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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,506 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,506
Reviews: 1,268
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 11.06%
Wants: 90
Gots: 158 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 07-08-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,506 | Reviews: 1,268 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rfabian
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a glass tumbler it produces a small yellow-white head that leaves a little lacing. The color is a nice clear amber. The aroma is not that pronounced, and I could not decide about how to characterize it. The taste is moderately hoppy. I have to say earthy hops, without significant citrus, piney, or spicy features. Mainly just the basic bitterness, in other words, or maybe my nose is just shot today. The malt jumps right out, a very nice malt-ness and sweetness there that makes the brew very pleasant and drinkable. Moderately smooth mouth-feel and carbonation heightens the enjoyment.

Definitely worth a repeat.

Photo of Anthony1
3.43/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a crystal clear coppery orange, some ruby highlights, thin off white head forms, quickly settles to a thin collar, no real lacing, looks alright. Smell is sweet and nutty, some caramelized malts, grain, light fruit, nice rich biscuity malt/toast, almost an oxidized aroma, not bad. Taste is similar, lots of malt, some caramel and brown sugar sweetness, biscuit, raisins, nuts, lightly fruity in the finish, light bitterness. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with low carbonation.

Photo of largadeer
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9 oz bottle into a nonic, Fuller's ESB pours a bright, clear amber, and rests in the glass with a dark caramel color topped by thick off-white head, which retains impressively well. The nose brings to mind butterscotch, dark honey and light esters. There's a touch of floral, earthy hoppiness, but it's buried beneath the malt. The taste is neither as rich nor sweet as the aroma implies. It's amply malty, but balanced by a big hop bitterness. There's a hint of buttery diacetyl up front, but it's quickly overwhelmed by flavors of roasted malt, earthy hops, toasted nuts and fruitcake. Very flavorful, almost heavy beer for its modest 5.9% ABV. Flavors of grapefruit and toffee linger on in the long, bitter finish. Very enjoyable stuff, I'd love to try this on handpump.

Photo of grayburn
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice tawny orange with a one finger white cap. Retention is decent and lacing is nice.

The smell and taste both have an interesting metallic flavor that doesn't kill it for me, but it certainly doesn't help. Other than that there is some nice hop bitterness playing well with the thick malty flavor. Plenty of flavor to play around with.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, easy quaffing ale.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep red, white head encircles the glass. Visible carbonation.

Smells of malts and caramel, maybe a bit of berry.

The taste is very crisp, loads of lightly-roasted maltiness. A bit of fruits and spices to the finish, which is surprisingly sweet. Not finding any hop flavour here.

Mouthfeel is thick, full-bodied. Not overly carbonated.

A superb brew, one of my favourite bitters. Definitely worth a go.

Photo of BrewitYerself
2.73/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle poured into pint glass @ 54 deg. F.

Pours a clear dark copper, with a modest (<1 finger) off-white head, which dissipates quickly. No lacing.

Moderate aroma of rich sweet malts, honey and caramel. Slight ester presence. No hops.

Taste is of sweet malts, honey and caramel. Not particularly rich or complex. There is a touch of bitterness upfront, accompanied by a slight sourness, which gives way to the sweet malts. Finishes with a sour bitterness, followed by a lingering sweetness. Slight to moderate mineral presence.

Slightly overcarbonated; a bit too thin to showcase the malt.

Overall a good beer, but I was unimpressed. Aroma promises more richness than is delivered. Malt profile is overly sweet, yet it's a pretty dry beer - that was odd. By the end of the glass I would have had another, but I wouldn't get up and drive to the store for it.

Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I reviewed the "bottle-edition" some time ago, but this is a beer really blooms on tap. Yesterday I was at the pub with some friends, and on of the taps was this one...

A: Deep amber, with an long-lasting creamy off-white head that leaves a healthy dose of lace.

S: Malty, and lots of floral hops. This is a very fruity beer - I can sence lots of differnt fruits here, both red and green apples, dried dark fruit, different kinds of citrus; oranges and some faint grapefruits.

T: Lots of bready malt - almost like sourdogh-bread. Floral and some faint bitter hops. Much of the fruityness from the smell is also present but not as strong as in the smell.

M: Lots of bitterness in the long aftertaste. Fullbodied - it's almost like you need to eat it with a spoon, moderate carbonation.

D: Much of what I wrote in my earlier review still stands, but the biggest difference between the bottle-edition and this one is that everything is a little bit better this time - it smells stronger, it tastes stronger and the body is (if possible) fuller.
If you see this one on tap - don't hessitate.

Photo of MikeBrandman
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First off, I don't quite see the hype around this beer. I didn't taste that much of anything the three or four times I've had it. Carrying on...

A - Definitely looks enticing. Transparent, orange amber that looks yellowed where my Guinness pint glass contracts. No carbonation, off white two finger head that quickly subsides to a ring. No lacing on a clean glass.

S - Smell is probably the best part of this beer. You can smell the malts and faint hops for a profoundly sweet aroma. Almost coffee like, which is surprising for such a light colored.

T - Taste is a little lacking. Not much to speak of. The coffee strength taste is surprisingly still there, although not as pronounced as in the smell. Not much lingering taste. Comes and goes very easily.

MF - Very smooth and easy to drink. Full bodied and creamy. The lack of carbonation keeps it going down consistently even as it warms.

D - Great to drink. Could even call it a session beer.

Photo of ecoastman
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is quite drinkable and fits the style very well. ESBs are not my personal favourite style (flat carbonation as it is suppose to be low) but this is a very good beer.

Pours a clear dark copper with a thin dense head to start the recedes away with no lacing.

The smell is nice with more sweet malt than I expected. Hops don't seem to be dominant which is what I expected for an ESB. That's a testament to the great balance that an ESB should have.

Smooth and creamy with no courseness and low carbonation. Starts caramel malty and is very well balanced with nice herbal hops that are not overly bitter in the semi-dry finish. This is a good representation of the style - well balanced. Good aftertaste with a little mineral and then diactyl.

Photo of Spineypanda
4.43/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I, for the most part, enjoy ESB's but not to the point that I like a good pale ale or IPA.

This ESB however has made me rethink that statement.

The appearance is great, with a nice dark golden color.
Smells wonderful with the hops being the most prominent along with a slight sweetness that I look forward to.
It tastes like what I would expect an imperial IPA to have... but milder obviously.

A VERY good ESB, and probably the best I have had. Just enough bitterness to enjoy thoroughly.

I will buy again.

Photo of uno99
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sampled from can purchased at cooper street LCBO.

A: not much head. I think i poured it too slow. nice deep amber. looks almost like a heavy IPA.

S: Hops definitely come through. nice fruity malts. quite nice

T: hops go from beginning to end. its got a kind of mellow bitterness that really sucks you in. what wonderful stuff this is.

M: thick and juicy. just enough carbonation to make it come alive. very clean and refreshing.

D: this is the quintessential pub beer.

Photo of Kristing
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The colour of the beer is dark amber, with a touch of red. The head is tan, thick and a bit like whipped cream in texture.

The aroma is intensely fresh and rather fruity, with a hint of citrus and apricot. The bitterness of the beer is when first touching the taste buds high, but then mellows out into a much fresher aftertaste, as the taste rolls off your tongue. I also found the brew quite fruity in taste, with a small hint of lemon.

The mouthfeel is great, with that wonderful melange of bitterness and freshness. This makes for a very drinkable beer, and you could easily sit and blissfully down pint after pint of the brew.

Photo of mdwalsh
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A fluffy, full and well textured head on top of an amber-red body. I've been canning so condensation is forming like madness on the glass, but it seems pretty clean and there's nice active carbonation. The color is a little dark, but the great lacing makes up for that. But the head doesn't stay around for long. Sad.

S: Light hops, they're very much there, but not overpowering. Herbal, but I pick up a little grapefruit as well. Simple, but you know it's there.

T: Well balanced and light. Not really "extra bitter" at all though. I get bready and toasty notes of malt, nothing roasted though, nor burnt. More of a dry malty taste though than sweet, underattenuated malt. Very nice, very quaffable.

M: It leaves me feeling a little dry in the mouth, and I think if I drank this all night I would get serious cotton mouth. But other than that, it's fairly light, not too carbonated but not flat either.

D: As I said, very quaffable. I could see putting back quite a few of these.

Photo of aeminter
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - light brown (reminds me of iced tea), almost 2 fingers of foamy white head
S - moderate hop aroma with a definite caramel smell.
T - mild and balanced, initial malt sweetness with a nice punch of hop bitterness in the back of the mouth which lasts only a few seconds. medium finish
M - moderate carbonation

Photo of juhl31
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

wrote this a little bit later than i wanted to and didnt give myself enough notes, but i remember liking it although i thought it would be a bit more flavorful

-light amber in color with a smallish head

-a fruity nose with a touch of hops

-again it is sweet and a bit fruity with minimal hops

-some carb mouth in there

-good summer drink and a solid english esb

Photo of PEIBeerGuy
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A dark, copper/amber with a slightly creamy head that trails down the sides of the glass.

The smell is definitely enticing. Not the best beer I've smelled, but definitely among the best/better ones.

Rich, smooth, & slightly creamy, this beer tastes good at every stage of a sip. I like its earthy, natural tones... kind of a woody/smokiness in the aftertaste that I really enjoy... maybe a bit of a burnt caramel taste. Also some lighter hints of some citrus.

Feels great in the mouth. Creamy, not really "chewy" as some might say, but not watery at all, either. The light tingle of carbonation lingers on the tongue. Just about right. No complaints.

Very drinkable. I wouldn't sit and drink a case, but the best beers shouldn't be consumed like that, anyway. A couple or few of these would be great.

Photo of droomyster
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber with medium size off-white head that laces the glass. Its aromas of toffee and autumn leaves is very pleasant. Flavors of minerals, herbs and leafy hops do an excellent job of supporting its toasty and fruity malt profile, reminiscent of trail mix with dried apricots I'm sold on this classic.

Photo of hoplover82
3.93/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a crystal clear deep golden color with a medium creamy off white head that slowly dissapates to a thin film on the beer leaving only a solid colar around the beer. As the beer comes down the glass there is not much lacing.

S-I am drinking this right after fullers london pride and I'd say it smells way too much like their pale ale. I smell the smame fruity esthers, the same sweet pale malts, same earthy/floral hops. It's not bad, but you'd think that being a whole different style of beer, it would have a very different aroma.

T-And the flavor is much of the same, but with an added toasty malt character to it. It's nice with a little bit more bitterness than their pale ale.

M-A full-medium body that is creamy. There also is a setback to the mouthfeel, a slight hot alcohol bite, which is not desirable.

D-Although there is a slight alcohol hotness, I think this beer could be quite sessionable. It's a good beer, just not all I was expecting.

Photo of dbmcrorie
4.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz brown bottle with Best Before date printed on back. Label boats of being the "World's Original Bitter". Poured into an American pint glass.

Pours a copper amber body with a light khaki head; dissipates quickly to a ring of sticky lacing.

Exceptionally smooth. Soft hop residue swirls with caramel malt, candy esters, and faint metallic notes in the nose. There is a dry grain somewhere in the middle trying to peak through, but fades as quick as the hops.

Leafy hop profile leads into a juicy wet mouthfeel. Hints of chocolate and caramel lay underneath the rich and toasted malt body. Sugary sweetness tickles the tongue as the malt makes it way through the mouth. A flash of toasted pecans in the finish. Faint bitterness slowly fades in along the back sides of the tongue, but offers no astringency or drying bitterness (as seen in most Bitters). Pleasant earthy aftertaste leaves you with a flavored, yet clean, palate.

Phenomenal bitter. I would approve of ESB's more often if they followed this brew's format. Great malty platform with enough toastiness to offer a bitter profile, but not too many hops to overwhelm the palate; just enough to add flavor and ambiance. Extremely smooth and enjoyable.
Because of the smooth profile, I would suggest pairing more delicately. Try starting with any nutty cheese or sharp cheddars. It could easily go well with smoked seafood or lightly fried game. However, despite common suggestions, I would almost avoid heavily/deep fried foods, simply because of this beer's smooth profile. Instead, try softer dishes such as pizza or lamb. This is definitely a beer that can open up wonders to various cuisines.


Photo of velosuds
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9oz heavy dark brown bottle into a clear pint glass with very attractive label. Best by date of October 5, 2009. Single purchased at Cost Plus World Market.

A-Pours a copper-amber with nearly a one finger cream color head. A more vigorous pour of the remaining content produced a two finger head. Very scant lacing. Very effervescent.

S-Mildly fruity with hints of sweet caramel malt. Not much hop aroma.

T-Fruity with a pleasant malt sweetness. Finishes with noticeable hop bitterness. Nicely balanced and complex.

M-Very smooth and extremely well balanced, even slightly chewy.

D-Not as bitter as I expected. And thus more drinkable. This is very nice, but not a favored style of mine.

Photo of Jeffo
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got tjhs at the LCBO in my town.

From a bottle into a pint glass.

APPEARANCE: Pours a fluffy 2 finger medium off-white head. Color is a rust brown with lower end carbonation evident. Head quickly recedes to a good foam cap, but only a ring remains around the rim leaving no lacing down the sides.

SMELL: Caramel malt with some floral hops and citrus notes. A touch of toffee and sweet honey as well. Some bread notes with hints of vanilla in the background. Complex and very enticing indeed.

TASTE: Follows the nose very well, with caramel malt, toffee, along side floral and citrus notes. Some vanilla touches come through, as well as a strong dose of bitter hops at the finish. A stronger and longer lasting bitter-sweet aftertaste is a very welcome ending.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Goes down creamy smooth and finishes slightly dry on the palate. Complements the taste profile well. Good for the style.

OVERALL: Great strong bitter. Perhaps this one doesn't get the notoriety it deserves because it's so easy to find. Great nose and taste profile, this is one worth checking out if you're a fan of bitters and haven't gotten around to it yet. Recommended.

Photo of allergictomacros
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Clear copper with an inch of jiggly tan foam. Nose is sweet malt, grapefruit and lemon, light caramel. Taste is caramel, juicy lemon hops and a light toasted grain. Some butter perhaps and light fruitiness and a background nuttiness as well. Finish is a slow, mild bitterness and a bit of metal. Smooth, medium body and low-ish carbonation. Incredibly well balanced and drinkable.

Photo of ADZA
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a pale copper hue with nice carbonation that leaves a one finger head with sporadic lacing,it has aromas of fruity hops and a malty alcohol backbone,it has an above average mouthfeel with a big citrus floral hop taste that finishes with a nice strong malty,bitter finish,quite a nice beer thats easy to drink.

Photo of 2roosters
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type: 500ml brown bottle with best before date

Appearance: Cooper, gold thin slightly off white head that doesn't last but good lacing

Smell: Caramel, malt with a bit of yeast in the background

Taste: Delicious, roasted nuts and yeasty grain with a bit of floral undercurrent. A classic of it's style.

Mouthfeel: the only shortcoming is a bit of a short finish

Drinkability: Too rich for a session, well maybe a small session but two is a good number - maybe three.

Photo of jsh420
3.33/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

best by 01/01/2010

pours copper with a 2 finger head that leaves lacing

smell - something is off here reminds me of sunscreen

taste - good thing the sunscreen smell does not come through - but still the beer taste like you standard english pale with some fruit and nutty flavors

mouthfeel is light and a little thin - no carbonation

drinkability is good if you can get past the smell

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,506 ratings.