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: 166 | 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 tastybeer
4.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks clear amber with a foamy head and bubbly lacing. Smells of caramel and fruit sweetness. Tastes sweet at first like the smell and then turns into an extended bitter dry mouthwatery experience that also makes it very drinkable. Real nice mouthfeel here too.

Classic ESB.

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

This is another well respected British ale that can be tough to find on tap here on the island, although you see it in Brooklyn sometimes. A bright amber with an orange tinge and a thin head that doesn't last much past the pour. A fruity nose with malt also making itself heard. It's an overall fresh and unique beer prior to the taste.
The taste is again fruity but also features a very even balance between the hops and the malt. Overall, this is what I think of when I order a pint in England. Very little carbonation and an even, inauspicious mouthfeel that leaves a mild but tasty aftertaste.
Not quite up to the standard of London Pride but this is still an excellent drinking bitter from Fuller's, perfect for watching a match in the pub regardless of season.

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

I can only echo others reviews of this beer - those who enjoyed it especially. Good medium dark colour, fairly thick creamy head, malty taste dominates for me, and the slighty dry hoppy after taste makes it easy to drink, despite its fairly heavy texture. It is obviously a Fullers beer and has the family character also found in London Pride, which I also enjoy, this just has a bit more of everything, and a better drink for it.

John W
Bham UK

Photo of battlekow
3.15/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A crystal clear amber-colored beer with a firm and foamy cream-colored head, Fuller's is a pretty attractive beverage. Smells malty, definitely British, with caramel notes and a metallic quality. Taste is quite malty, with a bit of lingering hop bittering, and an alcohol presence much too large for the 5.9% ABV. Faintly appley. Mouthfeel is pretty thick.

I agree with the previous review that likened this to an odd bock. It was certainly a disappointment for me.

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a super clear and still reddish amber color with an inch of head at first pour. The head retained for some time, and left a wake of lace in it path.

Aroma: Toasty British malts with metallic hints. There is an assertive caramel here along with some reserved hopping noticeable cold. As the beer warms a bit, there is a lot more hops noticeable.

Taste: Initially you get some aggressive malts that coat your palate with a sweet/syrupy flavor to get it ready for some aggressive bittering hops. The finish is noticeably metallic and a bit chalky. A tad of warming after drinking.

Opinion: Well, I am probably not the best one to judge these beers...but this is my opinion section. I am still trying to like these styles, but the minerals in the water don't agree with me. This is a great example of the style, if you like British Ales.

Photo of ghostwalker
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark amber/red pour, thick off-white head. Head falls off fast, but leaves beautiful lacing.

Sharp, coppery, acrid nose.

Hops and bitter tangy bite up-front and in the finish. Citrus and metallic flavors. Sweet floral notes also present, but always masked in the bitterness. That is why it's called bitters, but somehow it really all works together.

Mouthfeel is sharp, mildly acidic, tangy.

All this sounds not that appetizing, but that is misleading. I love this stuff, just thinking about ESB makes my mouth water. Drinkability is tops! A great, great quaffing brew. If I ever find this stuff on-tap around here, I will be moving a cot into the establishment in question. A must try!

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

A kickass looking, 1 pt. .9 oz bottle, "best before 14/OCT/o5". Pours a clear orange amber, with a fluffy just-off-white head that starts at about 3 fingers dissipates to about 1-1/2, then a thin later, and some decent lacing.
The nose is of floral hops, citrusy with some caramelly maltish undertones and a slight diacetyl twinge.
The first sip is grassy and flowery hops at first, then a buttery diacetyl taste sneaks in with an appropriately bitter amount of hops -- that is to say, a moderate hop rush filled out nicely with some pleasant malts and a mineral-rich hard water finish.
Nice medium mouthfeel, light to moderate carbonation.
I'd say the drinkability on this one is quite high. Maybe not quite a session beer -- but hey, why not?
Overall, completely worthy of its standard-bearer status.

Photo of xoqx
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours from its brown glass pint bottle to a clear amber brew with an offwhite one finger head that exhibited light retention and moderate lacing. The smell has light citrus and fruity notes. There is a lot to the taste which has a bready caramel beginning and some grainy, herbal overtones and a long citric-hoppy finish. It is medium bodied and extraordinarily drinkable.

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

22 ounce bottle. This beer pours out a clear amber color with a big head. The aroma is malty, fruity, and maybe a little smoky. Toasted malt flavor with fruit and a sharp hop bite. Finish is bitter and delicious. Noticable alcohol. Medium to full mouthfeel. Strongly carbonated. I could enjoy several bottles of this. Fuller's ESB is a great beer, but you knew that.

Photo of tweeder263
3.53/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured out a nice dark amber brew with a 3 finger head that diminishes moderately.Smell of sweet malt with hop undertones.Taste is surprisingly smooth,,hops are balanced and spicy.Malt is a little thin but this beer surprised me,i figured it to be more like an ipa,,and its a lot smoother.Some bitter twang at the end .An ok brew ,,the twang at the end ruins it for me,,but i would have this brew again.

Photo of Suds
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful copper color. Clear, with a tannish-white head. This is a pretty beer. The aroma is caramel and fruit, with an undercurrent of English hops. It’s the kind of smell that’s not dominating, but rather very inviting. The brew is a little grainy, and slightly metallic (unexpected). More caramel, and a nice malt-sustained flavor. Finish is sort of sweet, a bit slick, with a firm bitterness. Medium body, and very drinkable. I enjoyed this brew…I could see how it would be easy to down a few too many of these.

Photo of Derek
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I had this at the Albion hotel/pub in Bayfield, Ontario.

A: Tarnished copper/rust. Produced a moderate amount of head, which quickly faded, but still left some nice lace.

S: Earthy, slightly fruity.

T: Very well balanced, nice hop flavour (Goldings earthyness). Slightly fruity, with the presence of minerals, gives it a nutritious feel.

M: Moderate body, mild carbonation. This ESB doesn't have as much of a malty backbone as some.

D: Quite drinkable.

Although I am not overwhelmed by this beer, it is stereotypical British... and a must-try!

Photo of Oxymoron
3.48/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

You know how father in law’s are. Well they are family and this family member gave me Fuller’s ESB. It’s nice to know at least he’s looking out for me.

So family values aside, Fuller’s ESB has a cloudy amber to a darker red color. A good pour with ample head retention and lace that remains through the glass. The smell is more of a malty English style with bready tendencies. The flavor is a little surprising for an ESB. Expecting more bite from hops, really what I got was a nice blend of caramel and toffee but more on the drier side. The hops are very (I mean very) smooth and slides down easily.

So I guess you can win with family. Fuller’s ESP is a very easy beer to drink and great taste. I would like to see more of a bit on the hops flavor especially at the beginning and with bit, but still good to drink

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

This is yet another tasty English Ale from Fullers... The pour is a clearly recognizable amber with a creamy off-white head. The head dies off but leaves a bit of lacing on the glass as you work your way to the bottom.

The nose is a bit on the light side - plenty of the characteristic fruity notes and a bit of caramel but not much in the hops department - I would have expected more from an ESB. Same with the taste, plenty of strong, quality malt and yeast flavors but pretty quiet on the hop front. It's a bit more bitter than the similar "Special / Pride" ales but not by a whole lot.

Mouthfeel is typical for the style - a bit of an oily residue but mostly cleared up by the hop bitterness. (While there may note be much hop flavor or aroma, the is a bit of bitterness) A bit more carbonation would have been nice but this one's within expectations.

All in all good but not extraordinary. Enjoyable, drinkable, something I'm sure I'll have many times again. Better than a Bass by far but it doesn't really measure up to Fuller's 1845 which is an extraordinary brew.

Photo of BeerBeing
3.2/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12oz brown glass custom bottle, red/white/green/gold on black label

Appearance: copper color, average head, good lacing

Smell: caramel, malt, hops

Taste: medium body, smooth mouth feel, some fruitness, some malts, HOPS big way, minor alcohol

Notes: good, but not exceptional

Photo of Melchizedek
3.38/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this one on-tap at the Flying Saucer in FW. Came out bronze-amber with a medium head that subsided to a nice, lasting cap.

The smell is very mellow, with some fruitiness--bubblegum and apple. Tastes quite nice, matching the smell, though a bit thin in the mouth. Sweet gummy flavors dominate, with some light, grassy hop, and the flavor subsides to straight grain in the finish, not what I would have liked, but nothing offensive.

This is a nice, easy drinker, very mellow, and absolutely sessionable. I could happily kill about a gallon of this stuff in a sitting, though I might get a touch bored. This is my first experience with the ESB style, and I look forward to exploring beyond this standard.

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

ahh. esb. this is fast becoming one of my favorite styles. maybe ive just been lucky and have had some excellent examples. anyway, here goes.

clear copper color with 1cm frothy tan head which settles to a thickish lace. the head always ready to reappear with a quick swirl.

intensely sweet floral aroma. a bit earthy with some alcohol notes. a real sniffer.

nicely balanced. good maltiness. piney. bittersweet chocolate. medium-high level of bitterness that blends in well with the flavors around it.

goes down a treat. so easy to drink, good thing it comes in 500ml bottles.

Photo of orsulacp
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The bottle had a best before 7/NOV/2005, it poured with no head into a pint glass with a bit of a foam ring. It had a clear reddish copper color, looked great. Sweet malty smell, slight hint of caramel, I did get a hint of hops too but the sweetness dominated. Sweet malts dominate the taste at first and then it ends up with the bitterness from the hops, going to a slow dry finish. Medium-Full body and low carbonation made it go down real easy. Good balance between the sweetness and the bitterness, very drinkable.

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

500 ml bottle, best before 4/16/06. Pours a gorgeous clear bright copper with a large sticky off-white head, nice retention. Nose is sweet and malty, somewhat toffeeish, with some nice flowery hops. Taste is so smooth and well rounded---sweet slightly toasty malts, with hints of caramel and toffee offset by a great clean hoppy bitterness and a somewhat buttery finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, low carbonation, and a nice slick coating, leaving the great taste to linger. This is a great ESB, as the brother's note it's the standard for the style, and if it weren't such an expensive import I'd be drinking this all the time.

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

Appearance: Clear penny copper with a terrific off-white head. Sticky, rocky, and great retention -- can't beat that. Mild carbonation. Nicesh.

Smell: Malt and hop merge seamlessly to form a sharply sweet, almost herbal juiciness. Mineral hard water as well.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Thin and mildly sticky, mildly carbonated as well. Starts malty, though tight and a bit fruity (yeast) rather than big and sweet. Hops soon appear and add an herbal, fragrant spiciness. Finishes dry, bitter (duh) and a bit metallic. Long, lingering finish.

Drinkability: Very nice and quite good overall. Still, I must admit I prefer the slightly off-style, but oh-so very tasty, Bombardier. So sue me.

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

Bright solid gold with a nice tan head, good carbonation, and some lace rings (contained a good bit of sediment). Spicy and woody hop aroma and flavor. Decently balanced but certainly leans bitter with lots of spicy notes. I can only describe this as an intensely flavoured ESB.

Label States: "Est. 1845" & "World's Original Extra Special Bitter"

Per FST website: (5.9% a.b.v. in bottles and kegs), it is brewed from Pale Ale and Crystal malts, and from Target, Challenger, Northdown and Goldings hops.

Best Before: 01/10/06
Tasted: 09/03/05

($8.99 / 6-pack of 11.2 oz. bottles embossed with brewery info)

Photo of flaminghomer
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

this beers aroma i thought to be very appealing. i think i pick up some roasted coffee smell, yep it's there. taste is just freaking awsome. alot of nice hop flavor but not overdone at all. well balanced like all of fuller's beers. drinkability on this one is just wicked. i should have picked up more than one bottle.

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

Poured from the brown bottle into an imperial pint glass the beer was a medium brown/copper color with a one-finger head white head. The head fizzeled out to a sliver of white cream atop the beer. No real lacing throughout the sample, just a spot here or there.

Slightly sweet smell that was malty upfront with a bit of hop just slightly coming thru. Some slight caramel and toffee undertones, and sweet honey as well.

A very sweet maltiness was the innitial taste with some honey accents. The beer finishes slightly hoppy and bitter with a slight dryness to each sip as well.

Moderate mouthfeel with little carbonation.

Very easy to drink and enjoyable as well. Doesn't stand out in any one way, but it need not to in order to be an enjoyable beer. Great for a session and one I'll have again.

Photo of mmmbeer
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, best by 2/28/06 - served chilled. Pours with a half inch off-white head on top of a dark amber body. Smells like caramel and buttery sweetness with earthy malts, floral/perfumy hops, some dark fruits, and perhaps a hint of smokiness. It tastes like earthy/nutty malts but the floral hops slowly take over, showing their decent bitterness and slight sweetness. Very balanced with a medium body and it is very drinkable.

Photo of rdailey76
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle with a best before date of 06/NOV/05. This was actually the last thing I grabbed from my trip to the best beer store in Indy, Kahn's. I have kind of shyed away from ESBs in the past, because I find myself leaning towards American Pales and IPAs when I want my hop fix. Glad I got this though and in a six pack.

Pours a dark amber to copper with a minimal creamy white head. The nose is quite complex, but I can make out a nice sweet floral or citrusy smell.

Nice bitterness up front that eases off a little as it goes down, but reappears in the aftertaste. This has a nice balance between malty and hoppy. I can't really place the exact taste on this one. It may lead to my thoughts of the complex nose.

A really nice smooth mouthfeel that almost seems coating. What I mean is that it kind of stays with me for a few moments before I have the next drink.

Definitely enjoyed my first ESB in quite a while. It was a nice break from the hoppy past.

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