Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

2,950 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: 2,950 |  Reviews: 1,365
Photo of Samp01
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep clear copper with a nice foamy offwhite head. Aroma is sweet malts, caramel and hops. Taste is malty,dough, caramel, and bitter hops. Palate is nice medium body with good carbonation. Finish is nice malty caramel flavor with good bittering hops that add some balance. Overall a nice drinkable brew.

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Photo of mountsnow1010
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Bishops Arms in Lund Sweden

Appearance - amber with a nice fluffy head
Smell - resiny with a nice sweet backbone
Taste - a bit of bitter but I got a fair amount of maltiness to this, very nice. Not super familiar with the style so I was expecting something more bitter perhaps. Slight off taste but I think that may have been from what I was eating at the time.
MF - Nice amount of carbonation, tasty.
Drinkability - Could have had a few of these. Was 77 SEK!!!/pint though -- so I didn't. (I would guess that this is due to being in Sweden and not typical pricing)

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Photo of wmtxbb
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into pint glass

Appearance: Caramel with a light layer of lacing on top.

Smell: Assertive malt scent with floral hops.

Taste: Crisp malts with a nice floral hop taste, then a sort of amber malt flavor. Great balance, each flavor is matched perfectly.

Drinkability: ESBs are not my favorite style of beer but Fuller's ESB is fairly drinkable. Incredible balance, even the high level of alcohol is not too assertive.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Years ago Fuller's was among the first beers that intrigued me and let me know there was more out there in the beer world. As my love for craft beer has grown, I've left this beer (& London Pride) behind as I've explored the American Craft scene. Every now and again I am in the mood to go home and see what started this all for me. Last night I decided to have a couple pints since we were at a British bar and write my notes for this review.

A beautiful pint. Creamy tight head that has unreal retention. There are perfect rings of lacing left behind in the glass. The beer is a dull amber color with some orange tones.

Fruity Malt, English through and through.. The toffee malt tones, slight mineral aroma.

Just a classic beer. Lots of fruit, lots of toffee flavors, some minerals and a light bready flavor. So smooth and balanced. The malt flavors actually have a great deal of complexity and this is where you taste the classic English flavors.

Smooth and silky, knocked down carbonation from the cask...

Just a great beer to drink.. Wish I could have hung around for a couple more pints.

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

A - Copper body with moderate head, slight lacing and very light carbonation.

S - Toffee malts and figs blend with light fruits.

T - Almost perfect balance between toffee malts and hops. Slight bitterness at the finish.

M - Medium body, slightly cloying.

D - Love the balance of this beer.

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Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer really makes me think ESP is my favorite stlye.

It pours a nice thick head that hangs around and leaves much lacing the whole way down. Copper amber in color.

The taste is (in my opinion) the perfect balance of hops and malt. It has many of the same charicteristics of a good Pale Ale but an amazing malt background to compliment it. Freshness, bitterness, with a bready taste going down, and a dry hop finish.

Im in love with this beer!

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

Served on-tap at Llywelyn's Pub in St Charles, MO. [Note-Llewelyn's has hand pumps that imply these Fuller's beers are casked, but I'm told they are actually standard kegs with phony hand pumps.]

A - Dark amber color. Clear with almost no head but there is some lace around the glass.

S - Aroma is dominated by English hops (fuggles) and bready malt. No alcohol in the smell.

T - Great balance of malt, hops + mild alcohol. Round, full and balanced.

M - Medium body and silky smooth. This seems softer and smoother than bottled versions I've had.

D - Very drinkable and incredibly well balanced. If you find this beer on-tap, don't miss it!

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Photo of kylers
3.22/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Copper red color that pours extremely clear. Nice thick foam lasted and lasted.

S: I knocked this beer for having very little aroma. My girlfriend and I both tried to pull something out of this beer and eventually both agreed that it smelled like a pickle.

T/M: Sweet caramel malt flavor with a medium body. Low carbonation.

D: I didn't get a chance to check the freshness date, but it seems like this beer was past it's prime. I would love to give it another go with a fresh batch. Alcohol is a bit high to pounding them, but with something this sweet I might not want to anyways.

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Photo of DrewZ926
2.36/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

my first go at an ESB style beer, was not impressed though.

A- pours a translucent copper body with virtually no head. some sporadic soapy lacing.

S- malts are very overbearing. multiple swirls present the faintest hoppiness. smells of bread, yams, caramel.

T- first few sips are tasty, big bold malt profile, very rich and sweet with a nice body. however, the taste to me gets overwhelming very fast. the lack of balance between hops and malts throws me off here. again tasting a lot of yeast, yams, malt, caramel.

M- a little too thin on the palate. very minimal carbonation.

D- would not drink more than a half bottle again. perhaps on cask would be better? the flavors were really too out of balance for me.

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Photo of tewaris
4.11/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle, with a freshness date of June 04, 2011, poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint on Nov 01, 2010.

Appearance 5/5
Brilliantly clear, deep copper colored, with a big off white head that had good retention and left excellent lacing on the glass. Looks exceeded the expectations!

Aroma 4/5
Great dark caramel aroma with plenty of sweetness, and some earthy hop aroma. Unfortunately, this version of this beer is not all the brewer claims, perhaps because of time, journey, and storage. Still very good!

Taste 4/5
Flavorful maltiness akin to nose, with a present but not over the top bitterness, and a flavorful finish that is medium-dry, soft, and mildly bittering. The finish seems to be drier and crispier when the beer is cold. Perhaps it's because the hops have faded but the balance of this sample is clearly towards malt. The fruity elements mentioned on Fuller's website are missing, but still it's very good.

Mouthfeel 4.5/5
Light-medium body with medium carbonation, but packed with flavor.

Drinkability 4/5
The ABV is a little higher than what I'd prefer for a sessionable ale. Otherwise very drinkable and highly recommended. Fresh on cask, this beer would be a masterpiece.

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Photo of NODAK
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Head a strong aroma of spicy, biscuity make, and creamy diactyl. Almost smells like there is a little scotch in it....interesting.

Taste has a body of spicy, aggressive malts with a bit of biscuit. Honestly, I go back to that scotch reference. It had that type of rough spicy character to it. A note of buttery diactyl is parent as well, but comes in second. Small bitterness at the backend hits with the diactyl but it isn't much at all...fairly tame.

A classic of the style for sure. I remembered it having more diactyl to it, but it is far from bad. I would just have to be in the mood for this one.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 500mL bottle into a pint glass. Bottle is labeled best by 29 May 2011.

Appearance: rich, tawny brown hue with a crystal-clear body. Head is two modest fingers of pillowy ivory foam. A good looking bitter.

Smell: a light, caramelly and somewhat nutty aroma. Very subtle with what seem to be floral hops. It's OK but a bit light for me.

Taste: oh, this is a nice surprise. Malt has caramel and biscuit characteristics and maintains a certain sweetness despite having a rather dry finish. On top of all that, however, is a nice yeasty complexity which includes hints of dates and plums and a distinct mustiness. This is quite different from what I had anticipated; it's a damn fine beer.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a surprisingly creamy texture. I quite like it.

Drinkability: this is one extremely tasty and very quaffable beer. I would gladly drink this again and again.

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Photo of bnes09
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep amber color. Moderate white head with good retention and some minimal lacing.

Rich aromas of cherry and oak. Maple sweetness as well.

Smooth and balanced flavors all the way. Touch of cherry sweetness. Mild floral hop, just enough to add balance. Hints at a roasted almond flavor. Corn husk. Also a bit of maple character near the end. Incredibly smooth finish.

Light to medium-bodied, just the right amount of carbonation. Crisp on the tongue.

Awesome drinkability. Tons of complex flavors but the best part is the delicate balance. This one is a winner in my book.

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

11.2oz bottle (best by 12/15/10) poured into a Tulip glass.

Appearance: Mostly clear orange-copper color (just a hint of haze) with a 1/4" white head that dies down to thin skim across the top and a ring around the edge of the glass. Sheets and strands of lacing noted.

Smell: Almost solely malts, but with a good swirl there are some herbal and floral hop notes.

Taste: A balanced malt flavor up front (not overpowering) with a hint of a bitter tea-like finish. Some floral notes and maybe a tiny hint of lemon in there. Like many UK beers, it gets better as it warms up and the flavors are more pronounced as it warms up.

Mouthfeel: Just enough carbonation on the tongue with a nice thickness.

Drinkability: I wish I had a proper pint bottle rather than a small one - it goes fast and is pleasant enough that I want another. I suspect it would be best on tap or cask, but pretty good in the bottle. I think the meal I picked clashed with it a bit (pesto pork chops and mashed potatoes) but I could see myself enjoying this by itself. An all around good beer.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured into a pint glass to one finger of light tan head. The beer is amber in color and clear. The aroma is a nice balance of toffee malt and floral hops. I swear I get some pear in there, as well. The taste is mostly caramel malt. There is a slight floral hops presence that balances it out. I think this style is one of the easiest drinking out there. It offers nothing offensive in any manner. I'd prefer just a bit more bitterness that I've experienced with other samples of this style.

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

Pours a bubbly copper head. Hints of toast, caramel, malts, fruits. Has lots of malts and varied sugars with an overall layer of toast. Very smooth and highly drinkable. This is probably the best ESB out there. I plan on drinking this many times again.

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Photo of Manoftyr
4.24/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Appearance-Pours a light coppery amber with a finger of white head which leaves splotches of white as it recedes and a solid ring of lacing. Some reddish highlights.

Aroma-Sweet, toasty, biscuity malts of an unmistakably English character come forward first, some caramel. Undercurrents of herbal, tealike hops. Very balanced.

Taste-Sweet and toasty much like the aroma, but somewhat drier than the aroma lets on. Layered in much the same way as the aroma.

Mouthfeel-Low carbonation, medium-light mouthfeel.

Drinkability-Going through the six pack pretty quickly and it's perfectly sessionable too; perfect.

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Photo of Trizzle
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

If I never go back home to Australia, the blame will lie, at least in part, with Fullers.

Appearance: perfect mahogany stained glass body with a light sparse head that leaves a touch of lace. Served in the fullers ESB glass. A brandy balloon for beer.

Aroma: sweet caramelised sugars, honey with a metallic hint. Slightly prickly.

Big caramel malt up front. Honey, molasses, and hay. Drying and metallic hops large in the mix. Balanced and perfect. The definition of a big special bitter. For those who don't believe beer is the new wine, find this on cask.

Feel is medium light and velvet smooth. For such a big beer, makes for a great session.

Unfortunately the bottled varietal is only an approximation. From the cask, this is as near perfection as a beer gets. I've marked other beers higher but sometimes scores will be false.

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Photo of cooch69
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This ESB poured a dark amberish orange with a one finger head and a semi opaqity to it.
Nose of English biscuity malts, caramely sweetness and a bit of a bitter hop presence. This beer is like a hearty loaf of bread with a hoppy overtone.
It is pretty silky and almost a bit syrupy in the mouth but just about medium bodied. Flavour of caramel, nuegat, hop bitterness, and a bit of a chewy finish give this beer an enjoyable warmth and a nice complexity.

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Photo of DanThomas
3.63/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Not quite the same if it's not out of a hand-pumped tap, but still a good ESB.

A- Quintessential ESB appearance, very attractive. Small head that gradually recedes as you work down the glass, orange/mahogany color, clear.

S- There's a lot on the nose, which kind of surprised me. It mainly smells of malt and light alcohol, but there are a good amount of floral, sweet scents to go along with that base.

T- Not much until the finish, when the sweet malt gently coats your mouth, and the floral tones, along with some sort of apple fruit flavors that were in the scent dominate the aftertaste. Not a fan initially, but as I've worked down the glass it has grown on me.

M- Pretty rounded body that dominates most of the taste. The carbonation detracts a little bit; ESB's are definitely better flat. Actually, I am finding this beer to be thin the further down I get; can't say I like that.

D- Takes a hit because it's in bottle form, but still, ESBs practically define the session style. For a pure session, ABV is a little high. There are better ESBs, but they're probably only available in the UK on hand taps.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted blind

A:Nice clarity. One quarter finger of white head with spotty lacing.

S: Big apple notes up front. Very clean yeast profile. Just a touch of spice balanced out by a nice caramel smell.

T: Little fruity. Very clean english ale yeast. Good malt profile. Finishes mostly clean with only the slightest hint of bitterness in the finish.

M: Medium body. The carbonation is delicate and enjoyable. Finished a little dry.

D: Nice and balanced. Definately malt forward but there are enough continental hops in there to balance it out. Classic example of the style.

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Photo of cnally
4.11/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

The appearance is a hazy ochre, gold brown, with a fluffy, sticky off white head.

The aroma is very subtle but you can pick up on the yeasts used, and sweet grain.

What a flavor here. Toasted crystal malt brings a caramel/vanilla flavor, slight hop bitter but more spicy than piney. Not as bitter as some American ESBs I have had, but the balance is appreciated here. A little citrusy in the finish, some orange peel.

Creamy, delectable mouthfeel, well carbonated and highly balanced.

Balance. It's the measure of life right? When things are out of balance, they miss the sweet spot in the middle. Balance. This beer IS balance.

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Photo of silentjay
3.86/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

attractive beer that is darker than i expected with a sizable pure white head that leaves good lacing and retains exceptionally.

typical ESB aroma of butter, caramel, bread dough and cereal grains with some herbal tea hoppiness coming through as well.

butter and sweet, sweet caramel follow into the taste, but its not a bad thing. the herbal hoppiness balances it out rather nicely, not quite bitter, but some nice hop flavors in there, also some fruits. it works rather well. though the flavors may all be considered harsh or unpleasant separately, the graininess, herbal flavors, buttery diacetyl, and sweet caramel intermingle nicely in this one.

a bit on the thin side with an understated carbonation that adds some prickles on the swallow.

drinks well. nowhere near one of my favorite styles, but I'd choose this over many other beers. Alcohol is slightly noticeable, but that does not detract. a bit thin, but it kind of works for the subtle flavors.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.52/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark amber with a small creamy fading head.
Nose shows plenty of sweet crystal malt with some resinous hops underneath. Quite faint though.
Same with the flavours, some caramel and toasty malt before a bold green hoppy bitterness.
Creamy carbonation suits the beer well.

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Photo of milkbaby9
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle (best by 4-24-11, drank 9-14-2010) into crystal goblet. 1 inch off-white head reduces to a thin cap with patchy lacing left. Brilliant deep amber color with almost a ruby tint.

Aroma of orange and orange peel with a zesty zip to it, tart lemon, hint of green growth, a bit of sweet alcohol peeking through. Tastes sweet and sour orange marmalade, then some zippy bitterness expresses simultaneously with the carbonation hit, then a light raisin, and a huge yeasty bready malt flys in and bombs my mouth. A teeny note of sweet floralness, sweet chrysanthemum tea.

Medium carbonation, medium to medium-light bodied. Finishes with an incredibly long bittersweet maltiness, more towards the sweet than bitter, a teeny bit grainy and toasty which keeps the sweetness from being too much.

Hugely malt forward, kinda right up my alley of personal tastes. Totally dig this beer, very flavorful and a flavor profile I really enjoyed. Fuller's really does it for me!

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,950 ratings.
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