Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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2,660 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,660
Reviews: 1,308
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 112
Gots: 242 | FT: 1
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,660 | Reviews: 1,308
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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,660 ratings.