Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

1,349 Reviews
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
England, United Kingdom

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 07-08-2001

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Reviews: 1,349 | Ratings: 2,905
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.

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Photo of mapman97
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorite beers in the world, if not my all time favorite. Pours clear redish amber with a nice but not to big head. Taste is wonderful with a hint of sweetness and a hoppy bitterness that is very refreshing. There is a distinct maltyness as well. Give it a try, you'll like it. Very smooth if on tap but you don't want it to cold. This keeps the full flavor from comming out.

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

One of the top 5 beers in the world IMO. I have spent many a night in Fullers Pubs in London drinking this beer on cask......which is the best way to experience it. It should not be too cold and just cool to room temp as drank.
The Old Packhorse in Chiswick is one of my Fave pubs. I have toured the Fullers brewery and it is a special place and this recipe is just divine.
If you like Hops meeting a Caramel malt with bitter notes and strong flavor and presence , this is the great one.
The singer from Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson has been known to run off stage to catch last call just to drink a couple of ESB's.....many englishmen know it's almost hallucinogenic properties and covet it's special flavor and feel.
Only for the true beer drinker. If you are a pussy that drinks merlot and lager beer you will spit it out and cry......but that is okay. Go home hippie. You cannot handle this beer.
Look-Amber godlike hue.
Smell-Beautiful floral hops and sweet malts.
Taste-Strong hops with bitter bite finished by a nice caramel malt that is perfectly balanced.
Feel-On Cask might be the best mouthfeel of any beer in the world. Nothing like it. Finished perfect. One of the greats.

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

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into nonic glass.

Appearance: pours a 2" pillowy cream colored head that falls slowly with abundant lacing. Color is slightly hazy copper with moderate streaming carbonation.
Aroma: raisin and ripe fruit, bread dough and some earthy hops.
Mouthfeel: medium bodied, sticky, with a slightly damp finish.
Flavor: raisins, plums, a bit of toffee, bread crust with a nice fruity and earthy hop balance.
Overall: probably the best beer in the style category.

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

I love this beer from the bottle as much as from the tap. It is an incredible blend of full flavour, character, and complexity, with balance, and high drinkability, sweetness and bitterness both persent yet balanced and restrained. The bottle review is basically the same as my tap review because it find it largely the same both ways.

It is deep amber with a huge, long-lasting off-white head that slowly shrinks and never vanishes, leaving a little lacing.

The aroma is rich, highly appealing, and complex, with lots of caramelly toast, leaves, nuts, bread crust, fruit, with citrus, yeast, and hints of coconut, pineapple, and pine.
The taste is smooth and with plenty of sweetness and bitterness,incredibly balanced, with the edge just to the oily, full sweetness. It has complex flavours of caramel, nuts, bread, fruit, citrus, earthy pine, a wonderful, full body and slightly oily, yet lively texture. It also has a light, zesty quality and spiciness. It has a faintly sweet-sour, yeasty fruitiness under the predominantly caramelly-toasty-leafy character, but plenty of other elements mixed in.

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Photo of efhart
4.97/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is a wonderful bitter from Fuller's. Named extra special bitter (ESB) it lives up to that naming, a strong somewhat bitter beer without lingering bitterness. I found it to be one of my favorite beers. The only beer of this style that might exceed it is a beer I believe is called six X in the UK. The mouth feel and drinkability are outstanding. Best on draft.

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Photo of Keeton
4.95/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is the beer that changed it all for me. Wonderful everything from mouth feel, aroma, taste, color... If this beer is on tap anywhere I go it is the first one I will ever order. I've noticed just a few people do serve the beer way too cold so sometimes you might have to let it sit a few to get the true flavor out of it

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Photo of Jordan
4.94/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First, I have to say this is a landmark beer for me. There really isn't anything I've tasted quite like it. Very unique taste and aromas. Extremely complex on both the palate and nose.
Let me start with it's scent.. the smell of this beer is something very difficult to discribe. My best analogy would be this: a vibrant mixture of butterscotch, exotic herb essense, and pine. Odd? If you can imagine this combonation, I congratulate you.
Taste.. Many of the aromas make a flawless transition onto the palate. (you ever had that experience? sure you have.) There isn't an off balanced feature in this brew, including the hop/malt balance. If there was a perfect marriage between these contrasts, Fuller's ESB has succeded. Hints of citrus orange, grapefruit, lemon peel. Finishes slightly dry. Medium body. Prost!

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Photo of weareallfalafel
4.93/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Pours an ever so slightly hazy deep copper/Amber color with about a finger of head that fades quickly and leaves little lacing. Smell is strong and biscuity and nutty and a touch sweet, with a touch of British hops evident. Taste follows, beautiful balance of flavors, here. Sweet graham cracker like malts, earthy hops, and an almost tea-like finish that lingers. Feel is medium in body with a light carbonation. Overall, I'd say it lives up to the hype and is certainly a perfect example of the style. Love it!

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Photo of bill93063
4.92/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is without a doubt my favorite ESB and with good reason. It manages to possess the perfect balance of hoppy bitterness and creamy malty smoothness with caramel, vanilla and oatmeal notes. I could drink this one 7 days a week and never tire of it. It is an expensive brew but well worth the price. I might be inclined to drink this over any Trappist Belgian it is that good! Divine nectar here!

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Photo of Mike_Aguirre
4.91/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Awesome beer, I loved it. Complex, strong, not too bitter, not too sweet, perfect balance. Smells malty and has notes of noble hops in the aroma. Taste improves as it warms up .

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Photo of PapaGemutlich
4.89/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Straight pour into a pint glass--mmm tiny bubbles, 1" head with staying power.

Aromatic hops come on wonderfully complex, all grass, hay, and clover tripping over each other. Bittering hops balance perfectly. The malt is rich and solid and screams good quality. It tastes like grain.

Damn, but it's hard to stay objective: the aroma alone brings London pubs crashing out from my own memories.

NB--The six pack bottles I bought seem amazingly fresh; I wonder about how well this would survive a few months on a shelf somewhere. I got it at Rodman's Pharmacy on Wisconsin Ave. in DC.

Somebody recommend an American made ale that tastes like this. Lordy, it's good.

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Photo of bozebus17
4.89/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a brilliant clear copper. There was a large off-white head that died down to a nice thin foam. This lasted all the way down.

This is a very aromatic beer. Lots of toasted aroma and fruit come through. It makes me anticipate the first taste even more.

The taste is wonderful and there are many things going on here. It is slightly sweet. This one is a bit buttery and I detect a bit of nuttiness. There is a hint of fruit and a nice slightly earthy bitterness comes through in the end to balance. As it warms I detect a hint of mintiness. This beer is soft on the palate, medium bodied and creamy. Very nice.

Wow, I can't believe it has taken me this long to try this beer. I must say this one exceeded my expectations. This is a top-notch ale and one I would be glad to drink any time. It is definitely about the maltiness. Pour me another one please!

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.89/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Orange-red body, 1 finger white head.

Smell: Stone fruits, orange, caramel, cream, and a mild nuttiness from the hops.

Taste: See above.

Feel: Medium bodied, medium-low carbonation, mild bitterness.

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Photo of mentaltraveller
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of the best beers I have had. It is one my standbys. It pours a reddish golden hue with a big fluffy head and rising carbonation that never quits. It smells of malt and hard candy. The bitterness and sweetness of this beer is perfectly balanced, finishing on the bitter side. It is very smooth, with a nice loose carbonation.

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Photo of billybob
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

first is appearance, i like the embossed dark brown bottle and nice labeling. beer pours a good two finger light tan head that settles but there is still some at the finish with a fair lacing med brown color. smell is clean, bready. taste is caramel hint of dark chocolate, bread and hint of fruit, malt up front with nice hop bite finish. mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation and a hop bite that lingers. drinkability is exceptional really enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I got the chance to try this on cask at the Fuller's Brewery in London. The notes were written almost a month ago.

Pours a slightly hazy rusty orange color with a big foamy head and tonnes of lace. The aroma is of raw pungent earthy hops first and bready malts second. The taste is absolutely phenomonal. Lots of raw leaf hops with an herbal earthy feel, and a clean and strong bitterness. On top of this, theres a slightly caramel malt feel. The malt is definitely present. The finish is crisp and mostly bitter. The mouthfeel is smooth and slightly creamy with minimal carbonation. Brilliant stuff.

Ive had this beer on tap a million times in Canada but the cask version is much better. Its more aromatic and hoppy, it also has a much rawer feel.

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Photo of HossMcGraw
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was amazing on tap! So complex, so delicious, I wish I were drinking it right now, even though it's about 9:50 in the AM. Not like that's stopped me before, but I have to work later and it's kind of hard to just drink one of these.

Appearance is a lovely amber/burgundy, with a small head. Aroma is caramel, spice cake, milk chocolate, toffee, cigar humidor, etc. Pretty damn good. The flavour is ridiculously complex, and pretty much contains the same characteristics as the aroma, and since I'm a lazy fuck, I'm not going to type them all out again. The finish is sweet/dry with a nice hop bite.

Mouthfeel is full and smooth. Glides ever so gracefully across the palate and down into my belly where it awaits its cruel destiny. The drinkability is great. I could drink this all day, and plan on doing so some day in the near future. This was pretty boring in the bottle as I recall, but on tap, it is phenomenal.

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Photo of Bestuurder
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bought this at the Royal Oak in Ottawa, not bad place, always has some of the rare brews on tap.

Fine looking beer. Fairly large head, but it was consistent all the way to the bottom of the glass after the initial 1/2 inch pour head. Good colour, darker than I might have expected, more of a brown.

Not overly sweet, but still has a sweetness to it. I don’t find this beer to have a pronounced aroma of any kind.

Overall, I didn’t think the beer was terribly bitter. I would have thought the beer would finish a bit more crisp as an ESB, but it didn’t. Very well balanced, amazing taste. Not too bad with a malty character. A fair amount of booze taste when it warmed up, more that I would expect for its alc content

The two Fullers I just drank for this review were both perfectly carbonated. On the taste however, it felt like an English Pale, more flat actually, with a medium body.

I really enjoyed these two beers, however, I'm not completely sure how many I could drink in the long run. It has a lingering taste after the swallow which I again would assume is the malt hanging around.

This was the first of the ESB's I have tried since coming back from Britain, and I am still equally impressed now as I ever was.

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Photo of BeerAngel
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one that grows on you! My first drink, I thought "pretty good beer". My second "pretty damn good beer". A friend introduced me to this beer and now I buy it. Now I love it. Very smooth! Makes you want to roll it around before you send it down the hatch. It has a nice head that leaves traces of it down the side of the glass all the way to the bottom. It has a brilliant medium amber color and clarity. The taste is almost buttery and is very smooth and creamy. The mouthfeel is by far the best I've had from any beer, period. This is the beer I claim as my "fallback" beer...and I mean that with the greatest of compliments.

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Photo of Wobbly
4.83/5  rDev +19%

Clearly underrated by most BA's, this is one of the true world classics. I was fortunate to drink it on tap in England at least once a week when I lived there, but I find that even the bottled versions exported to the U.S. retain most of the complex character that makes this beer so great. I marvel when folks in the U.S. tell me that they have had a better version made here. Each time I try their favorites, I cannot help but think it is national bias or perhaps that this beer is so famous and there is some kind of reaction to that. It is pretty affordable, too, so I would highly encourage people to give it a shot (and try not to serve it too cold).

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Photo of scoobybrew
4.83/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - crystal clear amber color with a thick foamy head that settles into an incredibly chunky lacing

S - earthy and herbal English hop aroma, mild yeast esters

T - pale malts with modest English hop flavor throughout, moderately low yeast esters, balanced hop with medium hop bitterness

M - medium body with moderately low carbonation

D - This is truly a world class ESB and a paragon that has defined the style. It lives up to its reputation. I need another.

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Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.83/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

500ml brown bottle from Barb's Beer Emporium in Concord. Pours a translucent copper body with a good inch of off-white head that leaves some good lacing. Caramel and toffee share the aroma with some herbal and floral hops. Caramel, toffee, nut, chocolate, and coffee all jump out initially, with a good amount of herbal, floral grassy hops with just the slightest hints of licorice, banana, and butterscotch. Medium to full in body with moderate carbonation. Super drinkable. One of the best - if not the best - ESB I have ever had. Flavor is so complex and yet complimentary and balanced. I can find almost nothing wrong with this beer - phenomenal.

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Photo of hophead723
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I grabbed this one, with high expectations. I'm already liking this brewery.

Look: Golden mahogany in color, with a sticky off-white head. Nice lacing down the glass

Smell: It smells like orange marmalade and toasted biscuits. There's also a leading hue of orange blossom honey and fruity ale yeast. The aroma shouts quality.

Taste: The taste and aroma are similar with a predominant unique and delicious orange marmalade base of sweetness that is complemented quickly by a toasted english muffin backbone of malts. This can only have come from Great Britain!

Feel: Incredibly smooth with a delicate bitterness that lingers on the palate to give a perfect finish.

Overall: Top notch delicious beer! Absolutely world-class!

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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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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,905 ratings.
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