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 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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Photo of Marraybay
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look: Golden amber color: decent head.

Smell: Floral and fruity: Perhaps a touch of distilled spirits.

Taste: For me personally, I get an almost doppelbock or
bourbon-esque "note" out of the gate; (I.e. flavor not booze).
There's a bit of bitterness here as well, but not overpoweringly so.
Perhaps a medicinal or mineral quality also.

Feel: non-descript

Overall: This was different. Not sure if I'm a fan or a detractor on
this one: Would probably need another test run. Seemingly did
ok as a beer with food though, as it wasn't overly influenced or
changed by the meal.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Much has been said about ESB by the brains and buds of the craft movement. I give my quick two pence.
Looks are clear; perhaps ESB is an amber prism to see the world. Smell is mostly Fuller's famous fruit.
Taste brings hop balance that makes ESB so popular (but for me, bring on the fruit.)
Feel is full and few bubbles interfere with Fuller's masterpiece.
OA: Famous, fruity and a delight with a medley of English cheeses that I'm enjoying right now. A Classic and old friend.

MJ's 1999 "Guide" gave it 4 of 4 stars, a rarity.
In what I view as a 21st Century hand-off of the mantel, Garrett Oliver earns it with his "Brewmasters Table" and gives Fuller's two pages while highlighting the importance of ESB.
It is listed in the "1001 Beers" and is further eviewed in Roger Protz' "300 Beers To Try Before You Die!"
Overall, I feel like I'm drinking from a source that has inspired much, particularly giving guidance across the pond.

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Photo of Thryptamine
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Medium amber look with decent head retention, slight carbonation and not too murky, some sweet notes in the smell, taste is an instant bitter that does not linger for too long in the palate, overall an enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.89/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Orange-red body, 1 finger white head.

Smell: Stone fruits, orange, caramel, cream, and a mild nuttiness from the hops.

Taste: See above.

Feel: Medium bodied, medium-low carbonation, mild bitterness.

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Photo of larryi86
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

11.2 oz bottle, best before 5/9/16, poured into pint

A- A clear caramel copper with a two finger white head.

S- Caramel malts, faint dark fruits, touch of roasted malts, mild floral hop character, nicely balanced.

T- Some malts, toasted malts, floral hops, touch of dark fruits, mild earthy/herbal flavors, pretty malt forward.

M- Smooth, medium to full body.

O- Up until now I've only had American ESB and I have to say this is different, far more malt focused and has a more complex malt character. Very enjoyable and easy to drink. Nice to see what an ESB should be.

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Photo of EMH73
4.31/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear deep amber color with a one inch head and good lacing. Smells of malts and caramel. Taste is predominately malts with some caramel, spices and dark fruits (maybe raisins) and a hint of hops. Minimal bitterness despite the name. Lightly carbonated and medium bodied. An excellent beer.

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Photo of puck1225
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On draft into a pint, and at the right temperature. Beautiful head and lacing, a golden clear color. The taste was malty, a bit sweet and mildly bitter. I have had other Fuller products in a bottle that did not impress. This was great.

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Photo of caribou43
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

It is a nice ale and I love particulary the color red and orange, thin foam and white, average carbonation. The taste is well-balanced between hop, malt and you can smell the caramel.

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Photo of twage04
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Low carbonation, pours a brownish/copper orange color, clear. Fruity, malty, very easy to drink. Not the deepest tapestry of flavors but what is there is balanced and delicious. Lots of toffee and a little sweet.

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Photo of Harry_hp
4.14/5  rDev +2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Quaffable. Soft mouth feel with a slightly spicy finish. Aroma - oranges, slightly sweet. Very tasty malty brew. Probably the best bottled bitter I've tasted.

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Photo of TheStoutLord
4.67/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L: Lacey head, dissipated pretty quickly. Beautiful copper tones and very clear, more so that I anticipated.

S: Pretty subtle smells. Very toasty and caramel-malted. It makes me think of fruit too, maybe raisins or plums or something. A kind of dried fruit. Its something interesting balance of sweet and bitter.

T: Crazy good. Malty and a little bitter, but not too bitter. Gentle hoppiness offset by the sweet/spiced"fruit" flavors. Huge flavor and pretty complex, but so drinkable. I feel like I get something different on every sip.

F: Good body. Strong start to finish. Pops on the tongue a little toward the end.

O: Just a great beer. Top of line. Rich flavors that will keep you coming back to this brew again and again.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sampled earlier this afternoon on 1/16/16. Comes in a 330ml (11.2 ounce) nice looking bottle. Found it in the discount bin over at the Hy-Vee across the Missouri river in Council Bluffs for just $2.00. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to "BUD LIGHT-OMAHA" pint glass.

Brew pours a brownish-amber in color with a good 1+-finger creamy off-white head. A decent amount of lacing was seen when sipped that stuck to the sides of the glass after each sip. Aroma is of some darker fruits, earthy hops and yeast. Don't let the name of this brew fool you as it is NOT strong, bitter or hoppy at all. Will say that the taste is close to the aroma with maybe a hint of some spice in the mix as well. Goes down very easy with no bitterness at all. Crisp and clean. Close to full-bodied with perfect carbonation. Overall, really liked this one and is worth a try for sure.

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Photo of Foyle
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into nonic glass.

Appearance: pours a 2" pillowy cream colored head that falls slowly with abundant lacing. Color is slightly hazy copper with moderate streaming carbonation.
Aroma: raisin and ripe fruit, bread dough and some earthy hops.
Mouthfeel: medium bodied, sticky, with a slightly damp finish.
Flavor: raisins, plums, a bit of toffee, bread crust with a nice fruity and earthy hop balance.
Overall: probably the best beer in the style category.

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Photo of Brewfocker80
4.48/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Brown golden color with 2 finger head and a little lacing
S: Smells nutty and hoppy with some fruit smells
T: Nice smooth caramel, malty flavor
M: Full bodied and smooth, light carbonation
O: Outstanding beer. London has done itself proud with this beer. If I'm looking to drink a bitter this is a great one.

12oz bottle in a pint glass

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Photo of DrMullet
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an amber color. Smell is of slightly sweet, toasty malts.
Taste starts with caramel malt followed by some dark fruit.
This is smooth and well balanced.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into pint glass. It pours an attractive amber with a one-finger milk-white head and minimal lacing. It smells of biscuit, malt, yeast, and caramel. "Bitter" is really not a good style description as the primary taste is caramel and malt, with some light spices and hops. It's like drinking an english muffin with a caramel spread. It's really good! This beer has a pleasant mouthfeel: medium-bodied, moderately carbonated, and extremely drinkable at 5.90% ABV. Overall, this is a delightful English bitter. I enjoy caramel in beer and this one doesn't disappoint. It has a great reputation which is well-deserved. Jolly good!

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

Poured from tap into a shaker, 1 finger cream colored tight creamy head, epic lacing. Clear dark amber in the glass. Smells of biscuit, earthy hops. Taste is initially malt sweetness, followed up by floral hoppiness and ending with mild bitterness. Great mouthfeel, great beer

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

Pours a deep copper body with excellent clarity and creamy, off-white head with good retention. Aroma features resiny and fruity hops, with lightly toasty and caramel malt. The flavor features complex fruity malt flavors; the overall impression is of biscuits lightly buttered and plentifully spread with marmalade. Just enough hop bitterness to balance and add a medium-dry finish. Reminiscent of a mini-Vintage Ale, but drinkable by the imperial pint.

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Photo of OlaB
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: clear copper color,with a small head that disapears quite fast ,carbonation seems pretty high
S: Malt,yeast,caramel,dark fruits is the first that comes to my mind
T:Sweet malts, caramel ,herbs and spices
F:well rounded, bitterness are quite comfotable, very refreshing
O: It was my my first encounter with this brew , and i was very positive suprised, i enjoyed this beer a lot and i look foward to try the other beer styles have from this brewery

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Photo of Spike
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a 500ml bottle into a pint glass.

Pours crystal clear. Beautiful amber colour shines when it catches the light. The white head reduces to a thin, patchy cap very quickly. Ring of lacing. Handfuls of tiny escaping bubbles provide additional interest.

Plenty of malts. Some toasted notes present. Damson jam.

Good balance between sweet malt and bitter hops, finishing on the side of the malt. Caramel, hardwood. Nicely spicy.

Rich mouthfeel. Oily. Some alcohol. A little spritz. Sweet finish.

Great example of a strong bitter. Maybe the classic example of this style. Most often drunk on tap but, in this case, the bottled version was extremely satisfying. Very enjoyable. Supremely drinkable.

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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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