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Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB
2,972 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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 2,972 |  Reviews: 1,369
Photo of DaveHS
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On cask at The Blackbird (Fuller's Ale House) Earl's Court, London.

A-Pours translucent amber with 1/4 inch of off white head. Good retention, moderate lacing.

S-Delicate aromas of pale malt, not much else.

T/M-Bready, a little hoppy. Not terribly interesting. In a style this subtle, the slightly higher ABV really stands out. It ultimately detracts from the beer. The body's smooth, rich texture is also effected by this astringent quality, leaving a film of dryness after each sip.

D-Just okay.

 501 characters

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

Enjoyed at Llywelyn's Pub in the Central West End from a Nitro-Tap and served into an Imperial Pint Glass.

Appearance- Amber/Orange color with Finger length of head.

Smell- I can smell a ton of malt and fruit as well.

Taste- Malt taste, bitter, and almost can compare to a Hefeweizen.

Mouthfeel- Full Bodied ale and smooth throughout whole experience.

Drinkability- Great beer! Wouldn't go back to this beer necessarily but easy to drink and good beer to start the night on.

 480 characters

Photo of jmdrpi
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz custom bottle. stamped with best by date of May 24 2011

appears a bright copper color, thin bright white head

aroma is a combination of slightly sweet malt and piney hops.

a crisp hop bite on top of a biscuity malt flavor. clean aftertaste.

medium body, moderate carbonation. easy to drink

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Photo of snogglethorpe
3.46/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A deep copper color, with a robust head (eventually becomes a long-lived lacing).

The immediate impression is a metallic mineral tang, which fades and is replaced by a mild bready malt taste, and light fruitiness (apples, pears). There's a mild herbal hop bitterness at the end, though it's also kind of indistinct and really doesn't leave much of an impression. I'm not talking about strength or "hoppiness"; some English ales, e.g. Marsten's Pedigree, or Shepherd Neame's Spitfire, have a subtle but striking herbal hop bitterness that's simply a joy to mull over, and Fuller's ESB doesn't seem to have anything like that. Despite the nice head, it wasn't particularly creamy (unlike, e.g., London Pride), and the mouthfeel was a bit watery.

Although the ABV is higher than most English bitters, it's completely hidden in the taste.

Given the sterling reputation of Fuller's ESB, was was kind of disappointed by this beer. It was really sort of generic tasting, and seemed to have neither the sort of bolder flavors that might be enabled by its relatively high ABV, nor the subtle pleasures of other English ales I've tasted. Perhaps it wasn't fresh enough to do it justice (although it was on tap at the same bar as the the other English ales I'm comparing, and if anything, I'd expect a stronger beer to last longer).

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Photo of fsimcox
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a transparent amber. Big fluffy white head holds for some time. Some nice lacing.

Smells of sweet malt. Some faint hints of citrus, and maybe some tea. Aromatic and sweet smelling.

Taste is sweet malt, a hint of sweet tea, and some lemon zest. A very nice tasting ale. A sweet malty aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is smooth, full bodied. Not much carbonation. All around sweet.

A very nice English ale. I had this on cask once, and I still enjoy it even out of a bottle.

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

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic pint.

A - Crystal clear bronze that pours a three finger head that slowly settles into a dense fluffiness. Leaves sheets of lace down the glass.

S - Fruity esters leading into a deep caramel notes.

T - Bready toffee moves into spicy, earthy hops.

M - Great moderate texture with a fairly dry finish.

D - Extremely drinkable. Could easily drink this all night.

There's definitely a reason this is considered the definitive English ESB. I especially loved the esters and the mouthfeel.

 531 characters

Photo of atis
4.39/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear amber with small, but dense head that soon fades. Aroma is sweetish dried fruit, malt and apples, faint yeast. Simple, yet excellent.

Taste is smooth pale malt, fruity esters and biscuit balanced with mild/medium hops. Mouth is creamy with moderate carbonation.

Simply a joy to drink.

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Photo of JWU
4.8/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a clear amber with red/orange hues. fluffy head that leaves nice lacing, the head doesn't stick around too long.

S: Dried Fruits, orange peel, and caramel-biscuity malts

T: Wonderful caramel-biscuity malts with a touch of dried fruit twang, and a really subtle hop oil flavor and balancing bitterness. I really love the intensity of the flavors. Absolutely delicious.

M: Medium body, really creamy in the mouth, lower side of medium carbonation.

D: I will openly say this is my favorite beer of all time to just sit back and enjoy. It's right in my wheelhouse of body and flavor and I find it to be consistently outstanding.

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Photo of bigrzman
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out a nice red brown with a thick head that lasted throughout. Lacing is excellent and carbonation was very active.

Smells of earthy fuggles and roasted malts backed with some grassy grainy overtones. Very aromatic and appealing.

Taste was of roasted malts, grains, earthy hops, and some fruit esters that did not come out in the nose. Nice complex beer.

Mouthfeel in tingly and and thin. It had a nice dry finish. Correct to style. Drinkability is high. A great publican beer!

 487 characters

Photo of dball
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I;ve had this beer on tap in Charlottesville at the Court Square Tavern but it's been a while. I picked up bottles recenlty and thoroughly enjoyed this ESB at home, however I recall it was a littel better on draft. It is a very nice rich and deep golden color and you won't find a beer that smells any better. The aroma is truly the best part. It is smooth and malty but carries slightly more character than a plain english ale. Don't shy away because of the bitter label. This is a delightful beer and great for entertaining when preparing a hearty meat potatoes meal.

 569 characters

Photo of dansmcd
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Nice dark red golden colour, however not much of a head, some lacing.

S - Malt, cereal, apples

T - Coffee, bread, caramel

M - Medium body. More carbonation than expected, a little bit watery. I prefer a creamier bitter.

D - Definately sessionable, a quality beer but not quite a top tier for my taste.

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

500ml Can

Appearance - The beer pours a clear copper colour with a large creamy and fizzy off-white coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation visible and there is some average lacing. The head lasted for over five minutes before it began to dissipate.

Smell - malts, cereal, toffee, tea, apples, pears

Taste & Mouth - The beer doesn't have a lot of carbonation and it comes across as slightly watery. It does however feel very creamy on the tongue and most of the flavour consists of malts, tea, and toffee. There are also notes of pear, and it also tastes slightly metallic. The alcohol is extremely well hidden and the beer is extremely sessionable. It finishes with a malty/fruity slightly bitter aftertaste.

Drink - Probably one of the best session beers I've had, I'll be buying much more of this to get me through the holidays. Worth seeking out.

 866 characters

Photo of Beejay
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Brilliantly clear amber. A nice white head on top.

S: Definitely a nice bready thing going on. Classic English yeast smells.

T: Nice toasty flavor. Bready with just a hint of hops. A nice crispness as well as a touch of bitter.

M: Medium in body. Nice carbonation, low in amount, but I feel like they are also smaller in size.

D: Tasty as hell. I would love to dry this on a cask, or dry hopped.

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Photo of scoobybrew
4.83/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - crystal clear amber color with a thick foamy head that settles into an incredibly chunky lacing

S - earthy and herbal English hop aroma, mild yeast esters

T - pale malts with modest English hop flavor throughout, moderately low yeast esters, balanced hop with medium hop bitterness

M - medium body with moderately low carbonation

D - This is truly a world class ESB and a paragon that has defined the style. It lives up to its reputation. I need another.

 462 characters

Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 500ml bottle into a Stone pint glass...

A - Pours a dark amber with a two finger off white head. Not much head retention or lacing to be had here...

S - Pretty mild smell. Pick up floral notes and a sweet caramel or brown sugar scent...

T - Very smooth. Most prominent taste is the caramel/brown sugar that came through in the smell. Ends on a slightly bitter taste. Very tasty...

M - Medium bodied/light with lots of carbonation...

D - Usually perfer beers with a little more punch behind it. Nonetheless, this one is tasty. Probably won't be in my rotation, but I could see myself drinking this again...


 633 characters

Photo of schlazzgraft
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a great ESB, and the original if I'm not mistaken. One of a kind!

A - Rich copper/amber color, darker than your average pale ale. Nice head that leaves some lacing

S - Caramel, bread, earthy, and not too overpowering.

T - Fairly sweet, but nicely balanced by a good amount of bitterness. Dried fruit, toffee, and biscuits come to mind... a truly memorable taste

M - Full bodied, creamy but balanced by a dry finish. Very nice

D - I could drink a few, but they are a bit heavy. It's to be expected with the style, but this one may not be quite as easy-drinking as other ESB's i've had.

 597 characters

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

Pours a 1 finger head that leaves some lacing behind as it disappears, not too fast, but not too slow either. Color is dark orange, and the head is light.

Aroma consists of malt upfront and in the back you get a tiny bit of citrus/floral notes.

Taste is pretty good. Bitterness and malt upfront followed by a hint of floral hops, leaves a dry finish.

Mouthfeel is great, medium body, smooth, rich, decent amounts of carbonation.

Overall a pretty good beer, recommended.

 473 characters

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

Clear medium dark orange amber with thin lite tan head.

Smells very malty with some sweet caramel and yeasts/ breads.

Taste, the malts and sweet caramel notes come through first then citrus hops jump in with a mild bite and dry finish, a bit of bread and yeast as well - nice!

Medium body, medium zesty carbonation, dry hop bite and mild alcohol warmth.

A very good rich tasting brew. The sweet malts and yeasts on top with a nice kick of hops, pretty decent balance. A brew worth of visiting.

 497 characters

Photo of AlexTheAleMan
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a random crystal beer glass that i have.

The beer looks beautiful. It has a completely see through amber color with a good one finger head all the way up to the top of the glass. The head slowly fades until there is only a little left on top. The lacing sticks, but it too, like the head, fades. Towards the end it looks like a whiskey or a cognac.

It smells pretty sweet of honey and malt with the tiniest of a floral hop flavor in the background.

The first thing I notice when taking a sip is how balanced this beer is. The bitterness is trying to break through, but it just can't come all the way up to where i am used to (from drinking so many IPAs i suppose). There are flavors of sweetness and bread from the malt. I am willing to bet that there is a good portion of maris otter in here. Right after the sweetness fades there is a very mineral like flavor that comes up and then the hop flavors come out. Though these flavors never really get to the strength of the malty ones there is still a nice earthiness to the beer. I like it best towards the end of the glass when the beer is warmer and less carbonated. At the very end i get a slight hint of mint and for a while i could have sworn i was getting some kind of licorice or anise aroma.

The mouth feel is exceptional but it could maybe be a bit bigger. The beer really fills the whole mouth and stays there for quite a while. Since it is pretty sweet (but far from cloying) there is a bit of residual sugar to chew on.

pretty good drinkability, but a bit too sweet for a true session beer. I will give it a "good" under drinkability because i really want an other!

 1,643 characters

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

Poured into a Stella Chalice.

Nice 1.5 finger head, beer is very clear. Head quickly thinning to foamy lace. Beautiful Golden dark amber color.

Great caramel smell with hints of fresh spicyness.

Taste is indeed bitter, but with slight maltyness. I taste some black licorice as well. Not overpowering though.
Carbonation was quite low.

Smooth ale to drink, very enjoyable and one of my top 10s.

 399 characters

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

Poured from a solid 11.2 oz bottle, with the "best by" date and ABV on the label. Have to say, the bottle is very impressive. Poured a nice, deep, clear copper/red color with a nice frothy head that disappears slowly. Aroma is predominantly fruity, more along the lines of apple juice. Very good lacing, and very complex beer to review for taste. Starts off fruity, but finishes crisply with a perfect bitter/tart aftertaste. Taste gets better as the beer warms up. Drinkability and mouthfeel are very good. Solid beer, absolutely worth a try.... highly recommended.

 566 characters

Photo of mikeg67
3.74/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. Pours amber with a long lasting, foamy white head. Intence lacing and carbonation. Floral hops aroma balanced by caramel malt and some fruit. Earthy hops, caramel malt, bread and ripe fruit fill the mouth. Medium, tangy, creamy body. Long, complex dry finish. Great brew.

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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.

 311 characters

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)

 576 characters

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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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.06 out of 5 with 2,972 ratings
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