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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.

2,508 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,508
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: 2,508 | Reviews: 1,268 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Ralphus
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fuller's ESB is available in canned form for the Ontario market. I'm not sure if other areas are seeing this as well.. but either way, we're generally very happy to have it. On tap I find this beer to generally be very good.. but in the can it's definitely lost some of it's colour and zest.

It pours a medium brownish orange colour with no retention or lacing. It actually looks a bit like iced tea which is strange because the keg'd version is darker.. looking a bit more like their 1845.

The smell has toffee and caramel but I can't pick up much else. The taste starts off similarly .. very malt forward with a big caramel taste but it transitions well to a mildly bitter finish. The difference between the tap version and canned version is quite noticeable here. The canned tasting has a touch of spice and floral notes but is lacking in any real complexity. On the other hand the on tap version (when fresh) is immediately interesting.. I can only imagine how good the casked version must be.

Mouthfeel is nice .. silky smooth and it goes down in gulps. Overall a very solid drinkable beer.

Photo of Ragingbull
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Moderately dark amber color with a light head and some irregular prickle that seems to populate the body of the beer in fits and starts. Hoppy nose with undertones of roasted malts. Nice balance to the nose. Smooth attack and creamy mouthfeel. Some hops explodes in the mouth as the finish approaches. With that hops explosion the finish is still decidedly smooth. I had the opportune or misfortune (depending on your perspective) to not only sample this for review in a glass, but also to pull a bottle from the cooler at a barbeque and I am able to comment that this beer is far better when allowed to breath in a glass than when sucked out of the bottle.

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

Pouts a nice amber color with a decent amount of frothy white head. Head quickly dissipates to a small layer, leaving minimal lacing. Smell is slightly sweet and floral. Starts out slightly sweet, but finishes with some bitterness and caramel flavor and maybe a touch of honey. Only mildly carbonated, it is fairly smooth and doesn't leave a thick aftertaste. A very good ESB overall.

Photo of bfields4
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very clear deep gold. A little lacy head.

Sweet malty smell.

Nice mild hop presence sweet dry caramel malt. Nothing really complex here, but the flavors are to the T.

Very smooth with a crispness. Low on the carbonation to make this guy very sessionable. Gotta love a good ESB and for me this is a prime example of the style.

Photo of SimplySinister
2.2/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Highly carbonated dark copper brew with a moderate head and minimal lacing.

S - A mix between floral, fruit, hops, and malt.

T - I don't particularry care for the taste of this brew. It may be legendary in certain circles, but its mediocre at best for me. The rampant bitterness really takes away from the overall taste. I find it to be far too sweet/fruity in the finish, far too harsh, and extremely acidic.

M - Thin, clean, and dry.

D - Although I would recommend this beer to a hops fan, as far as I'm concerned its not very drinkable. The main problem, for me, is the overall fruity sweetness of this brew. If the sweetness/bitterness of the brew was toned down a bit making it mellow, yet flavorful, I think it could be a winner. Unfortunatly, as is, I am nowhere near impressed. All in all, its not an experience that I wish to repeat any time soon. I mean no disrepect of course; its just my opinion.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brownish copper with a decent white head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Tasted malt with a bit of caramel going on.

T: Medium malt with some sweetness to go along with a bit of bitterness. Something in the full package just doesn't fit perfectly for me.

M: Medium body and fairly smooth.

D: Pretty drinkable, although something is missing. All around, a quite good, readily-available beer.

Photo of brendan13
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a dark orange/copper colour with a centimetre or so of fluffy head white that falls away fairly quickly. Mininmal lacing.
S - Caramel malt aroma up front with some fruit & floral hop notes, some fruity esters & a bit of a nutty hint.
T - Taste is much like the smell; caramel maltiness with some slight dark fruit notes perhaps also derived from the malt. Also some toasty and buttery touches. A light fruity and floral hop presence.
M - Light to medium bodied, carbonation on the low side of medium. Slight bitterness in the finish with a lingering sweet caramel taste.
D - I can't believe I haven't reviewed this before now. I drink this quite often. A classic indeed.

Photo of Viggo
3.65/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml can from LCBO.

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. Decent ESB but I've had/made better. Nice to have this in cans though.

Photo of Jlaw12
4.78/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I just recently had my first Fuller's ESB and I loved it. A very good looking beer with an outstanding taste and great smell. My brother and I tried to replicate it and we were nowhere close to it, but i really enjoyed my first Fuller's ESB and hopefully many more to come.

Photo of mizzourah
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured a golden brown color, almost caramel. The head was off white and barely there, but I attribute that to a bad pour and class that probably wasn't cleaned great.

S- It was fairly mild but sweet, somewhat buttery.

T- I notice definite malts upfront and it's fairly sweet. There are some woody, earthy tones and the finish is bitter with the hops showing up. It also seemed like there was some bread flavors in the aftertaste.

M- It has a thick, coating mouthfeel.

D- It is well balanced between the sweetness and bitterness. It went down smoothly. This would be an enjoyable brew while watching some football. And by football I mean soccer.

Photo of Dulliwhig
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - orangish red with a thick head that disappears quickly and leaves a ring around the glass with a small island floating in the middle.

S - sweet fruitiness, toasty butter.

T - the frutiness and mild sweetness is up front, the conclusion is a mild bitterness - the balance is phenomenal.

M - smooth and coating, medium bodied and creamy - the kind of beer you want to swirl around in your mouth.

D - I could see myself drinking about twenty of these, then blacking out on the way to a match on a rainy day between Man United and Chelsea.

I have had many other ESB's before sampling the original. I am really glad to have tried this to see the standard as a reference point for the style. This is going to be a beer that I come back to many times...

Photo of Monsteruss
3.2/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The foam was wheat in color. The smell malty and nutty with nice fruity overtones. The color was a orange brown and hint of red in the light. The taste was fruity, nutty, malty, crisp, a hint of lemon and a little bitter. Mouthfeel - smooth and light. Drinkability was good.

Photo of phantomwyse
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pure copper color. Eh, maybe a touch of amber in there. Slim fizzy head.

S:Lots of caramel and toffee aromas, honey sweetness.

T: Caramel, toffee, clover honey, slight metallic twang, iron perhaps. There's a trace of herbal hops and maybe even a little standard hop bitterness.

M: Medium bodied, just a tad silky, ends tingly but still coated.

D: Understated tasty. The sweetness might gnaw on me after a while.

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

Happy to see this at the LCBO closer to my school and picked it up as soon as I saw it being a fan of Fullers. Part of my mid-way exam celebration.
Pours a very inviting mahogany with a two finger foamy white head that has decent retention. Minimal lacing and very little carbonation visible.
Buttery malt up front in the nose followed by some very nice plum and raison. Slight hop presence. Man does this ever smell good.
Biscuity and buttery malt paired with sticky raison. Effortlessly transfers to dry, but not overpowering hops.
Mouthfeel is excellent. Smooth and ridiculously well balanced. Drinkability is almost incomparable to anything Ive ever had. The higher ABV is completely masked by the chewy raison and sweet malts.

Overall, one of the best beers Ive had to date. The balance between the buttery sweet malts and the dry subtle hops is unparalleled. Without doubt, the best Fullers brew Ive had the pleasure of drinking. Cant wait to crack open the vintage ale Ive got sitting down in my cellar. Next time I see this bad boy, Im buying in mass quantaties. Being one of my first ESB's, Im almost scared to buy another thinking that it wont compare to this. Highly recommended.

Photo of showell
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper color with very little head, and some lacing. The smell is very buttery and malty. I was very surprised. I expected much more bitterness considering the style, but there is very little bitterness, and very little taste of hops. The flavor is of fruit... maybe plum? And it has a buttery flavor. There is a hint of bitter behind the flavor, and the aftertaste is somewhat bitter, but It definitely is not the bitterness I expected. The mouth is quite nice. There is little carbonation, but still there is a tart feeling to this beer. It's quite drinkable, though with the 6% and the size of the bottle, one is enough for me. It's all around an enjoyable beer.

Photo of EatsTacos
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours amber red with a clumpy thin head that laces the glass and will puff back up again with a few swirls

Aroma: Inviting nose of fruity hops and sweet caramel malt. I would imagine that the nose improves with freshness.

taste: Subtlety is really an art. This beer is contemplative and complex without hitting you over the head with the flavours. Buttery, creamy malt perfectly matched with a fruity hop character. Peaches, banana, some light sweet cirtus. Finish is bitter and slightly dry.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and buttery come to mind. Medium bodied with a soft carbonation. Classic Fuller's mouthfeel.

Photo of MeisterBurger
4.63/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a medium-deep amber with an ample, foamy, sticky head. Nice cling. Fantastic head retention to the last sip.

Smells of sweet peach and hops. The smell is incredibly inviting.

The taste follows the aroma with well balanced fruitiness and bitterness. It's enjoyably bitter, definitely grassy, with a solid caramel malt backbone. The hops are earthy and piney, a little spicy maybe. The malt is sweet and toffee like--definitely some crystal malt is coming into play here. It's full flavoured and did I mention, well balanced?

Nice warm and creamy, chewy mouthfeel with a lingering finish that I was sad to see go.

One of the nicest versions of one of my favourite styles of beer. It's almost TOO drinkable.

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

Pours a dark, hazy, opaque, coppery brown with a decent fine-bubbled beige head. Aroma is spicy, slightly smoky, slightly hoppy, with a strong undertone of lemon, calling for at least a taste. Sharp, zingy flavor is fairly bitter but not fiercely so, and has undertones of lemon, cloves and yeast. Texture is full and glass-smooth, edgy and lively.

Photo of morimech
4.58/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Spent some time looking for a fresh bottle. Finally found one with a few months until the Best Before date. Pours a clear amber color with a small white head that settles to a thin cap. Moderate amount of sticky lacing is left on the glass. Sublime ale aroma. Carmelized malt at first with some mineral qualities until the wonderful floral and herbal hop aroma takes over. I love the aroma of English hops. The flavor does not disapoint either. Herbal hop flavor from the get go but there is a solid malt backbone that lends a sweetness throughout. Even some fruity esters near the end. Definate bitter finish. Nice carbonation that compliments the body. The texture is not perfect but very good for a session beer. I think this is as good as it gets for an ESB. I will find more fresh bottles and enjoying this again soon.

Photo of robbyc1
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A classic ESB, the orange cloudy look with a decent head tells you it's real.

A sweetish nose of maltiness with a slight bitterness to match.

The taste follows the nose, very inviting sweetness, but nice balanced. A full heaviness in the mouth, soothing, nice.

A nice drinker and a bit strong for a session beer but one to savor.

Photo of skeetermoses
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Great selection for this one. Nice hearty beer. Overall my impression was pretty much a good stew beer or nice cold weather meal beer. fairly decent as far as taste goes I really could go for another one, bought this in a sampler pack at the local beer shop. Overall this is definately one I will be getting again.

Photo of JonMich13
3.7/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first experience with the ESB style.

A = Pretty copper amber color. Little head on my pour that disappeared quickly. Little lacing.

S = Lovely smell. Has a earthy hop tone mixed with a buttery caramel honey

T = Taste was surprisingly mild and malt dominated. Given the name of the style, was expecting more of a hop bitter finish. Really a mild flavor that is more indicative of its caramel malt nose. Was expecting more "kick".

M = Would've like more carbonation to make for the mildness of the flavor. Medium body.

D = Drinkable in the sense that it's a pleasant mild flavor, unexpectedly low bitterness, low carbonation and ABV.

Overall, a pleasant brew that I wouldn't mind drinking. But certainly not spectacular.

Photo of biboergosum
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. Had this many times on tap around town in the various English and Irish pubs. Time to get down to business.

This beer pours a medium golden amber hue, with two fingers of tightly foamy, somewhat bubbly off-white head, which leaves a random pattern of upshot speckled lace around the glass as things evenly abate.

It smells of biscuity, crackery pale malt, with a decent addition of caramel sweetness, some middling black pepper spiciness, over-steeped black tea, and a crisp, fresh hay, wild grass hoppiness. The taste is semi-sweet pale malt, an earthy citrus sweetness, further floral and grassy hops, and a subtle musty mineral essence - nothing worthy of overt concern, really.

The carbonation comes off as supportive, and mostly frothy, if in an understated sense, the body a decently rendered medium weight, with a muted floral, rather sedated hoppy finish.

This would (and indeed does, for me, at least) make quite a fine session ale, in those places where hoppy North American offerings aren't featured by design. Anyways, it's sure nice to enjoy this beyond early-day Euro Cup game times around these parts.

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

This pours a clear copper colour. A centimetre of beige head which drops. Some retention. Good lacing.

Some caramel/toffee aromas and a touch of alcohol. Reminds me of a good scotch.

The taste is dominated by caramel maltiness. A very assertively flavoured beer. Some warmth. Again the scotch comparisons come to mind. Some fruitiness in there.

Medium to full bodied. Rounds out in the mouth. Chewy. Extraordinary length. It just never stops.

Photo of CityBoy1986
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass. The Best Before date is 6 March 2010.

The pour is copper with two fingers' off-white head. The head slowly receded and left nice lacing.

The nose was citrusy (grapefruit and apple) and grassy. There was some sweetness as well. The taste has more citrus, grassy flavours and sweetness whilst adding some caramel and nutty flavours. This is one balanced beer.

The mouthfeel is medium-bodied with low carbonation. Drinkability is good; I could have another.

This is a nice beer. I will give it a revisit every now and then.

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,508 ratings.