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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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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: 93
Gots: 193 | 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 slyke
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fuller's ESB pours a wonderful copper color with a slightly off-white head that falls to a thin cap after a few minutes and laces nicely.

The aroma of the malty with a little sweetness and a touch of grassiness.

The taste is dominated by a slightly sweet malty flavor and a touch of hops around the edge of the tongue.

Mouthfeel is good. Slightly coating, but short lived. About what I've come to expect from this style.

This beer is pretty darned good. Give it a try if you happen upon it.

Photo of JamesS
3/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was expecting more from this ESB, given how well it's know. Everything was pretty much average across the board. Has a nice copper color, but almost no head and little lacing. Nice malty scent that has a bit of a sourness to it. Not a bad taste, a bit hoppy, but nothing to offset it and round it out. Goes down fine, but not overly smooth.

I may have to try it again just to make sure I didn't get a bad one or that it needs to grow on you.

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

A - Poured on tap at Taco-Mac into a pint glass. Poured amber with a tight off white head that fell slowly with nice lacing

S - A nice bready, malty smell to it

T - A nice malt up front with notes of toffee and caramel, with a nice hop finish with a bit of a raisin taste

M - Nice thick mouthfeel with good amount of carbonation

D - Very drinkable. Enjoyed this very much

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

I had this brew after trying London Pride, and was thus convinced that I had to try ESB. It poured a beautiful amber hue with a small, lacy head.

The beer had an aroma of hops primarilly with a bit of malt as well. The taste had a nice, robust body which was balanced very well with a medium/high hop flavor and a medium bitterness ot close it off. The after taste had a fading hop flavor with a caramel maltiness. There were some nutty flavors in there as well. All in all, well-balanced. Not "bitter" in a negative sense at all. The mouthfeel was medium in consistency with a medium/low carbonation.

The drinkability was surprisingly good due (again) to its balance. I agree with a previous post that you could drink these in a session quite easilly, although the higher ABV compared to London Pride lends itself to being a comforting beer for an ESB man. Very drinkable, and highly recommended!

Photo of bigdeuce
4.24/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am no fan of most English beers, but this one is a thing of beauty. Great session brew, you can down 50 of these in a sitting and not get sick of it. Pours a decent head, disappates quite quickly, not much lacing. Nice, nice bittering hops at the end, with a fruity, almost cherry like maltiness with a slight nutty palate as well. Smells of some toasty almonds and cherries and bittering hops. An all around terrific beer.

Photo of RJLarse
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I bought a 1 pint bottle of Fuller's ESB at an import shop, and poured it into a pint glass.

Pours a redish copper color and is clear. A modest bubbly eggshell white head forms, and is fairly resilient, presenting fine drapes of lace on the sides of the glass.

The smell is fairly sweet, with a brown sugar and molasses aroma.

The taste is predictably bitter, with a bourbon-like bite, followed by a little caramel sweetness, and some smokey flavors. The taste is multifaceted and complex.

Mouthfeel is a bit chewy, and cloying.

A drinkable brew but it's too rich and robust to be very sessionable. I'm also not much on the style, so perhaps it's an acquired taste? Still a very nice brew.

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

I got this sample in a trade with Wasatch. Thanks John!

My, it's been years since I've had my last Fuller's ESB and I was surprised to see that I hadn't reviewed it yet.

This pours from 16.9 oz bottle(best by 30/Sep/06) a clear amber-red with a small but firm head of foam. Note: I poured the entire bottle into my "Killian's Irish Red" pint glass and it never even threatened to overflow. Cool.

The smell is nice and malty. Lots of caramel with a touch of fruit and a touch of grain.

The taste has a big caramel kick up front with a touch of butterscotch, some dark fruit)plum) and a bigger note of wild cherries that add a slight pungency that works well on my palate. Man, I've always liked this ESB but trouble is, most of the time that I seek it out, nay, every time I seek it out, it's well past its best by date. Good thing that an "old" Fuller's ESB is *still* a mighty tasty brew.

Anywho, it has a good thickish mouthfeel and the carbonation is light. Good stuff!

Photo of albern
3.49/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a good beer, but not brilliant. It is a complex melange of sorts and it is an interesting ale well worth trying out. It pours a deep amber with a decent head and some retention. The smell is very nice with lots of toasted caramel, amber, malts, and dryness. The smell reminds me of Newcastle, but it is a much better variation overall. The taste is widely complex. It begins with a toasted maltiness, bready sweet caramel, and some interesting sweet malts. The taste segues into a more burnt caramel taste, more dryish on the palate, more firm bodied. It finishes being much hoppier, bitter, more a traditional style British ale. The aftertaste does linger quite awhile. The beer is pretty substantial, medium bodied, moderately carbonated, and quite heavy on the tongue in parts. This beer is worth seeking out for no other reason than its complexity and nice finish. L'Chaim.

Photo of zeff80
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500ml bottle
Date: 23 May 08

A - Poured out an orange/amber color with a good deal of carbonation. It had a bubbly, tan, three-finger head that left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of mild hops and grassiness. There was a light malt aroma and some grain smells.

T - It tasted of caramel malts and mild bitter hops. Well balanced and quite good.

M - It was smooth and soft. A medium-bodied beer.

D - It really is one of the best ESB's around. Just great flavor and it is easy drinking.

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

This ESB pours a brilliantly clear amber-copper color with a thin white head. The aroma is moderate to moderate-high caramel sweetness, a hint of darker fruit, some maltiness and a medium floral hop aroma, very nice. The flavor is moderately sweet, caramel like, with a medium hop flavor and moderate hop bitterness providing excellent balance. The finish is just slightly dry with a bit of lingering bitterness and esters. Carbonation is medium-low and body is medium.

This is the first time I’ve tried the trademark of the style and loved it! Everything was well done, it helped it was nice and fresh, a best by date of May 2008. I’ll buy this again and strive to make something close, even fairly close will be delicious.

Photo of John_M
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had not had this beer in some time, and was pleased to see it on tap at Max's the other night.

The beer pours a solid copper color with excellent head retention and lacing. One gets sweet malt with a dash of spice on the nose, along with an aroma of wood and nuts. This beer just smells like my idea of finely made English ale, which of course is exactly what this beer is. On the palate the beer comes across initially as a sweet, mellow, malty ale... however, the beer dries out in the finish, and is not the least bit cloying. One gets flavors of apple, cherry and sherry, with perhaps a slight, underlying cola flavor. The beer is very soft on the palate and drinkability is absolute perfection.

This is the sort of beer I could spend an evening with, knocking back pint after pint without any worry of paying the price the next morning.

This is a solid English ale, every bit as good today as it was the first time I sampled it in London while in the army back in 75. Just an exceptional ESB from Fuller.

Photo of bboven
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear and reddish-copper color, half-finger head with good lacing.

Smells a little buttery, but other than that great malt aroma with the right amount of hops.

The tiny bit of bitter at the back of the mouth sticks with me the most; I like that in an ESB.

Full, a little over-carbonated, but that's how it is here. I think this beer from a cask would be awesome.

I drank two pints with brunch and enjoyed it a lot. It's a fine ESB. Better than say, Redhook's.

Photo of casadebia
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This is an ESB that seems to do everything right. The appearance leans more toward the dark copper tint making it very appealing to the eyes. The smell is about average not really giving off much aroma. Tasting this beer is a very balanced experience with a somewhat malty sweet finish. Mouthfeel was exceptional with just the right amount of body. This beer is a drinkable beer mainly on those cold nights not really on a hot day.

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

Poured a rich, clear copper color with maybe a hint of red. Carbonation was medium and the head was nice, thick, and off-white. Rich, malty nose with hops, fruit, and caramel. Wonderful. Medium body. Lots of hop flavor and significant bitterness that lingers in the finish. Mouthfeel was nice and dominated by the bitterness. Drinkability was good.

A tasty, hop-oriented British ale. I'd prefer a touch more malt to balance, but it's plenty good as-is.

Photo of dacrza1
4.73/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Revisiting a personal favorite before the PSU Brew Fest...solid amber body with spotty head in a nonick--almost iced tea in appearance (I'm not sure why, but this beer just doesn't impress the eye--like a stodgy old Brit?)....beautiful malt presence--an mistakeable bitter...smooth malt mouthfeel, nearly perfect in the simplicity of presentation and experience...roasted and bitter--direct but with character...an all-night ale...like the Urquell, tough to offer anything new but praise for an original...sadly beers like this remind me that in a quest to sample everything in the store, I miss out on some consistent winners...

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

Poured into a pint glass.

Red/copper color with a white head that is fluffy at first but then shrinks. Decent lacing.

Smells of biscuits, caramel/toffee, bittersweet fruit, some nuts.

Tastes of biscuits, bread, some butter, caramel, grapefruit, orange-peel, apricots, some nuts. Lasting bitterness. Complex and balanced taste.

Medium body and a bit creamy. Medium carbonation.

A very good ESB and one of my favorite beers so far. Even better on tap, and I would really like to try it on cask.

Photo of mshallah
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best before Dec. 3 '07 on back label. Beautiful amber color. Small but clingy head. Wonderful fruity and malty aromas with a leafy whiff of hop. Malt smells of toffee and the fruity aromas are of dried fig, raisin and dried apricot. Flavors are a complex balance of toffee and fruitcake from the malt, dried fruit from the yeast fruitiness and a drying bitterness and leafy nose from the hops. Sweet, fruity and hoppy. Classic recipe for greatness.

Photo of burnstar
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear copper with a medium head that leaves lacing on the surface. Sweet fruity toasted malt in the nose with those distinctive english hops. Rich sweet malt flavor with fruit notes. Some herbal hops come in too. Low bitterness. Smooth, balanced and flavorful. Medium bodied, not heavily carbonated. Quite drinkable and a really good beer overall.

Photo of Rainintheface
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottle, best before 3/28/08. The label has changed to purple since I last had one.

A: reddish copper, one finger off-white head settles to thin lace that lingers to glass is emptied

S: flowery hops, sweet with aroma of caramel

T:sweet toffee, hop bitterness but malt is well represented. a nice marriage

M: medium bodied, smooth with dry finish and lingering bitter aftertaste

D: Great. There's a reason Fullers and ESB seem synonymous

A toast to Michael Jackson, Beer Hunter,on his passing.

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

A: Dark Amber with a very small head, sticks around though. No lacing. Nice looking brew.

S: Hops, hops and more hops. Specifically a sweet, herbal, floral smell with a lil pine in the hops. A lil toasty and slightly caramelly malt smell.

T: Very strong taste of, yeah, you guessed it, hops. When the beer first hits your tongue it's the only you can think about, but then it fades away very smooth and ninja-like. Tastes very toasty with a hint of caramel. On second taste my spidey senses detect a ever so slight syrupy taste in the end. Nice.

M: Feels light on the tongue and goes down smooth, especially for an ESB.

Drinkability: Because it's so smooth, it's not hard to see myself drinking quite a few of these. On the other hand, it may have a little more hop flavor than most people are used too.

Comments: WHen I think ESB, I think IPA. Wrong. This is a different beast all together and is a very strong bitter. This a beer worth recommending.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this one a ways back, like late last year for the first time and was not that impressed to say the least. I figured I should go ahead and give it one more chance, to see if maybe I was just having an off day...

A - Poured a very dark amber, almost a mahogany color with a two inch head that faded slowly and left a nice quarter inch layer of lace on the top. Lots of visible carbonation as well as a good amount of side glass lace.

S - Aroma was very bitter, sour would be a more appropriate word. Sour grapes and some bitter english hops. Almost a wine like smell coming off of it.

T - Muted and kinda dull would describe it. I thought it was alot more bitter when I had tasted it last. Had some notes of caramel malts, and even a subtle sweetness to it. Therre was definatly some bitter finish and a touch of grapes maybe in the back.

M - Smooth feel, with not too much of a lingering finish. It was a bit slick, not very crisp at all. Decent carbonation let you explore the flavor on your palate.

D - Fairly decent, I could put down a couple with no issue. It was a little plain to me, but seems decent as a session beer.

Overall the opinion I had was ill founded. This was actually a pretty decent brew. Very sweet flavor which suprised me, and had a good session quality about it. I would not mind ordering this up anywhere really. Will have to try some of the others as well.

Photo of TheBierBand
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Went over to my neighbor's house and was pleasantly surprised by his offer of a nice English Ale.... Fuller's ESB. It was served up in a 11.2 oz brown bottle with a freshness date (Best consumed by: August 2008!). This must keep rather well!

Poured it into a glass to form a slight head of about 1/4" of light, light tan over a reddish/amber beer. The head dissipated to a patchy cap soon.

The nose was subdued... but there was a generous portion of earthy hops scent balanced by a caramel malty aroma.

The Taste: NOT BAD! Good hop presence, but not overwhelming and a nice balacing caramel malt. Bready taste was certainly there.

Mouthfeel: A little thin for my taste.... but very refreshing for a hot day.... (got up to 93F today!) Carbonation was right on style.... middle of the road.

Drinkability: Yeah.... I could enjoy a few of these.... nothing objectionable.... pretty darn good.... RECOMMENDED.

Thanks Ric & Ger!

Photo of Quej
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A light reddish amber, with some white head that fades to a thin lace. Not much visible carbonation.

S - Very nice and malty scents of biscuits, more and the sweeter side, but also with nice floral scents from the hops.

T - Sweet but not fruity beer. Straightforward and very exemplary of its style. Great tasting English malts, very bready and thick. Despite the considerable maltiness, the hops are flavourful enough to provide a great drying finish and nice floral taste with that lovely bitter bite that an ESB ought to have.

M - The hops make this beer a drier one than the malts would otherwise have it. Kind of rough and quite refreshing.

D - Great sessionability, a very nice refreshing beer, with straightforward hops and bitterness make it quite easy to drink.

Photo of Bamabrew22
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got to try this one on tap at Brit's Pub in downtown Minneapolis recently. Great example (if not 'THE' example) of the style.

Appearance was of dark leather, deep copper hue with just a slight bit of head retention. The imperial pint glass really dresses it up and makes you think you're back in the UK. Smell was good, just an overall malty presence, no real hop character to note at first. Taste was of caramel, almost burnt malt, with a slight spiciness from the hops. Maybe also some hints of fruit, toffee as well. Mouthfeel, not much, watery, but was still pleasing to the palate.

Just a good ale here, not much else. Definitely worth a shot.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pint bottle,

A: Pours a copper amber red with medium white head, which sticks around for a long time.

S: Toffee, malts, earthy hops.

T: Brilliantly simple. Tastes of sweet caramel malts, toffee, butterscotch, balanced by earthy, minty at times, English hops. A delight to drink.

M: Hard water, not terribly robust, but nice mineral finish.

D: Easily quaffable, you could stay on this particular bitter all night. A little taste of England in these here United States. This is the hallmark of the style and pretty much the best one I've ever had, certainly one of the beers I drink the most, just wish it was a little less expensive, ~$4 a pint bottle, but you'd do worse in a bar.

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