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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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2,571 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,571
Reviews: 1,281
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 95
Gots: 194 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,571 | Reviews: 1,281 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MMansfield
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted 01/01/08

Appearance: Poured a cleared amber, off white head. Retained well and left a bit of lacing.

Aroma: Toasted malt, bread, light hops.

Taste: Caramel, toasted bread, touch of diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: Medium light bodied.

Final Statement: Enjoyed the beer, good to have a couple of, but would not repeat all that often.

Photo of nicnut45
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a-A dark copper, clear. 3/4" of off white head settles to a thin tight beady patch.

S-Beautiful earthy hop smell, like fresh mushrooms. A clean scent throughout. Sugar cookie dough sweetness from the malt. Beautifully balanced beer. Hop and malt both seperate and compliment each other wonderfully.

T-Bitterness comes through upfront followed by a pleasent alcohol warmth. Upon more discernment a floral taste from the hops is evident. Tastes a bit like tree sap. Malt hides faintly behind the bitterness, it wants to shineout but is subdued and is more evident after the swallow. All in all this lives up to its name, not overpowering but a interesting bitterness throughout.

M.F.-Lively carbonation and m.f. Carbonation really brings out the bitterness from hops. Smooth creaminess afterwards.

D-An interesting beer all in all. Sophisticated and doesnt hide behind blandness. You wil never forget it. But not something I would drink a lot ofin one night. But definetly something I would get again.

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

A clear deep copper toned amber brew, a rather small off-white head leaving little lacing.

The smell is malty, fresh bread, sweet toffee nuances, fresh orange tones.

Upfront sweet bread and porridge, a orange marmalade presence, bitter marmalade that is. The hops rounding of in dry good feelings that stays.

Medium low carbonation, very smooth and soothing. A dry warm finish.

A very well-balanced brew, goes very well with robust food.

Photo of wagenvolks
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle into a (512) pint glass. Best before 25/Sept/2010.

Good-looking beer, this. Ruddy, deep amber sheen with a copper core. The head is light tan and patchy, but gets a boost from a few steady streams of carbonation. The aroma is instantly recognizable, the epitome of the ESB style with buttery toffee malts and gobs of caramel sweetness. A bit of leather and medicinal twang as well, while the hops are moderate in strength, adding some floral notes and fruitiness.

Creamy sweet butter and English toffee blend with musty, fruity hops and that signature UK yeast note for which Fuller's is famous. Toasted malts and a slight nuttiness in the finish. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, but crisp at the same time, as the tight carbonation works magic on the medium-thin body. All in all, a delicious beer, and one that keeps me coming back time after time. Not sure why I took so long to review this classic, but better late than never!

Photo of scottyb88
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Best-by date clearly marked for Sept. 2010, 11.2 oz bottle
This is my first ESB, so I'm not really judging on style, but rather overall impression and drinkability

A- pours a clear light copper color with a 1.5 finger head that goes down to a thin foam; appears to have good lacing and decent carbonation

S-a nice dose of caramel and toasted nut; a faint smell of apple cooked in melted butter; for hops a bit of citrus bitterness but its hard to pick it out

T-a nice buttery maltiness with a hint of smoke at the end; caramel toasted flavors; apple skin; not very bitter, but slightly dry

M-good carbonation and medium mouthfeel; slightly dry aftertaste and leaves a slick buttery coating on the sides of your mouth

D-it's pretty well balanced, def. not very bitter as the name might imply and leans more towards a nutty/light caramel malt flavor beer than pine or citrus hops; some people may get turned off by the traditonal english ale flavor of that butter/butterscotch flavor, that indescribable twang, but its quite nice overall

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

11.2 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- CLear and brown with a frothy 2 finger light tan head that diminished fairly quick and left a nice cap. Nice carbonation.

S- Toasted malt with a hint of grain, a little spicy hops aroma.

T- Smooth malt with a moderately bitter finish.

M - Creamy/oily with soft carbonation.

D- A very sessionable ale, would be no problem to drink this all evening.

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

fuller's esb is a very good esb with high drinkability and moderate complexity.. I find it to be on the very top end of what a 'macro' beer can be.. that is it can please the general public and stand on its own as a solid performer for its style..
It pours nicely with a nice head but it fizzles out quickly (oh well this beer does not last long anyway)..
It smells nice and malty with some nice floral hops - kind of like a brown ale with a little more character..
the taste is sweet with an amazingly satisfying bitter finnish.. this is the opposite of an american version of this style.. sweetness is emphasised bitterness is a pleasant afterthought.. the malt is the dominant feature.. but do not underestemate the lovely floral hops which chime in towards the back of the tongue..
this goes down fast and smooth especially for an esb.. The mouthfeel is a little lighter than i would like but it coats the mouth and leaves a heavy aftertaste - so it makes up for it... top marks..

Photo of RuudJH
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Fuller's bitter, 500 ml. bb sept 2010.

Copper colour, thin head after an agressive pour, modest carbonation, good lacing.

Smell is good, but faint. There's some maltyness, sweet bread, some hops, slight soft fruits, floral notes.
Taste has similar characteristics, with a hint of roasty malts/chocolate in it as well. Not bad at all.

It's not as bitter as you'd expect. However, it's smooth, balanced, and the whole drink is very refreshing.

Photo of Daniell
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: nice caramel toffee colour. Perhaps needed a slightly more aggressive pour. 4

S: biscuits, chocolate. The hops are well concealed but present and accounted for when one sniffs hard. Thinking about other reviews, I can definitely relate to the "grapes" call also. Apple is later acknowledged. 4

T: Strong chocolate flavour. Definitely some decent bitterness here too, and a strong nutty flavour. But it's a bit underwhelming. I think I expected more maltiness here. I think I can taste the alcohol also. 4

M: It's reasonably carbonated but the alcoholic sweetness is a bit distracting. 3.5

D: Actually that's probably around a 3.5 also. 3.5

I might get a few more bottles of this and rereview.

Photo of Coolcheech
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Very clear copper color with a thin white head that quickly dissipated. Some bubbles from the carbonation.

S: Upon pouring I can only smell apples, almost like a cider. After tasting I got a mild sulfur smell, however it was not unpleasant. (And with that I think I'm starting to understand sulfates in the water.)

T: This had hints of apple, hints of the sulfur, and some very, very hidden fruity hops flavor that came in at the end.

M: Medium-full, hardly any carbonation, and smooth.

D: I think this was a very good, well rounded beer.

Photo of PintOHops
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glass - Pint

A - Nice clear orange/coppery color with a soapy 1-finger head, didn't retain very well. Around moderate Co2 can be seen with lots of clinging bubbles on the glass, didn't leave any lacing, a thin ring held throughout most of consumption.

S - Flowery & herbal hop characteristic with fruity plum & raisin. After settling from swirling the beer, I get mild toast and soft buttery notes as well, a bit of caramel but not big.

T - Sweet caramel flavors unfold into a citrus hop edge as it rolls of the tongue, lots of buttery diacetyl follows, cracker, biscuit, wafer, and mineral water is present towards the finish. Moderate bitterness balances the beer pretty well, lingering only slightly.

M - Soft and slick, lightly carbonated, medium bodied.

D - This beer reminded me of Fuller's London Pride, very similar to me, just bumped up a notch. I really enjoyed the balance of this beer, very tasty and extremely drinkable. I might buy this one again sometime. Recommended.

Photo of JosiahS
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an English pint glass. It gave off a one-finger white, soapy head and dissipated fairly quickly. Color is a light copper with lots of carbonation bubbles clinging to the glass. It reminds me of a bock really.

Lots of fresh malt characters in the aroma. Date, tart cherry, caramel, toffy and biscuit all make an appearance. Moderately sweet overall.

The taste is much more subdued in comparison to the aroma. All the previous aromas: caramel, toffy, biscuit as well as some sweet and tart fruit are present but not as much as the smell leads on. There is a nice bitterness throughout the beer and it finishes clean. Very refreshing. As the beer warms, a malty twang in both taste and aroma is noticeable, adding to the beer IMO.

Mouthfeel is fairly light with moderate carbonation.

A very drinkable and refreshing ESB, this does taste a whole lot like London Pride though, just a little punchier. As of now, this is my second beer from Fullers, i'd like to try some of their other offerings that step away from these flavor profiles. Overall, great beer though.

Photo of dirkchivers
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am in love with this beer! I was still stuck in a wintery stouts-and-porters-or-naught! mood, but this broke the cycle and woke my taste buds up to the brightness of lightness! Not that is a light beer or anything...

Flavors are well balanced in this beer, with slight favoring of ale fruitiness. Malt sweetness is cut through by pleasant hop bitterness, just the way it should be.

Photo of rootbeerman
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: finger and a half off white head, body is a dark copper with a little tone of red.
S: toasted malt, a slight honey
T: toasted malt sweetness. a more floral like drinking a flower hop, not really bitter
M: stick to mouth for only a moment. low to medium carbonation
D: just from the first sip i can tell i can drink more than a few of these.

Photo of jpittman80
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Copper with red highlights. Off-white head that doesn't last.

S - Apples, grapes, bready malt. It actually has a brandy quality to it.

T - Tastes the same as smell, with apples, grapes, bready and caramel malts. Smooth hop bitterness through to the end. Dry finish.

M - Smooth and dry with a good level of carbonation. Slight alcohol warmth, actually.

D - Very smooth and medium bodied. Not hard to drink it quick.

Photo of VolcomBrewer
4.39/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

So I ran into the store today to grab some sort of English Ale and happened to see this at a decent price. So I decided to buy the six-pack to give it a taste.

Appearance: It pours a nice amber, almost red hue with about two-fingers of foamy, off-white head that diminishes pretty quickly. Lacing is moderately apparent in the glass.

Smell: I personally love the smell of this ale. It smells of Carmel and a very slight citrus note from the hops. The aroma is just simply captivating.

Taste: While drinking this, flavors of Carmel and malt sweetness start to cover the palate with the slight bitter bite of the hops rounding off at the end. I'm really enjoying the balance of this brew.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied ale in the beginning. It felt smooth and creamy, yet I personally felt that this left my mouth feeling sticky and almost had a syrup-like feel at the end.

Drinkability: For a beer with 5.9% ABV, you certainly cannot taste the alcohol. This can certainly be a session beer, just take your time with these. Easy to drink, and you'll want to continue to do so.

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

500ml can from the LCBO. Identical in colour to the Abbot Ale I just finished. A deep copper hue with amber edges and a thin ring of cream white head. Spots of lacing on the shaker. Smell and taste are peaches, sweet and doughy pale malts, floral hops, toffee, English-style biscuits, and a citrus, orange peel bitterness to end. Mouthfeel is soft, lush, thickish medium, caramel-like, a little juicy and resinous, mildly bitter aftertaste. One of my favourite fall back beers when there's nothing decent available at my local liquor store. In my mind, Fuller's is synonymous with reliable, high quality session beers. Thank God they export to Ontario!

Photo of divineaudio
4.75/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

imperial pint into a u.s. pint glass. best by july 10 2010. i love how fancy fuller's bottles are!

pours a transparent amber to copper with a pinky of off white head that hangs around for a while before settling to a thin film. leaves some nice chunky lace behind.

smell is wonderfully fruity with some toasty or nutty aromas in there as well. taste follows nose with toasty malt character up front and hop bitterness that hits the middle of the tongue rather than the back. has some buttery notes too along with carmel and dark fruit. superbly crafted and very well balanced.

mouthfeel is amazing. lighter in body and one of the smoothest beers i have ever had!

this one goes down easy and is a strong candidate for a session beer. probably one of the best examples of the style and so good that you'll want more. will definitely be seeking this out again.

Photo of PapaGemutlich
4.89/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Straight pour into a pint glass--mmm tiny bubbles, 1" head with staying power.

Aromatic hops come on wonderfully complex, all grass, hay, and clover tripping over each other. Bittering hops balance perfectly. The malt is rich and solid and screams good quality. It tastes like grain.

Damn, but it's hard to stay objective: the aroma alone brings London pubs crashing out from my own memories.

NB--The six pack bottles I bought seem amazingly fresh; I wonder about how well this would survive a few months on a shelf somewhere. I got it at Rodman's Pharmacy on Wisconsin Ave. in DC.

Somebody recommend an American made ale that tastes like this. Lordy, it's good.

Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Straight pour into a pint glass. The color is a solid copper. Two fingers of off-white head developed and dissipated slowly to leave a spotted lacing and ring around the edge.

Smell: Sweet caramel and honey malt aromas. It has a buttery, nutty quality to it as well, and there's also toffee and vanilla.

Taste: At first there's the sweet honey and caramel notes from the smell, then a little hop bite enters, nicely balancing the brew. The alcohol is noticeable at the end, but it's not overpowering, and fades after warming.

Drinkability: Without the label, it would be hard to tell if I was drinking ESB or London Pride. ESB is just a tiny bit hoppier and a tiny bit bitterer, but other than that the experience is much the same. No doubt it's the original ESB, but Fuller's gave birth to a watered down little brother. Boo.

Photo of metter98
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: It poured clear light amber in color with a moderately sized head that gradually settled down into lacey patterns. A moderate level of carbonation is visible.
S: There is a light malty and somewhat sweet aroma.
T: The taste creates an interesting seesaw between malty sweetness and hop bitterness on your taste buds. The malt flavors taste lightly toasted and buttery with some hints of caramel, while the hops are subdued but create a little bitterness, particularly in the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and very smooth.
D: This beer is very easy to drink and goes down smoothly.

Photo of chickenflea
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured a clear medium amber with and average lumpy head. Good lacing.

S - Smells malty with a fruity notes like unfiltered cider.

T - Taste is chewy and sweet. A rather bitter British beer. But the bitterness is balanced and pleasant. Clean finish.

M - Medium to light body. Texture is a touch oily.

D - This beer does not put on airs. It comfortable like a cotton sweater. Sessionable but not shallow.

Photo of Stunner97
4.69/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance- light brown with very nice small bubbles rapidly streaming up the glass, carbonation is very nice

Smell- very nice sweet and malty, caramel, sugar and molasses, very super enticing nose

Taste- very enjoyable and very flavorful, good amount of sweet and enjoyable malts but extremely nice and perfect amount of slight bitterness too, beautiful balance and just overall delicous flavor,

Mouthfeel- slight carbonation but super smooth and creamy

Drinkability- the word drinkability was made for a beer like this, absolutely a world class beer for sessioning despite slightly high alcohol level, BALANCE BALANCE BALANCE, just superb this is the prototype for the esb style and I cant see my self reaching for any other esb over this one just superb,

Photo of sophisticated
4.01/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Curious to try this 1 pint bottle of award-winning ESB.
This is a pretty ale - clear reddish-brown/amber with small but solid sudsy white head. This left tons of lacing through the glass.
The nose was fairly mild but malt-dominant. Sweet with slight undertone of bitter hops. The taste? Nice and malty! Caramel, raisiny, with a bitter edge of hops and a touch of spice. Overall a balanced beverage, extremely enjoyable! Smooth, light, refreshing. Excellent drinkability, I had to refrain from chugging this bad boy. A definite session beer.

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

As the bottle says, it's the original. I feel it's the standard by which other (or, American) ESB's should be measured. I'll admit that until now I've sampled and enjoyed mostly bitters by Mid-Atlantic breweries (Flying Fish, Yards, Stoudt's, etc). I've had a few English bitters (here and abroad) and it's tough to mistake the smoothness and mouthfeel of an English ale. The Fuller's ESB is quite representative of its breed. If you want a detailed description of the nuances of its flavor, check some other reviews below. I felt it necessary to just suggest where it stood among the others, that's all.

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,571 ratings.