Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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2,515 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,515
Reviews: 1,269
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 11.06%
Wants: 89
Gots: 164 | 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: 2,515 | Reviews: 1,269 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of russpowell
3.43/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

BBD 30 sep 06, aint scared that it's 4 days past it's prime...

Pours amber/ruby red with a 4 fingers white head. No lacing & minimal head retention

S: Deep fruittyness & a hint of wet cardboard

T: Fruittyness& herbal hops up front. Hints of caramel follow. A slight grapeskin flavor also surfaces. Bakers choclate & cardboard surface. Finishes fruitty with caramel & a slight bitterness

MF: Medium bodied. lightly carbonated & no real balance

Okay drinkablilty, but not near as good as the cask version which IMO would rate a minimum of 4.8 across the board. This was a dissapointment. This happens too often here in the middle of the continent with Imports IMO

Photo of pmcadamis
2.68/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Light brown brew with almost no head. Only a few soapy suds sit on top of this slightly hazy brew.

The nose is chalk full of warm caramel and vanilla malt aromas. A little nutty smelling. Smells really smooth and appealing. There is a slightly funky off smell that has me wondering if I got a bad bottle or something.

Warm and nutty tasting with a big malt taste. I tatse pecans, wet hay notes, and grassy hops. This one is bitter, but not in the way that I would like it to be.

Mothfeel is very thin and highly carbonated with a trace of alcohol.

I don;t really like this one to tell you the truth. Maybe I got a bad one, but it's thin and dank tasting. Not terrible, but I'm disapointed to have something so mediocre from such a respectable brewery.

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

On-tap at the Crown & Anchor in Thousand Oaks (the sticks outside of Los Angeles).

The appearance is a gorgeous copper-orange with a fluffy head. The nose has caramel malts upfront followed by English hops. Fruity malts slide smoothly across the tongue until hops pop out to join them just before the finish. EKG's are the only hops that I can pick out, but there are definitely more (no fuggles). The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth, but still very lively. I used to drink this all the time when I was getting into beer and now I remember why.

Photo of kimcgolf
3.53/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle to a golden copper color, with thick off-white head that lingered through whole glass and then reduced to excellent lacing. Aroma was very hoppy floral and grass. Taste was a good combination of bitter hops and hints of sweet maltiness. My only criticism of this beer is that it was a little too dry at the finish, as I felt I needed a drink to quench my thirst, which is not how I like a beer to finish.

Photo of Toddv29424
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours an amber color with a light head. The smell is pretty homogenous, with a slightly burnt taste dominating. The taste is similar. Mostly just a maltly flavor with no hint of hops or sugars. A pretty solid beer for what it is, but nothing really to go out of your way to find. The amount of carbonation is perfect for the style, with just enough to let the taste dance on your tongue before flowing down.

Photo of teg8612
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Brownish copper color with a thin, wispy head. Leaves the rings of power on the glass.

S- Sweet, like raw sugar. Toasted malt. Slightly metallic. Light fruit esters.

T&M- Nice mouthfeel, very smooth with a feel that is grainy yet creamy all at the same time. Medium bodied. Rich malt is sweet with a nice toasted caramelness. Apple skin crsipness and taste. Hop bitterness balances out a nice package.

D- This could be my go to if I wasn't into this "Finding my beer, find myself" phase. Great ESB and the standard holder for all others for the style. What would expect from "The world's first ESB"

Photo of xymyl
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear amber with a cream colored head and medium small bubbles

Aroma: Caramel, alcohol, vanilla, tea and milk.

Taste: Soft bitterness throughout along with fruity and grainy notes that mingle with sweet and burnt candy sugar notes.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and easy to drink. My notes thus far don't mention the was the flavors intermingle. There aren't a lot of distinct flavors that I could define, but the way the flavors work together creates a great deal of complexity. It is quite nice.

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

A - Nice amber brew with a very large head that lingers about two minutes before reducing to a persistant quarter inch layer. No lacing.

S - A potent floral and pine hop aroma with a slight jellybean odor underneath. There is some pepperiness and heavy caramel malt that appear at warmer temperatures. It smells good.

T - A slightly caramel sweetness with a substantial hop backing that rounds off to a fairly potent bitterness. Pleasant and delicious.

M - Carbonation is high, brew is fairly viscous and refreshing.

D - Good. It is the sort of brew you can drink for a while. It has a great flavor, it's abv is not too high and it is a great flavor for food (I had this one with a mild fish). If it isn't the best, then it is most definitely one of the best ESB's out there.

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

This is perhaps my favorite beer style and fullers is the first ESB I ever tasted -- long before the craft beer revolution. While it's been surpassed by a few, it remains an archetype of the style. The U.S. bottled version is not really extremely similar to what is served on tap in Britain (higher carbonation, maybe less malty) it is I'm sure the ESB many Americans used as a yardstick in developing their versions.

It's a medium brown with very slight reddish/orange in the light and a frothy but small head. The aroma is spicy and floral hops with a pronounced malted grain background. The taste is sweet, lightly malty with a bitter hop finish. It's quite velvety almost creamy for such a light bodied ale. It is a very easy drinking beer not intended to be as adventurous as some of the American ESBs but it is still better than the vast majority of them.

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

Fantatic bottle. Raised letters. Heavy. Great classic looking label.

A-Dark Amber brown. 1 1/2 inch head that retained pretty well with 1/2 staying around for much of the glass and 1/8 inch staying til the end. Some lacing evident.

S-When I poured this I got some fruity ester, almost dried fruit, carried to my nose on a faint alcohol backbone. Deep sniff leads to malty sweet aroma of caramalized sugar. Faint, faint hop aroma.

T-Big malty presence, bitter and sweet malts abound. Well balanced with bitter malt, sweet hop and ending with some mild hop bitterness. Interestingly, after finishing this beer, I got a very late lingering finish of some grapefruit hop biterness in my jowels.

M-medium body, with a little chew to it. good carbnation for the style.

D-Quite good.

Overall, this is a very good beer that I would buy a case of as a regular drinker if it wasn't so expensive. I'm up next!

Photo of Generik420
3.3/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tried a bottle of this last night, which I unfortunately do not know how old it was. Poured a dark reddish brown with a thin off-white head that dissapated quickly. Didn't notice any lacing on the glass.

Smell was a touch on the 'skunky' side, which is why I mention I don't know how old the bottle was.

Taste was fairly nice. Had a mild bitter / sour flavor with a woody after taste. Almost a bourbon like after taste.

Mouthfeel was very thin. It was very drinkable, but I think I may have gotten an old bottle. Considering it was $3.50 for an 18oz bottle, it is not something I would pick up again. For a lower price it would be great, but not at that price.

Photo of jlmjl
3.73/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Great choice - Great looking classy dark bottle, best bottle around actually. Matching neck ring really sets it off beyond its unique shape...

A - Fine looking beer. Not a large head, but it was consistently a 1/16th of an inch all the way to the bottom of the glass after the initial 1/2 inch pour head. Good color - darker than I might have expected

S - A little sweet .. I don’t find this beer to have a pronounced smell of any kind.

T - Overall, I didn’t think the beer was terrible 'bitter' .. If I can use my first beer jargon word, very balanced.. I would have thought the beer would finish a bit more crisp as an ESB, but it didn’t .. no disappointment though. Killer taste. I guess malty as well and malty is not really what Im after too often. .... Not too bad. A fair amount of booze taste when it warmed up, more that I would expect for its alc content

M - The two Fullers I just drank for this review both were oddly highly carbonated to the look. On the taste however, It felt like an English ale, more flat actually. I would put this in medium body category,

D- I really enjoyed the beer, however, Im not sure how many I could drink in the long run. It has a lingering taste after the swallow which I again would assume is the malt hanging around.

Lets try another ESB sometime - good idea jumping into the ESB category

Photo of ski271
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium copper-amber with a very small, off-white, quickly diminishing to a ring. Smell is of mild, sweet malts and light citrus. Caramel, grass, butterscotch. Taste is of sweet, pungent malts up front backed by some citrus rind and a nicely bittered finish. It has a medium body, dry texture and low carbonation. Oddly I thought it tasted a little scotch-ale-like in some ways. Nothing fabulous, but it’s definitely enjoyable and easy drinking. I could drinking this all night… well maybe ALL night, it could get a little cloying.

Photo of jasonjlewis
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first ESB.
Appearance: GREAT head and head retention. WOW!

Smell of chocolate malts is dominant.

Tastes sweet and not that bitter. Taste of chocolate malts it seems and some caramel malts seem to be present. Even Balance between malts and hops.

Decent mouthfeel and easy to drink.

Photo of stoner420
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Medium dark brown, white head, light carbonation, looks like a british ale.

Nice sweet aroma after I opened the bottle, malty notes predominate

Tastes good, nice malt upfront with an understated hops, followed by a noticeably bitter finish

Creamy mouthfeel, a pleasure to drink

Very good beer, I was pleasantly surprised. I am usually not impressed by bottled beers.

Photo of BeerSox
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fuller's ESB pours as a clean copper color. The beer was fizzy, creating a decent head, however it did not last long. There wasn't any lacing on the glass when I finished, except at the top.

The beer has a malty aroma, hints of esters were barely detectable. In general, there was not much scent to this beer.

The taste definitely defined "balanced". When the beer hits your tongue you immediately taste the hoppy bitterness, then it turns into woody malty notes. As the beer warms slightly, the taste of alcohol begins to emerge.

The beer was on the high-side of carbonation, contributing to the fizzyness. The beer didn't feel too watered down at all, making it a pleasant drink.

If you like strong hits from both hops and malts, this is the beer for you. With a nice finish, this beer is very repeatable.

Photo of hero27
3.7/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2 oz prestigious bottle.

Dark amber. Modest off-white head of foam. Relaxed biscuity-malt flavor with dominant toffee in the forefront. Like Worthers Original candy I remember having back in the day. Very subtle bitterness on the end of this one, which isn't too surprising from an English ESB. Certainly one of the more sweet "bitters" I've had in a while. A solid beer no doubt, but I'd label it more along the lines of an "English mild" if we were going to characterize based on flavor.

Photo of Greenfloyd
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I might be a little partial to the Fuller's line of brews on a whole, the London Porter being one of my favorites of all time, but this is just a great beer. A nicely formed but quickly dissipating off white head, leads into a sweet malty nose, giving way to lingering aromas of a fresh biscuit with honey. The beer itself was a fantastic amber, refreshing, the color of fresh apple juice. The flavor has a wonderful maltiness about it with slight hints of fruit. This easily drinkable beer gets some of it’s complexity due to the marriage of four different hops (Target, Challenger, Northdown, and the famous Goldings to be exact), and ends with slightly bitter, lemony undertones. If only I had some fish & chips wrapped in newspaper, soaked with malt vinegar. Very food friendly, great with home grilled burgers, or BBQ chicken…….Enjoy.

Photo of ryanismean
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was a little worried pouring from the pint bottle--a head barely formed, and while the brew has a fairly nice amber color to it, there is virtually no aroma at all. If I stick my nose right up to the minimal head I can detect faint malt notes with maybe a little hop background. Nothing really jumps out.

I'm happy to report my concerns were unfounded. One sip and I'm convinced this beer deserves its relatively high rating: it's a delicious, almost perfect pairing of malt and hop. The malt character is all apple cider and raisins, which the hop bitterness rounds out with an earthy spice. Not quite citrusy, but definitely present.

The mouthfeel is maybe a little watery for my taste--I often like to chew my beer--but entirely appropriate for the style and quite complementary to the flavor, so I can't complain. All around a very good Brit Bit. Great choice to relax with, throw back a few pints and enjoy life.

Photo of barleyman
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 12 oz. brown bottle into my straight sided tumbler. A little medium dark white head quickly recedes to little or no lace down the glass. The smell is quite faint and included notes of malt, raisin and bread. The taste is quite more distinct, with elements of the smell and clove and hop. The mouthfeel is spot on for the style. The drinkability is good for this style considering that the balance between sweet malt and hop is perfect.

Just a thought,


Photo of beckje01
4.63/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

In a pint glass at the local bar.

A- Amber color see through with 1 inch of head and little activity, just a wonderful looking beer.

S- Crisp light refreshing

T- Light refreshing yet slightly hoppy reall everything you can expect from a ESB

M- cool and still not much activity.

D- Goes down great and is great for relaxing with. I find it hard to have just one usally have atleast two.

This is a must try for any ESB fan.

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

Pours a crystal clear light amber color with a huge carbonated white head. Leaves fairly good lacing on the glass. Aroma is pleasing and fairly strong sweetness/malt. The taste is very pleasing, mostly malt, a little bitterness at the finish with a predominatly sweet honey/caramel/malt taste. A good choice for a warm day when you have time to sit down and savor a beer. The taste/mouthfeel was light but not watery. No unpleasant aftertaste, the sweetness was just right, not cloying. This is a beer I could enjoy several of at one sitting. Overall, very nice and refreshing.

Photo of Drew966
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fuller's ESB pours a copper color with a tan head from a brown 11.2 ounce bottle. Aroma is definitely on the hoppy side, seems like it's a little sweet. Flavor is dominated by hop, but woody tastes are also present. Definitely some caramel flavors. No sweetness is noticeable in the flavor. Not bad, definitely worth checking out if you've never had one.

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

16 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Appearance: Pours a relatively deep reddish-copper color. Very clear and with a nice creamy light tan head, which eventually becomes a thick foam that clings to the glass.

Smell: Mostly malts with a fair amount of caramel, juxtaposed with nice bitter hops.

Taste: Malts, grains, sweet florals, caramel, and bitter hops. All nicely balanced and with just the right amount of complexity. The aftertaste has a very nice bitterness to it.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a unique viscosity. Quite smooth for a bitter beer, and with low carbonation.

Drinkability: A very drinkable beer; goes down quite well. The alcohol and the strong flavor may kick in faster than some other beers, though.

Quite a nice beer! Great flavor and feel. I'll definitely get this again, and it makes me want to try other ESBs in the future.

Photo of bluejacket74
3.83/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a copper color with a very small white head which goes away quickly. The aroma isn't too strong, but the beer smells mainly like caramel, butterscotch and malt. The flavor is a mixture or caramel and malt, then ends with a slightly spicy hoppy finish. It's more sweet with not much bitterness, and there's just a small aftertaste. The mouthfeel is slick/oily, with a light/medium body and moderate carbonation. It's pretty smooth and easy to drink. Overall, it's a good beer.

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,515 ratings.