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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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2,544 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,544
Reviews: 1,279
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 11.06%
Wants: 93
Gots: 177 | 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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,544 | Reviews: 1,279 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beermanbrian
3.28/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice copper color. White head foams up with a heavy pour but drops quickly to a film that leaves almost no lacing. Almost no carbonation activity. Smell of butterscotch, faint alcohol, and some light fruitiness. The butterscotch comes to the front in the taste for me. I assume this is diactyl. I have found that once I note this taste in a beer it is something I just can't get past. It becomes the dominant taste and it just overpowers everything else on my palate. In this case it wasn't as overpowering as i've noted in the past but it was still there and I can never quite get it out of my mind as I drink this one. Some malt flavors and spicyness do break through. Overall an OK beer but not one that I will return to often. I know I am going against the grain on this one but the butterscotch just kills this one for me.

Photo of Rezzin
3.63/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured a deep red / copper hue. 1" white head that drops fairly quickly. Minimal lacing in my pint glass. Looks inviting.

S - Sweet caramel and toasty. Plums and apples. I don't detect much of a hop presence but I am somewhat getting over a cold. Smells clean and good.

T - Slight alcohol sweetness. Nuts, plums, and caramel all balanced together. It's good. Slightly bitter but not overly so.

M - Moderate carbonation. Body is full, maybe slightly on the thin side to me. Makes me pucker a little afterwards. Still, it's pretty refreshing - a perfect dinner beer.

D - I'd definitely order this if I went out to eat. It's not my favorite beer but it's deginitely one to try if you haven't so already. Overall a good beer.

Photo of gbarron
4.7/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a 16 oz. draft pint at the Flying Saucer, Columbia, SC.

A - light amber, orange hues, perfectly clear. Nice, bright white head about a finger thick, stays around the entire beer, leaves beautiful lacing.

S - toasty, malty, caramel. Hints of earthy hops. Amazing aroma, very unique. Very yeasty and biscuity.

T - wow, the flavor of this beer is so unique it is difficult to describe. Earthy hop bitterness (Target, Challenger and UK Northern Brewer hops) extremely well balanced with a deep, complex, minerally dry maltiness. Tastes of fresh toast, caramel, biscuits. Almost a little orangey, tangy.

M - medium to medium light body, yet still chewy. Dry, minerally feel on your tongue.

D - but for the alcohol, in my mind, this would be the perfect session beer. Exceptional flavor, doesn't leave you too full.

The definitive ESB, folks.

Photo of surfadelic23
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at the Swann up by Lancaster Gate tube Station. A nice pub but only had two fullers choices on cask. I tried this one first!
It poured a nice coppery bronzish color with a quickly disappearring head. It had a yummy malty scent. This was my first pint in London and the taste was malty with a nice caramel taste and a very faint hop finish. This drank way too easily I enjoyed this one from the top to the bottom. My only regret is I can't imagine it being this good back in the states...

Photo of ggaughan
3.63/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On handpump at the Elephant and Castle in Philly. The beer poured a clear brownish amber color into a pint glass with minimal head and lacing. The aroma is a toasty malt kick with floral hops to it. The taste was more burn than toasty to me and not as enjoyable as I was expecting from this ESB. Overall it is a good beer but not a favorite of mine in this style.

Photo of DogFood11
3.1/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Waves and Waves of carbonation billow to the surface. White head leaves blanket lacing. Deep copper to brown color with good clarity.

I haven't had a ton of ESB's but the ones I've had were alot mellower than this. This comes at ya with some earthy hop zip thats rough around the edges, Toasted malts, finishing a bit lingering but clean enough for me.

Alcohol comes through easily, Herbal portion becomes a bit musky to me, but in the end the hops clean up. I liked it and I understand it is the workhorse of the ESB field. It was just OK to me.

Photo of jaluria
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at Union Jack's in Bethesda and it's one of the better ESBs I've had.
Appeared a burgundy-brown color in my pint glass with a soft white head that stayed intact for more than a few seconds. Low level of carbonation was present. Aromas of roasted malt, grains, and alcohol dominated. The taste was sweet, but not overly so with plenty of roasted malt flavoring balanced nicely with by the mild hop profile. Unusual texture with so little carbonation, it was still rich and complex and yet not overpowering. I enjoyed two pints of this and could have had more, but I wanted to switch it up.

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

Presented in a classy, slender 11.2 oz bottle with a nice label and a printed best-before date.

Pours a deep amber-peach color with an off-white head, tall and sticky. It sinks to a skim and leaves wide sheets of lace.

Pungent, sweet aroma. Sweet biscuity malt and fruit smells. I'm surprised to find dark fruit aromas reminiscent of a barleywine, such as plum. Butterscotch as well.

Malty and sweet, medium to full body, extremely smooth around round mouthfeel. Carbonation is gentle. A mild hop flavor hovers over, juicy, spicy and mildly puckering and drying in the finish. No butterscotch in the flavor, instead caramel. Unfortunately, I pick up a metallic note in the finish, that I find unpleasant -- I guess this could just be from the water used?

Anyways, this is a tasty beer. I may be crazy, but I pick up a slight alcohol character... leading me further to think of this as a 'little' barleywine. This beer would be nice to have a few of, and I'm curious what it's like on tap.

Photo of pbr85
3.73/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice deep amber brown with 2 inches of off white head that diminish slowly to a thin ring around the edge. Lacing is minimal.
Smell: Smell is not strong. Sweet, caramely malts are the only thing that is there.
Taste: So its been a while since I've had something without megahop presence. I can't get away from the idea that this tastes like tea, specifically Earl Grey tea. Lemon is hidden in the background and there is a slight bitter taste.
Mouthfeel: Carbonation is low and the beer is dry on the tongue. I still can't escape the tea idea because the mouthfeel is almost identical to tea.
Drinkability: Nothing overwhelming so it is a highly drinkable beer, possibly a session beer? Well worth trying.

Photo of clabaugh
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear, ruby-brown with a billowing head colored a sandy white. Retention is superb. Lacing is quite good.

Smell: Sweet, roasty malts, hints of caramel. Fruity esters fill the nostrils as well. The hops spring forth in a nectar-like aroma.

Taste: Dry, roasted, almost burnt grains, not to suggest unpleasantness however. Hop character is bitter, and fights through the malts in a piney flavor. A very austere taste: bold, earthy, pure. Fine balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, some faint chewiness. Tingly as it caresses the mouth. Well-apportioned, and carbonated to the right degree.

Drinkability: Highly drinkable. No overwhelming flavors that preclude consistent consumption. Flavor is bold enough, with no unwelcome aftertaste. Altogether admirable. Perfect session beer.

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

poured amber with a med. size light tan head.aroma fruits, the fuzzy kind like peaches, malts, some caramel and butterscotch. flavor.malts and caramel, toffee hint of cherries. a nice mouth feel on this one with a nice bitter finish. one of the better esbs I have had

Photo of Blakaeris
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours perfectly clear copper color. Head is white and creamy with plenty of lacing. Looks very tasty.

Smell is toasted malt with light fruit and hop notes.

Taste is toasted malt and hops in a pleasant balance. Finish is crisp with a touch of grain and a nice nuttiness that lingers. Light fruit and carmel gives the brew additional character.

Mouthfeel is quite smooth and buttery.

This is an excellent session beer. Very drinkable.

Photo of SupaCelt
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a copper tone with a nice tannish head from a manly dump. The head crashes into oblivion, but ends up dusting the surface of my beer and tossing some thick lace at the side of my glass. Very fine carbon dioxide bubbles can be seen making their way toward the unknown reaches of their small galaxy. The nose is richly bready. Somewhat of a lightly toasted sourdough appeal. There seems to be a pinch of ginger and some old fruit and caramel scents as well. The taste is extremely well proportioned. The bitterness is not much more than a namesake here as was expected. It is vaguely bitter, with most of the accent falling into the malt arena. Ginger impressions dot the bready malt and there is a pleasant brown sugar feel in the finish. Hopping seems subdued in the nose and citrus and dry qualities are nonexistant here. This is very pleasant and well rounded. I can understand why it is recommended as an initiation into the style. My first ESB experience was less than stellar, but this one gives me hope for the style. Well done and curiously tasteful.

Photo of taez555
3.5/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a clear orange/tan body with a small off-white head.

The nose has a strong biscuit malt smell.

Taste is medium bodied with an interestingly metallic or maybe stone like water flavor. A hoppy astringent fruit flavor flows against a caramel and biscuit malt. Not super bitter, but it is quite present and is slightly bigger than the malt base. Flavor has a nice toasted roasted slightly burnt wood tone as well bordering slightly on a brown ale, but clearly staying ESB.

A classic for sure. The mineraly water flavor is constantly in your face. Big malt, yet very smooth and light. Big hops and bitterness, but oh so drinkable. A beer that needs to be tried on cask, but works well here as well.

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

If I had to give a favourite beer this might be it. I always look forward to it and since this beer is not new to me I may reviewed it here previously but I don't remember.

Pours to reveal a light amber beer with a thin white head. The head doesn't seem to last but it does leave a little lacing on the side of the glass. Complex aroma of fruity esters, earthy English hops, and caramel malts. In the mouth, it's rich and robust all the way through with initially caramel malts with a hint of toastiness followed by those wonderful earthy (maybe a bit spicey) hops and a profuse bitterness that rears its head as you swallow and then lingers for some time afterwards. It's strong flavors will keep you from drinking a lot of this at one sitting but you'll be happy to sip on a little all night long. If you haven't had this, you're missing out!

Photo of MrHolland
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark honey brown with a head the retains for a few mins.

Smells of hops and caramel.. quite an odd smell if you ask me

Taste bitter with a touch of hops at first with a malty after taste.

Mouthfeel - cant say much bout mouthfeel except it is well carbonated.

Could drink quite few of these all through the night but the 5.9 will catch up to me.

Photo of sloejams
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

cask - Lucky Baldwin's, Pasadena

Pulled into a pint glass, nice copper color with little to no head, as expected from a cask. The smell is floral, slightly sweet hints of caramel. Nice maltiness with slight hop bitterness. It finishes dry with a bitter bite.

The cask serving balances the flavors and makes it very, very drinkable. I could session this one for awhile.

The previous times I had this from cask was in Oxford and the taste certainly reminded me of then. A wonderful beer.

Photo of Gogol
4.53/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

(0001) Reviewed: 1/11/06.
On tap at the Horseshoe Pub, Hudson, MA. Temperature appropriate for a kegged beer.

Appearance: Color brown, with orange tint. The little head in evidence upon receipt of glass dissipated, but later could be made to reappear with agitation. Lace clung to glass at first, but eventually dissipated.

Smell: Balanced, caramel malt and hops. My emotive impression is “comfortable.”

Taste: Smooth, roasted malt at start, hop bitterness at finish. A very smooth transition.

Mouthfeel: Full, slightly to moderately “chewy.” “Warming.”

Drinkability: Excellent! If only I had more time, and more of this classic beer!

It is clearly evident why this is the yardstick against which other ESBs are gauged.

Photo of skizziks
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into a nonic. Inch and a half light tan head with a little yellow-orange in it. Fluffy and meringue-like. Takes a minute to relax into a 1/4inch ring. Lacing slides thick on the sides but doesn't stick. Color is a red amber.

Aroma is caramel, malt, and a little orange without the citric acidity. Hops float in the background.

Flavor is a seamless continuation of the aroma. Malt-balanced, with just enough bitterness to keep it from turning to syrup. medium-full body sticks to the tongue letting sweet malt and a little bit of bitter hop linger for a long time. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth, but sticky enough to keep this from being a real quaffer of a beer. That's ok, with this much flavor it's better to have to stop and pay attention for a while anyway. Good stuff.

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into glass.

Light brown, tint of orange maybe yellow. Nice white medium body head.

Smells caramel, roasted malt, hops and more hops.

Darn good taste. Not sure if ESB is right title. Perhaps SB and full flavor. Good balance of hops and malt with fruit and caramel. Feels fantastic, just enough bite to wake you up, but stops short of making a face.

One of the better ESBs I've had

Photo of Tupperwolf
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a crystal clear dark reddish amber with a thin, good-bodied eggshell head that fizzes away after a time and leaves tiny lacing and an incomplete covering.

Kind of funny - while opening the bottle at near arm's length, I was surprised to catch a sudden intense whiff of beer that could only have come from the first release of the cap. I was expecting a very pungent ale, but have discovered that it's quite the opposite. I have a hard time rating the smell because there's just so little of it. What I am lucky enough to catch after a good minute or two of letting my scent receptors relax is a few quick whiffs of carmally malts, then nothing at all. What I catch of the smell is good, it's just almost nonexistant.

I have really been looking forward to trying out this ESB because it's the first beer of the style I've tried and I figured I couldn't go wrong with the "yardstick", as Fuller's seems to be regarded. I like it! That quick whiff of caramel leads to a grainy, malty beginning with a delicately bitter finish that's decently balanced.

Light carbonation; A mildly chewy feel for an ale, with a buttery finish. It's so very very clear in the glass, but not light in body.

All of this leads to the final point - very drinkable. Good body, easy to drink, the tastes and scents don't beat you up; A tasty beer to follow up with a couple more.

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

Pours a slightly amber honey brown with a fluffy dirty looking head that left spotty lacing. Smells of raisins, sour grapes and a bubblegum malt. Tastes of an almost liquorish-like woody candy and coffee malts with a sweet nip of dry on the edges of my tongue. Very smooth and tangy. Mouth feel is medium, but the carbonation is very light and smooth.

Photo of Finite
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Red amber with a perfect thick head which doesn’t go anywhere.

Smell: Sweet, dark fruits smooth malts. A very pleasant caramel / vanilla smell.

Taste/ Mouthfeel: Dark fruits with sop bitter hops and smooth sweet malts resembling brown sugar. Very buttery, oily and nutty.

Drinkability/Overall: Easy to drink but with firm fruity characteristics. A great brew to have after a big meal when relaxing.

Photo of Prufrock
3.13/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pilsner.

very nice medium coppery, caramel color, crystal clear with almost an inch of white head that falls evenly leaving a touch of lacing.

bitter chocolate smell with a malty breadiness. a touch of smoky roasted flavors.

flavor weaker than the smell. watery, but with nice hints of many flavors: buttery caramel, toasted malts, a touch of hops in the finish. overall would make a decent session beer, but i'd prefer a bit more heft in the flavor.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer pours a warm deep brown with a crystal clear body and a light creamy off-white head. It has a strong carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- The smell of fresh honey, good pale malt and a slight hop bitterness really blend together nicely. Some notes of fresh grain with a faint hint of fruit is in the background.

T- This beer has a nice pale malt base that has a hint of toasted malt with a slight sweetness that is very light with a bit of biscuit malt dryness. There is a nice floral green hop note that finishes with a nice soft hop bitterness.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with no alcohol warmth or strong fizz quality.

D- This is a well crafted balanced beer. The tastes and smells of grain and hops are distinct with lots of character yet balance each other. This is great in the bottle and I can't image how much better it would be in the cask.

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,544 ratings.