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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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2,546 Ratings

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Ratings: 2,546
Reviews: 1,279
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 11.08%
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: 2,546 | Reviews: 1,279 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Troyone
3.28/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours an apple juice medium iced tea color with a three inch head that dissipates to a quarter of an inch, clear with some carb action.

Has a slight wet straw smell along with a commercial cartel caramel malt and a light lime grapefruit hop aroma.

A lightly sweet and bitter flavor with the commercial caramel malt evident, along with slightly perfumy over ripe grapefruit and lime hops, soapy yeast, and hints of bad soy sauce (no salt) and flat cola.

A light body, slightly watery texture, soft almost flat carbonation, and a slightly chalky finish.

Very easy to drink and a good session beer if cold, not my type I like cask beer.

Photo of Jacobob10
4.6/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Uhhh ohhh, someone's got a new favorite session beer...

Amber-colored brew with a nice off-white head and some nice lacing left on its way down the glass (and my throat)! Nice aroma as well. Nothing too ground-breaking, some light bready malts and slight citrusy hops. But, man, what a great smooth taste. And when I mean smooth, I mean SMOOOOTH. We're talkin' Miles Davis smooth here. Sweet, slightly bitter, and a slight alcohol presence. But don't let this combination scare you, it's delicious! My favorite part about this beer has to be the texture. Creamy and buttery. Coats the palate beautifully. And yes, this sucker goes down way too easily.

Well, this was my first tangle with an ESB and I have to say, I think the ESB came out victorious. A new favorite brew of mine, try it for yourself. Cheers!

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

Appearance: Clear amber with a thin, off-white lacing of head. For such a meager amount of foam from the pour, I was impressed by the excellent retention and stickage.

Smell: Biscuity malts with mild fruity esters are well balanced by a light floral hop aroma.

Taste: Fruity, but not overly sweet, with some caramel and toasted maltiness. The malt character is similar to that of Fullers 1845, with more caramel coming out as it warms. Balanced bitterness, but not much in the way of hop flavours.

Mouthfeel: Medium dry finish with some sweetness to maintain balance. Medium bodied with low carbonation and smooth texture.

Drinkability: This is one that I tend not to pass up if I come across it on tap. Nothing is really out of balance and the flavours are mild enough to make it a good session.

Photo of mgdeth
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Beautiful light copper color with a white head. Decent beer lace.

Smell - This beer's aroma is a delightful blend of malt and hops. The malty sweetness really stands out by mid-bottle. I also detect a light toasty aroma.

Taste - Malt flavor tends to dominate the foretaste. Then the bitterness in this beer really jumps out, and is quite pleasing. I would guess that this beer is made with hard water due to the crispness of the hop flavor. I also detect a slight alcohol flavor in there somewhere.

Mouthfeel - This beer has a pretty thick body, and is actually stonger than I expected. It still appears to be within acceptable bounds for the style.

Drinkability - This beer goes down pretty easily, and has great flavor. One sip makes me want another, sort of like eating potato chips.

Comments - Truly an outstanding example of an English ale. Go right now and buy some!

Photo of rousee
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Ok-nice beer here. I have been enjoying this one since my college days of the late 80's:

A-Pours a golden tinted amber. Mild head -nice, small concentrated bubbles that diappear to wispy foam in a second. No lace. Head is fairly white with some amber hints also.

S-good straightforward british ale scent. This seems to fit with the pale ales too, just a more amber colored one. It is a nice cidery and malty mild ale smell--I s'pose that means a fairly even balance of hops and malt.

T-same as the nose --you know what you are getting here in advance. This beer doesn't try to be too complex and I like that. Straightforward well-made beer. It might be owned by Inbev, so maybe it is not very highly regarded amongst BAs. I think they have thew style down pat though and it doesnt try to be anything other than a mild british beer. I also know it pairs extremely well with a lot of varieties of food. Versatility is always a plus in my book--therefore 4.5 instead of 4. It has a slight cedar finish--so it is both cider-like and cedar-ish.

MF-nothing special but nothing negative either.
D-too bad it is over 5% ABV cuz this one is the definition of smooth

Photo of kmpitz2
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a golden amber color with a small head over top of the beer. The nose was caramel sweet with a bit of diacetyl butterness in there finishing with a touch of hop. The flavor was a balance between the buttery caramel and a decent hop bitter that lingers after swallowing. he feel was a nice rounded full moderate that was smooth and slightly creamy. I enjoyed this beer, but I think it would be better served off cask.

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

This ESB pours a dark, clear amber with a frothy tan head. The smell is of sweet grain and toffee, distinctive English ale aroma.
The taste is grainy and slightly sweet with a caramel malt flavor and tangy bitterness. The grainy flavor is slightly astringent with a bitter aftertaste. The mouthfeel is medium light with higher carbonation than I expected for the style. Still a good flavorful brew with character. Not quite what I expected, but I bet it would be fantastic served from a cask.

Photo of dansteino
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I had the chance to sample a fresh bottle and it did not disappoint.

Appearance: Good. Beautiful copper. Nice head.

Smell: Caramel. Toffee. Herbal hop aroma (because it was somewhat fresh).

Taste: Very good. So well balanced between the malt and hops.

What a great beer! I could drink this all night.

Photo of steinlifter
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a clear caramel, nice head, and some good retention.
smell, was, sweet, almost molasses, maybe a bit woodsy, as well.
taste, definite molasses taste, nice sharp hop bittering, smooth finish.
mouthfeel, was full, but a bit chewy, which I don't care for much, but did mellow on the tongue after a bit.
drinkability, I would say is high! a quality brew, and totally drinkable, if a bit dry for my taste. good stuff.

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

Pours a deep copper color with light amber hues and a fluffy white head that leaves a nice lace. Aromas are a mix of toffees and caramels along with some earthy tones, hints of spice, and an almost honey like quality. For flavor this brew is extremely malty with a strong dosage of caramels, toffees, bread like tones, and a burnt brown sugar like flavor. The finish is nicely bitter with a good fruity citrus like quality to it. There is also a final toffee / honey sweetness in the end that adds just a nice touch. This brew has a nice creamy full body to it. Overall a nice brew but not my particular favorite esb.

Photo of Mark
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally tried this fine beer on cask at the famous Dove pub in the Hammersmith area of greater London. Interestingly this beer was served in a very wide mouthed goblet. The color was a clear striking amber, however there was zero head or lacing. i wondered if the glass type had something to do with it? Light aroma of sweet toasted malts, smooth malt taste with a mellow hop infusion. Rich mouthfeel and drinkable as usual. Would have enjoyed it more perhaps in the traditional British glass. Still, a great beer.

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

Draft at Flying Saucer, Charlotte. Amber in color with a slight haze, thick& creamy head that laces well. Even the last sip had a nice veil of head over it, impressive. Fresh baked bread aromas, sweet caramel, earthy, leather. Flavor is very caramel malty, slightly citrus, with a very distinct English style of hops(K.Golding, Fuggles?). Finishes with a balance between caramel and soft, fragrent hops. Very soft mouthfeel with a medium body. Almost tasted like a cask-conditioned ESB.

Photo of VoodooBrew
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The bottle I had of this was a little old, so I imagine my scores may as such be on the low side.

This one poured a sort of orange-amber color, slightly cloudy. Smell is sweet and pleasant. Flavor is sweet and malty, almost akin to beer that has not fully fermented, balanced by a noticeable but not at all overpowering bitterness.

This drinks fairly smooth and easy and finishes with sweet & sour sensations on the back and sides of the tongue.

I'm really a fan of pretty much everything Fuller's makes-- it may be possible that I hung onto this bottle a little too long, but what can I say, I don't like to rush through good beer.

Photo of John1985
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this in a imperial pint bottle. I popped the cap and it poured an amber ale with a clear frosty head that gently dissipated. I was pleasantly surprised by the intense malty aroma. The taste was dominated by a complex malty flavor with just enough hops to balance things nicely. The finish was long and smooth. Very drinkable. I recommend this one highly.

Photo of jokelahoma
4.7/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Simply put... amazing. I tried this beer a few years ago, based on Michael Jackson's recommendation. Then distributorship issues made it where I couldn't get my hands on any. Recently, my favorite beer drinking establishment (Barley's Brewhouse in Overland Park, Kansas... check Beer Fly) got it in on tap. As a certain commercial says... time to fall in love all over again.

The beer pours a lovely reddish copper (or is it copperish red?). The head is not enormous, but you don't expect a huge head from an English ale. As it is, it looks like it tastes, and it's hard to get any better than that, isn't it?

The smell is a tad deceptive. It smells a bit of earthy English hops, but that's the last you'll hear of the hoppiness of this brew. Bear in mind that a true ESB (Extra Special Bitter) is actually going to be a bit less bitter than its weaker cousins Ordinary and Special. That's because (to steal a bit of Ray Daniel's verbiage) the bitterness to gravity (hoppiness to alcohol) ratio is lower in ESBs than in most other English ales. Trust me, you won't miss it. It's well balanced. Just enough hops to counter the malt, and malty enough to balance the hops.

The taste is extraordinary, and unique. To my untrained palate, it tastes of caramel green apples. Granny Smith, to be exact. You definitely taste the caramel. The crystal malt shines through in this beer more than any other I've tried.The apple is, as far as I know, a byproduct of the yeast. No matter where it comes from, the combination makes for a truly unique taste, and a beer sensation I've yet to find anywhere else.

It has a medium bodied mouthfeel, which is to say it feels like beer when you drink it. It isn't heavy and oily, it isn't light and watery, it's just is what it is... a good English ale.

As for drinkability, it is deceptively strong. It is very easy to down three or four of these in a setting without getting out of your chair. Once that happens, getting out of your chair can be an adventure. As is typical of a truly well made English ale, it sneaks up on you.This is NOT, repeat NOT, a session beer. If you want session from Fuller's, go to Chiswick, or London Pride, not the ESB. Three or four of these had best last you a night's drinking.

Overall, this is one fantastic beer. As my profile states, I love English ales, especially bitters. This is the king of the category, in my opinion. If you want to taste what an ESB should be (e.g. not Redhook), then start, and end, here. Great beer.

Photo of stjarnflikka
3.89/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a blood-red beer thats lightly carbonated and has a creambrown foam.

The smell is malty, sweet and a bit citric. Sadly, i think, its just too weak.

Taste is bitter. There are clear fruit traces of pears and apples. Its a bit bready and i find some pepper? There is a large bitterness in the aftertaste and just a hint of malt.

This is a good, powerfull and thick beer without getting too much. Its very well balanced and another great brew from fuller's!

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.38/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber with a very thin white head. Head goes away quickly. Smells of lightly fruity malt and tea leaves.

Taste is also of fruity malt (apples, plum, maybe spiced raisin) and some hoppiness in the finish but not what I would expect from a bitter. Mouth is crisp and refreshing. It's OK for drinkablility. I've made my way through most of the sixer I picked up and have yet to figure out the appeal of this beer. Pretty boring and not very tasty to me. Maybe an old sixer, maybe just not my thing.

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

I'm not a huge fan of bitter, but do enjoy it on a regular basis. Initially, I enjoyed London Pride much more, but I find myself taking to this ESB more and more.

It pours a pale copper colour with a near white head; nice hoppy smell and well developed flavour. Smooth drinking, with full flavour. I prefer Well's Bombardier, but the ESB is a definite buy again.

Photo of donnebaby
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Super clean dark bronze looks, and a bathtub suds big top, popping itself out and flaking to a dirty lacing. Nose is caramel malts, but very powerful, intense ones, with some apples and pears

Tastes like the smell predicts, sweet caramel malts, with fruity, fresh apples and pears. Leveled, tingy carbonation doesn't ever come into focus, and just seems to be there to make the beverage a beer. Aftertaste of caramel and apple peel is excellent. Hops are present, but very subtle -- and bitter out in dry grapefruit peel.

Very balanced brew.

Love the higher booze in this bitter that's done so well, but of course that's why it's extra special.

Photo of SilentSabre
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Let me begin by saying that I am not at all a fan of brews of great hoppiness. This however, is with great certainty, clearly an "exception to the rule". It poured a lovely reddish copper colour similar to Bass Ale. It had no head to speak of, but leave nice lacing on the edges of the glass. Only a fine web of lace floats on the surface. The smell is rich in malt and caramel with a decent dose of hops. The taste, while quite hoppy and bitter, is wonderful. I am quite surprised, actually, that this is as hoppy as it is, and I still enjoy it this much. There is a great deal of caramel in the taste, too. The mouth feel is very smooth and a bit heavy. Delicious.
While heavy, I feel I could drink quite a bit of this in a sitting. Very impressed with this one.

Photo of clvand0
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a copper color with a small off-white head that dies off quickly and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma has a small malt aroma, but lots of hops. Floral and grassy hops mostly. The taste is somewhat bready and has a sharp bite from the bitterness. Nice caramel malt character on this one. Usually I don't care much for an ESB, but this one does it for me.

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

I had this out of a 12 oz brown bottle and served in a pint glass. Best before date clearly labeled on the back of the bottle for April 2005. Plenty of life left on this beer. Slender brown bottle and the label reads that this is "The World's Original ESB".

Copper in appearance with a really nice head 1 inch head on top. Rocky sticky lacings are clinging all over the pint glass.

Mild aroma of hops, caramel and toasted malt.

Very soft medium body with just the right amount of carbination. Sweet malt and juicy caramel mouthfeel. Rich malt profile with a mini hop sharpness on the finish. Biscuity fullness.

Another awesome offering from Fuller's of England. This is one of the better ESB's I have sampled.

Photo of RushLimbmalt
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the best ESB I have ever had. It has a wonderful caramel aroma and a sweet caramel flavor to match and has just the right amount of hops to clean up the sweetness. This is another Fuller's beer that will find a home in my refrigerator on a regular basis.

Photo of granger10
4.8/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

To me this is the ultimate ESB in which all other esb's should look up to. It sets the standard. It had a beutiful auburn red appearance with a lovely soft medium white head. Smell is sweet and fruity but not really bitter. The flavor has absolutely incredible balance yet each flavor shows itself and is assertive. Caramel and toffee malts, then sharp biting bitter hops followed by soft fruity notes. Finish is dry and slightly acidic. Creamy body. This is liquid candy to me. Nice.

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

Rich, amber/copper hue with a small, off-white head.
Toasty malt aromas and light fruit, with soft minerals and spicy, floral, fragrant hops.
Tastes of toasted biscuit malt up front. Light fruit flavors chime in. There’s an interesting/unique mineral character to it all. Nice, floral bitterness comes in. Slightly citric and spicy. Finishes with lingering bitterness and light minerally butterscotch. Medium-bodied, with a soft, almost creamy mouthfeel. This is the first time I’ve ever had this archetypal ESB, and although I’m not crazy about it, it’s quite extra special.

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 2,546 ratings.