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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.

2,337 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,337
Reviews: 1,254
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
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Ratings: 2,337 | Reviews: 1,254 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of wl0307

United Kingdom (England)

4.55/5  rDev +11.8%

So finally I feel obliged to review this beer. Having had it both on cask and in bottles frequently during the past few years, it's not until I joined the BA that I finally learnt over in the US there's also a crowd following this nice brew. Sometimes people don't realise the good things are right at the doorstep... If possible the US BA friends should try to find this beer on cask, if the bottled ESB already serves them well.

Best before date: 8 Apr. 06.
A: served in my Fuller's ESB goblet, it pours a copper to dark-orangey amber colour, with a fast retreating beer head, settling to just a yellowish rim on top of the nectar. Very gentle carbonation. Looking just O.K.
S: a profound aroma of sweetish malts dominates the nose, with aromatic hop sustaining solidly in the background. Overall not overly sweet and quite complex: lightly buttery lemon cake, marmalade, honey jam, honeyish tea, flowery ester, butterscotch, light caramel, barley-candy... overall very enticing!
T: a creamy texture of malts combine with a rich and profound hop flavour on the palate; the flavour in the mouth changes from lightly orange-candyish fruity and semi-sweet malts+caramelised sugar through tea-leaf tannic bitter to a slightly peppery and earthy kind of bitterness in the finish. More bitterness underneath intensifies step by step towards the end, though distinct from an IPA or heavily-hopped pale ale. The aftertaste is extremely satisfyingly bitter and rounded--slightly warmish but not alcohol-dominated. Fortunately the taste is not as sweet as the nose might suggest.
M: the mouthfeel is creamy and soft throughout, with a touch of spice/pepper but not OTT. As the hop flavour provides a good balancer with the malty body, the end result is a complex, full-flavoured, greatly balanced premium bitter.
D: though it's 5.9%abv., quite strong for my taste, it's extremely drinkable and enjoyable. Thumb-up for this beer.

08-16-2005 01:54:31 | More by wl0307
Photo of Xadoor


4.38/5  rDev +7.6%

I had forgotten about this beer for quite a while until my local pub was out of what I ordered and it was the next tap over.

Poured a dark copper colour with a nice foamy head that leaves lacing and rings down the inside. Slight sweet and hoppy aroma. Bit of a caramel malt flavouring with a dry finish. Great mouthfeel with relatively good carbonation.

A good ESB that goes well with their English pub food. A very easy drinking beer which I now order quite often.

08-15-2005 14:40:07 | More by Xadoor
Photo of thechaacster


3.9/5  rDev -4.2%

Big "Victorian pint" bottle. Pours a clear amber-brown, with a modest head that recedes to leaves some excellent lacing. Aroma of toasted malt, with some sort of metallic character detectable. Big, sharp attack of bitterness in the flavor. Very herbal hop flavor, with little (but some) malt sweetness. The metallic/mineral twang bothered me for a while, but this beer grew on me quickly. I personally like Young's Ram Rod better for the style, but you definitely have to pay respects to one of the most imitated beers in the world, the original ESB.

07-30-2005 22:24:17 | More by thechaacster
Photo of Wasatch


4.88/5  rDev +19.9%

Dated 6 Jan 06. Pours a amber/copper color with a great head, leaves a nice lace, actually there was a big spot in the middle of the glass for quite awhile. Scents of malt, hops. A very smooth feel to this ESB. This ESB has a great taste with a medium body. I really like this ESB, it's a very social brew. I will definitely be buying more.

07-24-2005 19:26:56 | More by Wasatch
Photo of carln26


4.22/5  rDev +3.7%

Perfect copper amber color topped by a thick cream colored head. The head leaves a nice ring of lace on the side of the glass. Caramel toffee aroma backed by pears and a mild citrus. The taste is mainly toffee with mild caramel and a great hop orange back. Smooth rich mouth feel. Very drinkable. This is a great beer. Especially hand-pulled, at he perfect temperature.

07-24-2005 19:12:13 | More by carln26
Photo of palliko


4.47/5  rDev +9.8%

Appearance is a cloudy amber/red with a beige head of foam that disappears quickly and leaves a little sticky lace. Aroma is predominately hops and soft vanilla. Initial taste contains some apricot, dark peat, herbs and toast. The malt kicks in, but there is a lack of sweetness, medium body. Finish allows the hops to dominate on your tongue for a while. I might try this again.

07-15-2005 16:21:33 | More by palliko
Photo of Ricochet


4.2/5  rDev +3.2%

Well, I haven't had a tradional ESB since the last time I had Fullers over four years ago. I've had some pretty good brewpub ESBs...so compared with those...well, here goes.

App: High! Deep amber, but little head.

Smell: Kind of like the Fuller's Pale. There is a special note to the way these Brit beers smell, and for the most part, most good imports have that smell. A dark, rich malt smell with fruity wine notes. Bravo.

Mouth: It was a little thinner, with little foam and I gotta say, a hint of a brown taste I've had from JJ Wainwrights.

Taste: The american brewpub ESB's seemed like they were verry bitter, hoppy and good tastes. This was more complex. Licorace, hops, wine, alcohol, balance and bitterness, I know this is true. Outstanding.

Drinkability: Again, suffers from being bottled, but like many have said, if this was on tap in London, if I wasn't drinking Batemans, I'd be having Fullers. Only a treat for me, but a welcome one. Makes me HATE every American burp beer and really appreciate some of the craft/microbrewed beers I can get here.

07-14-2005 03:17:32 | More by Ricochet
Photo of Billolick

New York

4.22/5  rDev +3.7%

midsized bottle,comes with best before dating printed on the label. Pours a nice orangy shade of maple. Clear and with a soft, tiny bubble head, that leaves well striated and finely patterened lacing. Nose is of malt, maple and toffee. Maltly layers of sweet and smooth flavors carry the freight here. Mellow, understated and British in attack. This is a classic sessionner. Great all year round. Allways enjoy this stuff. Fine quality and a must try for any British ale lovers.

07-14-2005 01:45:23 | More by Billolick
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.9/5  rDev -4.2%

Pours a deep, brilliantly clear, red-copper color and is topped by a frothy, 2.5 finger thick, light tan colored head. The aroma is spicy and herbal with notes of caramel and toffee. The taste is lightly sweet up front with a toffee maltiness to it. Interestingly enough this beer seems to be more balanced towards the malt than the London Pride I just had (perhaps this is palate fatigue). There is a nice fruitiness that compliments the toffee & caramel maltiness; much of the fruitiness is from the slightly citrusy, lemon-like hops with perhaps some hints of currants. The beers finish is nicely bitter with a lingering herbal hop note. This is quite tasty, but not as flavorful and hoppy as I remember it being.

07-12-2005 05:35:07 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of SwillinBrew


4.1/5  rDev +0.7%

Had this on tap at Hollingshead and i'm just getting around to putting down my notes. I really liked this beer much more on tap than in the bottle (dont get me wrong, bottle is still damn good)

This poured a deep coppery bronze color with a nice thick oatmeal colored head. It's aroma was a nice malty biscuit scent. The kind you would smell in your grandma's warm kitchen when she's baking bread.

The taste was an exquisite malty caramel taste with a mild and faint hop finish. Rather sweet, malty and just well balanced. This is a good benchmark of what i think an ESB should be like. Rather crisp and solid on the mouth that will leave you wanting more. Very good!

07-05-2005 05:28:45 | More by SwillinBrew
Photo of Gagnonsux


4.1/5  rDev +0.7%

Fuller's ESB is rusty copper with a nice-sized head. The head is moderately creamy and off-white. The aroma is of an inviting caramelized English malt, very full on the nose. The taste consists of a strong caramelized malt flavor with flavorful, drying hops making their appearance towards the end of a sip. Bitterness is relatively mild. A touch of fruitness is also detected. A sip is concluded with a sustained malt finish. This is far from my favorite style and one that I don't have too much experience with, but I found this to be a great beer, driven by it's malt character, with really high drinkability. I need to search out some more authentic ESBs to get a greater grasp of the style.

07-04-2005 15:58:05 | More by Gagnonsux
Photo of BeerNutta


4.22/5  rDev +3.7%

Fullers ESB

I was expecting this to be really bitter. However I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't.

Poured a dark amber with a thick foam head. You could smell and mixture of sugary sweetness mixed with hops that was damn inviting.

The taste was Sweet fruitiness that mellowed to a malt middle and slightly hoppy finish. Damn refreshing.

Carbonation was just enough. This is a really great beer.

06-23-2005 03:44:50 | More by BeerNutta
Photo of sitbooboosit

British Columbia (Canada)

3.65/5  rDev -10.3%

pours a rich gold orange. head is a creamy colour and nice and pillowy, about 1.5 inches.
smells creamy like caramel and sugary malts
tastes of strong malt, butterscotch, caramel, buiscuty flavours that finish with a bigger hop bite than i was expecting.
very tasty, good mouthfeel, perhaps a bit dry at the end for my liking, but overall pretty well balanced.

06-18-2005 06:09:47 | More by sitbooboosit
Photo of BigBry

Alberta (Canada)

4.33/5  rDev +6.4%

500 ml brown bottle, embossed with Independant Family Brewery, Estd. 1845. Gold and red ESB label with best before date stamped on back. Pours a clear amber-orange color, with a slightly beige head. Foam does shrink to a thin covering, but does leave a thin spider web of lace. Pleasantly suprised by the aroma -not a 'bitter' smell you might expect, but smooth bready malt.
The bitterness is in the flavo, but not overdone. A very nice blend of hops with the malt. Full body with enough bitters to cleanse the palate, but not so much as to leave an aftertaste. Rich and smooth - a real winner

06-07-2005 04:49:35 | More by BigBry


3.33/5  rDev -18.2%

The ESB pours out a orange/amber color with about a 1/2" of white head. The head quickly disappears into a ring and leaves no lace on the way down.
The nose of this beer is dominated by a sweet and vegetably smell (pumpkin or something like that, maybe a rooty vegetable??) Very slight hops detected in the aroma.
The beer tingles the tongue as it first enters. Rich sweet malt is prevalent with a decent bitterness at the end. Well balanced beer, nothing really stands out or is overpowering.
This is a good ESB, a little sweet for my taste but still a well made beer.

06-03-2005 02:48:27 | More by MUSHROOMCLOUD
Photo of oelergud


4.05/5  rDev -0.5%

Clear dark copper body with good carbonation and a somewhat rocky head, light tan. Decent lace and retention.
Scent is deliciously bitter and potent with a solid malt undertone which includes molasses and some caramel. Alcohol notes apparent when it warms abit.
Very well balanced brew in which both malts and hops both pull through very clearly, lemon and grass comes through after 1/2 a glass and some warmth. Aftertaste is great hops with caramel notes which linger well into the next pull of the mug.
Mouthfeel is just a little chewy with by no means is a bad thing. Coating is present, good solid body.
Highly drinkable and good warm weather afternoon brew.


05-28-2005 23:31:13 | More by oelergud
Photo of silver0rlead

North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev -1%

Pours a clear amber hue with a nice white head that dissapaptes quickly, an average looking bitter. Smell is light floral and citrus hops with a slightly sweet malt background. Taste is floral and citrusy hops, grapefruit, orange, lemon zest, and a lightly sweet caramel malt backbone. This beer is not an extreme american esb (like brutal bitter) but it's a classic english esb and there's something to be said for that, a classic taste that isnt exciting maybe but deserves respect all the same. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth (like an esb should be) with moderate carbonation. and the drinkability is high.

05-27-2005 05:30:22 | More by silver0rlead
Photo of elricorico

Alberta (Canada)

3.6/5  rDev -11.5%

Appearance is a clear copper with a foamy tan head. Lots of head to begin with, but it doesn't stick around. Although there is plenty of lacing.

Smell is hoppy. I'm not sure but I think I smell something bready or biscuit like in there.

Taste is a fair balance of malt and hop. There is a light caramel sweetness to the front and the hop finish is somewhat dry. Mild metallic flavour in it.

Mouthfeel is good, carbonated well but not overdone, fuller body than many.

A drinkable beer that just doesn't stand out for me. It doesn't have any wow factor that I could find. Solid but not outstanding.

05-22-2005 02:41:16 | More by elricorico
Photo of theozag


3.25/5  rDev -20.1%

Unfortunately it's been a couple of weeks since I popped the cap off my pint-plus brown bottle and downed this ale. So i'll give you my general impressions and memories for now, and when I buy another I'll come back and refine what I've written.

Fuller's ESB was a slightly-above-average ESB in my opinion. I found the appearance to be the most superlative of all its characteristics because of the way this beer tumbled milky-tan from the bottle and settled a deep amber hue with a creamy, long-lasting head. Smell was also a bit better than one might expect from an ESB, including the trademark bouquet of bitters plus a gentler almost toffee undertone. Starts malty smooth and quite heavy, resting on the tongue with a notable full-bodied feel and a gradually more complex array of bitter flavors. I couldn't exactly detect a specific flavor, but I can say that this beer was a good representative of the sorts of tastes that an ESB should have. Mouthfeel a bit more dry than I'd expected and the brew leaves one with that ESB tail of sharp aftertastes that a drinker of heavier beers will certainly find familiar. Overall a good representative for ESBs and a tasty offering from Chiswick, but nothing amazing to me.

05-21-2005 20:21:06 | More by theozag
Photo of stopmakingsteve


3.6/5  rDev -11.5%

Honestly, it's SO much better on tap. The Ship in Soho in London serves it pretty cheap, go there. I was bored, so I got it in the bottle, but it's nowhere near as spicy or complicated at the stuff I drink on draught. If you're not in the UK I guess it's a good substitute, and I'm dreading returning to the US, where I'll have to get this imported for a lot more dough, It's sill a kickass brew.

05-20-2005 22:16:03 | More by stopmakingsteve
Photo of Vancer


3.58/5  rDev -12%

I note in the style section that this one is the *standard* to try and review from there. OK. will do. Quick notes: Clear amber with tan head, nice lacing. Not much aroma, some hops and grasses. Thin, lightly carbonated. Very drinkable.
Now, the taste; light hops and floral. Pretty disappointed in the hop strength (Extra Strength??). Seems very mild for the style, but will take it from here with further ESB reviews (maybe I’m turning into a hop head).

05-20-2005 15:06:23 | More by Vancer
Photo of MrSeth


4.43/5  rDev +8.8%

It's feels a bit strange reviewing a beer as well respected as this one, but these are just my impressions [read: 2 cents].

Pours with a deep transparent copper color and a hearty white-tan head. The suds leave lace on the glass and remain on the surface throughout the duration.

Smells honeyish, earthy, a bit like fresh wool. The taste is of soft honeyish malt, very pleasant on the palate, some more earthy-ness. Then a dry-bitter hops finish.. nothing is overdone. Balance is definitely the word that comes to mind with this ESBitter.

The mouthfeel and drinkability are both exceptional. If you wanted a session to get off on the right foot, this is your beer.

05-19-2005 00:02:14 | More by MrSeth
Photo of Wolfsdenbrew

New Mexico

3.7/5  rDev -9.1%

Huge off white head that just sits forever, lots of lacing left behind. Tiny effervescent bubbles rising from bottom of glass. A clear copper-orange.

A bit of floral citrus hop in the nose, some caramel and maybe a bit of licorice.

Sweet caramel malts in the flavor with maybe a bit of diacetyl. Slight hop bite...piney and herbal, could use a bit more hop presence. Finishes dry.

Nice carbonation level with a medium body.

05-17-2005 03:21:25 | More by Wolfsdenbrew
Photo of Gaisgeil


3.95/5  rDev -2.9%

I can definatly see how people make this brew a session beer of choice.

This is a very well-balanced beer, there is a little bit o' something for everyone in here. Pours a crystal brown/amber is color with a thick and fluffy light tan head with great retention. The nose to begin with is very bready, and the European hops are quite prevalant. Taste is a bit hoppy, hence the bitter, but also a nice caramel malt profil happening here to balance out the affair.

This one was dangerously easy to quaff. Got to give the English some credit here, but only a little. *wink*


05-09-2005 05:06:35 | More by Gaisgeil
Photo of dgallina


4.25/5  rDev +4.4%

Burnished transparent copper-red in the glass. Only a few fingers of thin head, but lots of lace on the sides of the glass. A great deal of prickly english hops in the nose with sweet caramel malts along for the ride. Nice flavors and good balance. Deeply toasted and slightly smoky grains at the outset. Develops with plenty of tingly hops and finishes very dry, with fine bitterness. Medium-bodied and slightly chewy in the mouth, with light-to-medium carbonation.

*The* standard for strong bitters.

05-08-2005 04:52:25 | More by dgallina
Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,337 ratings.