Photo of hotstuff
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I found this beer to have a good combination of flavor and bitterness. The hue was amber. It had a good malty aroma as well as a good malty and hoppy flavor. The more I drank of this beer, the more I liked it. I did not find this beer to have a lingering taste to it which is what I look for in a beer.

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

This is just plain great bitters. Subtle and effective hopping make this beautifully bitter while retaining plenty of malting throughout. The nose gives off nice floral and herbal hop aromas and the taste follows with good bittering. There is very little aftertaste as it ends with a very dry finish, clean and bright at the end. Dark amber color and creamy full ivory head with superior lacing. Superb beer. Thanks, Fuller's.

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Photo of IronDjinn
4.58/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of the nicest looking ales I've ever laid eyes upon. Poured from a hefty 500ml brown bottle, it had a foamy off white head that left a lot of lace, and receded to a thick ring. Very rich, intense copper hue, makes me wonder if I have a fetish for copper (perhaps I should change my favorite style....). Nose is primarily hops, some caramel malt, a touch metallic, very faint spice. Flavour is a whirlwind of hops and malt, very nice blend, although the hops stand out far more. Thick buttery mouthfeel, but goes down very easy. The aftertaste lingers long after the glass has been emptied.

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

Appearance a nice coppery gold color with minimal carbonation. Smell suggests alcohol with slight malt aroma. This tasted like it has more than 5.9% alcohol. Mouthfeel also suggested alcohol content, but no major lingering sharp aftertaste. Very drinkable, except for the initial tang of alcohol.

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Photo of TheDM
4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew has a very nice malty aroma. The pour yielded a medium white head full of small bubbles with a nice transparent amber color with little to no lacing. My initial taste had no foretaste, but some bitter aftertaste and a very mild flavor. A very easily drank brew that I found much to my liking.

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Photo of BierReise
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a superior ale that has been in my opinion a most consistent one. I used to drink this one hand-pulled in an English pub years ago, and the bottled version is nearly as good. Super clear amber with a frothy head and light lacing. Aroma is outstanding, sweet, hoppy and malty all at once. Boy is this ale balanced! Smooth and full bodied with an incredible mixture of English hops that bitter so tenderly. Malt is sweet and fresh providing a perfect counter to all of the different English hops used. The original and in my opinion the best ESB out there.

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Photo of mapman97
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorite beers in the world, if not my all time favorite. Pours clear redish amber with a nice but not to big head. Taste is wonderful with a hint of sweetness and a hoppy bitterness that is very refreshing. There is a distinct maltyness as well. Give it a try, you'll like it. Very smooth if on tap but you don't want it to cold. This keeps the full flavor from comming out.

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Photo of DarrellK
4.66/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've tried this both in the US and in the UK and must say that it travels well as it is the same in both places. The rich amber color of the brew is quite inviting and is accompanied but a nice sort of malty aroma and a thick head for an ESB. The head continues quite well through the finish. Taste is warming with perhaps a buttery taste and a lingering finish. This is a polished brew that is always near the top of my list

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

Big bottle, 1 pint, 2.6 fl. oz., with drink-by date clearly marked. Beautiful, orangy-reddish amber. Big head, moderate lacing. Foam never completely disappeared as the beer retreated down the inside of my glass. Wonderful aroma of malt and honey that I have never smelled before. Beautifully balanced tast of honey and malt, with a hop bite that adds citrus to the background yet doesn't intrude. Very creamy & thick mouthfeel, better than some beers with "cream" in the title.Drinkability? "Oh, no! I only bought one!" I'll be buying more of these very soon. To think I didn't drink this while I was in the UK (I was young and foolish)!

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Photo of tar
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, reddish amber in color. A nice thick (one finger) off-white head caps the beer in the glass. A very nice smell of malt and something sweet--possibly honey, is present. The taste is also of malt, some sweetness is present as well. A bit of fruity hops make themselves known in the finish. Overall a very nicely balanced taste--not overpowering in any one aspect, and very pleasant. This beer is very smooth with a light to medium body and highly drinkable; I wish I had more of these present in my refrigerator, but alas I only bought the one.

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Photo of nomad
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a ruddy copper color with fair amounts of carbonation, a foamy head, and some bits of stain. A fair looker.

The smell is of fruity hop scents, nuts, and a British session-ale malt. Taste is of an unbelievably edible bitter, a hearty barley and earthy flavor, yet it is also a beer with some tang. Builds up delectable toasty and nutty flavors, too. Has a good malt backbone and a long citrus-bitter finish of the highest quality.

Smooth going moderately thick mouthfeel. This beer is fabulously drinkable, impressive given its bitterness. Much better on draft than in a bottle. A personal favorite.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bought in the1 pint 2.6 ox brown embossed bottle..nice simple ,yet impressive label
Pours a wonderful crystal clear dark amber colour with a good sized slighly off white head..fades fast.
Some marvelous smells of hops and slight malts pretty good stuff
Well balanced flavour to the beer..nice malt sweetness and a good bitterness ( but not over the top)..leaves a buttery taste on the back of the tongue,which I liked.
Pretty good on the palate.not dry at all..nice aftertaste that lingers
An excellent drinkabkle ESB..one to sample again and again

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

Well, it took me a whole week of drinking cask beers in London to find one that at least had a bit of distinction from the rest. While they all were good, this is the first one that really stood out! Poured a slightly reddish brown. Fair amount of head to it: it really depends on how it is pulled. Fairly good aroma of malts and hops. The taste actually has some hop bite to it, with maybe a hint of chocolate? Very smooth. If you are going to be sold in a pub called "Hung, Drawn & Quartered", you better be good!

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Photo of Indybeer
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1pt 2.6 fl oz bottle. This pours a deep caramel color, with a head that doesn't last long. You can smell the hops and the malt. The taste! Now this is what I remember bitter to taste like when I was in the UK sitting in a pub drinking pint after pint. Not the over hopped American versions. This is what bitter should be. Just the right amount of bitter that finishes clean and dry. I could sit and drink this all night. I need to find this on draught!

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this brew in a 12oz. bottle poured into a Fuller's nonick pint glass. It pours an orange-red with one finger of head that dies down to a little ring pretty quickly. There is a bit of lacing left on the glass. The smell seems to be a mix of caramel, pine, and hops. The taste is a good bite of hops, but not so much as an IPA, with a mixture of sweetness and spicy flavors together. The mouthfeel is a little weak, but this is still a smooth ale with a good drinkability.

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Photo of wyllder
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Amber in color with a mild aroma, Fuller's ESB is deceptive in appearance. Like most ESB's, Fullers hits you with an initial blush of bitterness. Surprisingly, this ESB quickly backs off and finishes smooth and lets you appreciate its complex character more than most ESBs. This smoothness lends to an immensely drinkable beer. An ardent fan of ESBs, I often have a hard time winning my freinds over. Fullers is the first bitter I've found that even non-ESB drinkers can appreciate.

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

Copper-hued amber body, fairly clear with faint traces of CO2. Big, fat, sticky, cream-colored head. Head retention is moderate, leaving thick, foamy patches of lace on the glass. Wonderful base of lightly bready caramel malt with spicy and floral/herbal hop notes in the smell. Bready caramel malt flavor, with a bigger presence of hops than in the aroma. Hops are herbal, slightly spicy, and fairly bitter. Aftertaste is hoppy, spicy and piney. Moderate bodied beer, and pretty smooth. Leaves a thick oily hop coating on the tongue. Truly an excellent beer, and makes me wonder if ESBs are taking over as my favorite style...

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Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Fuller's ESB is an exceptional beer, one of the truly great Ales. It seems to have been somewhat overshadowed by some of the more hopped American micros, and some have stated that it is superior in the U.K. If so, I would love to try it, because I love this beer as is. The smoothness is unmatched in an ale, and the wonderful, wine-like flavor stands out. Just bitter enough without over-doing it. I have never once been disappointed when I've bought ESB. Much copied, but still the best!

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at NERAX on cask. (OG 1055, ABV 5.5%, IBU 35).

What can I say about Fuller's ESB? It is the quintessential ESB, in my opinion, and it never disappoints.

This sample poured from cask a clear amber color with a bit of white foam. The smell was an aromatic hop aroma with a good bit of malt. The taste was malty, but with a good dose of floral hops and bitter hops. The mouthfeel was extremely smooth and clean with a good hop finish. The body was medium with modest carbonation. This was a very good sample of a very good ESB.

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Photo of Tballz420
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Nice looking copper colored body. A bubbly slightly off white head sits atop this beer. A nice, pretty malty beverage, hints of hops in there as well. Somewhat metallic notes in there as well. Well this is a damn good beer. From what ive tried from fuller's, they have an excellent line of beer.

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

Raisins at diacetyl greet the nose upon pouring. Acetaldehyde in the form of green apples and pears is also present. Copper-orange in color with a very thin head that does not lace at all. Light-moderate bitterness with a nice medium mouthfeel. Aromas pretty much carry through to the mouth with the exception being the green apples which are there but in reduced form. Light sweetness underlies the whole brew. Quite enjoyable.

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

Package: 12 oz. tall, narrow brown bottle. “Best before 19/Jan/04.” No indicated ABV, although Fuller’s lists it as 5.9% in bottles.

Cost: $7.49 per 6-pack at Total Wines

Presentation: Poured into pint glass at ~45º

Appearance: Possessed a luminescent auburn clarity, several shades darker than the London Pride. Generated a very loose, moist head with large gauge bubbles; which didn’t last long. Several lazy strands of bubbles flowed continuously through the glass.

Smell: A truly classic, panoply of traditional bitter aromas: roasted grain, medium hops, toasted bread, and buttered toffee. Nose is restrained but complex, improving as it warms.

Taste: Although hitting the malty low notes hard, this also expresses nice fruity flavors of lemon zest and candied orange peel, with an extra helping of hops (Northdown, Challenger, and Target). Rounded off with the classic diacetyl butteriness and nutty quality required of a British bitter. A step up from the London Pride session ale, but worth drinking in copious amounts. Well-balanced through its rounded but dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Thinner and a bit less impressive than the casked version, but still full, rounded, and warming. This example was perhaps a bit too carbonated, but still exhibited a medium body. I somehow think the 550ml bottles are superior. Casked version gets a 5.

Drinkability: Eminently drinkable. The body, ABV, dryness, and complexity all hit the sweet spot. Unbeatable on cask (worthy of a 5).

Well worn, like a favorite baseball mitt, but possessing the craftsmanship of a DB5; this cries out to be consumed pint after pint. More substantial than the London Pride and a bit more approachable than the 1845, this is a core brew in my rotation, that always reminds me not to overlook the obvious. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this in the 550 ml bottles recently; where I remember its being somewhat smoother. For those of you who think this is timid or wishy-washy in the hops department, your tastebuds and olfactory nerve have probably been burnt by hyper-hopped IPA’s. This is a superb ale and not to be missed, especially if you get the opportunity to try it on cask.

Bottom Line: As much as I like the London Pride, this is my session beer of choice.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 1,329 ratings.