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Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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1,340 Reviews
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
United Kingdom (England)

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: 1,340 | Ratings: 2,876
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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Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is just plain great bitters. Subtle and effective hopping make this beautifully bitter while retaining plenty of malting throughout. The nose gives off nice floral and herbal hop aromas and the taste follows with good bittering. There is very little aftertaste as it ends with a very dry finish, clean and bright at the end. Dark amber color and creamy full ivory head with superior lacing. Superb beer. Thanks, Fuller's.

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Photo of IronDjinn
4.58/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of the nicest looking ales I've ever laid eyes upon. Poured from a hefty 500ml brown bottle, it had a foamy off white head that left a lot of lace, and receded to a thick ring. Very rich, intense copper hue, makes me wonder if I have a fetish for copper (perhaps I should change my favorite style....). Nose is primarily hops, some caramel malt, a touch metallic, very faint spice. Flavour is a whirlwind of hops and malt, very nice blend, although the hops stand out far more. Thick buttery mouthfeel, but goes down very easy. The aftertaste lingers long after the glass has been emptied.

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Photo of edchicma
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance a nice coppery gold color with minimal carbonation. Smell suggests alcohol with slight malt aroma. This tasted like it has more than 5.9% alcohol. Mouthfeel also suggested alcohol content, but no major lingering sharp aftertaste. Very drinkable, except for the initial tang of alcohol.

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Photo of TheDM
4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew has a very nice malty aroma. The pour yielded a medium white head full of small bubbles with a nice transparent amber color with little to no lacing. My initial taste had no foretaste, but some bitter aftertaste and a very mild flavor. A very easily drank brew that I found much to my liking.

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

This is a superior ale that has been in my opinion a most consistent one. I used to drink this one hand-pulled in an English pub years ago, and the bottled version is nearly as good. Super clear amber with a frothy head and light lacing. Aroma is outstanding, sweet, hoppy and malty all at once. Boy is this ale balanced! Smooth and full bodied with an incredible mixture of English hops that bitter so tenderly. Malt is sweet and fresh providing a perfect counter to all of the different English hops used. The original and in my opinion the best ESB out there.

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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 DarrellK
4.66/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've tried this both in the US and in the UK and must say that it travels well as it is the same in both places. The rich amber color of the brew is quite inviting and is accompanied but a nice sort of malty aroma and a thick head for an ESB. The head continues quite well through the finish. Taste is warming with perhaps a buttery taste and a lingering finish. This is a polished brew that is always near the top of my list

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

Big bottle, 1 pint, 2.6 fl. oz., with drink-by date clearly marked. Beautiful, orangy-reddish amber. Big head, moderate lacing. Foam never completely disappeared as the beer retreated down the inside of my glass. Wonderful aroma of malt and honey that I have never smelled before. Beautifully balanced tast of honey and malt, with a hop bite that adds citrus to the background yet doesn't intrude. Very creamy & thick mouthfeel, better than some beers with "cream" in the title.Drinkability? "Oh, no! I only bought one!" I'll be buying more of these very soon. To think I didn't drink this while I was in the UK (I was young and foolish)!

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

Pours a clear, reddish amber in color. A nice thick (one finger) off-white head caps the beer in the glass. A very nice smell of malt and something sweet--possibly honey, is present. The taste is also of malt, some sweetness is present as well. A bit of fruity hops make themselves known in the finish. Overall a very nicely balanced taste--not overpowering in any one aspect, and very pleasant. This beer is very smooth with a light to medium body and highly drinkable; I wish I had more of these present in my refrigerator, but alas I only bought the one.

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Photo of nomad
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a ruddy copper color with fair amounts of carbonation, a foamy head, and some bits of stain. A fair looker.

The smell is of fruity hop scents, nuts, and a British session-ale malt. Taste is of an unbelievably edible bitter, a hearty barley and earthy flavor, yet it is also a beer with some tang. Builds up delectable toasty and nutty flavors, too. Has a good malt backbone and a long citrus-bitter finish of the highest quality.

Smooth going moderately thick mouthfeel. This beer is fabulously drinkable, impressive given its bitterness. Much better on draft than in a bottle. A personal favorite.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,876 ratings.
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