1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,338 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,338
Reviews: 1,255
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 11.06%
Wants: 73
Gots: 105 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Fuller's ESB Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,338 | Reviews: 1,255 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bwb0402


4.7/5  rDev +15.5%

A personal favorite of mine. This is the beer that got me hooked on craft brew and is truly the standard for this particular style. I usually pour 1.5 fuller's (12 oz bottles) into an English pint and sit back and enjoy. The flavor is complex with mellow English hops, some earth tones, and a slight toffee flavor all play into the mix. Overall, the drinkability is excellent and the mouth feel is smooth and enjoyable. Its even better when served on tap. Highly recommended.

10-15-2008 21:57:35 | More by bwb0402
Photo of snaotheus


4.33/5  rDev +6.4%

Surprisingly sweet onset, pleasingly bitter finish. Crisp without being hoppy. Light carbonation, but not flat. It's pretty in a pint glass.

I bought it because I was told it is the one true ESB. I don't have a lot of ESB under my belt, but I like it better than Red Hook's. It's a good beer.

10-11-2008 23:58:40 | More by snaotheus
Photo of PatrickJR

North Carolina

3.68/5  rDev -9.6%

Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Clear, darkish amber. 1-2 fingers of head rise with decent retention and some lacing.

S - Lots of sweet caramel malt with a fruity overtone. Just a hint of floral and grassy hops are present in the background.

T - Moderate caramel and bread-like sweetness are present early to mid-palate, and then bitterness grows. Mostly an earthy and grassy flavor is evident with some alcohol showing up in the finish.

M - Nice and smooth, medium bodied, with moderate carbonation.

D - An easy drinking beer for sure. The style is not one of my favorites but for the most part this beer strikes a good balance, though leans towards the bitter side, as it should. To be a fairly mild ale, the alcohol hit in the finish is a little unexpected and definitely detracts.

10-02-2008 08:43:27 | More by PatrickJR
Photo of botham

New York

4.45/5  rDev +9.3%

on tap poured into a pub glass at Garrett Ripley's in Chicago. pours a rich chestnut amber coor with a single finger of creamy, off white head that is quite dense and lasts for a few minutes. excellent retention and solid lacings.

aroma is of rich caramel malts, toffee, and a touch of carmelized sugar with a base of earthy hops. nicely concentrated, and well balanced in the nose.

tate is rich and creamy, with caramel malts mainly, and notes of toffee and an earthy base. light notes of caramel and a touch of toasted malt in the aftertaste. masterfully balanced on the palate.

mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy with a slick texture and a wonderfully rich and warming quality.

drinkability is excellent. this is a supurbly smooth and easy drinking ESB, with a rich and well balanced profile. aftertaste is rich and creamy. a brilliant ESB. cheers!

09-29-2008 00:55:30 | More by botham
Photo of spointon


4.18/5  rDev +2.7%

I poured this one from a 12oz brown Euro-style bottle into a shaker pint glass.

A= This ale poured a clear caramel color with slight coppery highlights. The snow white fluffy head poured 1" and slowly dropped to a skim. Just a bit of sticky lace down the glass.

S= I found caramel malts, sweetness, earthy hops, and a faint whiff of alcohol.

T= Flavors of sweet and caramelly malts dominate with a slight fruitiness and solid earthy hop character present as well. Alcohol does not present itself until the very end.

MF= Medium bodied and supremely smooth. Light carbonation level.

D= This first and still the benchmark for the style. I love this beer and think of this as the ultimate English session ale.

09-25-2008 02:17:38 | More by spointon
Photo of eweneek83

West Virginia

4/5  rDev -1.7%

A - stunning colour, deep copper orange, and brilliant clarity, low off white head leaves a sheet of lace.

S - low aromas, basic malt, english fruity esters

T - sweet malt, caramel, fruit, toast, nuts, bread, earthy hops with a bit of floral and even citrus, finish is not overly bitter, but dry and satisfying, lingering biscuit malt in the aftertaste.

M - smooth, medium-low body, low carbonation

D - A great example of an english bitter, but this is about the best there is in bottled form.

09-24-2008 20:21:40 | More by eweneek83
Photo of Majorscrilla


4.2/5  rDev +3.2%

A: beautiful deep amber color, head that dissipates quickly and leaves light lacing

S: Nice bready and caramel scent

T: Nicely balanced with a delicious malty presence and great bitterness

M: A nice combination of smoothness and a carbonation bite at the finish

D: Very drinkable, flavorful without being heavy in the slightest. Would gladly drink this any time.

09-24-2008 07:23:48 | More by Majorscrilla
Photo of beerthulhu

New Jersey

4/5  rDev -1.7%

A: Poured a clear and beautiful deep marzen with an equally impessive 2 finger frothy dark beige head that displayed very good retention. The lacing was light as well the visible carbonation.

S: light cinnamon sticks, a light maltiness of dried caramel and fresh autumn leaves. There was a very woodsy scent to the aroma overall with a nice soft fresh flowering hopping.

T: The initial flavor had some dry sour malting, a woodsy flavor, with a soft flowery hopping. Warm apple skins, cinnamon, and worty notes also contribute to the flavor. The finish finds a dried malt with a bitter flowery hopping. Dry, bitter and everything you can ask of per style with a touch of warm apple cider alcohol and dried fruitiness rounding things out.

M: smooth, with a nice oily viscosity and a mediumfullness. A soft carbonation makes things gentle on the tongue while a dried caramel and flowery bitterness coats the tongue upon the swallow.

D: A well balanced bitterness and easy consumption makes this a very special bitter indeed. Good per style and worthy by all means.

09-23-2008 23:13:09 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of foles


4.33/5  rDev +6.4%

This has been sitting in the fridge waiting for the right moment. Gee wizz did it impress! Why I didn't have this on cask while living in London makes me kick myself (sigh).

Presents a lovely dark copper colour, with a fluffy white head. Smells of complex malts and earthy english hops. Engages the tongue with a sweet toffee, malty sweetness with an earthy subtle hoppiness. A surprisingly light lingering bitterness balances the malty rich palate. The ABV is well hidden.

My sample seemed particularly fresh - from the International Beer Shop, West Leederville.

09-22-2008 12:21:47 | More by foles
Photo of webmanspidey


4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

On tap at Pipers Pub on the south side of Pittsburgh.

Amber/Caramel color. Smells fruity and hoppy, but the taste is very well balanced.. sort of like a hesitant IPA. The balance makes this beer very drinkable and enjoyable. I'm sure this takes a lot of skill to perfect.

09-16-2008 03:15:26 | More by webmanspidey
Photo of oriolesfan4


1.7/5  rDev -58.2%

Bought a 16 oz single of this for $0.99

I wanted to like this, I really did. But, this was one of the worst tasting beers I've had. It smelled and looked alright, but the taste was so bitter and rough. I actually couldn't take more than a few sips and I had to pour it, I was actually gagging. I tried another bottle a few days later and got the same result. I hope I just bought some bad bottles because this seems like a well respected historic beer.

09-14-2008 23:30:03 | More by oriolesfan4
Photo of markaberrant

Saskatchewan (Canada)

3.95/5  rDev -2.9%

A - stunning colour, deep copper orange, and brilliant clarity, low off white head leaves a sheet of lace.

S - low aromas, basic malt, english fruity esters

T - sweet malt, caramel, fruit, toast, nuts, bread, earthy hops with a bit of floral and even citrus, finish is not overly bitter, but dry and satisfying, lingering biscuit malt in the aftertaste.

M - smooth, medium-low body, low carbonation

D - I'm not crazy about english bitters, but this is about the best there is in bottled form.

Probably not the freshest example (BB Nov 20, 2008), which is likely why it doesn't have much of a nose on it.

I am a fan of Fuller's, but haven't had the ESB in at least 2 or 3 years. Bitters are really meant to be drank fresh and from a cask, but this is still a good beer. Malt and hops are well balanced, and both have a complex profile.

09-14-2008 20:32:54 | More by markaberrant
Photo of Silenus89


4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Poured out of the cool 12oz bottle to my pint glass.

A. Copper amber color. small white head that dissolves quickly

S. Pine, Oak, Some spicy aromas alittle cinnamon

T/MF. Malts, breads a very good bitterness that stays around. Medium body with good carbonation

D. This a excellent beer that really surprised me. Wonderful drinability i dont know if a 6 pack is enough.

Overall a very good beer that im most definitely having again

09-14-2008 03:20:51 | More by Silenus89
Photo of twiggamortis420


3.88/5  rDev -4.7%

Deep copper color with a 2 finger head that really sticks around nicely.

Mineral nose with tangy hop notes. A semi-sweet maltiness creeps in as well, kinda like rye bread.

Very flavorful, but yet a mild, gentle brew. Malty sweetness and minerals dominate the palate, while zesty hops add a dry finish. Has a very British feel to it.

Easy drinker with plenty of flavor and variety to keep you interested throughout. Did a mini-tasting with Redhook and Great Divide ESB and Fuller's is by far the best of that bunch.

09-07-2008 03:58:11 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of LittleCreature


4.22/5  rDev +3.7%

Appearance - 4.0
Poured two and a half fingers of foamy cream coloured head that steadily reduced to a thin layer over an copper-red body that has great clarity.

Smell - 4.0
A very promising aroma with pronounced malt and hop aromas. Very cakelike with smells that are sweet, buttery and alcoholic, slightly fruity.

Taste - 4.5
Damn this is tasty. Very malt driven, with flavours of toffee, burnt sugar, buttery cake and orange. Finishes with a nice, moderate level of bitterness and leafy hop flavour. Alcohol presence is most pronounced in the dry finish, along with a definite metallic taste.

Mouthfeel - 4.0
There is a low level of bitterness (perhaps a little too flat?) that coupled with the moderate weight in the mouth means this beer goes down very smoothly.

Drinkability - 4.0
This is a very easy beer to drink, but a little strong for sessioning.

This is a beautifully balanced beer, being very malty and semi sweet while having a pronouced bitterness. I will definitely be drinking this again - it is expensive in Australia, but most definitely worth it, as no bitter I have ever tasted comes close to this. Excellent stuff.

09-06-2008 14:21:42 | More by LittleCreature
Photo of aubuc1


4.3/5  rDev +5.7%

poured from a 12oz bottle in to an imperial pint glass.

pours a clear deep golden colorw with a nice off white head.

smell is of lightly hopped malt and some light floral scents.

taste is incredibly smoothe, balanced malt and hop beer.

mouthfeel is perfectly full but not filling

great beer that is extremely easy to drink

09-04-2008 22:24:36 | More by aubuc1
Photo of enfield249


4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

A - Pours a deep clear copper color. A small head that fades to a medium ring of foam around the edge.

S - Smells of malty sweetness, with a touch of caramel, and a hint of hops.

T - Up front there is some hop english hop flavor, followed by some nice maltyness.

M - Medium full, slight bight from the carbonation, but just a little

D - Very, very drinkable. An excellent ESB. I hope to have more in the future.

09-03-2008 21:39:47 | More by enfield249
Photo of thirtysixbelow


3.85/5  rDev -5.4%

a - a red/brown/orange color with slight tan head. minimal lacing and not much retention. All points go to the amazing color. I guess I can give points for the bottle too, which for some reason really appeals to me.

s - nice sweet smell with caramel with a hint of fruit. Not too powerful but very interesting.

t - very malty with caramel and an apple fruitiness. A decent amount of earthy hops, but not enough to balance it out. I'm not a hop head and even I would have liked a little more bitterness.

m - very full. Thick from all the malt I guess.

d - A little more malty than what I was expecting from a beer that has the word bitter in it's style. I was never able to find a double bock that I liked and this kind of reminds me of one, but fixes most everything I disliked. Definitely worth a try for the interesting malt character.

08-31-2008 04:13:09 | More by thirtysixbelow
Photo of Jmamay22

New York

3.55/5  rDev -12.8%

This ESB from the Griffin Brewery pours a deep rich amber color. Nice full sized head featuring an orange tinted off white. Nice gobs of lacing down the walls of my glass.

First whiff reveals walnuts and caramel sweetness. Light currents of fruit waft in and out. Balanced by a grape fruit hop aroma.

Taste is more of the same although slightly favoring the malts. Some of the fruit has given way to a more intense malt experience. Lightly tastes of toasted nuts, but the caramel sweetness pushes forward boldly. The diacetyl comes off tasting a little like butterscotch and I can't truly decide if it's slightly off-putting or enjoyable. Somehow a bit of both. Finishes with a balancing hop character that never quite reaches a climax.

The beer is lightly carbonated and has a medium mouthfeel than can be a little metallic at times. Certain characteristics of this beer come through as world class, but little annoyances such as the diacetyl and metallic qualities hold it back. I understand that diacetyl is a characteristic of the style, but at times it doesn't sit comfortably with the rest of the beer.

08-29-2008 19:54:59 | More by Jmamay22
Photo of changeup45


3.1/5  rDev -23.8%

At first I wasn't overly impressed, but as I worked my way through the pint bottle I had, I began to enjoy it more and more. Amber colored with a medium foamy head, but it lasts throughout the entire beer and forms a nice amount of lace. Somewhat malty aroma, and a little fruity. Malty flavor, sour with crisp hoppy bitterness. Re-rate 8/9/08. Hand pulled at The Frosty Mug. Maybe my palate has changed but this isn't as great as I remembered. Nice creamy head and lacing. More malty than hoppy, caramel, a bit bready with light bitterness but a bit thin.

08-24-2008 16:13:59 | More by changeup45
Photo of barefootbrewer


4.15/5  rDev +2%

This beer poured a clear brown color with a big rocky head. The aroma is malty and caramel. The flavor is malty, nutty and sweet with a hint of bitterness. The mouthfeel is big and lush and just shy of chewy. Overall, this beer has great balance and is a good drinking beer.

08-19-2008 23:20:33 | More by barefootbrewer
Photo of Stonebreaker


3.98/5  rDev -2.2%

Appearance: One of the best aspects of the the beer, deep brown, thick head with a lacing that is leaving consecutive hoops around the glass.

Smell: Not too sweet, mild alcohol and malt.

Taste: Little bit of malt upfront then the bubbling cabonation, bitter comes on strong and then another wave of malt with a strong bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy and smooth for a beer of this thickness/gravity.

Drinkability: If it weren't for the high price I would definitely down a few of these, at the bar, though its not all the time I'm in the mood for an ESB.

08-12-2008 23:00:45 | More by Stonebreaker
Photo of Chinon01


3.98/5  rDev -2.2%

Appearance - Thin soapy head. Dark tea color.

Nose - Roasted malt and mineral.

Taste - Malty goodness roasty flavor melds with the minerality. Fruit character, fig and raisin. Tea flavor as well. Low hop profile in finish further adds to complexity.

Mouthfeel and Drinkabilty - Both are fairly rugged due to minerality

08-11-2008 23:42:56 | More by Chinon01
Photo of Haybeerman


4.18/5  rDev +2.7%

A: Dark amber with bit of haze. Thin tight head dissipated quickly. Thin, clear lacing all the way down.

S: Sweet, dark fruits and pretty sharp alcohol aroma.

T: Pleasing malt character; toffee and caramel. Consistent with smell, dark fruit tastes.

M: Smooth, but a light to medium body. Just felt a little thin but had a nice clean, dry finish.

D: Very drinkable; finish was very pleasing. A nice warming ESB; for the style, this is a favorite.

08-01-2008 01:54:36 | More by Haybeerman
Photo of OtherShoe2


3.85/5  rDev -5.4%

From tap received a nice red/copper brew with a slight bubbly head. Minimal lacing.

Scent is of some mild hop, caramel/sugar, and sweet malt.

This is a low(er) carbonation brew. Creamy mouthfeel -- almost soft. Some metallic flavors here, and the caramel, juicy fruits, and a moderate bitter hop finish.

Decided to try this from the tap (as compared to the bottle). Very different. Tap is creamier and softer. I like this one, and could put a couple back, but I think I would get a little bored after a few. Worth a shot; a decent brew.

07-27-2008 16:36:12 | More by OtherShoe2
Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,338 ratings.