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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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2,546 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,546
Reviews: 1,279
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 93
Gots: 177 | 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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,546 | Reviews: 1,279 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kpoole25
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really good beer, like a Bass pale with all the good stuff amped up a bit. Malt is heavier, more sweet, and actually get some hop bitterness. Sort of half way between an English Pale and American Pale, but really well balanced, I wouldn't really change anything. I do get that special mineral-y thing, supposedly from the water, which I like. It's got a bit more abv kick than Bass so not sure it's quite a session beer, but for pure, delicious flavor, this is a benchmark beer for sure.

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

Excellent all-around stuff from what is quickly becoming my favourite British brewery. I like to pour a pint and slowly savour the benefits. Like a good scotch, ESB should be consumed slowly so the drinker can enjoy the complexities.

Available at the LCBO in Ontario.

Photo of donkeyrunner
3.38/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear, orange color--looks Halloween-ish. Large white head with fair retention leaves lacey aftermath.

Smells of soggy logs, chocolate, and Mandarin orange spice tea. Taste is pretty similar with a bigger emphasis on tea spices.

This may be the archetypical ESB but I can think of two off the top of my head that are much better (Stone Cat, Bitch Creek). Still pretty good though.

Photo of Frosty80
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color: pours light golden brown. sits brilliantly clear amber with a thick white head with great retention

Smell: moderate UK hop aroma with an equal amount of malt with a slight caramel note and good esters. thought i detected a hint of sulfur but its almost unnoticeable

Taste: good medium malt presence up front with a hint of caramel. mellow UK hop flavor follows closely behind with fruity esters. finish is medium dry with a light lingering bitterness. everything is well balanced but the focus does seem to be on the malt character

Mouthfeel: very clean, smooth medium bodied brew with moderate carbonation

Notes: extremely quaffable and delicious. a tasty brew that focuses on balance without being over the top like american pales can be

Photo of flipper2gv
4.51/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Beautiful orange color. Head is off white, nice and foamy. Perfectly translucent. The lacing is there and stays. A truly gorgeous beer.

S: Some nice piny/herbal hops comes first. Then there are the caramel malts. Brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, banana, orange, apples, pears, cherries all come to mind here. One very complex and interesting smell. Not very strong though..

T: Starts off with nice malty sugars: caramel, maple syrup, vanilla. Then it's all about the fruits: pears, banana, apple, orange skin, cherries and maybe a bit of grape. Then, it ends with a nice piny hops dry finish with a touch of floral taste. The water used seems very mineral which compliment well the beer.

M: I love the feel of ESB's. Always dry and smooth and creamy at the same time. They always seem to have this perfect match of these 3 elements. The carbonation is mid which is what I expected.

D: Hell, I could drink a 12 pack of those. Very very easy to drink.

Photo of peterjk
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Lush dark amber with a light tan head.

S: Nice hop aroma: earth and citrus, Malt: fresh cooked sweet bread

T: Rich malt with toasted nuts, mild fruit sweetness (tart apricots) wonderful mid palette transition to crisp slightly bitter hops with notes of earth and pine.

M: A little watery, wish I had some on tap

D: A wonderfully drinkable beer, great malt hops balance, rich flavor but still a sessionable ale.

Photo of Long813
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

G: Stein

A: Clear copper body, one inch head with decent retention, leaving moderate lacing.

S: Wheat, biscuits, hints of caramel and toffee.

T: Caramel malts upfront, some fruits and finishes with hops.

M: Medium-light bodied and medium carbonation. Smooth and creamy like texure. Leaves a complex sweet and dry bitter finish

D: Very good ESB. I was expecting something one dimensional, but the malts and hops in here make this a very enjoyable time.

Photo of BeardedBoffin
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A half liter of Fuller's ESB entered my purview today. It pours a copper color with a big head that settled quickly but did not vanish. A fruity and lively aroma. Hops balances the aroma with the ester of alcohol.

Medium bodied and smooth on the palate. Malt grain, fruit and butter greet the palate. The beer finishes with a nice dash of British hops. The palate is left dry with remnants of the pleasant flavors bygone, begging you to sip again.

This is a wonderfully balanced beer. Easy drinking and flavorful. This is a good brew.

Photo of thedalziel
4.73/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The smell is sweet with toffee, slight hops , possibly tangerine and the smell of alcohol all in the vicinity. It pours a transparent orange copper with a creamy head which retains quite well. The taste is again of butterscotch hints with the alcohol lingering in the discreet background, I found it medium bodied,extremely smooth and surprisingly crisp. As it warms a slight fruitness and an enhanced bitterness become more apparent.

Overall, the excellence of this beer can be credited to the combination of rich treacley malt character and just the right amount of bittering hops. It's quite simply an outstanding example of the style and beautifully balanced, so much so, its greatest strength is arguably its biggest weakness - It's just far too easy to drink for an ale of this strength. A supreme ESB. A supreme beer.

Photo of maximum12
3.86/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thank goodness I found you! This brew rescued me from a football-stadium full of bland, dull brews inhabiting every tap in every neighborhood pub in London near my hotel. I had it two nights in a row.

Nice clean brown with a good head, & believe me, I appreciate the English pint glasses that allow for some bubbly as well as a full pint pour - short pours seem to be all the vogue in my native land these days. Smell was fairly distant & didn't seem to want to hold my hand.

Fuller's brews a nice, full, chewy crew of an ESB. Nice malt kick with a kind afterthought of hops, plus a dash of caramel & toasted toast, made for a satisfying pint. Or two. Easy to drink, this was also one of those rare beers that (to me) didn't seem to have its flavors washed out from being on cash. A sessioner, for sure.

A very good beer that I'm glad to find, & if I'm every in the Olde Country again, I'll watch for this in every pub I enter. That'll be more than one. I'm sure.

Photo of ericj551
4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fuller's ESB pours a crisp copper with a nice head. The aroma is fruity, caramel and some toffee, with a bit of earthy hops. The flavor is well balanced, sweet and malty up front with some metallic hops, followed by caramel and finished with a nice moderate bitterness. There is a bit of metallic nice earthy hop flavor that really rounds out the sweetness. Living in Northern Ontario, I am glad to see a good beer like this at the local LCBO.

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

A-- crystal clear tawny brown. 1 finger fluffy white head. Gone in a instant, obviously low carbonation. Spot on.

S-- toasty, bready, home-made pizza crust. Some caramel/sweetness is present but not obvious to me.

T-- smooth butter caramel flavor. Sorta nutty with a good moderate hop flavor not too dirty not to flowery, really balanced.

M-- where this style shines. Very pleasing drink. Smooth wet drink with a cool crisp finish. Low carbonation make it easy on the palate while imparting all the great flavors. This beer is no exception.

D-- this beer was made for drinking. It's a session beer by definition and this beer represents well.

Good beer, however in my experience freshness is a huge part of a great esb. Hugely under rated style leads to low shelf turnover, but if you find yourself with a six pack of fresh esb, not much else is better for a good session.

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

a flagship bitter that most bitter are compared to. a quintessential flavor of bitter earth, toffee and citrus. does get milder as it gets warmer. although the malt is nice and mild without too much yeast. bready but not protein in taste. well balanced. i imagine incredibly nice in cask to accent the bitter earth.

Photo of Dawkfan
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- Dark amber, 2 finger white head. Retention isn't that great, lacing is moderate.

S- First thing I pick up is the caramel malt. Some sweet malt & floral hop notes as well.

T- Caramel malt, nuttiness, and fruity. Hops are kind of noticeable near the finish, but then it turns sweet again.

M- Really smooth, just a real clean finish. Carbonation is perfect, a great mouthfeel.

D- Enjoyable, definitely sessionable.

Photo of Methodd
4.7/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle poured into a mug.
Appearance: Very clear copper color. Some off-white head which settles fairly quickly. Minimal lacing.
Smell: Hops, raisins, vanilla. Nice exhale through the nose after a swallow.
Taste: Hops, toasty malts, bitter cherries. I swear I can taste bourbon.
Mouthfeel: Moderate carbonation. I can taste it better as it goes down as opposed to sitting in my mouth.
Drinkability: Very smooth and very drinkable. The bitterness is spot on. I have to say, I love this beer.

Photo of rfabian
4.16/5  rDev +2.5%
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
3.42/5  rDev -15.8%
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 -0.7%
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 -6.9%
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
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
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
2.75/5  rDev -32.3%
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 +10.8%
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
3.94/5  rDev -3%
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 -0.2%
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
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,546 ratings.