Fuller's ESB - Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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1,291 Reviews

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Reviews: 1,291
Hads: 2,679
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 9.85%
Wants: 113
Gots: 253 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,291 | Hads: 2,679
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. (367 characters)

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. (600 characters)

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. (892 characters)

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, (1,052 characters)

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. (1,179 characters)

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. (1,306 characters)

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. (1,295 characters)

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). (728 characters)

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 (866 characters)

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. (374 characters)

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. (375 characters)

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. (505 characters)

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! (1,354 characters)

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. (582 characters)

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 (387 characters)

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. (579 characters)

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. (1,585 characters)

Photo of Captain_Komamura
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - It is a clear amber color, with a decent head.

Smell - It is a strong fruity smell; with some malts.

Taste - It is like the smell; with a good hoppy bitterness and nice roasted malt flavor.

Mouthfeel - It has good carbonation; it is medium-bodied beer.

Overall - It is a pretty good beer; well balanced. (320 characters)

Photo of fourstringer
4.01/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2 oz bottle into a Samuel Smith pint glass with an aggressive hand. Label states best by 14 Jun 14.

A: Copper-orange body with excellent clarity. 1/2 finger of sudsy, white head that quickly fades to a thin film. Light lacing.

S: Appealing, fruity malt notes with interesting, though intermittent, traces of black pepper. Mainly grape, apple, pear. Faint hop.

T: Surprisingly subdued, semi-sweet malt gradually blossoms into a nice English hop bitterness. Semi-dry finish. No alcohol of note. Roasted notes arrive late with some light toffee, chocolate.

M: Low carbonation and light body. Does have that watery, English beer thing...

O: High quality, classic hopping is really dialed in on this one. Very nice finish and drinks quite well. Could use a bit more substance in terms of body/mouthfeel, but it does go down pretty damn smooth. Good session brew - I sucked down #2 before I wrote the review and it's definitely improving as it goes.

Cheers! (979 characters)

Photo of PaulyB83
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A- Burnt orange, deep caramel. amber with a medium head that dissipated to nothing.

S- Light toasted notes, some corn sweetness, noble hops. some alcohol coming through.

T- Nice malty sweetness that resembles some corn and apple juice. Lightly toasted white bread with a communion wafer like aftertaste.

M- Very drinkable with nice medium light body but also while offering up a full flavor.

O- This is my favorite English bitter that I've had and one of my favorite beers in general. It is really drinkable and bready and lightly sweet. Would like go to England some time and have some on cask. (649 characters)

Photo of Amandazor
4.74/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Fuller's ESB is by far my favorite beer. Mmmm. It is very seductive with a malty flavor and just enough hops to keep it different.

A: Honey Brown, nice glossy, foamy head

S: toffee candy (yum!), a hint of lemon, I kind of taste a little metallic flavor, and I think of dark brown sugar when drinking this fine beer.

T: This beer is most definitely multi-layered. You can taste the honey malts, the hint of lemon rinds, and an overall flavor of woody earthiness. There's a kick of carbonation when you take a sip, but it mellows out quick for a smooth ride. It's a tad bitter but not the kind of bitter you would expect form an IPA or a pale ale.

M: Very balanced, you can taste each layer of the beer and those layers live in harmony in your mouth.

If I could, I would drink this beer instead of water to stay hydrated. (826 characters)

Photo of utopiajane
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours dark gold with a tinged, creamy head of white foam that settled to a ring and left loose bubbles and great lacing. Clear and very pretty.

The nose is toasty malt, caramel. Herbal, fruity. I think I am getting a touch of lemon peel. Has a touch of something metallic on the nose.

The body is medium and smooth. Sweet caramel, toffee, herbal hops, malty, lightly fruity. It reminds me of a caramel apple. Simple crisp dry finish. Tea notes and grassy. Hops are leafy and it has a slight bitter. Overall it's more fruity than I expected.

This had a way of drinking that grows on you. It's subtle in some ways. The fruity quality of the hops was terribly pleasant alongside the rich but easy drinking malt. Not at all what I expected but I am happy I tired this one. (778 characters)

Photo of Rooster21
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - nice gold brown color, brownish white head that dissipates in a minute.
Smell - hops, maple, brown sugar, bread, Carmel
Taste - maple, hops, bread, Carmel
Mouthfeel - smooth, one of the best mouthfeel of any beer I've had.
Overall taste - Excellent! Never had a Fullers masterpiece before and I gotta say I'm sold. Very smooth, great mouthfeel, and a unique and perfectly crafted beer that can be enjoyed by all! Definitely recommend this one. (456 characters)

Photo of micromaniac129
3.76/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The one thing I didn't like about this beer was the aroma.
The aroma was sweet and fruity but there was some underlying aroma that just didn't agree with me at all.
The color was a nice amber with a small head and light carbs.
The taste was sweet and fruity.
The finish was slighltly bitter and flowed very smoothly.
Tastes good smells bad. (341 characters)

Photo of scratch69
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I poured a bottle into a pint glass

Appearance- Clear amber color with a fingers worth of off-white head. Fair amount of lacing.

Smell- Sweet caramel malt aroma with some floral hop notes.

Taste- Sweet malt flavor with just enough hop presence for balance. Hints of caramel and biscuit flavors as well.

Mouthfeel- On the light side of medium bodied with a slightly below average amount of carbonation. Smooth and wet feeling with a slightly dry finish.

Overall- A nice beer that's full of flavor. Thirst quenching and one of the better ESBs that I've had. (560 characters)

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 1,291 ratings.