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Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Not Rated.
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,299 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,299
Hads: 2,718
Avg: 4.06
pDev: 16.01%
Wants: 128
Gots: 271 | 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.
View: Beers (35) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,299 | Hads: 2,718
Photo of Mikus
2.91/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wanted to try this for awhile, as I was thinking of brewing an ESB in the near future. Now I am on the fence again. Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into my tulip glass. Nice appearance with a clear amber body and small, whitish head which left some nice lacing in the glass. Just a bit of hop bitterness (kind of generic hop bitterness) on the nose. It also had a bit of the wet cardboard funk on the nose as well... glad it didn't show up in the taste. They definitely hit the bitterness just right (I like bitter), and the overall taste was just a bit grassy and light. Nice, light, easy-drinking mouthfeel. Quite refreshing to the palate on a hot afternoon. Bit lacking in flavor overall, though I am not sure if this is the style or the Fuller'. From my understanding ESB should be a little lighter and straightforward... what can I say, I am a big IPA fan! This was an ok beer. Probably a nice beer to offer to someone who is not a craft drinker who wants to try something a little different from their everyday BMC beers.

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Photo of SitkaSteve
4/5  rDev -1.5%

I had this in an American sized pint glass (yes, I know not a true 16 oz like the English) but hey still the same shape).
The appearance was a hazy burnt orange to brown color with a one finger white foamy head that died within about a minute leaving some light lacing here and there sticking nicely to the glass.
The smell had a real deep sweet earthy English maltiness with fairly decent nutty notes.
The taste was mainly the same and it leaves a deep fullness on my tongue which leads to a fairly simple yet smooth fulfilling quality running about my tongue and mouth.
Overall, in my opinion, this sets the standard for ESB's. Of course, I would have this again.

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Photo of Modernrickk
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a tasty brew that goes down easy. Has beautiful sunburst color that reminds me of a Gibson Les Paul. Hoppy aroma balanced by a soft caramel smell, soo good. Taste is of malty goodness along with grassy hops. Full of flavors for it's medium body. Low in carbonation but manages to keep a very thin head on top. Overall this brew rocks! I can see myself coming home from a long day of work and having one or two of these pint bottles in a nonic. Definately will be buying this again. Excellent!

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

Appearance is amber with an ok thin head and good lacing.

The aroma is of mild English hops and malts. Quite inviting.

The taste is, again, mild English hops and malt with marmalade and honey notes and a bitter but mild finish.

Mouthfeel is medium.

Overall this is a good, well balanced English bitter. It is not spectacular but certainly enjoyable.

My mark out of 100 is 79.

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Photo of jsausley
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO, pint glass.

A: A rich red-orange amber, translucent. Some carbonation and a nice head. Head quickly fades, leaving no lacing. Very little retaining of the head on the beer's surface. Looks yummy but not rich and full bodied.

S: A wonderful aroma of rich roasted malts with quite a bit of caramel notes, a hint of coffee and a large dollop of honey. Crisp and clean but not sweet.

T: Extremely malty, significant hop bite (it is a bitter!). Somewhat sweet but cleanly so, not overpowering. Lots of molasses, caramel, coffee, nuts and strong roasted malts. A bit of ester perfumey nose once the beer has warmed which makes the beer seem more alcoholic than it should be. I'm not a fan of the perfumey flavor that comes later, so points off from me on that.. Very flavorful and delicious, but best when cold - contrary to the British serving tradition of an ale. I'd order it again.

M: Smooth, clean, crisp hops and low carbonation. Feels good all the way around, cold and warm, but thick enough to be enjoyed slowly..

O: A good beer, worthy of somewhere between a 3.75 and 4.00 on my list. Nothing mind-blowing but if I were in England and saw this guy on draft, I'd definitely want to give it a shot (I feel that some quality may have been lost in bottling and importing).

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Photo of delta490
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a clear brown with a short-lived white head. The head lingers on, though, and leaves nice soapy lacing. The aroma is light with malt tones and fruit. The taste, though, is more developed and has a nice interplay of malt (bready and fruity) with a subtle earthiness. The body has a nice full feeling to it and a nice crisp finish from the hops. All in all, a great pint of bitter and example of an ESB. Highly recommended on cask, if you can find it.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a thin head on a clear dark straw colored body.
The aroma is a faint dry malty smell. Nice.
The taste is quite sweet with a chewy texture, some mild bitterness but sweet overall.
The body is heavy with low carbonation.
It's a on the sweet side for me, but not a bad ale.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 mL bottle poured into a straight-sided glass.

Appearance - Deep golden amber body. Nice pillowy head. Great lacing and retention.

Smell - Light grapefruit. Very malty. Caramel.

Taste - Fruity up front. Grapefruit hops. Lots of caramel malt. Fruity and lightly sweet. Bitter hop bite in the back.

Mouthfeel - Easy to drink. Medium body. Well carbonated.

Overall - Solid and flavorful.

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Photo of Zach136
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Crystal clear, amber-orange body. Off white head OK lacing.

S - Caramel biscuit malt sweetness over light floral hop character.

T - Similar to the nose but much more vibrant. Bitterness is fairly well perceived but not overly astringent.

M - Light bodied, lightly carbonated and highly drinkable.

O - Another archetype from Fuller's. A near perfect pub beer.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours some light creamy light tan head that dissipates very quickly. The beer itself is a dark copper brown that is clear. The beer leaves very little, if any, lacing. The beer has a deep luxurious caramel smell with some light hop pine backbone to take the edge off a little and vanilla notes to mix things up. The taste is similar to the smell but with a weaker vanilla profile and stronger hop profile. The hop is bitter and the caramel malt dulls the hops a bit. Low carbonation with a creamy finish. Overall, a great bitter and worth getting again. Very few bitters compare to this one.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.36/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Cellar temperature, and in an imperial pint glass, naturally.

A golden-orange amber sort of color here, totally clear, with a one-finger white head that goes away fast.

Its aroma is a light, but very nice one, of caramel, orange, lemon zest, and maybe a dash of vanilla.

The flavor has a real nice little initial citrus bite, with a bit of the caramel coming through in the middle. It finishes outstandingly with a long-lingering bready biscuit aftertaste accompanied by a really clean and crisp, bitter hoppiness. Some of that caramel malt hangs around, too.

I'd have to agree with the label that the ale is full-bodied for sure. It really asserts itself on my palate and stays there, despite the fact that it's somewhat light compared to the imperial insanity being brewed these days.

It's just a ridiculously flavorful and satisfying ale. I can see why it's stuck around as a classic.

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Photo of slusk
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a crystal clear copper with a short light tan head. Head fades to a thin coating that hangs around. a little lacing

S: Bold malty, spicy aroma of candied orange with a mild floral/woody presence. Hops are very subdued.

T: Bright notes of orange and caramel with a bit of ginger and English tea supported by a sweet bread undertone. The hops seem to exist almost completely in the bitterness but come through as a bit of a woody note. Semi-dry finish.

M: Low carbonation with a medium light body and a slightly creamy finish.

O: Wow. This is how an English bitter is supposed to taste. The malt profile is bright and distinct with a well balanced bitterness that tingles the back of the tongue as it finishes. The complexity of this beer allows you to pick out the different ingredients which present themselves in a layered fashion. The low carbonation that is the hallmark of English ales allows you to pick up the complex flavors easily. This is indeed a perfect example of an English session ale. I can and do drink a lot of this beer,

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Photo of Haydn-Juby
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: A copper color. Very clear with about a finger of dense creamy looking head with nice tinges of lacing making their way down the glass with each sip.

S: A bit of English hops with sweet toffee and caramel malt being most prominent. Maybe a bit of pear and apple esters as well but nothing overdone.

T: My god fullers knows how to make an amazing beer ! Caramel malts that border on toffee like flavors make up the base of the beer while spicy and slightly earthy , maybe woodsy hops provide a nice counter balance to the sweetness. A touch of a light citrus zest comes through with the hops as well. The yeast lends its self to some traditional English esters too. Pear and apple , as in the aroma, are what come to mind. Perfect balance as well. A bit of a butterscotch flavors blends into the caramel flavors nicely as well.

M: Perfect carbonation for the style as well. Low enough to drink a few of ( even though its a bit strong for that) and not prickly or harsh. Fantastic body as well creamy but not overly thick or cloying.

O: One of the best beers I've has in a long time. Complex but easily drinkable. This , as far as I'm concerned, is the definition of an ESB.

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Photo of dieter172
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

My first review, so I'm going with what might be my favorite. There may be better tasting beers, but I think Fuller's ESB might be the best all-around. It's incredibly drinkable and has balance in every aspect - malty/hoppy, boozey/chuggable, fizzy/smooth...

This not only a great representation of a British Ale/ESB but It might be the finest representation of "beer" in general. I think the ability to hammer down 3 or 4 or a dozen is a critical component. If I had to choose any beer for just one pint, I'd probably take a Pliny or a Stone product. If I had to chose just one beer to have for the rest of time, It'd be this one. There's a reason this brewery has been around forever.

The lingering impression is that this beer is clean. Clean, bright flavors come through because of the way the good, mineraly water carries the classic British malts and hops. Yeast is in there, but it too is balanced and not overly sweaty and estery. Even the bottle and label are part of the experience.

I might babble about the ratings on each aspect at some point, but I really think the whole of a beer is much greater than the sum of it's parts. Hopefully this narrative inspires someone to go out and try this classic for the first time. Do pay attention to the freshness, though. It does decline eventually.

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Photo of leantom
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Ah, I finally get to review one of my all-time favorites. Here goes:

A: Light-brown with a nice, frothy head. The lacing leaves something to be desired, as the head quickly dissipates, but remember that this is supposed to be a traditional British ale, not an American craft beer with tons of protein.

S: Beautiful. Little hop character but lots of caramel/crystal malt. The malt isn't overpowering, however. Rather, it lightly touches the olfactory system and merely invites you to take a deeper plunge into its heavenly fields of crystal barley.

T: Again, beautiful. Hardly any hop character, which is normal for the style. What little hops this beer has are beautifully integrated into a much stronger malt backbone, one full of crystal and amber malts. This beer tastes of toffee (tons of it), caramel (tons of it), butterscotch and chocolate. It gives one a feeling of warmth as he imbibes on its sweet nectar.

M: Very light yet full-bodied. It's hard to describe. While the beer glides down the tongue with little thickness, the taste of the darker sugars more than corrects any watery characteristic the beer may have.

O: Love it. Highly recommended on tap at a good British alehouse. If they know what they're doing and keep the tap lines clean, you should have a great experience.

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Photo of SmashPants
3.49/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: fantastic, funky brown 500mL bottle, thick glass. A decent, old school label.

Appearance: pours a clean, rusty gold with a fantastically thick off-white head. Decent retention also. Nice.

Aroma: the aroma doesn't give much away - very subtle. Some caramel and earth, with some floral. Falls short.

Taste: somewhat better than the aroma - toasted malts, slightly sugary caramel, some alcohol warmth.

Aftertaste: some hop bitterness comes through on the finish, but not all that much else.

Mouth feel: moderate in feel with lower carbonation per the style. Smooth.

Overall: quite a decent English ale, but the flavours a a little muted for my taste. Not sure it's worth the cost of AU$85 a case of 12 x 500mL (2012).

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Best Before 24 MAY 14

A: Pours a golden amber color with slightly less than a fingers worth of head that quickly fizzles down to a tiny patch of bubbles in the center of the pint

S: Nice and malty, with quite a bit of sweetness and molasses brown bread coming through. Some earthiness as well, along with a light fruitiness that rounds out the sweetness

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with the brown bread and molasses notes from the hefty malt bill and then goes into a nice sweetness that is accompanied by the earthy and fruity notes. Finishes with a lingering sweetness with a light bitterness

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

O: One of the standards for the style. Very easy to drink for being a point under 6% and really keeps you wanting more despite the quite simplistic flavor profile. Probably a good intro to ESBs if you're looking for one

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Photo of beergoot
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark gold colored body with a one-finger thick, creamy head. Caramel and toffee aroma. Caramelized brown sugar and toasted nut flavors; mid-grade hop bitterness; diacetyls. Medium-heavy body; sugary and chewy body; buttery.

Chewy caramel candy taste in a beer body! Rich and flavorful with a nice balance of malt sweetness and unobtrusive hop bitterness. Warm and inviting.

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Photo of jngrizzaffi
4.04/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber color with a half finger width foamy head. Smells like apples, pine and freshly cut grass. Malty taste with slight hops at the beginning, followed by more of a piney hoppy aftertaste. Overall a good beer. Never tried an ESB before, but it seems like an English version of an American Pale Ale. It has a more malty taste, though. Would definitely enjoy again.

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Photo of Beer4B
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

When we were in London for 10 days this was a true palate opener. I had made the progression from light beers to ambers and ales. This ESB straight from the cask at cellar temperature was my gateway beer into awesomeness.

I've since had this beer over in the states in the bottle and it isn't nearly the same beer, which was expected. The smooth balance of flavor and strong mouthfeel were mostly gone.

My palate has changed but I am sure I'd still be able to drink too many pints of this from the cask.

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Photo of Premo88
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 5

16.9 oz. bottle poured into nonic
(best before: 11 July 2014)

L: 100% clear orange red ... bronze but with definite red in it; hard pour rendered a relatively weak head -- about 1/3 to 1-2-inch of off-white that isn't super thick, the bubbles are big and soapy and it all dissapears quickly; some stick off the head with very minimal lacing; keeps a nice bubbly collar of off-white foam.

S: toffee; buttery sweet ... perfect lighter malt smell of sweet bread and sweet biscuits; no hops present in the nose

T: classic mix of sweet bread malt, fruity sweetness and noticeable spicy/earthy hops; the bitter bite is there ... it's classic English hops, nothing over-the-top sweet or citrusy or even grassy, just BITTER. love it!

F: solid all around with decent carbonation despite the very hard pour; watery but super drinkable ... the feel is a bit thin for a brew pushing 6% ABV, but it works just fine

O: there's definitely a bit more bite here than in the assortment of English pale ales I love, but it also touches base with the fruity sweet bready malt goodness of those English pale ales. if I could get this beer in my hometown, it would be in my fridge often. the English pale ale is my favorite style, and this nails all of those notes with that extra bitter bite ever-present on the back end of each swallow ... so in essence, it's perfect!

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Photo of Flounder57
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle was poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger head that reduced to a thin layer. It is a copper color with great clarity and vision of bubbles coming up through the glass.

Smell: Toasted malts, caramel, fruity, and herbal.

Taste: Chewy toasted malt, caramel, fruity, herbal, earthy, and a little bitterness.

Mouthfeel: A bit smooth, chewy, medium bodied, low to medium carbonation, and very drinkable.

Overall: Very balanced crew between the mats and hops. I have enjoyed this brew a lot over the years and many more in the future too.

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Photo of M_C_Hampton
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: poured from a 330 ml bottle into a pint glass, orange amber colored with a white head that dissipates leaving some lacing, clear

S: caramel, honey, peppery hops, whole grain bread

T: peppery hops up front, caramel, grain, lemon, slightly sweet middle, finish bitters with slight pine

M: medium with lower carbonation

O: quite refreshing, nice bitterness without being overpowering

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Photo of Givemebeer
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Clear golden with a 1 inch head and excellent lacing.

S: Earthy smell dominates, herbal, floral, a bit of citrus. Wonderful!

T: Ah that wonderful English made bitter that I neglect so often. The herbal, earthy, floral hops lead the way on the pallet but leave just enough space for the malt backbone to balance it out perfectly. Not too much bitterness.

M: Light bodied and extremely drinkable.

O: With all the craze being insanely hopped beers and new hop varieties, it's a great change of pace to have such a classic. Absolutely love this beer. A classic and a must try.

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Photo of Landar
1.96/5  rDev -51.7%
look: 5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Poured from a bottle. Expiration 4/22/14.
Aroma 4/12

Moderate English hop aroma which gives way to strong caramel.
The expected pale malt character is entirely absent.
As it warms the hops aroma is entirely absent and the caramel dominates.
A faint diacetyl hint is noticeable.

Appearance 3/3

The beer pours to a white foamy head that quickly disappears and leaves behind a thin ring lace that slightly sticks to the glass.
The beer has a deep copper and brilliant clarity as is expected from the style.
A small amount of carbonation is visible.

Flavor 7/20

Caramel flavor upfront with a medium English hop bitterness coming through.
There is a sulfur flavor as expected from the style water profile that permeates and maintains the same prominance even as it warms.
Dry finish.
A lingering medium hop bitterness is in the aftertaste that gives way to caramel sweetness.
As it warms the low levels of diacetyl becomes more noticeable. Additionally, the mineral flavors of the water profile and the English hops bitterness become more prominant, creating complexity and balance.
The expected complex pale malt profile that would tone down the dominant caramel flavor is completely absent.

Mouthfeel 3/5

Medium carbonation and very smooth.
Diacetyl slickness gives way to a dry finish with the expected carbonation bitterness feeling left on the tongue.

Overall 3/10

A tad too much diacetyl for the style.
The expected complex malt profile is completely absent.
As the defining example of the style I expected a stronger hops bitterness and the diacetyl to be completely absent.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 1,299 ratings.