Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

1,322 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: 1,322 | Ratings: 2,816
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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Photo of scottum
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice copper amber with a smallish head. The Original, but not my favorite of the style by any means. Too malty in my opinion. The chewy malt flavors are, however, well balanced by a nice crisp hop sensation. A very nice beer. Perhaps I'm too bias towards the overhopped american versions of this style to fully enjoy this beer for what it is.

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

A beautiful amberish teak in color with a rich full malty body and light wood notes. Wonderful sweet malt, fresh hop and fruity aroma. The full of complex blend of English hops provide ample bitterness and a hint mellow apples. Very balanced, rich and smooth. A slight alcohol fume appears in an out to remind you of its near 6% potency. Nice white head is worth a picture. This is seriously professional ale that improves in flavor throughout!

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

Color is amber, with a off-white fluffy, foamy head about two fingers high. Left some patches of lace. Smells of strong floral hops, very bitter sweet. Also has a honeyish note and yeast-like notes. The taste is a nice bitter hop, very crisp and sharp, somewhat citrusy and a light yeasty malt that rounds out with a small honey-like hint finishing a mostly medium to light bodied feel and a tight dryness. There's alot of bitterness to this and alot of punch. Very indicitive to the style. This can be a very drinkable beer but the 5.9% sneaks up on you soon after taking many swigs. Which is easy to do, cuz this stuff is pretty darn smooth for being pretty darn bitter.

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

It's a very clear copper color with some gold mixed in for good measure. The head is large at first but very quickly dissipates. A mellow hoppy aroma is a wonderful greeting. Fuller's beer always has the best aromas. The hops come through in the flavor of course, kind of similar to the London Pride in a way, but also unique. The maltiness comes first, then a hoppy finish and a bitter aftertaste. The bitterness isn't overpowering but definitely solid, much to my liking since I'm not much for over-the-top hops. Fuller's is one awesome brewery, all of their beers are amazing. Try them all and expect your senses to be treated like royalty.

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

Copper amber colored brew with a nice foamy white head on top. The aroma is very nice and full of spice. At the same time, I picked up on a nice sweet fruitiness.

This is a great brew from start to finish. Nice sweet malts are at the start. I expected a much hoppier flavor. The hops to come in nicely, but I expected more. I thought it would be a bit more bitter and spicy. The aftertaste brings in a bit of that bitterness I was looking for, but not at a huge level. The balance in this beer is near perfect. The flavors don't blend, but perform more of a kamaeleon (sp) like act, changing from malts to hops. The body is medium, with a pretty hearty flavor. Complexity is at a decent level. It is very drinkable and overall very enjoyable. Fuller's has done a great job on every brew I have had from them including this one.

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Photo of MaineBeerMan
3.91/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clean, crystal clear light copper brown, with a frothy head of white foam that settles quickly and leaves some sticky lace.
Lighter than expected aroma of herbal hops with hints of toasty malt.
Smooth, with a lighter, prickly carbonation, medium bodied. Flavors of herbal hops with some sweetness that is more fruity than expected and just a bit of the toasty caramel maltiness I was hoping for.
Pretty good ESB, easy drinking, but I have others that I like more and pay less for

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Photo of jeffboo
4.04/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Fuller's ESB- it kind of sets the bar for the ESB flavor, one that many American brewers try to emulate. this beer looks great in a glass, I pity the person who might think to drink it out of the bottle.It has all you could want to look at- great skin( glorious amber) great topping (creamy tan froth) looks perfect in front and behind the glass,in the dark with the streetlights shining in through the window or with the indoor lights on full.The smell is not a turn-on for me but to each his own, it's floral hop with lots of diacetyl in there.Caramel malt flavor begins the taste profile with a floral hop flavor and a hint of bitterness and sulfer in the finish.This body also jumps out at me as the perfect combo of meatiness with drinkability pint after pint. A nice solid example of the ESB style.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 1,322 ratings.