Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB
3,004 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: 3,004 |  Reviews: 1,376
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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.06 out of 5 with 3,004 ratings