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 VoxRationis
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Decanted into a tulip pint glass; best before 04 April 2017. Poured a light copper color with a 1/4 inch head and good legs. Nicely fragrant with fresh hops, sea salt, and honey; tastes of medium roasted malt with carrot/turnip notes. Medium bodied with nice retention of effervescence. Very nice example of bitter.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L: pours clear amber with a small white head that fades fast.
S: malty, sweet and some hops.
T: orange peal, malts, hops. Starts sweet then gets a little bitter. A good balanced beer.
F: thin, high carbonation.
O: not my style of beer, but a full flavored seasionable beer.

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Photo of FreshYeti
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Gorgeous, clear copper-amber color. As expected, it appears to be less effervescent than most American beers. I just bought a new beer fridge and it seems to be running way too cold, so I’ll need to wait a bit and let this guy warm up.

Personally I’m a huge fan of noble hops - they lend a drier, earthier bitterness, as opposed to the citrusy, juicy hops we grow around here. But they’re often showcased in German-style brews and pilsners. ESB is probably my favorite style of beer because it combines these great hop flavors with the perfect malt profile for my taste. As flavorful as you can get while still remaining quaffable.

Alright, I’m done waiting for this to warm up. The nose suggests tangerine and preserved fruits. Not getting much of that noble hop at this point.

The taste starts where the nose left off - orange, jam, rose petals, balanced with biscuity malt. Then the noble hops come to clean up the palate, narrowly saving this beer from becoming too sweet. There is a lightly toasted note on the aftertaste, but it’s pretty tucked away under orange flavors. I find myself wanting to say it’s too sweet and fruity, but after each sip the palate gets cleaned up and dried out by those hops.

This is a must try for anyone seeking the definition of balance. Americans commonly hear the term “special” or “strong” bitter, and then criticize brews like this for not being particularly bitter at all. You have to think of “bitter” as the British term for pale ale, but before the west coast hop craze happened. And special/strong just refers to the ABV, which you can expect to be a percent or two higher than a standard pub ale. With that in mind, this is the canonical representation of the style, and it’s now one of my favorites.

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Photo of Dentist666
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours clearest copper with 2-finger beige head, moderate retention.
Smell - biscuity malts, carrot, some hops.
Taste - toasted malts, caramel, hop bite in the finish.
Medium body, soft carbonation.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Type: 330-ml. bottle
Glass: Hardwood Artisans shaker pint glass
From: My friend, Alistair
Price: N/A
Purchased: N/A; Received on Dec. 31, 2016
Consumed: Dec. 31, 2016
Reviewed as: Extra Special / Strong Bitter
Misc.: Best by Feb. 15, 2017 at 11:05 a.m. MT

Was left over from a New Year’s Eve party. Had a bottle with a friend and actually liked it. Gave it a 3.75 on Untappd, but think it will be higher here. Surprised I had never reviewed it. I guess I’m not exactly and expert with this style, so will go into it with an open mouth.

Poured a light amber clear color with two fingers of off-white frothy head. Lots of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass. Average spotty lacing. Average retention. (Sight - 3.75)

Smelled caramel, toffee, earthy floral, plum, spoiled dark fruits, unsweetened iced tea and rye spices. (Smell - 4.25)

Clean and crisp on the taste. Got earthy floral, dark fruits, spices (rye?), toffee candy, buttery caramel, pear, dark red apple and a touch of iced tea. (Taste - 4.50)

Light body. Thin texture. Average carbonation. Clean, crisp finish. (Feel - 4.25)

Wow. Really liked this for the style. Got better each sip. (Overall - 4.25)

4.32 | 96 | A

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

Pours a beautiful copper colour. Head dissipates quickly. Aroma is subtle malty and slightly herbal. Flavour continues along these lines. Some toffee sweetness with bready background and a hint of roast. Hops are woodsy, herbal and slightly spicy. Low carb

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Photo of ANIMOUL
4.56/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A great looking beer with plenty of tiny bubbles rising well after initial pour (which, in past tense is 'porn')

A sweet, almost medicine, taste upfront with maltiness settling in the rear. I'm growing tired of IPAs, so perhaps this is tickling my forlorn mood. Definitely worth seeking & destroying. Good stuff.

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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 josanguapo
4.78/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From Labirratorium. I Ikea's pint glass. Reading Java HTP11. Caramelish, with a good amount of english noble hops that leaves a long pleasant aftertaste. Very refreshing and drinkable

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Way darker than your average esb, has colors of dark amber, rustic red, earthy appearance. Aroma had some honey pale malt, not so much hops.

Taste, noble hops, toffee, dry, unsweetened. Just as bitter as hoped for in style. Bready. Toffee bread. Its a decent beer, just the 500ml bottle format is excessively expensive per oz so that often will preclude picking this and finding a different esb 6 pack of 12oz. bottles for almost half the cost per oz.

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Photo of davidperez
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a hefeweizen glass, it pours a beautifully clear copper color, with a myriad tiny bubbles surfacing constantly. It forms a three-finger head, sudsy and creamy, ecru, with good retention.
Very nice lacing.

Nice bouquet.
Toasted malts, caramel, a slight butterscotch hint, fruity as in plums, and herbal hops resembling pine resin.

What a beer, a prime example of an elegant and balanced beverage.
What seemed a huge carbonation from the bubbles right after pouring, became very subtle on the palate, and you can tell that its carbonation is actually low.
The flavor follows the nose, with the toasted malts being the most prominent flavor, and you can taste some wood, a tea-like note and nuts as well.
Its bitterness is slightly more assertive than its sweetness, and it gets more pronounced as it approaches the aftertaste.
The finish is long and semi-dry, and it has a very nice tobacco note.

Definitely my favorite ESB thus far.

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Photo of acmurphy696
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've had an ESB in the past and thoroughly enjoy revisiting this beer.
It looks great and certainly has great taste and character.
I enjoyed getting reacquainted with a style that I rarely encounter.

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Photo of Rukeli76
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml can served at cellar temp in a nonic pint.

Nice amber colour. Only a half inch or so of head, and it dissipates almost immediately.

The aroma is dominated by floral hops which for me are somewhat reminiscent of bergamot or Earl Grey tea.

I get a nice little bite of hop bitterness up front. There's something about the depth and complexity of flavour I get in this beer that's hard to describe. There's no real comparison. It's satisfyingly malty and hoppy in a way that you usually only get from bigger, boozier, more liberally-hopped beers, but at the same time it's crisp and thirst-quenching in a way you'd never in million years expect from a room-temperature pint of bitter.

Not a ton of carbonation in this canned version. The mouthfeel is unfortunately pretty light and nondescript. too. This is definitely the kind of beer you'd much rather have on cask at a pub somewhere in East London.

This is an all-around world-class beer. I think of it as the ur-bitter against which all others must be judged.

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Photo of dipso123
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In bottle = 4
In can =4.25
On tap = 4.5
Cask = 5
Few beers vary as much depending on how they're packaged or served. When done right only a handful are as addictively drinkable.

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Photo of matuto
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle (exp. 08/2016), poured in a mug. Amber clear liquid, with lots of a persistent foam, which leaves some laces. Caramel and toasted malts. Herbal hops. Light to watery body, very low carbonation. Very high drinkability.

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

Bottle poured into a glass

Brown with a taupe foam ring

Aroma of roasted malts

Roasted malts, almost nut like taste, bit of spice, bitter hop notes, no real bite

good beer

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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 5anvils
4.65/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Drank and poured from the 11.2oz bottle. Deep red color. Initial head was solid landing down to a thin head line. There is a hint of sweetness to the drink with alcoholic tones emanating from below. This is a solid traditional British ale that is one of my standards. I really like the taste of fullers, and its actually is not really bitter. Slight creaminess to the mouthfeel and a nice carbonations that is soft to the finish. Overall a solid drink. It is a keeper and a great go to classic beer.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Duvel tulip. Back label says Best Before 01 JAN 17.

A- Pours a dark amber color with a 1/4 inch light tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and some wisps of surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves large clots behind.

S- Biscuity malt but not very sweet with a vegetal hop aroma.

T- Balanced flavor of herbal, slightly spicy hops and more biscuity malt that now shows a bit of sweetness. There's also more of that vegetal hop character which is actually quite pleasant.

M- Somewhat slick with medium carbonation and a body leaning toward the lighter side.

O- Right where you want a session beer to be. The flavors are interesting and well-integrated but not so assertive that you can only take so much. Also, the ABV is above that of a true session beer...which makes it more my kind of session beer, thank you.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A- muddy, murky golden brew.

S- strong caramel malt dominates with a hint of dark fruits.

T- similar to the nose, toffee,caramel and figs dominate with just a little bitter on the end.

F- smooth as hell, goes down almost too easy

O- probably the best in its style, absolutely superb take on a basic style.

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Photo of Ferb
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is a British ale in the truest sense. It pours a beautiful light copper color and builds a light and thin eggshell head that quickly retreats into a thin ring that slides down the glass as you drink it.

The aroma is generally clean with a bit of freshly cut grass and a faint citrus, but hardly a strong impression. The medium texture glides over the tongue gently and leaves a nice fizzy memory .

The taste is grassy and dry, with a gentle malt that balances with a hop finish that is so subtle, I can't tell which one wins. There is a slight metallic taste (nothing like a Boddington's foundry of iron on the tongue), but as it seems hard to get fresh British ale in the Midwest, my samples are a month past their "best by" date.

This is a refreshing ale that comforts me the way a meatloaf and mashed potatoes does. It is an ale designed to be consumed in quantity with friends and one that I will buy again.

Edit on February 22, 2017
I wanted to boost my numbers on this ale after having what I believe to be a fresher batch than in my original review. This one had a fuller, more persistent head, tasted less grassy, seemed more balanced and had a whisper of caramel. I want this in my fridge always. Fuller's has on of the best Porters I have had as well!

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Photo of neenerzig
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured of an 11.2 oz bottle into an imperial pint glass of mine, this beer pours a very clear, medium amber/copper color with a nice, thick, fluffy looking, slightly tan/slightly off-white head that's about an inch thick when first poured. Head eventually settles to a nice thick surface coating of a film layer of foam on the beer's surface along with a medium sized ring linins the inside of the glass. Decent lacing here. Aromas of toasted, biscuit caramel malt sweetness along with toffee that are followed by a floral and fruity hop smell. The taste pretty much follows suit, with somewhat toasted, biscuit, caramel malt sweetness along with some definite toffee hints that are followed by an herbal grassy note. This is rounded out with a slightly citrusy and floral, earthy hope presence along with hints of melon. Good balance of flavors here indeed. Has a fairly crisp, yet also very smooth, medium bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Has a clean finish with a decently dry after taste. Pretty good all around in all respects. Worth a try for sure!


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Photo of Everydayoff
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500ml bottle poured into a mug.

Crystal clear brown amber color in the showcase, massive creamy off-white head forms up with good retention, it just slowly recedes to thin everlasting foamy sheet atop along with plenty amount of refined lacing in form of ring, patch, and spot. Not much of carbonation can be seen through its body.

Significant aromas of creamy toffee / caramelized / biscuity malt along with citrus from hop, lightly toasted, some hop earthiness too.

Solid malty foundation in the tasting sensation providing the characters of biscuit, caramel, and toffee, hop unveils in the middle to balance all those sweetness from malt with citrus, peppery, grassy, and herbal notes. Slight toasted and mineral notes add in complexity while moderate bitterness from hop is at the almost end with a clean cut through the palate also pleasantly traversing to the aftertaste.

Medium body with smooth mouthfeel and some lively carbonation that makes some crisp through the palate, finish is dry and clean.

Very well balance between malt and hop that makes it not too overwhelming sweet for one who prefers hop and not too hoppy for one who is not hop heads, the intensity and mixture in overall aspects are very easy drinkable and same time have some depths to unfold.

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Photo of Bruno74200
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not as bitter as I thought it'd be but it's definetely very balanced with a great caramel malt presence and a light herbal hop bitterness. Pure English pub material. Glad to enjoy a pint

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Photo of Gregaroo
4.16/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

5/4/16 - On tap at Elephant and Castle in Chicago. Tasty bitter from Fullers served in a tulip glass. Nice frothy head. Had a couple with friends to remind me of London. Nice treat.

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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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