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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,297 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,297
Hads: 2,701
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 9.85%
Wants: 121
Gots: 262 | 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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,297 | Hads: 2,701
Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy copper color with a large white head that fades fairly quickly, carbonation is limited with excellent lace. Extremely rich aroma of caramel, fruit, spices, hops, and slight alcohol. Taste begins with caramel, dark fruit, and a rather full, slightly toasty malt, with very little overt sweetness. Towards the end of the taste, earthy hop bitterness appears, both full and lingering, but neither harsh nor overpowering. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth. It is difficult to overpraise Fuller's ESB, this is what beer is meant to be. (541 characters)

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

This Beer Pours a reddish copper, with a thin off white fastly disappearing head. It has a fruity caramel aroma. A medium body beer that was quit smooth but with the hotness of alcohol slightly pressent.Very well balanced taste with both malty sweetness and the bitter hops. I could defiantly see the as a regular in the stock pile I am beginning. (347 characters)

Photo of stoutman
3.67/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber in color. Very small head, just a few scattered bubbles. A well balanced nose with the sweetness (Caramel) of the malts and the floral hops melding without one overpowering the other. Some apricot pit undertones, slight alcohol scent as it warms. Hops are much more evident. The initial sweetness is quickly subdued by the bitterness of the hops. But the malts refuse to give ground and the result is a bittersweet taste bud tango. (442 characters)

Photo of Admiraldinty
4.7/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1 pt. 2.6 oz. bottle. Wow, spectacular. This is now one of my favorites. Pours a deep copper with a minimal head (but that's ok). Caramel smell with some fruity tones. Taste is lots of hops, some fruit. Quite malty. Medium bodied. I'll come back to this one time and time again. A good session beer too, although it's a bit pricey in the Boston area. Still, absolutely great. (375 characters)

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

My wife insisted I try this. She claimed it was the hardest to find beer in Northern New England. The original ESB poured well, not great carbonation though. It was bitter, but not as good as I exspected. I bet this beer kicks ass on tap. I will be looking for it. (264 characters)

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

Appearance: This beer poured a deep copper with a head that was coarse and thin. It dissapeared quickly, leaving a ring around the edge and a little bit of lace.

Smell: Sweet caramel and fruit dominated the smell of this beer. I was suprised that I could just barely discern the aroma of hops on this brew. I was expecting more of a presence since this was an ESB.

Mouthfeel: Good mouthfeel, especially for an ESB. It was nice a smooth, though a little rough in the back of the throat.

Taste: This was not really what I was expecting. There are full, round flavors of caramel, roasted and caramel malts, and a little bit of sweetness. The hops really kick in on the finish, finally revealing themselves. Overall, this is a very well balanced brew.

At first, I didn't know what to think of this beer. While the initial taste is not what I usually expect from an ESB, there was still a good hop bite on the finish. (924 characters)

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

If the rich amber color of the beer doesn't do the trick, the first sip of the beer will take you straight to a dark, low ceiling pub in Britain. The malty and almost fruity yeast flavor are a real treat, and really should only be enjoyed on draught. An imperial pint glass is the perfect vessel for this beer. (310 characters)

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

The world's original ESB pours an attractive golden amber with an off-white head that remains in a thin layer for the duration, leaving moderate lacing. The smell is malty, fruity (apples, grapefruit?), oakey/earthy, and minerally with a hint of floral hops. The taste follows suit with malt sweetness and earthiness dominating while hop bitterness balances most strongly at midpalate, then dropping off for a malty, sweetish finish with a late dryness.

Throughout the balance is admirable, yet the maltiness is up front in the character of this brew. Classically English, this brew evidences the reverse of the American pale ales, where the hops dominate. This, to my mind, results in a more comforting, mellow ale, great for a session beer. A world classic that we should all return to if we've been away sampling newer brews with more bells and whistles. Excellent brewing. (879 characters)

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

If I were living in England this beer would be my daily session beer. It is just so amazing in the sense that it is so balanced, smooth and full of flavor that I don't think I could pass up an opportunity to sip on this one. Especially on Nitro, this beer pours cream toned head that along with the deep ruby amber hue looked magnificant in the Fuller's Imperial pint glass. This beer had a really smooth hop character that blends perfectly with the sweetness it offers the drinker. A creamy full mouthfeel forms with each sip, and the flavors are full of hop bittering maybe Kent Goldings. Overall for a great session beer, I could not ask for something this enjoyable and drinkable at the same time. (701 characters)

Photo of Denali
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Beautiful clear orange-amber. White head which dissipates after a few sips. No lace.

Smell: Strong malt and molasses, followed by alcohol smell.

Tatse: Initial sweet strong malt and molasses tatse, followed by strong bitter, but enjoayble aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and then dry afterwards.

Drinkability: The sweet and bitter tatses go very well together. Alcohol taste not strong. Very drinkable. (423 characters)

Photo of Kunsan90
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice dark amber with a thick white frothy head. A thin lacework followed the first few drinks down the glass. The smell gave a more malty impression than hops. The taste was not as bitter as I expected and was quite refreshing. I can’t believe that I passed on this beer, and style, while I spent three years in Ipswich, England! What a fool I was! But I was young and dumb and had other things on my mind. The taste and mouth feel was crisp and pleasant with a slight bitter taste. A very tasty and good ESB, although I have not tasted others. (554 characters)

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Perfectly amber color, under a big, bubbling, bone-white head. An indistinct aroma, that cast off hints of flowers and honey, but also strains of coppery flintiness. A sly hop attack occurs on the tongue, which fades back fast. Light body, faint texture. Nice, but unmemorable finish. A very un-bitter "bitter", a textbook session ale. A good fruitiness comes out the middle, and the taste overall is pleasant, but it's largely forgettable for my taste. (453 characters)

Photo of putnam
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Gorgeous hint of sweet, honey/orange-flower water drenched phyllo on the nose. Just enough to stake out a claim on exotic pleasure. Then, the anchor: pavement, mahogany and crushed velvet. Restraint and breeding assert themselves.
The texture is cleansing, mildly bitter and whisperingly sweet. Toffee, pan drippings of roast beef, hazelnuts and walnuts...but artfully subtle...
A whisper, not on the palate, not on the nose, but on the lips...a whisper of cracked grain and linen appears on the finish, making the next sip a certainty.
Do not serve this beer cold. (570 characters)

Photo of budgood1
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

this yummy ESB pours out a clear dark copper color. sweet malts, and unmistakeable english hops provide a tantalizing intro. big time caramel and bready malts are first to hit the taste buds....you can also taste the hopping rather than feel the hop bitterness...very nice....a pronounced alcohol bite shows up at the very end. this all rides a sturdy body that provides a full mouthfeel. a meal in a bottle, i say.
this ESB is strikingly balanced, far from over the top, and delicious to boot. exactly as it is supposed to be. a classic. while there are other examples of the style that are more adventurous and bold...Fuller's ESB is the planet, where as all other examples are the satelite moons revolving the planet. (721 characters)

Photo of Sixpack595
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I think I could make this a regular. Pours a nice copper with bubbly white head. Thin head with nearly no lacing hurt. Mouthfeel was just a bit on the oily side. Fair hops and strong malts give a good mellow flavor. After drinking IPAs like it was my job recently the low key hops in this were refreshing. Definitly a good bar beer. You can put a few away and not get tired of it. (380 characters)

Photo of IrishRedRock
3.67/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very cool bottle to start with...nothing flashy, just very different. Like holding a giant bullet in hand. This beer is a brownish copper color with some bubbly lace, with a nice malty aroma and some dark chocolate scent thrown in as well.

The taste is malt to the extreme, and very buttery at that. A sweet butterscotch flavor leads to a somewhat unpleasant dry finish. A good beer, but the bitterness and somewhat metallic aftertaste won't bring me back to this often. Would like to sample it on tap, however. (515 characters)

Photo of RonfromJersey
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A frothy, dentable white head sits atop an orangey copper body. Nose is like walking past the bakery, a huge helping of yeasty fresh bread. A malty taste flows across the tongue. Buttery, toffee, caramel. The hops are present, but somewhat subdued, accents to be cherished. It has a rich, full mouthfeel, and I could easily drink this all night. Another Fuller's classic. Extra special indeed. (393 characters)

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

Clear dark copper, beige head, tan foam recedes quickly. Light carbonation

Nose = Malty, not a lot of hop aroma. Slight amount of bread dough/yeast.

Taste = malt and hops in good balance, a bitter with plenty of backbone. Delicious beer, good on tap as well as from the bottle. I drink less beer these days, less but better. Better = bitter, make mine Fuller's Extra Special Bitter. (389 characters)

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

Best before date of 7-15-02. Oh well, I'm a little past that. Looks very good. Pours a deep amber with a prodigious head that lasts a good long time. Fades to a thin layer and leaves an abundant lace. Aromas of malts, mollasses and other sweet scents with a floral hop undertone. Medium-full mouthfeel with heady carbonation. A pleasant bitterness, not too overpowering. All of the aromas are represented in the taste along with honey too. I'm really enjoying the bubbly headiness of this ale. Finish is dry with a bitter aftertaste that lingers nicely. Very enjoyable. (569 characters)

Photo of BeerManDan
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a clear golden amber color with light brown form. The smell was of a grainy/malty aroma with a hint of hops. The first few sips were of a grain/malt flavor just as the smell and the bitterness was not over powering. But, after the first few sips, this ESB tasted like any other average ESB. Not a whole lot of after taste on the palate. I have yet to rate any of Fuller's beer above average, except for their "1845", that was exceptional! (445 characters)

Photo of mzwolinski
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Pours dark copper in color with a somewhat thin, but very adequate and persistant head. Good lacing down the glass. Aroma is a mixture of biscuit and caramel malts, with notes of floral hops and certain fruity scents. Flavor is sweet, with an understated caramel malt body and hints of fruit. Finish is dry with a pleasant bitterness which lingers on into the aftertaste. Very slight alcohol warming as the beer goes down, completely unobtrusive. Medium-full bodied, and extremely smooth -- perhaps even a little too much on the creamy side, as this tends to detract from the otherwise very refreshing character of this beer. Still, extremely drinkable and very pleasant. A classic. (682 characters)

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

I had this beast a while back, but it still sticks in my brain. It was nice and copper colored, with a not so bitter after taste. Even though it wasn't super bitter, it was still a well crafted brew and got my tastebuds' attention. I liked that it finished nice and easy, which anyone would enjoy. (297 characters)

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

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear, amber-orange color with a foamy, light tan head that laces well.

Smell: I pick up on sweet malt, hops, and butterscotch/toffee. There's also a bit of a bready/yeasty aroma. Very nice.

Taste: Phenomenal balance between the just-sweet-enough maltiness and hop bitterness. Outstanding hop flavor and bitterness...it's just right. There's a strong butterscotch/toffee flavor that adds greatly to the smoothness. A touch of minerals from the water used as well. Very slight fruity esters in there too. I get a strong impression of 'freshness' from this brew. Very organic. Top notch!

Mouthfeel: Light bodies with the slightest bit of an oily mouthfeel. A treat for the mouth and tastebuds.

Drinkability: I could easily drink these all night without even thinking about switching beers. A world-class session beer. (855 characters)

Photo of hyuga
4.77/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Beautiful dark mahogany/reddish brown color with a rocky white head, the trademark ESB appearance. Somehow, nothing else looks quite like an ESB. The head settles, but leaves some nice "British" lace. Great complex malty aroma! Caramel, nut, cherry, and then just a little leafy hop character. Hops aren't so noticeable until it hits your palate. Speaking of which, the flavor does not fail to completely impress! Grainy sweet malt blends perfectly with bittering hops to create one of the best, most classic flavors in English beer history! Hop character is a bit earthy, leafy, and oily, and a bit of cherry is present once again as well. Dry, hoppy finish. Hop spiciness and malt sweetness are left on the tongue afterwards. Medium to full body. What a classic brew this is! One of my favorites. This one is a 12 oz., which is not enough, I prefer the 18.7 oz. bottles. However, this time I'm not complaining, I got this in the Fuller's gift pack, which contains 2 bottles each of 4 of their beers, plus a nonik pint glass. Great deal. If you want to try an ESB, this is the one to try! (1,089 characters)

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! (955 characters)

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 1,297 ratings.