Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

1,350 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: 1,350 | Ratings: 2,911
Photo of oriolesfan4
1.8/5  rDev -55.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Bought a 16 oz single of this for $0.99

I wanted to like this, I really did. But, this was one of the worst tasting beers I've had. It smelled and looked alright, but the taste was so bitter and rough. I actually couldn't take more than a few sips and I had to pour it, I was actually gagging. I tried another bottle a few days later and got the same result. I hope I just bought some bad bottles because this seems like a well respected historic beer.

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Photo of callmeclemens
1.9/5  rDev -53.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I never understand why beers like this always come so highly rated here on BA. Plenty of Caramel Taste (and flavour) smooth and a little thick.I drank one cold and one warm to compare taste, niether was better than the other, pretty bland really overall.

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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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Photo of SimplySinister
2.22/5  rDev -45.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Highly carbonated dark copper brew with a moderate head and minimal lacing.

S - A mix between floral, fruit, hops, and malt.

T - I don't particularry care for the taste of this brew. It may be legendary in certain circles, but its mediocre at best for me. The rampant bitterness really takes away from the overall taste. I find it to be far too sweet/fruity in the finish, far too harsh, and extremely acidic.

M - Thin, clean, and dry.

D - Although I would recommend this beer to a hops fan, as far as I'm concerned its not very drinkable. The main problem, for me, is the overall fruity sweetness of this brew. If the sweetness/bitterness of the brew was toned down a bit making it mellow, yet flavorful, I think it could be a winner. Unfortunatly, as is, I am nowhere near impressed. All in all, its not an experience that I wish to repeat any time soon. I mean no disrepect of course; its just my opinion.

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Photo of DrewZ926
2.36/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

my first go at an ESB style beer, was not impressed though.

A- pours a translucent copper body with virtually no head. some sporadic soapy lacing.

S- malts are very overbearing. multiple swirls present the faintest hoppiness. smells of bread, yams, caramel.

T- first few sips are tasty, big bold malt profile, very rich and sweet with a nice body. however, the taste to me gets overwhelming very fast. the lack of balance between hops and malts throws me off here. again tasting a lot of yeast, yams, malt, caramel.

M- a little too thin on the palate. very minimal carbonation.

D- would not drink more than a half bottle again. perhaps on cask would be better? the flavors were really too out of balance for me.

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Photo of JDV
2.38/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Copper, clearish color with a small head. Smell is mostly caramel like malt with a hint of alcohol at times with the caramel. Tastes like lightly bitter smooth liquid caramel. Almost a light burnt sugar taste because of the light bitterness with a touch of alcohol. Decent, drinkable beer, but not my preferred style.

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Photo of TrickKnee
2.7/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

NEver have been a big fan of British beer but I heard so many good things about ESB. Smell and color were great however the taste and mouthfeel were horrible. I cant even explain the taste because halfwaythrough the bottle I gave up. Would not recommend, however I know to many people who like this so give it a try, if only for one bottle.

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Photo of pmcadamis
2.73/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Light brown brew with almost no head. Only a few soapy suds sit on top of this slightly hazy brew.

The nose is chalk full of warm caramel and vanilla malt aromas. A little nutty smelling. Smells really smooth and appealing. There is a slightly funky off smell that has me wondering if I got a bad bottle or something.

Warm and nutty tasting with a big malt taste. I tatse pecans, wet hay notes, and grassy hops. This one is bitter, but not in the way that I would like it to be.

Mothfeel is very thin and highly carbonated with a trace of alcohol.

I don;t really like this one to tell you the truth. Maybe I got a bad one, but it's thin and dank tasting. Not terrible, but I'm disapointed to have something so mediocre from such a respectable brewery.

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Photo of BrewitYerself
2.75/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz bottle poured into pint glass @ 54 deg. F.

Pours a clear dark copper, with a modest (<1 finger) off-white head, which dissipates quickly. No lacing.

Moderate aroma of rich sweet malts, honey and caramel. Slight ester presence. No hops.

Taste is of sweet malts, honey and caramel. Not particularly rich or complex. There is a touch of bitterness upfront, accompanied by a slight sourness, which gives way to the sweet malts. Finishes with a sour bitterness, followed by a lingering sweetness. Slight to moderate mineral presence.

Slightly overcarbonated; a bit too thin to showcase the malt.

Overall a good beer, but I was unimpressed. Aroma promises more richness than is delivered. Malt profile is overly sweet, yet it's a pretty dry beer - that was odd. By the end of the glass I would have had another, but I wouldn't get up and drive to the store for it.

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Photo of schavuytje
2.77/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I'm a little fuzzy brown with an orange glow. The head is off-white and full, made up of beautiful little bubbles
in the nose light tones of a grass bouquet hop distant bit of caramel, but mainly cereals
I show soft taste of wood and oak and a little further into the low toffee and caramel
ESB the best I've tasted so far

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Photo of ngandhi
2.78/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Amber, good head retention and lacing. A little too fizzy.

Very malty on the nose with some caramel. A ton of solvent. Bocky. Light hops marry well with the malt. The hoppiness is very fresh. Homebrewers might appreciate this a great deal.

Taste, too, opens with solvent and, later, finishes with it. Unpleasant, this note lends a bit of medicinality as well. Otherwise, the malts have the sweetness of a maduro cigar. The hops are indistinct and lend a pathetic, hesitant strike at the back of the tongue. On the tongue, as on the nose, however, they seem quite fresh; the hop oils are well preserved. Also, light dry cider on the finish.

Overall, I find this beer largely confused. The solventy nose, which is really just an incongruity of malt and hops, carries over on to the tongue and suppresses most everything that might be good about Fuller's ESB. I don't know how it ranks up against ESBs, this is my first, but the maltiness makes it reminiscent of a poor attempt at the bock style. The dry finish is odd because the beer is rather sweet at first; it makes the carbonation (which I find a touch heavy) overbearing. I can think of no appropriate occassion for this beer.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of breadwinner
2.81/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Absolutely wretched pint on cask at the Lamb and Flag in London. Given the rep of the establishment, I'm not inclined to think it was a poorly kept cask, but you never know. Either way, just a painfully sweet mess, as though someone took mixed equal parts generic cask ale with Southern sweet tea. Will have to give a bottle a go sometime, but this particular pint was surprisingly awful (esp given its reputation).

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Photo of beeroclock
2.83/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Amber in color w/ a nice frothy head, smells slightly sweet. The sweet smell may be part of it, but I taste caramel then it finishes very bitter. Almost too bitter & too sweet for me. Its well carbonated. I wasn't really fond w/ the taste, but I was in a hurry and this beer seemed easy to down when necessary. The beer is just ok, not a great Fuller product.

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Photo of anakar
2.86/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is an overpriced beer from an overhyped brewer to my taste.

App - It poured beautifuly into my glass, a bronze-ish foggy beer with a small head.

Smell - it was nothing exceptional, just a good beer smell - no flavor or anything

Taste - well, here's where it loses it. For a
beer that says "Extra Special Bitter" all I can say is that it wasn't bitter - it was mild. It wasn't special, I can get a stronger, more bitter, tastier one for a cheaper price, and there was nothing extra about it.

Mouth - It seems to lack ditinction, the feel goes away as soon as you swallow

Drink - See Mouth

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Photo of twi1609372
2.9/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

To me i should like this beer more than i do, yet i only think it's ok. Yes it has a medium body, bold taste, yet if having a taste was all that mattered i could drink motor oil. this beer's flavor to me was overall poor. normally i appritiate this kind of beer, yet i found myself unable to order another. Justa matter of opinion and personal taste i guess.

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Photo of thinkbreakfast
2.9/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

App: This beer poured a standard dark amber color with a standard head.

Smell: One whiff of this brew revealed what I found to be its underlying theme: Maple syrup smelling malt.

Taste: Thick syrup/malt up front. Slight bittering into the middle and end. I did not find this particularly enjoyable, however I haven't been overly impressed with the ESB style in general.

Mouthfeel was a bit on the thick side, which hurt the drinkability.

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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 TechMyst
2.91/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pint bought at Pridom. One of the few I saw without dust all over the bottle. Luckily this had a freshness date...best fefore 9-10. Consumed 2-10. Thought I'd try the "Standard." Strong caramel malty notes in the aroma. Conditioning was not too harsh. ruby amber color. Heavier on the malts than the hops. Sorry everyone, not too impressed here. I would have liked this much better after my Guinness phase. But now I'm on the primrose path to geekiness/snobbery, this is just so-so to me. It's a nice quality brew; just not what I like...Something odd in the bitter after taste I did't like and could not place, I'd like a Bass please...

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Photo of hollicetales
2.93/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured a sipid coopery yellow, perhaps i drank the last bit before the keg was kicked for the other review hold this alot better than i do. was very thin and no head....had beautiful color, not much of an aroma....very weak bodied and thin....it did have a decent bite and the after taste was much better than the inital though slightly metallic...nice and bitter.

 364 characters

Photo of Tom_Banjo
2.93/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

330 ml bottle purchased from City Swiggers and poured into a pint glass. Do not understand the hype this beer gets. To me it was like a partially flat American Amber Ale. Will not be going out of my way to have this again.

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Photo of BowWowWowYippyYoIPA
2.94/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Best before July 24 2015

Look - Pours light amber with fluffy white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Medium bubble distribution. Head fades to absolutely nothing. 3 paws.

Smell - Huge aroma of apples, almost smells like a cider. That's about the only aroma I'm picking up, maybe a little bit of bitter hops. 2.75 paws.

Taste - Apple taste present as well, slightly bitter finish. 3 paws.

Feel - Medium feel, slightly wet, tingle on back of tongue. 3.5 paws.

Overall - Not sure if this is how the beer is supposed to taste, just tasted like unfiltered apple juice to me, which usually means acetaldehyde is present. Label says marmalade fruitiness, but again, nothing but apple for me. Since it's well before the best by date and was properly stored, I can't give it a good score. 2.75 paws.

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Photo of ARoman
2.98/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

On cask, poured into a nonic. The aroma is lightly waxy, a bit leathery, with caramel notes. The beer is an oily amber color with a white soap head that has light retention and lace. The taste is a medium bitter followed by a medium sweet. The oily and slick texture is flat. The light body has flavors of salted caramel, musty leather, a light, mellow citrus / marmalade and a light bread crust. The finish is grainy with an aftertaste that's lingering, primarily waxy, with notes of caramel and grain.

 503 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tap: Poured a clear light brown colored ale with a small creamy head with standard retention. Aroma is quite weak with only light roasted malt being noticeable. Taste is quite refreshing but again a bit weak on taste with some roasted malts and light dry finish. I was quite disappointed by the strong watery finish and I’m wondering if this one wasn’t shot through nitro before falling into my glass. Anyway, I still persist with my belief that Fullers beers should only be drank from cask.

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Photo of jcalabre
3/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Originally sampled on 24 January 2003. I am writing this review from my notes.
on draught, clear copper color w/ virtually no head. nice maltiness up front w /a slightly bitter finish. This might serve as a nice 'escape' beer, to free the BMC knuckleheads from their confinement & introduce them to real beer. This is a decent ESB, but nothing spectacular.

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Photo of JamesS
3/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was expecting more from this ESB, given how well it's know. Everything was pretty much average across the board. Has a nice copper color, but almost no head and little lacing. Nice malty scent that has a bit of a sourness to it. Not a bad taste, a bit hoppy, but nothing to offset it and round it out. Goes down fine, but not overly smooth.

I may have to try it again just to make sure I didn't get a bad one or that it needs to grow on you.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,911 ratings.
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