Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB
2,989 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: 2,989 |  Reviews: 1,373
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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Photo of Beerbluesbiology
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle with an amber-copper body and 2 finger white head which dwindled to a thin trace of foam. Smelled of bready malt, yeast and cold EtOH; also slightly metallic. Taste begins with a slight hit of alcohol, then you get the malty presence. The beer finishes bittersweed and yeast is tasted throughout. Feels very smooth and is overall a very good ESB.

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

500 ml bottle

A- Nice dark golden, almost coppery, amber with a nice orange/yellow tinged head. Fairly large bubbles rising in the mug.

S- Malt up front. Touch of fruit.

T- Nice smooth malty taste. Surprisingly faint bitter aftertaste. Well balanced overall. No bad notes, but nothing that makes it really stand out either, Just good basic beer.

MF- Very smooth with medium body.

D- Very good. Goes down like a charm.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.06 out of 5 with 2,989 ratings