Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

2,926 Ratings
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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Ratings: 2,926 |  Reviews: 1,357
Photo of Holland
3.91/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a clear amber brown with a large 2 finger head.

S: smells of malt vinegar. Is that how it's supposed to smell? I also get bitter hops and malt.

T: simple taste of vinegar and malt. Tastes bitter and slightly acidic.

M: balance between crispness and smoothness. I like this feeling.

O: solid esb, but I can imagine better. Not that I've had it, but one can dream.

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Photo of falloutsnow
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 oz(?!?) bottle purchased from Piccadilly in Champaign, IL.

Poured into a US pint glass

An aggressive pour produces a 1.5cm head of fairly large, whitish bubbles, forming a head that faintly resembles a piece of cheese with many holes in it. Kind of weird. Head recedes within a minute to a faint island in the middle, then to nothing. No lacing. Body is a transparent medium orange-amber color with very apparent carbonation.

Aroma is of malt sweetness, a bit of iron (from water?), and faint caramel. Fairly toned-down, would appreciate a bit more here.

Taste opens with fine malt sweetness and a very faint hint of smokiness. This transitions to and is tempered with a significant dose of pleasantly bittering hops that balances this out nicely. Aftertaste is of faint malt and bittering hops.

Medium bodied with medium carbonation lets this foam a bit in the mouth, but goes down quite smoothly. Finish is dry and slightly astringent.

A fairly simple beer, but cleanly executed and immediately appealing to the taste. At 5.90% and well-balanced, this is incredibly easy-drinking, to the point where I doubt I'd notice putting down a few while having a conversation at a bar. If the aroma was a bit more inviting, then it would be improved all the more.

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Photo of SMILLIE
3.58/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Stone pint glass

Appearance: A very nice golden brown color. 1 finger head that reduces in a minute or two.

Smell: Fair aroma of malts Not very aromatic.

Taste: Roasted malts and hoppy. Slightly bitter. Not a very strong beer. Finishes with a malty taste, some bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

Overall: A good beer. Not exactly my favorite type of beer. Very drinkable. High carbonation. Nice brew, I personally would not buy this one again. I think my preference for stronger brews makes this beer less impressive (not knocking the beer, just not my taste.

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Photo of soju6
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poursa nice deep golden color with a good head and ample lacing.

S: Inviting malt aroma, with some caramel sweetness.

T: Nice mild malt sweetness wirh a subtle bitterness and a clean finish.

F: Fairly medium body, smooth and very well balanced.

O: Great ESB. This is a good benchmark to measure other ESBs by. I would like to has this from cask.

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

809th Review on BA
Bottle to mug
11.2 oz
Best by: 12 Dec 11

App- A light golden brown with a two finger head. Dots of cling dimple the glass. Wasn’t a big cling or lace factor on this one.

Smell- Smelled very earthy with a touch of sweetness. Had a back end aromatic of some cold caramel and a bold malt nose.

Taste- Ah, Fullers. You so get it with this style. It was malty and balanced by a little bit of a peppery sweetness. A little hit of booze on the back end of the taste. A nice mix of that malt and bitter. Wasn't over the top but nicely subdued.

Mouth- Medium bodied and medium carbonated. A little residual caramel malts and a little of the bitter spiciness.

Taste- I want this on cask in London before I meet my maker. I need to make that happen somehow. This is just one of the classics. No other words about it.

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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 adamette
3.62/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Live review. Poured from the 11.2 oz. brown bottle that I bought as a single last week from Save-On in Mentor, Ohio for $1.85 into my “The Second City” Weizen glass. “Best before 11 Jul 11 162 16:36” stamped on the bottom of the back label. I did not notice that at the time of purchase. That is too bad. A fair assessment of the beer should be undertaken when it is fresh. I will include this review but then seek out a fresh one in the near future and replace this review at that time.

A Dark copper body under a very light brown albeit brief head that dissipated down to a thin line within 60 seconds after pouring. OK look. 3.5

S Nice, classic ESB smell. I am under the impression that this is “the original” ESB so that makes sense. I like the smell. For those wondering, the ESB smell is some barley malt and some hops in relatively good balance. 4.0

T The taste is a direct extension of the smell. I find a classic but muted ESB taste of balanced hops and barley malt. Compared to American craft brew ESBs this one is rather bland but those American craft brews are certainly “Johnny come lately” versions of this classic ESB. Taste is just fine for the style. 3.5

M More thin than I would like but I cannot help to compare it to the American craft ESBs that I have had. 2.5

D/O This beer is clearly drinkable and I am quite sure when it was released that it offered a welcome change in taste with its slightly elevated hops presence. Overall it is a good beer. 4.0

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Photo of Jwale73
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz. bottle served in my Spiegelau nonic. Best before 13/Feb/12 indicated on the back label. Pours a dark translucent copper with a quarter inch, loose, off-white head that quickly disperses into a soapy skim - no lacing to speak of. Nose expresses light toasted malts, a trace of caramel and a suggestion of honey. Taste consistent with nose; however, a distinct albeit not overpowering, noble hops presence is detected at the finish. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body (but closer to light) with a mild carbonation and a trace of acidity. Finish falls just shy of crisp. Overall, a very drinkable and beer with a balanced hop/malt profile.

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Photo of IPA4LIFE
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Rich amber in color with a moderate, one finger head. Surprisingly large amount of lacing, with foam sticking to the glass for minutes after the pour. Really gorgeous color.

S- Leaves a little to be desired. Some bready malts, and a little sweet caramel, but it seems like the "volume" got turned down on the smell.

T- Remarkably well-balanced. A delicious, sweet caramel / brown sugar type of malt flavor going on here. There is just enough of a hop bill to balance the flavor throughout. The taste is consistent throughout the palate, no one flavor sticks out and overpowers the others. Like I said, the flavors are all remarkable well balanced.

M- Smooth and balanced, this is a very drinkable beer, especially at 5.9%

Overall, I think this is an awesome beer. So bold, yet so subtle at the same time. Although it isn't as in-your-face with a lot of the flavors like most popular beers these days, the folks at Fullers are making a solid, balanced beer with a lot of quality flavors. This is a remarkable well-rounded and smooth beer. Love it.

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Photo of Homebrew35
3.74/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a half fingers worth of white head. Clear golden pale body.
A bit more head world be better imo. But on to the smell

Big english bready yeasty notes which is so typical of the style. Big white grape like fruity qualities as well. Some carmel and toffee mixed with some grainy notes.

Tastes fruity, carmel, toffee, sweet brown sugar malts. All the usual suspects I expect to find in the style.

Mouthfeel is medium thin bodied. Medium carbonation. A hint of bitterness on the finish but very malt forward.

Overall a solid brew, nothing breathtaking but none the less very satisfying. Highly drinkable.

$2.25 a single

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

Pours a pale amber with small white head. Not as gorgeous as the draft examples I've had. Nose has a nice toasty, malty character with a few red wine-like notes. Minerally on the palate, toasty/malty again, some salt qualities,and medium bodied. Finishes with a bit of herbal hop, yet still relatively clean. Very drinkable. Love this ale.

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Photo of bennetj17
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Best before Feb 2012. Deep copper, almost brown color with amazing clarity. The head is nearly two fingers and dissipates slowly leaving a lasting film across the top. The visible carbonation is sporadic. Caramel malt nose, somewhat grainy, but at times almost sweet like cinnamon roll. There is a nice fruitiness to the aroma also, and the overall bouquet is very inviting.

Lightly sweetened caramel malt dominates the flavor, and it is paired by a moderate bitterness. The taste is well balanced but isn't very robust and seems slightly watery, though that may be more of a contribution from the mouthfeel. The carbonation is adequate but the body feels a bit thin.

Still a classic go-to beer, one you could drink alot of, though it's a bit high for a session. Always recommended...

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

Surprisingly bright rusty tangerine with loose sticky eggshell head. Perfumed nose: flowers and wood oil with slight dough - appetizing.
Danish butter biscuit, orange rind marmalade and golden raisins, some butter and a metallic note, then a black pepper and woody EKG hop hit.
Cinnamon essence and raisin finish, lemon oil hints and tingly linger. Chewy, medium, very soft.

Tasty! Big fruit with good oily spice for superb balance. Beats down on Wells Bombardier. The standard.

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Photo of BeerAmbassador
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich reddish caramel color with a thin white head that leave behind some nice lacing. Aromas of caramel, toffee and a nice estery dark fruitiness. Medium/light body with a very smooth mouthfeel, typically low carbonation for the style. Hops are only present in a balancing capacity. This beer is all about the malt for me. It's great to have a nice, drinkable malty beer like this every once in a while as a change of pace from highly hopped American craft beers. For me this is a benchmark for the style.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass, best before date of 12/12/11.

This pours a clear amber color with a tan head. The smell is more of malts than hops, I get some caramel, toffee and a little floral hops. The feel is medium to light. The taste is pretty good, I get the caramel, and a little hop bite on the way down. Overall this one is pretty tasty but I prefer the 1845 or the Porter from them (but all are good beers).

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Photo of Mosley1212
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a standard pint glass. This is one of the classic brews that I've had several times, finally going to review it.

A--Poured a light amber with a small amount of carbonation bubbles slowly rising throughout the drink.

S--Very sweet smell. Lot of malt up front in this one. Then comes the caramel, toffee, and floral notes. It's not overly sweet, but it's getting close.

T--Sweet toffee and caramel. Then a bitterness sets in that lingers. The toasted malt flavor is present and appreciated. There's also a nice cream flavor to this beer.

M--This is a very creamy beer. The carbonation is non existent (on the tongue), and the body of the beer is light. Almost watery, but yet it is a fully beer.

O--This is a classic beer. Very smooth and creamy. It's better on cask, but from the bottle it is still a really quality beer.

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Photo of drpimento
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cant believe I didn't rate a lot of the Fuller's stuff before; some of my all time favs. Their ESB in cask is a standard. Would've preferred to let this warm a bit first, but... Poured with a small to medium sized, cream to light tan, fine creamy head that soon settled to a light cover and some lace. Color is a lovely medium dark amber with good bubble trails. Aroma is very malty, caramel, toffee, a bit of hops and fruit. Flavor is similar and has this thing where I almost think it's sweet, but not really, and ah, there it is, lurking behind some gentle bitterness and a hint of tang to keep it lively. Body is great and so is carbonation, especially for the style, although again, much better via cask. Finish is like flavor and tapers quickly but actually hangs around for a while. Session beer extraordinaire.

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

A: One finger's worth off-white froth settles slowly over copper hues ranging from dirty penny to bright amber.
S: The nose is refreshing and clean. Well-balanced with a lightly toasted caramel malt character on the one hand and fresh hops of a fruity nature on the other.
T/M: Mouth is crisp and clean, and the flavors are wonderfully balanced. Malt is favored just a tad. Toasty caramel and mildly bitter herbal hops with a sweet crisp finish.
D: Phenomenal. Simple, yet phenomenal. Can't wait to have more.

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Photo of bpw28
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Two finger bone white head, very appealing deep amber (about a 20 SRM), beautiful lacing, small slow bubbles of carb.

Smell: Medium roast, bready yeast, honey, floral, earthy, light wood;oaky. Clean.

Taste: Very nice malty, great yeasty, very floral, light wood, creamy rich body, good carb.

Final Thoughts: Great beer. I'm not blinded by the light, but I'm squinting. It's THE ESB, so, you know, it's done right.

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Photo of match1112
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: dark copper with a thin white head.

s: toasted malts and dark sweet fruit.

t: sweet fruit and toffee with a well blended hop presence on the backend.

m: medium body with a creamy feel and a subtle dry bitter finish.

o: not what i was expecting with the word bitter in the name. very well blended and balanced beer. will definatly recommend to others.

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Photo of SWMeyer4141
3.86/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Tumbler

Appearance-Amber body with a one, maybe two finger creamy off white head. Not much retention but outstanding laing.

Smell-Caramel malts. Light bitter piney aroma. Pretty subtle in the aroma, maybe cause it's not all that fresh.

Taste-Caramel and bready malts. Some dark fruits and subtle citrusy hops. Simple and Very nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel-Definitely the best part. Incredibly drinkable and smooth. Medium bodied with spot on carbonation.

Overall-Definitely worthy of a top ESB. Expected a little more bitterness, but nonetheless a very nice drinkable ber.

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Photo of bayougutter
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Always wanted to try just never did, until now. Poured to a heavy goblet and an aggressive pour yielded a one finger head that lasted a while and had good lacing.

The smell is toffee, sweet malts, floral- grassy, with a little bread aroma thrown in. Nothing too powerful but nice.

Taste is toffee- caramel without being too sweet which I like. A little bit the bready malts and a little of the hop bitterness on the finish. Good balance the way it all comes together.

Mouthfeel is just right for this style.

Overall I simply enjoyed this offering from Fuller's, a nice drinkable, flavorful beer.

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Photo of dbaker61
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Medium brown with a touch of amber. About one finger of light tan head. Good head retention, leaving a ring which left small amounts of lacing.

Smell: Toffee, grass, sweet malts.

Taste: Great balance of bitterness and malt. Toffee notes carry over from the aroma into the taste, with crisp hops flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, with a pleasant bitter aftertaste.

Overall: It's been too long since I have had a good English bitter. This is a real treat. I have to again mention the balance of flavors. Very drinkable.

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Photo of Sipchue
4.73/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer hunter's great beer guide indicates that, in London, E.S.B. is a Fuller's brand name rather than a style. If this is true, then this is the beer to compare others to, rather than the other way around. It is, arguably, the original and this beer is no less than a world classic. Appearance - perfect. Smell - malty, clean hop nose. Taste - just like it should. It is an excellent balance of ingredients including the amount of carbonation. I imagine that the only way to improve on this beer is to get it in London, fresh.

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

Served from the bottle into a nonic glass

A- Poured a clear brownish amber with one finger frothy head

S- Sweet english malts, floral, nutty, and bready aromas

T- Sweet english malts, floral, fruity, bready, and earthy notes

M- Smooth, kind of slick and mouth coating

O- There is quite a bit going on in the taste of this beer, more complex than any ESB I have had.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,926 ratings.
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