Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB
2,999 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:
Twice named World Champion Beer, Fuller’s ESB is one of the most decorated ales of its time. A winner born and brewed, it’s a strong, full-bodied ale that has delighted drinkers for decades with its smooth, mellow bitterness and superbly satisfying finish.

Added by kbub6f on 07-08-2001

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,999 |  Reviews: 1,375
Photo of keithmurray
4.16/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a tulip

beer appears a rich copper color with white frothy head

smell - floral elements to the smell, green apples, pears

taste - citrus, green apples, pears, biscuits, crackers, malts

mouthfeel - slightly sweet upfront, but good balance, malt backbone, slightly bitter finish, good carbonation, medium bodied

Drinkability - this is a beverage that I would be happy to revisit as this is an excellent representer of the style

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Photo of JMad
4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured a 16.9 oz bottle into a tall glass mug...

The beer was a dark copper/ dark burnt orange color with a thin cream colored head that left some nice lacing. It smells og tangy orange with some roasted toffee undertones. When I took a sip, lemon hit the back of the tongue, the tanginess bites at the mouth. Then some roasted malt sweeps through, it's just a bit sweet. It finishes nice and bitter. The beer is low carbonated, and full bodied, at first it juicy but has a snice long bitter finish. This is a great beer and I'm glad I finally tried it.

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

Amber brown appearance with thick head that sticks around for awhile. Smell is of caramel, bread and malt.

Taste is has a strong hint of caramel, brown sugar and malt. Picked up bread and herbal/medicinal finish to it. Excellent combination of tastes. Light bodied with low but decent carbonation, easy to drink. Has a lingering malt aftertaste.

Overall, this is an impressive beer. Have I mentioned that the taste is excellent yet? A bit pricey for a single bottle, but would definatly recommend.

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Photo of ramseye4
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

A=Minimal head, medium amber color, minimal lacing.
S=Lots of caramel, bready malt, a bit of sweet molasses
T=Lot of sweet molasses and caramel. Faint candied fruit, bready. Alcohol nowhere to be found. Very, very solid.
M=Medium to heavier body, lightly and pleasantly carbonated.
D=I could slowly sip on these for hours on end.

Great beer overall

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

Appearance: This beer is reddish brown with a light frothy head. There is no lacing but some of the head lines the rim. It is well filtered and flat with no carbonation. This looks very easy to drink.

Smell: Very aromatic. Very pleasant. Reminiscent of a white wine. There is an interplay of white grapes and sour apples. There is a mild liquor smell, but not an unpleasant one. This beer is mild. It's very approachable. The malts are roasted caramel.

Taste: Dry in texture. Very crisp. I get a little bit of a buttery taste. The fruity hints come through but not as much as in the smell which is nice because this really goes down look a good solid beer. This is definitely what a bitter should be. I prefer this over any of the American craft ESB's I have had. This beer has other characteristics too. Black tea with some sugar. Fullers ESB is quintessentially English.

Mouthfeel: It's light. It has some good swish too it. It is best when drank. This is not a beer to savor slowly but to enjoy liberally. I see no harm than could come from putting back a few proper English pints of this good ol' ESB. Sure it has a slightly high ABV. But it's not daunting like an IPA can sometimes be.

Drinkability: A solid beer. This could be a regular go to beer. It would be a very refreshing after dinner beer.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, the beer is a slightly hazed, orange-amber coloring with a airy, white, loose one half inch head. The aromas from the beer noted while pouring were caramel, toffee, a slight sour tone, and some hops. The caramel malt flavor is first on the tongue, with a subtle hoppy background to help balance it. Some toasted flavor characters, also. The beer is slick and smooth in mouth, with a crisp and light finish. The bitterness from the hops disappears once the beer clears your mouth, and you are left with a balance of sweet and sour on the aftertaste, which is extremely pleasant. This is one easy brew to consume. Goes well with anything from grilled meat dinners to pizza.

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Photo of Sigmund
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the best bitters around. Rerate: Cask conditioned at the Blackbird, Earls Court, London. Copper coloured, no head, minimal carbonation. Moderate aroma with malts and fruit. Initial mellow flavour, then a dominant but pleasant hoppiness throughout. Very pleasant to drink.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Braveheart Pub in Hellertown. Poured into a shaker pint...oh well.

The body is a crisp, clean, and clear brown with ruby hues. There is a thin layer of head that forms right out of the tap, and it is retained reasonably well. It leaves some delicate and slight lacing around the back and sides of the glass, as I look at it.

The nose is initially filled with caramel and bready malt aromas, followed by some grassy and earthy hoppiness. Only a touch of what might be seen as bitterness, but hardly, at that. The taste is similar. Only a hint of bitterness, but full of caramel, toasty, and biscuit malt flavors. There is a touch of warm ethanol that is accompanied by an earthy finish.

Light, easy to drink, and enjoyable, it isn't my favorite version of the style, though I imagine many would disagree with me. In a lineup of the usual draft suspects and Yuengling lager, I would spring for this again, though. No doubt in my mind.

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

Poured from a bottle into a duvel tulip

A-Deep copper color, when held to the light there was the presence of some orange and dark gold, the 1 & 1/2" off-white head that sat on top lasted for an average amount of time and then created some decent lacing.

S-Malty, yeasty and caramel

T-Wow, this is a great beer, I haven't had many ESBs but if this is indicative of the style, they're quickly going to become one of my favorites. Not a too heavy bitter (I was hoping for a bit more) taste, along with malt, caramel, brown sugar, and dark fruits

M-Medium body, with great carbonation

D-Very drinkable, I'm looking for a pub in the orlando region that would have it on cask!

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Photo of xodin
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slightly cloudy copper appearance. Wonderful caramel smell. Full and rich flavor, with sweet caramel and molasses highlights, plus some fruit notes peeking through. Very drinkable, in fact, just by sampling I've nearly emptied my glass. One of the best of the Fuller collection, perhaps second only to their Vintage Ale. Though I should also note, that I've noticed a bit of variation in this brew, and it may be worthy to experiment with different serving types, temperatures, and glasses.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear amber-orange with a thin beige head. Aroma- pine hop, lemon, caramel, light grain. Taste is a great balance of earthy malt and floral hops. Thicker texture than usual for an ESB. Great balance, juicy malt lingers with pine resin and sweet citrus.

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

Poured from a 11.2 ounce bottle into a nonic pint glass. Best before August 29, 2011 printed on label.

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with orange highlights and a 3 finger fluffy off-white head. Excellent lacing.

Smell: Caramel malt with hints of apple cider and citrus and just a touch of floral hops.

Taste: Pale malt up front followed by a little bit of bitter citrus in the middle and ending with caramel and bready malt at the finish. Aftertaste is a mixture of sweet malts and mild bitterness. This is not an overly bitter beer despite the ESB name.

Mouthfeel: Light-to-medium-bodied with a decent amount of prickly carbonation. Somewhat watery feel.

Drinkability: Very good drinkability. Goes down very easy.

Overall: Very good beer overall. This is my first ESB and I'm definitely happy I started with Fuller's. I'd recommend checking this beer out.

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Photo of anakar
2.86/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is an overpriced beer from an overhyped brewer to my taste.

App - It poured beautifuly into my glass, a bronze-ish foggy beer with a small head.

Smell - it was nothing exceptional, just a good beer smell - no flavor or anything

Taste - well, here's where it loses it. For a
beer that says "Extra Special Bitter" all I can say is that it wasn't bitter - it was mild. It wasn't special, I can get a stronger, more bitter, tastier one for a cheaper price, and there was nothing extra about it.

Mouth - It seems to lack ditinction, the feel goes away as soon as you swallow

Drink - See Mouth

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Photo of zhanson88
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Fuller's ESB pours a pure, clear copper color with about a finger of white head, which reduces to a thin film. Lacing is decent.

Smell: Biscuity malts, maybe slight caramel and toffee, and herbal bitterness.

Taste: Biscuity malts up front, with slight caramel and toffee in the middle and herbal bitterness on the back end. I really like this beer. Very subtle, but with some nice flavors that complement well.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Light bodied with quite a bit of fine carbonation. It drinks pretty smoothly. Overall, this is a pretty solid beer. The flavors are subtle but still come together nicely.

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Photo of pioppo
4.41/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Spectacular how this beer appears!! An intense copper and a fine, clear beige foam not much persistent.

S - Little aroma of herbal-hop. Predominant are the smells of malt (caramel and in part roasted). Also a touch of ehtylic and a sensation of stale and powdery.

T - Sweetness of malt hide bitter and alcohol. Some flavour of candy and figs. Medicinal come out in a second moment.

M - A sweet beer with a good body that wisely uses malts for an incredible smoothness in mouth!!

D - 50cl it's only the beginning for this Strong Bitter (perhaps an English Pale Ale despite what the maker says..)!!

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Photo of SnowGoon99
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving type: bottle into a Stella Artois glass.

Pours an orange color with some amber hues. Nice thick head that dissipates quickly but does create some lacing. Aromas of freshly cut grass or hay hits you right away. Not too much in the way of aromas from the malt. Definitely hop driven. Better aroma than most beers.

Hop flavor is apparent but more subdued than in the aroma. The malt flavors standout more especially a flavor of either butter or caramel, not sure which. Very, very dry mouthfeel. Like surprisingly dry. Not much in the way of body at all. This is probably intentional to increase the drinkability. Unfortunately with not much in the way of hops in the flavor and more of the butter/caramel it loses a little in the drinkability.

Overall this is a really nice beer. If this is what true English beers are supposed to taste like i'm surprised at how accurate American versions are. Unfortunately, i don't this for sure and won't until i go to England and have one there myself.

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

The clean smell of fresh mown hay seems to arise from the head, which is off-white and well formed. The brew is a very clear copper brown color.

Malty and slightly sweet at first sip, the bitterness kicks in at the back palate and chases the ale down the tongue. Robust in flavor with light hops and good carbonation.

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Photo of tbern007
3.21/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured at Crown and Anchor in LV, NV.
Slightly hazy, copper-orange, small head but very good lacing.
Smells like light hops, light malt, tea leaves.
Tastes malty, caramel, light citrus, and like sweet tea.
Dry, no alcohol presence, good carbonation. Decent.

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

pours a bright vivid copper with strong hints of ruby red. creamy head pillows the top of the glass. hangs around, leaving nice lacing.

lots of biscuit and herbal flowers. bit of sweetness

lots of malt here with a nice herbal flowery taste to carry it. the bitterness emerges through the finish. lots of sweet malt and candy.

a bit thin but goes down quite easy. nice mild to moderate carbonation.

this has always been a favorite of mine. i always go to this when i see it on tap, as it never lets down.

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Photo of heebes
3.18/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500 ml can.

Pours a clear reddish amber, produces a one finger off white head when poured aggressively. Nose is decently hoppy with notes of floral, spices, grassy and some malt. Taste is almost like an Amber Pale...grain, slight maltiness, mild bitterness with some fruity characteristics. Kind of bland. Light carbonation, lighter mouthfeel and bodied. It has some appeal to it, but not one i am likely going to return to. Medium drinkability, sure you can drink a couple but the desire to, for me, isnt there. Underwhelmed.

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Photo of thebierbrewery
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served out of a bottle, slightly colder than cellar temperature.

A- Medium brown and copper color with low head retention due to carbonation.

S- Malty/ Caramel aroma up front with low hop aroma and a hint diacetyl.

T- Strong malt backbone, balanced nicely by bittering hops. Nicely balanced

M- Medium body with low carbonation, alcohol not noticeable

D- Very drinkable and true to style

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

Bought a case at my local distributor after being on a recent ESB kick. After being pretty impressed with my first handful of bottles, I poured one into a standard pint glass for review:

A: Pours a copper-amber color with good off-white head. Carbonation starts off plentiful, then slows down to a trickle in which each bubble lazily make their way up to the surface. I absolutely dig the bottles!

S: Wow! What a great scent this beer provides. A strong nutty aromatic malty character which turns into a chewy ball of caramel goodness. Also smells of honey, vanilla and wood. Very unique!

T & M: Appears a little sweeter than dry. I don't get the bitterness expected of an ESB, but a great malty tasting beer here. Again the honey & caramel shine, a bit of chocolate, and perhaps some light cigar-like tobacco notes.

D: I could drink these all night long, but given the availability (only 1 case available at the distributor) and above average price I'm willing to normally pay for a "craft" case, I don't think this one will make my regular rotation schedule anytime soon. A great drinking session beer nonetheless. Can't wait to look for this on cask over in London.

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Photo of olmatty
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance-Crystaline light orange with a white head.

Smell-Light citrus and a toasty biscuit malt

Taste-Floral and lightly citrus hop, lightly sweet biscuity and toasty malts with some earthiness.

Mouthfeel-Relatively light bodied and moderately carbonated.

Drinkability-Smooth, flavorful and delicious.

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Photo of IllNate
4.6/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a brilliantly clear light amber. With a good helping of white head. Decent retention.

S - A rich malty aroma with a bit of caramel and good backing of earthy hops. Also a decisively fruity aroma is present. Nice and complex with some good depth (unlike some of my recent samplings). A real treat.

T - Again a rich malty base (english pale ale) with a prominent fruity note, caramel is also notable. Fairly strong earthy hop component. Bitterness is moderate to high. Nice and complex here too.

M - Nice and creamy, great feel. Proper cabo and nice bitter twang.

D - Best I've had in a while, could knock back a bunch of these.

I was lucky enough to get this one brought over on a plane, and it was treated well and very fresh.

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

Pours a pleasant deep golden colour, with a fine-bubbled head of just off-white. Lacing is complex and detailed. Looks pretty good. Body looks surprisingly heavy for an English Ale, but I'm not complaining. Looks very decent.

Nose is complexly roasty and sweet, with big nut characters coming through along with a toffee caramel character and an earthy tobacco English hoppiness. Again, the body might be exerting too much malt, and not enough hops, but it's really very pleasant.

Taste is also very nice, with round sweetness the basis of the flavours, even though the palate and feel stays relatively lightweight. Light earthy hops and metallic hints of copper pipe and tinfoil. Sweet but pungent cannabis characters lift the palate as well. Finish is extremely long, but from nothing comes a pleasantly cleansing ozone or chlorine note, that far from being unwelcome just dips the sweetness into a bright finish.

It's a lovely blend of smoothness, complexity, depth and raw flavour. Great beer, and one which accentuates just how good the English styles can be.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.06 out of 5 with 2,999 ratings