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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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2,572 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,572
Reviews: 1,282
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 95
Gots: 196 | 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: 2,572 | Reviews: 1,282 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of MCDuhamel
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a British pint glass at fridge temperature.

A: Dark orange/medium amber, very clear. Large carbonation bubbles cling to the side of the glass. Pours a medium head with large, foamy bubbles, that collapses into a centimeter thick cap. Some lacing. The beer is obviously filtered, which for the style is, in my view, a detraction.

S: Light toffee on the nose, with a whiff of English hops. Perhaps served a bit too cold for full development.

T: Mild toffee predominates, cut by too much carbonation and finished with a pleasant, hoppy driness.

M: The carbonation is overdone. Otherwise, the mouthfeel would be just right for an ESB; light to medium bodied with a slight diacetyl coating sensation.

D: Highly quaffable and sessionable.

Overall: I would very much like to try the unfiltered cask-conditioned version of this ale, or failing that, at least a bottle-conditioned version. The beer is clearly force-carbonated and filtered for shipment across the "pond", and the result is an saddening muting of its potential. It is still a very nice beer and well worth drinking, but this English classic suffers when measured against American bottle-conditioned craft interpretations of the same style. I can see why CAMRA is so emphatic about cask or bottle conditioning.

Photo of vanrassel
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A first sighting of the new (to North America, anyway) blue label was enough to remind me I haven't reviewed this classic beer.

The contents of a 500 mL bottle poured into my pint glass a dark copper colour with a small white head that quickly diminished to a ring. The smell was pleasantly fruity — apple and pear — and meshed well with a sweet toffee malt aroma.

Hops weren't apparent in the smell, but made their presence felt with each sip, which started nice and bitter. The malt backbone provided a nice counterweight and made this a subtle, well-balanced beer with a dry, slightly astringent aftertaste. Smooth medium body added to what was overall an easy-drinking, highly sessionable beer (though I acknowledge some may view 5.9 per cent AVB as high for a session beer).

Photo of ubermunkey
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured a medium amber with a frothy little head which died down after the first sip. smell was of hops and light fruity notes. the first taste was of carmel malt, next came a bit of hop bitterness, but not nearly as much as the name would have you expect. the mouthfeel was very nice, smooth and creamy, ending rather dry. not much complexity to this one, but its very easy going down, fairly good overall.

Photo of brdc
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a copper beer with a foamy head that quickly disappears but leaves some lacing behind.
The nose is somewhat thin and unidimensional but pleasant, with hops mostly, and some minimal fruitiness somewhere in there.
Medium-bodied, the tastes start with a fruitiness, followed by mostly hop bitterness that although is the only discernible presence here, is not exaggerated or overpowering. Finishes dry.
Pleasant, not brilliant.

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

Pours out a very clear yellow ice tea color with very little suds but lacing appears on the glass.
smells like shellac/varnish at first. Some whiskey notes in the back. Caramel malts and a bit of yeast with a very strange hop aroma.
Taste is sugar water caramel and alcohol then you taste the malt and hops. This is not nearly as bitter as the name would imply.
Mouthfeel is oily and black bitterness.
This would be alright for a session beer.

Photo of Kulrak
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium golden brown with a decent amount of creamy white head. Smells a little yeasty, a bit hoppy and a little woody. The taste is very hoppy and fairly bitter, again some woody notes. There's a little bit of citrus in there too. The mouthfeel is very creamy and not harsh at all, good stuff. All in all, it's a fairly drinkable, tasty brew. I'll probably get some more of this soon.

Photo of vancurly
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a: Burnt orange/pale amber. Off-white foamy head, which sits nicely, sinks very slowly. No bubbling.
s: Grain & dried fruit. Muesli. Touch of citrus, like the aroma of lemonade. Biscuity malt, herbaceous hops.
t: Toasty malt upfront, spicy sour orange. Complex back palate of hops. Molasses, dried apricots, herbs. Firm bitterness.
m: Medium body, good length. Touch hollow.
d: Very drinkable, would like to try a cask version someday.

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

(Best Before: 30/APR/07) Hey! Hey, wait a minute. Hasn't Fuller's switched the label from Black/Red to Blue/Gold? This is nothing but Black and Red... good grief.

Appearance: Pours out a dark amber body with a foamy, off-white head.

Smell: Pleasing aroma of bread dough, honey, and caramel, with a few fruity notes as well.

Taste: Essentially malty, with flavors of caramel, burnt sugar, and, to a lesser degree, golden raisins. Exceptionally light citrus hop flavor with an equally light hop bittneress that comes and goes fairly quickly. Ultimately, this beer finishes fairly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a curiously flat mouthfeel.

Drinkability: An enjoyable, eminently drinkable ESB.

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

poured from 16.9 oz bottle into pint glass, appearance is rich copper hued w/nice clarity, bouqet is of subtle english hops and caramel malt, bread, some floral notes in the nose as well. taste is well balanced between the aforementioned malt and understated hops, enough bitterness to provide a very well-structured esb, mouthfeel is light/medium and drinkability excellent, nice session beer, enough going on to pique interest but not an in-your face beer.

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

Poured clear amber with a big off-white head. Biscuity malts in the nose, as well as bittering hops and diacetyl. Taste is pleasantly gritty and mouth-filling with all the notes in balance. Bitter but not overwhelmingly so.

Amber bitter British beer; "...proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." This is a very nice brew.

Photo of soupyman10
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle into a mug

A - Crystal clear amber color, with a nice inch and a half of white head on top; noticeable lacing immediately; looks really good

S - Deep malty smell, something roasted involved, caramal, some light hops; smells great as well

T - Roasted malt and hops as well; coffee scent with some deep caramal as well as grains, with a nice bitter hoppy finish; solid good taste with a nice mix of flavor; a little too salty for my taste (and a saltiness that gets more noticeable as the beer goes on)

M - Solid feel, good at coating your mouth; solid carbonation, nice solid aftertaste

D - Overall this is an excellent beer; I'm a big fan of ESBs, and this one hits it right on the money; great smell, taste, and look; definitely could drink these all night

Photo of Bestuurder
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bought this at the Royal Oak in Ottawa, not bad place, always has some of the rare brews on tap.

Fine looking beer. Fairly large head, but it was consistent all the way to the bottom of the glass after the initial 1/2 inch pour head. Good colour, darker than I might have expected, more of a brown.

Not overly sweet, but still has a sweetness to it. I don’t find this beer to have a pronounced aroma of any kind.

Overall, I didn’t think the beer was terribly bitter. I would have thought the beer would finish a bit more crisp as an ESB, but it didn’t. Very well balanced, amazing taste. Not too bad with a malty character. A fair amount of booze taste when it warmed up, more that I would expect for its alc content

The two Fullers I just drank for this review were both perfectly carbonated. On the taste however, it felt like an English Pale, more flat actually, with a medium body.

I really enjoyed these two beers, however, I'm not completely 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.

This was the first of the ESB's I have tried since coming back from Britain, and I am still equally impressed now as I ever was.

Photo of atsprings
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have been a fan of this style of beer ever since Redhook ESB was one of the main beer's to open my eyes to the world of craft beer. Needless to say, when I first had this beer about a year ago, my eyes were opened wider. Poured into a Fuller's imperial pint glass with good thick barely off white head. The beer had a good burnt amber color to it. Aroma was an almost perfect blend of caramel malts and subtle hops. Taste was the epitome of what this style should be. Great malt flavor combined with a hop bitterness that barely shows any hop flavor. Mouthfeel was very acceptable with decent carbonation and well hidden alcohol. Very drinkable beer, one of my favorites, just a tad on the pricey side.

Photo of TechMyst
2.91/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pint bought at Pridom. One of the few I saw without dust all over the bottle. Luckily this had a freshness date...best fefore 9-10. Consumed 2-10. Thought I'd try the "Standard." Strong caramel malty notes in the aroma. Conditioning was not too harsh. ruby amber color. Heavier on the malts than the hops. Sorry everyone, not too impressed here. I would have liked this much better after my Guinness phase. But now I'm on the primrose path to geekiness/snobbery, this is just so-so to me. It's a nice quality brew; just not what I like...Something odd in the bitter after taste I did't like and could not place, I'd like a Bass please...

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

Poured a half liter bottle into a half liter O-fest style glass.

One of the most awesome beers to look at, as the head simply stuck around forever. The beer's color is a beautiful deep rich reddish amber.

The nose of this brew is very potent and includes a large array of fruit flavors and strong citrusy and bittering hops.

Once this beer hit my palate, I immediately got the huge mix of fruity malt flavors and hop bitterness all at the same time. I also tasted some apple flavors as well. The finish has just a tad bitter bite from the hops, and a good dose of alcholol flavor as well. Mouthfeel is very nice, as it's very substantial.

Overall, this is good drinkable beer. This is only the second ESB brew I have ever tried, and I am really starting to enjoy them more. The only complaint I have is that it seems this brew could use a little more bitterness to balance things out in the end. That said, this is a damn good beer. Be sure to drink at 50+ degrees in order to appreciate this fine brew.

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

ESB pours a crystal clear light tawny brown color with a soft malty head. A soft understated well-behaved malt aroma wafts from the glass, becoming much more apparent as this brew warms. A steady stream of fine carbonation rises continuously from the base of the glass. Slightly bitter, and moderately malty, this is a distinctive brew, finely tuned and not overbearing. As yes, this is a true pub style bitter that will offer continued enjoyment for as long as you are willing to stick with it. True to the style, without the modern day over saturation of flavors, this is one style that the Britt’s really excel at. Jolly Good!

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,572 ratings.