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 crookedhalo
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Golden copper color with a beige head that leaves a fair amount of lacing. Caramel malt aromas mixed with a faint diacetyl, buttery nose. Floral Fuggle aroma. Taste is predominantly malty and butterscotchy, but finished with a mild twang of hops. Very well balanced. Clean tasting and wickedly smooth. Velvety to the tongue. Highly drinkable in respect to it's intricate balance.

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Photo of grynder33
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Blew out of my bottle , but still had a small head, amber brown color. Had a really nice malty grainy aroma. Wonderful malt hop balance in the taste, coupled with a lovely carmel honey sweetness which stayed right to the end. i always thought other Fuller products were overrated but not this one.Could be my favorite non-stout brew.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The clear, coppery dark beer sports a yellowy, coarse, bubbly head. Lotsa spotsa lacing. Sweet toffee nose: biscuits, vanilla, tangy. Caramel in the front; fruity, slightly sour, thick middle. Bitter finish with a slight sugary taste. Fruit (sweet apples?) in the finish. Nice grains. This is a nice, sweet, fruity beer with a solid bitter, grainsy finish. Hugely drinkable.

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Photo of marcobrau
3.41/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A red ale with a bit of toasted malt in the aroma. This ESB starts sweet and ends bitter. As this beer warms up I can pick out a bit of fruitiness and some buttery notes. The fruitiness is mostly up front, with the hops asserting themselves more as it goes on, leading towards a nicely bitter finish, but nothing too powerful. I seem to remember this being a bit fuller bodied in previous tastings and with a bit more complexity. I would like this beer to be bottle conditioned, but it is not, and pours very bright and clear without any yeast.

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Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Capital Ale House.

Deep copper in color. Off-white head coats the glass in distinct rings. Aromas are of toffee, caramel, fruits. Very well-balanced hop flavor. I expected a much more bitter flavor, but was pleasantly surprised by how tasty this beer was. Right before the lingering hop bitterness is a hefty dose of caramel sweetness. Aftertaste is all hops, bitter, earthen, grassy. Mouthfeel is very "large" and really infiltrates the palate. Very, very drinkable. I can't believe I've waited this long to try this beer. Thankfully, it's available on tap and in bottles here in town. Very well-done.

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Photo of cokes
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amber, leaning in the orange direction with a moderate topping of bleached tan.
Buttery metallics on the nose with underlying bready maltiness.
Enters with mildly toasty multi-grain bread sensation. MInor flourishes of meat and smokiness. Turns fruitier via figs and pears and cherries, coupled with a dry buttered toffee accompaniment. Hops enter with a quick, quinine, mineral blast, turning toward dry leafy stalks twisted with metal. The finale is plenty bitter, but not off-balance.
On the plus side of medium bodied with a slow-rising carbonation.
Very impressive.

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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 Boilermaker88
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presented in an 18.6oz. brown bottle as shown. Had a "best before" date of 02-07-04 on the label. Poured a clear, coppery amber color with a foamy, rocky off-white head that collapsed after a couple minutes.
Smell is an enticing mix of caramel malt, floral hops, and just a hint of apple or pear.
Fullers ESB has a very well balanced taste. Sweet caramel malt flavors form a solid background which a fruity note builds off of. A mild hops flavor finishes things up. Quite tasty!
The feel is medium bodied, smooth and creamy.
Fullers ESB is a well-crafted beer which is very easy to drink. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable beer, one I'd happily get again.

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

Pours with a huge fluffy thick head that has great retention and is quite sticky. Eventually subsides to a rather thin, spotty lace. Color is a great, clear dark copper that makes for a marvelous picture with the fluffy head perched on top. Caramel malts are immediately on the nose with some slight fruity notes as well. Hops are also noticeable on the nose, but to quite a lesser degree. The aroma is not very strong, however, and I had to move in rather close in order to take it in. The mouthfeel is medium to full and is very smooth with carbonation that is fairly light, but by no means seems flat. Alcohol is well hidden. Lots of malt notes with a restrained sweetness that touches on some fruit and nut flavors. Towards the end, bitterness begins to fill the mouth and lasts through the finish and on into the aftertaste. The bitterness, however, is extremely well balanced with the malts and don’t dominate this brew.

The first ESB that I ever had was a Rogue Brutal Bitter. This was my second ESB, and was quite a bit move mild and malty then I was expecting after having had the Brutal Bitter. Nonetheless, it is an exceptional brew that is very drinkable. This is one that I’ll definitely be looking for again.

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Photo of ZAP
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very enjoyable ESB...Pours a harvest orange color....big fluffy white head...rims the glas nicely....nose is fruity...and spicy like leather...medium bodied...smooth....a nice caramel malt base....some bready notes...and then a spicy finish...also has a bit of an alcoholic note to it, particularly on the finish...

This is a very tasty ESB..whether I would spend $10 for another sixer is up for debate but I'm glad I bought at least one six-pack of this...a must try for any ESB, Pale Ale or IPA type of guy (or woman)...

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Photo of jlervine
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark amber in color with a white frothy head. Smell is fantastic - hops and malt dancing through my nostrils. The taste is very balanced between hops and malt with a dry characteristic. Mouthfeel is crisp and clean. Very well done. This is definitely a great session beer!

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

Pours a medium amber, nice off-white head that slowly recedes and laces very nicely. Aroma is lightly malty, slightly fruity, and medium on the hoppiness. Flavor is sweet and fruity maltiness, ending with a decent hop finish. Body is on the fuller side of medium, super easy drinking, very tasty.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 20 oz. pint glass. The color was a dark amber, with a good head. The smell was a very nice mix of hop and malt. The taste was somewhat hoppy, but also had a very nice backing of a somewhat sweetness to it. Mouthfeel was very smooth. Drinkability-wise, could definitely have several of these!

A quality ESB, amongst the best in the style. This is certainly a beer that I will have again.

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

Sampled from cask at the Cricketers Arms in Orlando, FL.

Served a crystal clear, antique bronze color with a slight white head. Great lacing that clings to the glass.

Aromas of grassy hops, caramelized malt and some toasted toffee. The smell pulls you close and begs you to drink it.

The tastes is wonderful. Balanced and clean. Sweet caramelized malt and bitter hops. The cask also gives a earth, peat, and must flavor that is unique to casks but a wonderful additon. Good medium body, little to no carbonation and a wonderful clean finish. This could be too easy to drink.

A proper pint and textbook Brittish ESB. This is the bar and its set pretty high.

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Photo of Darkale
4.31/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Very clear, copper-orange body. Full-bubbled tan head with excellent lacing.

Very faint yeasty aroma.

Wonderful mix of sourness and sweetness. Very full malty sweetness in the mouth -- creamy, foamy, and delightful -- is followed by a slightly brassy sourness.

A marvelous beer. Worthy of its ratings and reputation. Solid, excellent, deep and profound.

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Photo of dedalus
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

sampled from a bottle at andy's pub in erie, pa. i must confess to being amazed that this pub would even stock a beer of this quality (the "beer list" includes zima and mike's hard lemonade, and the waitresses look at you like you've got six ears when you ask them for a pint glass).

the beer poured out a dark, orange color, with barely a finger's width of head. head retention was minimal, as was the lacing.

the scent was fresh, grassy, flowery hops with a lightly caramelly, faint sweetness in the background.

the taste began malty, with sweet caramel and toffee flavors at the tip and middle of the tongue. nothing cloying or overpowering, just clean, satisfying sweetness. a lighter, almost honeyish sweetness followed. when the bitterness emerged it was full, earthy and delicate, and the flowers and sweetish, newly-cut grass that were present in the nose came through on the tongue. the finish was marked by a re-emergence of the honey flavors, except now with a definite hint of sweet, baking bread, with the bitterness stepping back just a bit. exhaling through the nose after the swallow accentuated these flavors, which mingled perfectly, complementing each other satisfyingly and appropriately.

throughout, the mouthfeel was exemplary. as thick as it could have been without sacrificing its refreshing, quenching character.

i am still a bit of a newcomer to the world of good beer, but up to this point, fuller's esb is by far my favorite. with only a few exceptions, i crave balance of flavors in a beer, and fuller's esb is so impeccably balanced, so quenching while at the same time so robustly satisfying, so cleanly sweet and so gently bitter, that i'm not sure any beer will ever dethrone it in my book.

the only flaws i detected in this beer were the small head and lack of lace and head retention. but, while appearance is certainly a factor, smell and taste are much more important to me, and in those two categories, this beer was outstanding.


stephano dedalo

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Photo of Garin
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It poured a coppery brown colour, perfectly clear. A nice creamy head formed and stayed, supported by some neat-looking carbonation.

A cleanly hoppy aroma, with a hint of malt.

Lots of bitter hops make my initial impression. Some caramelly malt comes in next, with a lovely hops flavour filling it out. A slight alcoholic warmth and flavour comes through. Some floral fruitiness builds over time. I also begin to notice an almost citric acidity as well.

It feels nice and lush in the mouth. The carbonation is low but sufficient. A nice lace is left on my glass.

Overall: I like it. I like it a lot. This, to me, is ESB.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Medium brown color, medium head. Medium bodied ale. Matly and hoppy. A nice full malt finish excellently balances the hoppyness. Mouthfeel is full and round. Smooth taste. Finish is clean and slightly dry. Aftertaste is matly with a very slight bitterness.

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Photo of kmo1030
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

rich amber color with a hint of red, thin tan head. sweet and malty smell, a little fruity with a little spice. The taste starts off bitter then trials off to spicey warming sweet malt flavor and finishes bitter. it has a really nice balance to it. the mouth feel was a little thin in my opinion, but not bad. i'll be buying this again, i feel it might take a few tries to get a good feel for this one.

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Photo of TripelJ
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

*reviewing from notes*

Now Quaffing: Fuller's ESB

Pours a deep gold with a medium tan head. Fine lacing sticks to the glass as the head recedes. The aroma is very faint, but is slightly sweet. The taste is what this beer is all about. In my opinion it is the pinnacle example of an ESB. Incredibly smooth, almost chewy sweet caramel up front. Hops are in the rear guard and balance everything out perfectly. Finish is dry and I'm getting some light peach and a mild bitterness that lingers on the palate.

Notes: ESB does not have to mean in your face hops and bitterness. Balance plays a huge part here and because its not over the top, its highly drinkable unlike some of the bigger american versions of the style.

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Photo of moulefrite
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A very solid, good brew, no question! The beer pours a lovely dark amber, with some red and orange hues. The head, however faded with alacrity however-perhaps I used the wrong glass? The taste was a delight! sweet, extracted flavors with just the right hop bite, which seems to linger forever on the roof of the mouth-easily a minute! Tasty malted barley and dense, chewy bread dough flavors saturate the palate. What a a flavor packed brew! This beer is highly refreshing and tough to put down. I've heard alot about this beer and am darn glad I tried it. We shall meet again!

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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 Realale
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Full copper, with touches of red. Creamy off-white head settles to a thin complete cap leaving excellent lacing.

Nose is rich crackery malt with a lovely Goldings earthy hop element. Touch fruity.

Rich in the mouth, with excellent mouthfeel. Hops balance the malt well, and there is a nice fruitiness from the yeast. Finishes a touch sweet.

This has passed its peak, as the evidence of the dry-hopping is diminished. This was more like a malted-up London Pride. Still a fine pint. Score reflects the beer tasted on this occassion only.

[edited 4/18/05 to reflect fact that beer was not cask-conditioned, but keg served through handpump]

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

This beer pours great with a nice big head. The color was a nice dark amber color. The aroma was good with its citus and hoppy aromas but there was a slight sour smell to it (could've just been the bottle I had, I don't remeber it being sour smelling before). The taste is wonderful, again with a slight citrus hint to it and a great balance of malt and hops. The initial taste is somewhat tart but it leaves you licking the sweetness off of your lips. A Great Beer!

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Photo of hotstuff
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I found this beer to have a good combination of flavor and bitterness. The hue was amber. It had a good malty aroma as well as a good malty and hoppy flavor. The more I drank of this beer, the more I liked it. I did not find this beer to have a lingering taste to it which is what I look for in a beer.

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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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