Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB
3,008 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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Ratings: 3,008 |  Reviews: 1,376
Photo of Chico1985
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an amber color with a very nice creamy white head. Retains well and leaves lots of lacing.

Smell is very malty, caramel and bready.

Taste is great. Very subtle, smooth, and balanced. Caramel, biscuit, toffee, fruit, nuts. Simple yet not. Carbonation is on the low side.

An excellent beer that seems to be overlooked alot. To me it drinks like an incredibly well-made beer, the balance and smoothness are so well-done. Belongs in the same tier as Ayinger Celebrator and Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier.

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

Picked up a case of this while in London. Beautiful clear, copper pour with a great head and nice lacing. Huge, wonderful toasty, complex nose with dark caramel malt up front along with butterscotch, tea and biscuits. The taste is perfectly balanced and complex with malty caramel, butterscotch, brown sugar, nuts and biscuit, combined with a nice subtle hop bitter bite on the finish. All of that combined with the smooth Fullers mouthfeel that seems to be present in all their stuff, make this one of my favorite session beers. World class!

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Photo of bsp77
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Clear amber with moderate off-white head and very slight lacing.

Smell: Caramel malt and fairly complex English hops - spicy, floral, metallic and a tad citrusy. Aroma is a little too subdued after initial pour.

Taste: Relatively mild but complex with caramel, tea, cherry, spice and light citrus. Great balance between malt and hops and just a little bitter.

Feel: Moderate carbonation,medium body that is very smooth, dry finish.

Drinkability:The definitive ESB and a great English Ale overall. Very drinkable.

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

This is canned for the Ontario market, and as much as I enjoy it in that format, I don't find it to be comparable to the beer on tap, which if the focus of this review.

Pours a nice, crisp deep orange with a finger of creamy white head that laces generously, and exhibits good retention as it slowly drops to a film. The aroma brings to mind, biscuit and brown sugar, along with a slightly spicy floral note - quite pleasing for an ESB.

The flavour is fairly malt forward, and the hopping is quite restrained in comparison to an ESB like Rogue's Brutal Bitter, but still brings a refined citric bitterness. Again, the biscuit forms the backbone of the brew, upon which waves of caramel slowly build, before culminating in a delightful kiss of citrus/floral hops. Extremely well-balanced, and a great flagship for the styel. Medium-light mouthfeel and medium carbonation seems about right for the style.

In the can its not a bad beer, but hardly a game changer. On tap its an entirely different beast, dispaying a great balance of flavour and an excellent consideration of both the hops and the malt. Not only is this a great ESB, but its a fine advert for the English sensibility when it comes to brewing. Lovely stuff and the epitiomy of the style.

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

Light brown in color with no head retention, this UK classic makes up for the lack of foam with sticky lacing and an appealing creamy richness.

Smell is hard candy sweet with hints of syrup, butter, caramel and a slight biscuit quality. Upon closer inspection, hints of alcohol and roasted almonds peak out from behind the doughy stink.

Beer has a sweet opening, followed by a cornbread/biscuit conclusion and hints of dark/dried fruit. Yeast and malt are the two strongest flavors followed by a caramel taste that's reminscent of Werther's original candy.

Mouth is smooth and luscious and the concluding "bitterness" isn't actually bitter, but more of a pleasing and crisp dryness.

This is stronger than most English session beers, but here in the States, we like our chugging beers to have a bit more muscle and this definitely fits the bill.

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Photo of ectomorph
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Brilliantly clear amber with lively carbonation forming a small but persistent white head.

S - Faint honey, caramel, and fresh bread up front. Mild fruitiness makes me think of grapes, raisin bread, and a hint of oats.

T - Honey on fresh crackers. The sweetness is balanced at the back with rather assertive English hops. The earthy and spicy hops play well together in the flavor additions. Almost a hint of apricot in the finish.

M - Medium body is crisp but not overly dry. Can a beer be crisp and rich at the same time? Yes they can! Who knew?

D - Very high I'm afraid. This is the epitome of session beers despite the near 6% ABV...

Probably the best ESB I've ever had. Definitely the best commercial example.

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Photo of AmberMan22
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Damn, just missed being the 1000th review. Could've had it, too.

In my opinion, this is what a beer should be. I really enjoy the ESB style because of the exceptional balance between hops and malted grains.

Pours a clear amber hue, decent head retention and a bit of lacing.
Smell is is a wonderfully balanced, bready, toast, sweet and hoppy melange.
Taste is just what makes everything about beer great. Nothing too polarizing -- you won't find 120 IBU's or burnt, triple fermented malt grains. Just a good, honest beer that delivers great taste.

Maybe slightly too heavy to be a superb session beer (plus I never would've guessed 5.9% ABV) But this is a real winner in my book. Don't care that it's not "bitter" since that's not what the style is about, considering these guys wrote the book on ESB's.

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

Copper color, clear. Some fine bubbles. Head looks fluffy, leaves a few lacing on the glass.

Caramel-toffee malts, toasted, spicy hops, some fruity.

Caramel-toffee malts up front, mild toasted, along with spicy/herbal hops. Hint of buttery in the middle. Finish off zesty citrus with mild dry aftertaste. Body is pretty creamy, carbonation is mild.

Very drinkable. I really enjoy this beer a lot.

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

Date of tasting: 17.7.2010

Appearance is clear, a mixture of red and brown colours with a froth that diminishes pretty quickly.

Smell is somewhat spicy, but pleasant.

Smooth, creamy ale, with a moderately bitter finish, the carbonation is very soft. A highly drinkable ale, one of the very best bitters I have ever tasted.

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Photo of BeerNemesis
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Fuller's ESB | 500 ml. | 5.9% ABV | 2010

Brewer: Fuller Smith & Turner PLC (London, England)
Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Glass: Pint

The standard Fuller's 1/2 liter bottle has an unusual, but attractive shape. The new blue and gold label is bold but elegant -- a tough combo to pull off.

Clear amber with a 1" snow white head and wild lacing. On the better side of standard.

Caramelized sugars belie a much more metallic malt. Fruity esters hint at the alcohol.

Rich, sweet caramel maltiness brimming with a crisp, ginger-like bite and just a hint of carob. Though straightforward, the flavors are exceptionally well balanced.

Bright and bubbly, the medium bodied gives some heft, and the carbonation adds a playful nip. Excellent.

Simply the best ESB I have ever had. Fuller's nailed it.

Would I get it again?:
[Yes] In a heartbeat. It's such a high-quality brew, but simple enough to be enjoyed repeatedly. Highly recommend.

Bottled on: It doesn't say (best before Sept. 25, 2010)
Served on: July 13, 2010

Price = ?

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

A. Pours a slightly rust colored orange with a thick creamy white head that dissipates slowly leaving thick residual lacing.

S. Hay, pale malt, some mild sweetness.

T. Light malty bread upfront with a hoppy bitterness that I recognize as distinctly British.

M. Crisp and refreshing - read: medium body with brisk carbonation.

D. A good level of bitterness with a crisp carbonation. I'd prefer an American IPA mostly because I prefer the fresh American hop flavors more, but this is a good beer that I wouldn't refuse.

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

Clear copper orange color with a frothy off white head. Served in a nonic pint, the head sticks pretty well to the sides. Nose struggles a little to breach this slurry. Malty caramel and toffee, with a hint of earthy hops. Herbal undercurrent.

The flavor profile remains malty, bringing a little more toffee diacetyl than the nose. There's some herbal notes from the hops, and some crispy toast. Finishes a little dry and herbal, with smooth mouthfeel delivering just a hint of alcohol.

Drinkable, even-handed beer. Not an exuberant style, but a good pub kind of beer.

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Photo of thecarster1
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a- bottle poured into a pint, one finger of head, crystal clear amber color with ruby highlights, uneven pattern of lace with a big bubbly ring around the glass, cool bottle.

s- spice, malt, some fruit - maybe berries, dry, bready and sweet. complex nose.

t- very balances, faintly bitter ending, fruity, some dried berries, sweet fresh baked bread dough, light grapefruit, lemon hops on the back end.

m- light to medium body, slickness and coating.

d- really top notch esb, probably the best i've ever had. i would pick up this beer again for sure.

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Photo of MMansfield
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted 01/01/08

Appearance: Poured a cleared amber, off white head. Retained well and left a bit of lacing.

Aroma: Toasted malt, bread, light hops.

Taste: Caramel, toasted bread, touch of diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: Medium light bodied.

Final Statement: Enjoyed the beer, good to have a couple of, but would not repeat all that often.

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Photo of nicnut45
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a-A dark copper, clear. 3/4" of off white head settles to a thin tight beady patch.

S-Beautiful earthy hop smell, like fresh mushrooms. A clean scent throughout. Sugar cookie dough sweetness from the malt. Beautifully balanced beer. Hop and malt both seperate and compliment each other wonderfully.

T-Bitterness comes through upfront followed by a pleasent alcohol warmth. Upon more discernment a floral taste from the hops is evident. Tastes a bit like tree sap. Malt hides faintly behind the bitterness, it wants to shineout but is subdued and is more evident after the swallow. All in all this lives up to its name, not overpowering but a interesting bitterness throughout.

M.F.-Lively carbonation and m.f. Carbonation really brings out the bitterness from hops. Smooth creaminess afterwards.

D-An interesting beer all in all. Sophisticated and doesnt hide behind blandness. You wil never forget it. But not something I would drink a lot ofin one night. But definetly something I would get again.

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Photo of rarbring
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A clear deep copper toned amber brew, a rather small off-white head leaving little lacing.

The smell is malty, fresh bread, sweet toffee nuances, fresh orange tones.

Upfront sweet bread and porridge, a orange marmalade presence, bitter marmalade that is. The hops rounding of in dry good feelings that stays.

Medium low carbonation, very smooth and soothing. A dry warm finish.

A very well-balanced brew, goes very well with robust food.

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

500ml bottle into a (512) pint glass. Best before 25/Sept/2010.

Good-looking beer, this. Ruddy, deep amber sheen with a copper core. The head is light tan and patchy, but gets a boost from a few steady streams of carbonation. The aroma is instantly recognizable, the epitome of the ESB style with buttery toffee malts and gobs of caramel sweetness. A bit of leather and medicinal twang as well, while the hops are moderate in strength, adding some floral notes and fruitiness.

Creamy sweet butter and English toffee blend with musty, fruity hops and that signature UK yeast note for which Fuller's is famous. Toasted malts and a slight nuttiness in the finish. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth, but crisp at the same time, as the tight carbonation works magic on the medium-thin body. All in all, a delicious beer, and one that keeps me coming back time after time. Not sure why I took so long to review this classic, but better late than never!

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Photo of scottyb88
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Best-by date clearly marked for Sept. 2010, 11.2 oz bottle
This is my first ESB, so I'm not really judging on style, but rather overall impression and drinkability

A- pours a clear light copper color with a 1.5 finger head that goes down to a thin foam; appears to have good lacing and decent carbonation

S-a nice dose of caramel and toasted nut; a faint smell of apple cooked in melted butter; for hops a bit of citrus bitterness but its hard to pick it out

T-a nice buttery maltiness with a hint of smoke at the end; caramel toasted flavors; apple skin; not very bitter, but slightly dry

M-good carbonation and medium mouthfeel; slightly dry aftertaste and leaves a slick buttery coating on the sides of your mouth

D-it's pretty well balanced, def. not very bitter as the name might imply and leans more towards a nutty/light caramel malt flavor beer than pine or citrus hops; some people may get turned off by the traditonal english ale flavor of that butter/butterscotch flavor, that indescribable twang, but its quite nice overall

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

11.2 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- CLear and brown with a frothy 2 finger light tan head that diminished fairly quick and left a nice cap. Nice carbonation.

S- Toasted malt with a hint of grain, a little spicy hops aroma.

T- Smooth malt with a moderately bitter finish.

M - Creamy/oily with soft carbonation.

D- A very sessionable ale, would be no problem to drink this all evening.

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

fuller's esb is a very good esb with high drinkability and moderate complexity.. I find it to be on the very top end of what a 'macro' beer can be.. that is it can please the general public and stand on its own as a solid performer for its style..
It pours nicely with a nice head but it fizzles out quickly (oh well this beer does not last long anyway)..
It smells nice and malty with some nice floral hops - kind of like a brown ale with a little more character..
the taste is sweet with an amazingly satisfying bitter finnish.. this is the opposite of an american version of this style.. sweetness is emphasised bitterness is a pleasant afterthought.. the malt is the dominant feature.. but do not underestemate the lovely floral hops which chime in towards the back of the tongue..
this goes down fast and smooth especially for an esb.. The mouthfeel is a little lighter than i would like but it coats the mouth and leaves a heavy aftertaste - so it makes up for it... top marks..

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

Fuller's bitter, 500 ml. bb sept 2010.

Copper colour, thin head after an agressive pour, modest carbonation, good lacing.

Smell is good, but faint. There's some maltyness, sweet bread, some hops, slight soft fruits, floral notes.
Taste has similar characteristics, with a hint of roasty malts/chocolate in it as well. Not bad at all.

It's not as bitter as you'd expect. However, it's smooth, balanced, and the whole drink is very refreshing.

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Photo of Daniell
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: nice caramel toffee colour. Perhaps needed a slightly more aggressive pour. 4

S: biscuits, chocolate. The hops are well concealed but present and accounted for when one sniffs hard. Thinking about other reviews, I can definitely relate to the "grapes" call also. Apple is later acknowledged. 4

T: Strong chocolate flavour. Definitely some decent bitterness here too, and a strong nutty flavour. But it's a bit underwhelming. I think I expected more maltiness here. I think I can taste the alcohol also. 4

M: It's reasonably carbonated but the alcoholic sweetness is a bit distracting. 3.5

D: Actually that's probably around a 3.5 also. 3.5

I might get a few more bottles of this and rereview.

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Photo of Coolcheech
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Very clear copper color with a thin white head that quickly dissipated. Some bubbles from the carbonation.

S: Upon pouring I can only smell apples, almost like a cider. After tasting I got a mild sulfur smell, however it was not unpleasant. (And with that I think I'm starting to understand sulfates in the water.)

T: This had hints of apple, hints of the sulfur, and some very, very hidden fruity hops flavor that came in at the end.

M: Medium-full, hardly any carbonation, and smooth.

D: I think this was a very good, well rounded beer.

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Photo of PintOHops
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glass - Pint

A - Nice clear orange/coppery color with a soapy 1-finger head, didn't retain very well. Around moderate Co2 can be seen with lots of clinging bubbles on the glass, didn't leave any lacing, a thin ring held throughout most of consumption.

S - Flowery & herbal hop characteristic with fruity plum & raisin. After settling from swirling the beer, I get mild toast and soft buttery notes as well, a bit of caramel but not big.

T - Sweet caramel flavors unfold into a citrus hop edge as it rolls of the tongue, lots of buttery diacetyl follows, cracker, biscuit, wafer, and mineral water is present towards the finish. Moderate bitterness balances the beer pretty well, lingering only slightly.

M - Soft and slick, lightly carbonated, medium bodied.

D - This beer reminded me of Fuller's London Pride, very similar to me, just bumped up a notch. I really enjoyed the balance of this beer, very tasty and extremely drinkable. I might buy this one again sometime. Recommended.

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Photo of JosiahS
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an English pint glass. It gave off a one-finger white, soapy head and dissipated fairly quickly. Color is a light copper with lots of carbonation bubbles clinging to the glass. It reminds me of a bock really.

Lots of fresh malt characters in the aroma. Date, tart cherry, caramel, toffy and biscuit all make an appearance. Moderately sweet overall.

The taste is much more subdued in comparison to the aroma. All the previous aromas: caramel, toffy, biscuit as well as some sweet and tart fruit are present but not as much as the smell leads on. There is a nice bitterness throughout the beer and it finishes clean. Very refreshing. As the beer warms, a malty twang in both taste and aroma is noticeable, adding to the beer IMO.

Mouthfeel is fairly light with moderate carbonation.

A very drinkable and refreshing ESB, this does taste a whole lot like London Pride though, just a little punchier. As of now, this is my second beer from Fullers, i'd like to try some of their other offerings that step away from these flavor profiles. Overall, great beer though.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 4.06 out of 5 with 3,008 ratings