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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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2,588 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,588
Reviews: 1,286
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 98
Gots: 204 | 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: 2,588 | Reviews: 1,286
Photo of BigRedN
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apperance: Poured from the bottle into an imperial pint glass, the beer is a clear reddish brown. My pour produces a thin white head, about 1/4 inch that quickly fades to nothing. Leaves no lacing behind.

Smell: Some really good malts from this. Not really roasted malts but some slightly sweet caramel and toffee scents. Hop aromas are somewhat weak on this.

Taste: It may say bitter, but this one has some definite malty presence. Caramel malts, not really roasted, a touch sweet. Caramel and toffee flavors. Faint bitterness on the finish. Very good balance.

Mouthfeel: Smooth on the toungue, get's a little prickly and warming going down the throat, probably due to the alcohol.

Drinkability: A very fine beer, but the higher alcohol content (5.9 percent) would keep this from being a session beer for me.

Photo of roblowther
3.67/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep red brown in color with no real head. Smell is hoppy and sweet. There is a caramel note that just makes me want to pour it over ice cream. The taste is a great balance of malt and hops. The hops dominate but the bitterness refreshes more than it puckers. The mouthfeel is nicely carbonated, light but not watery. Drinkability is damn good for something this hoppy. One of the best examples of the style. Get it on tap if you can.

Photo of DoubleJ
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This might be one of the most oxy-moronic names for a beer style, but this offering was good, no matter how you name it. On to the beer:

Fuller's ESB is bright amber with orange hues. A sweet, gummy beer with a pleasant bitterness, raisins, and pine. There's also a little tropical fruit and chocolate in it. Maltiness is detectable, but all the other by-flavors overpower it. Very creamy and satin smoothness from The Olde Ship's taps. Good stuff.

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

Was able to have this brew on tap which was nice as I normally only see it in bottles. It had a nice amber color with a fairly good sized light tan head that had good retention and left some nice lacing down the side of the glass. The aroma is nice, malt is the first thing that I notice which seem to give of a scent of caramel while also having a pretty clear hop smell that seems to catch up. The hop aroma really makes you think that this is a classic English beer with the Challenger, Northdown and Golding hops. This is a very nice beer as it has a very smooth feel with taste highlights of caramel, nuts, and additional malt flavors noticeable upfront and carrying through to the end. Around the middle I notice the hops which give it a nice accompanying flavor while they seem to try to take over a little bit. Over all this is a very good brew, one that is an English classic.

Photo of pootz
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Had this from cask...one of 5 of these that found its way into the frozen white wastelands.

The difference between this and bottle was not redily apparent to me.

Aside from the sharp carbonated character of the bottled version I got some mild yeasty tastes and some bready maltiness that was not so well pronoinced in the bottled version.

What I did get from the cask was a snmooth creamy mellownes in the moth that the bottle could not give.

Not my favorite syle but about as good as this style gets.

Photo of Stephen63
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Typical bitter with coppery/orange body, very nice head at start but vanished in less than 2 minutes.

S - Big aromas coming off this, caramel/toffee very evident but behind this fruity contributions also. Impressive.

T - Caramel and fruits delight the palate but hops also very dominant particularly in the finish together with decent alcohol hit.

M - Quite high carbonation but really smooth.

D - Certainly too strong for a session beer but a fine bitter to savour.

Not tried this style very often but this would be a good one to start on.

Photo of bluegrassbrew
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Pub in Lexington.

This beer is a very clear ambery copper with a nice white head that does leave some good lacing.

Smells sharp. English malts and light hops. Slightly sweet on the nose.

Tastes like the London Pride with just a bit more to it. Light hops on the front, sweet and bitter at the same time.

Perfectly balanced between malt and hops. Highly drinkable and another reason Fuller's selection are jumping up my list of favorites.

Photo of beeragent
3.84/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 25oz. bottle, into a pint glass. The beer pours a deep amber, forming a creamy 1/2 inch head. Spots of light lace along the glass. The aroma is light fruit and caramel from the malts. The taste is sweet malts up front, followed by smooth caramel, and finishing with a slight fruit finish. Medium smooth mouthfeel. Highly drinkable, and with the low alcohol content, this is a great session ale. Definitely worth trying.

Photo of Procrastinator
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle poured into pint glass. Best before 05/Nov/07 date on bottle label.

Appearance: bright copper colored body with little off-white head quickly breaks down. Very clean, clear and refreshing looking.

Smell: familiar mineral scents of british water, slight sweetness of raisins or plums. Slight hop bitterness.

Taste: slightly sweet fruit up front with nice dry bitterness from hops to compliment and balance. Crusty bread and alcohol at finish.

Mouthfeel: slick on the tongue. Medium body with very agreeable carbonation.

Drinkability: easily quaffable at 5.9% ABV. Well balanced and tasty with crisp dry finish is easily sessionable.

Photo of TheodorHerzl
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this on tap at my favorite bar McNiven's in Indianapolis.

The pour was perfect with a nice white head right to the rim of the imperial pint glass.

A: Nice copper/golden color with a nice white head.
S: The dominant smell is of hoppines, but that is about it.
T: Nice malty taste with a hint of carmel, but not as strong as toffee.
M: Easy on the palate with low carbination. Good English beer.
D: It's a really nice ESB, good for drinking on about any occassion.

Photo of bonbright7
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I found this copper brown ale to be pungent with bitter hops that just rolled in my mouth and was not a great match for salsa chips. Slightly cool, it took a little while for the sweet malty tastes of caramel to come through in the end of my pint glass.

I was reminded to try this after tasting another beer, which was benchmarked by this ESB. I liked this very much and I would like to find this on tap or even better, on cask.

Photo of kajerm
3.77/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Pours clear and amber with a small white head.

The smell is simple and balanced, with light biscuity malts and mild Brit hops.

Tastes exactly like it smells, simple and to the point. Mouthfeel is crisp and light.

I'm not generally a huge fan of these subdued British styles, but this is ridiculously sessionable. Liver notwithstanding, one person could put away a case of these in a night.

Photo of nortmand
4.34/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours crystal clear and brilliant copper. Nice, frothy off white head.

Aroma is an awesome balance of toasty biscuit malts and floral, resinous hops.

Very biscuity flavors up front, like eating a handful of hot, wet two row. Resin hops balance a lingering malt sweetness on the back of the tongue.

Medium bodied and extremely drinkable, this may very well be the most sessionable beer in existence.

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

Bottle into pint glass: Pours a rich amber, leaning toward red. Big bubbles in the head, which does not retain well. The beautiful color of this beer would earn it a better appearance score were it not for the near-complete lack of any lacing. The first whiff is dried fruit with a very subtle tartness and astringency. These aromas subside as a complex maltiness reveals itself on the back half of my tongue. Lightly roasted malt is complimented by a sweet, earthy flavor, and the understated hops are obviously doing quite a balancing act. A surprisingly light mouthfeel contrasts with the rich, but not overpowering flavors of Fuller's ESB, making it extremely drinkable, and I'll second whoever said that even at 5.9% ABV, this could still do nicely in sessions - albeit, very hazy ones.

Photo of BMoney575
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on 4-18-07
Best before 12-8-07

Pours a nice amber/orange with a nice white head, no real lacing.

Smell is sweet, yeasty, with bits of caramel and hops.

Taste is much like the smell, with a good hop bite. The flavors meld together very smoothly.

Mouthfeel is good, resiny hops and nice carbonation.

Drinkability is good, very well balanced flavors.

Overall a good beer, although I'm not quite sold on English beers. I'll definately have to try it again.

Photo of Onslow
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this was one of my first favourites...but in recent times it has dropped in quality..but until i can re-rate i will go with my original gangster review.."A brilliant dark bitter beer that looks great but lacks alot of head. It has a full flavor and good after taste. One of my favs."...don't look before you laugh....

Photo of clickpush
4.77/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pour: .5L bottle to tulip glass, about 50 degrees. It's got a beautiful raspberry tinted amber hue with a 1.5 finger loose white head that sticks all the way down like I've never seen before, descending at an average pace. Several lackadaisical bubble streams throughout. Coat of lace and large halo remain through the duration of the beer.

Nose: Full rich caramel malt aroma. Perhaps I just really need a beer, but so far everything about this one is making me drool. Great fruit presence as well, figs and apricots, perhaps a tart note of bramble. Hints of grass or hay, the hops are not over powering but add a subtle compliment here.

Mouth: Gentle bitterness perfectly blended with caramel malt body. Velvety mouthfeel all the way back with just a tinge of a tickle in the swallow. Lingering bitterness - hops are much more present in flavor than smell, but are not over done the way I find a lot of American IPAs to be. Just a tiny little tartness mid mouth but erased by the updraft of more hop flavor post-swallow.

This is unbelievably good. Goes down smooth, and at 5.9% it might still be bordering on a session beer. I could drink several bottles of this for sure.

Photo of funkengruven
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a beer that lives up to it's title. It's Extra special, and most definitely Bitter. This came to me a nice dark gold with a slight half inch head on top that sat nicely, smell was fresh and hoppy. Taste was extremely bold, the hop character is very obvious in this one, this is reflected in the bitterness.

This is a very bitter beer and definitely recommended if you enjoy the bitterness, can be a bit much for some but I sure enjoyed it.

Photo of adams82
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear, brilliant even, dark copper in color with a smooth, thin, white head. The aroma is great right off the bat; fruity and floral with notes of toffee and a nice lingering sweetness. Sweet malt flavors blend with fruity, buttery, toasty and toffee notes in the early stages and it finishes with brilliant floral hops. This may be tough to describe, but this is a a very "soft" smelling and tasting beer, medium bodied, almost chewy and very sessionable.

There are strong notes of diacetyl in this brew which is largely evident in the buttery flavors, but it is of course intended and really gives this beer a great character and I really wouldn't expect anything less from an true English ESB. A great brew, highly recommended!

Photo of tonistruth
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

on tap @ Churchill's in San Marcos, Ca

A- 1 finger thin and silky off white head, good retent, brick red cast to a pale copper brew w/ dark gold hues. leaves silky rings on glass

S- malty and floral, butter, crisp

T- malty, buttery bread, herbal, hints off fruit & citrus, butterscotch. crisp buttery malt w/ hints of hops aftertaste

M- smooth light body, carbonation at a fantasic level, noticed but not distracting, little bit sticky

D- easy easy drinking, sessionable, awesome flavor, textbook esb i'm sure (im no expert), I have to say i enjoy Alesmith's anvil a bit more.

Photo of tfp4268
4.39/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pors a lovely copper with a big, bubbly head that leaves a nice cap.

Smells a little weird...malty and fruity.

Tastes great! Clean tasting with some fruit, and a nice hop bite, and a nice, roof of-the-mouth tickle at the finish.

Mouthfeel is pretty typical for an ale, thin, kinda bubbly.

Very, very drinkable...I could drink a lot of these.

Probobly my favorite lighter beer. i'm typically a porter fan.

I've had this beer on tap, and it tastes EXACTLY the same...That says a lot about one or the other...I'm inclined to say that Fuller's does an exceptional job at bottling.

Photo of shbobdb
3.51/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'm gonna come out and announce my bias against British beers -- I tend to like the American versions better (unless they are on cask, where British beers are king).

It pours a pleasant brown -- quite a dark session beer for someone who normally hangs out more on the german side of the beer world. But it has a nice head and wonderful head retention.

The smell has an odd yeasty note to it. I have noticed how, on cask, this note is present but has somehow matured into something pleasant. In this bottled version it just tastes . . . green. It is like I was in a hurry this morning and grabbed a banana that needed a few days yet. I am honestly tempted to bubble some air through this beer or something to oxidize it just a bit.

The taste has the same real problem that was present in the nose. Just, way too green. It is not as pronounced it was in the nose, but still definately there. There is a nice, rich, very british malt presence. Toffee, coffee, bits of chocolate. There is a lot of great stuff going on in the malt here. I really understand why homebrewers go ga-ga for british malts (I believe Fullers uses Marris Otter as a base). There is also a nice leathery presence from the british hops. Really good stuff.

The mouthfeel is decent. It is thin going down with a slightly cloying presence. So, there is an initial watery consistency followed quickly by a sticky, gooey cloying . . . thing that actually helps the taste linger (largely missing the yeasty presence).

It is a good beer, just being served in a suboptimum medium.

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

Pours a clear amber with a very nice, fluffy head that sticks nicely to the sides of the glass. Smell has a nice caramel sweetness with a touch of grassy hop on the back. The taste is wonderful - caramel sweetness, a touch of dark fruit, and a light balancing grassy hop finish. This brew is very flavorful, exceptionally balanced, and ridiculously drinkable. One of my favorites.

Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color with a beige foamy head that dapples the glass with lace

Smell: Caramel malt with some earthy hop elements

Taste: Starts with a toasted fruit and nut caramel flavor that betrays a touch of alcohol, mid-palate; after the swallow, an earthy, but spicy bitterness comes in to balance out the elements; just a touch of diacetyl and vanilla on the finish which is not inappropriate

Mouthfeel: Gloriously smooth, with a medium body and moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Just a superb example of an ESB; a standard for the English style

Photo of Grundle20
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours crystal clear and amber/copper in color. There's a rocky off white head which deposits patchy lacing as the head diminishes slowly.

There's mild caramel malt notes and just a dash of English hopping. It's a mellow scent but well balanced and pleasing.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
The beer drinks really smooth are rather flat. There's some up front caramel malt sweetness which lends a slightly full and rolling mouthfeel to the beer. The finish is dry and crisp and aftertaste has a perfect little boot of bitter grassy hops to it.

There's a reason that British people have been drinking this beer in mass quantity for years, it goes down sickly easy. The hopping is just enough to make it refreshing and there's enough body there to suggest that you are indeed drinking a beer.

Bottom Line:
Just a great and simple session beer. In my opinion it's a great, if not the greatest, example of the style. A fantastic beer.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,588 ratings.