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 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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Photo of dirkchivers
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am in love with this beer! I was still stuck in a wintery stouts-and-porters-or-naught! mood, but this broke the cycle and woke my taste buds up to the brightness of lightness! Not that is a light beer or anything...

Flavors are well balanced in this beer, with slight favoring of ale fruitiness. Malt sweetness is cut through by pleasant hop bitterness, just the way it should be.

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

A: finger and a half off white head, body is a dark copper with a little tone of red.
S: toasted malt, a slight honey
T: toasted malt sweetness. a more floral like drinking a flower hop, not really bitter
M: stick to mouth for only a moment. low to medium carbonation
D: just from the first sip i can tell i can drink more than a few of these.

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Photo of jpittman80
3.56/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Copper with red highlights. Off-white head that doesn't last.

S - Apples, grapes, bready malt. It actually has a brandy quality to it.

T - Tastes the same as smell, with apples, grapes, bready and caramel malts. Smooth hop bitterness through to the end. Dry finish.

M - Smooth and dry with a good level of carbonation. Slight alcohol warmth, actually.

D - Very smooth and medium bodied. Not hard to drink it quick.

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

So I ran into the store today to grab some sort of English Ale and happened to see this at a decent price. So I decided to buy the six-pack to give it a taste.

Appearance: It pours a nice amber, almost red hue with about two-fingers of foamy, off-white head that diminishes pretty quickly. Lacing is moderately apparent in the glass.

Smell: I personally love the smell of this ale. It smells of Carmel and a very slight citrus note from the hops. The aroma is just simply captivating.

Taste: While drinking this, flavors of Carmel and malt sweetness start to cover the palate with the slight bitter bite of the hops rounding off at the end. I'm really enjoying the balance of this brew.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied ale in the beginning. It felt smooth and creamy, yet I personally felt that this left my mouth feeling sticky and almost had a syrup-like feel at the end.

Drinkability: For a beer with 5.9% ABV, you certainly cannot taste the alcohol. This can certainly be a session beer, just take your time with these. Easy to drink, and you'll want to continue to do so.

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Photo of cratez
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml can from the LCBO. Identical in colour to the Abbot Ale I just finished. A deep copper hue with amber edges and a thin ring of cream white head. Spots of lacing on the shaker. Smell and taste are peaches, sweet and doughy pale malts, floral hops, toffee, English-style biscuits, and a citrus, orange peel bitterness to end. Mouthfeel is soft, lush, thickish medium, caramel-like, a little juicy and resinous, mildly bitter aftertaste. One of my favourite fall back beers when there's nothing decent available at my local liquor store. In my mind, Fuller's is synonymous with reliable, high quality session beers. Thank God they export to Ontario!

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Photo of divineaudio
4.75/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

imperial pint into a u.s. pint glass. best by july 10 2010. i love how fancy fuller's bottles are!

pours a transparent amber to copper with a pinky of off white head that hangs around for a while before settling to a thin film. leaves some nice chunky lace behind.

smell is wonderfully fruity with some toasty or nutty aromas in there as well. taste follows nose with toasty malt character up front and hop bitterness that hits the middle of the tongue rather than the back. has some buttery notes too along with carmel and dark fruit. superbly crafted and very well balanced.

mouthfeel is amazing. lighter in body and one of the smoothest beers i have ever had!

this one goes down easy and is a strong candidate for a session beer. probably one of the best examples of the style and so good that you'll want more. will definitely be seeking this out again.

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Photo of PapaGemutlich
4.89/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Straight pour into a pint glass--mmm tiny bubbles, 1" head with staying power.

Aromatic hops come on wonderfully complex, all grass, hay, and clover tripping over each other. Bittering hops balance perfectly. The malt is rich and solid and screams good quality. It tastes like grain.

Damn, but it's hard to stay objective: the aroma alone brings London pubs crashing out from my own memories.

NB--The six pack bottles I bought seem amazingly fresh; I wonder about how well this would survive a few months on a shelf somewhere. I got it at Rodman's Pharmacy on Wisconsin Ave. in DC.

Somebody recommend an American made ale that tastes like this. Lordy, it's good.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Straight pour into a pint glass. The color is a solid copper. Two fingers of off-white head developed and dissipated slowly to leave a spotted lacing and ring around the edge.

Smell: Sweet caramel and honey malt aromas. It has a buttery, nutty quality to it as well, and there's also toffee and vanilla.

Taste: At first there's the sweet honey and caramel notes from the smell, then a little hop bite enters, nicely balancing the brew. The alcohol is noticeable at the end, but it's not overpowering, and fades after warming.

Drinkability: Without the label, it would be hard to tell if I was drinking ESB or London Pride. ESB is just a tiny bit hoppier and a tiny bit bitterer, but other than that the experience is much the same. No doubt it's the original ESB, but Fuller's gave birth to a watered down little brother. Boo.

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Photo of metter98
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: It poured clear light amber in color with a moderately sized head that gradually settled down into lacey patterns. A moderate level of carbonation is visible.
S: There is a light malty and somewhat sweet aroma.
T: The taste creates an interesting seesaw between malty sweetness and hop bitterness on your taste buds. The malt flavors taste lightly toasted and buttery with some hints of caramel, while the hops are subdued but create a little bitterness, particularly in the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and very smooth.
D: This beer is very easy to drink and goes down smoothly.

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

A - Poured a clear medium amber with and average lumpy head. Good lacing.

S - Smells malty with a fruity notes like unfiltered cider.

T - Taste is chewy and sweet. A rather bitter British beer. But the bitterness is balanced and pleasant. Clean finish.

M - Medium to light body. Texture is a touch oily.

D - This beer does not put on airs. It comfortable like a cotton sweater. Sessionable but not shallow.

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Photo of Stunner97
4.69/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance- light brown with very nice small bubbles rapidly streaming up the glass, carbonation is very nice

Smell- very nice sweet and malty, caramel, sugar and molasses, very super enticing nose

Taste- very enjoyable and very flavorful, good amount of sweet and enjoyable malts but extremely nice and perfect amount of slight bitterness too, beautiful balance and just overall delicous flavor,

Mouthfeel- slight carbonation but super smooth and creamy

Drinkability- the word drinkability was made for a beer like this, absolutely a world class beer for sessioning despite slightly high alcohol level, BALANCE BALANCE BALANCE, just superb this is the prototype for the esb style and I cant see my self reaching for any other esb over this one just superb,

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Photo of sophisticated
4.01/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Curious to try this 1 pint bottle of award-winning ESB.
This is a pretty ale - clear reddish-brown/amber with small but solid sudsy white head. This left tons of lacing through the glass.
The nose was fairly mild but malt-dominant. Sweet with slight undertone of bitter hops. The taste? Nice and malty! Caramel, raisiny, with a bitter edge of hops and a touch of spice. Overall a balanced beverage, extremely enjoyable! Smooth, light, refreshing. Excellent drinkability, I had to refrain from chugging this bad boy. A definite session beer.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

As the bottle says, it's the original. I feel it's the standard by which other (or, American) ESB's should be measured. I'll admit that until now I've sampled and enjoyed mostly bitters by Mid-Atlantic breweries (Flying Fish, Yards, Stoudt's, etc). I've had a few English bitters (here and abroad) and it's tough to mistake the smoothness and mouthfeel of an English ale. The Fuller's ESB is quite representative of its breed. If you want a detailed description of the nuances of its flavor, check some other reviews below. I felt it necessary to just suggest where it stood among the others, that's all.

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Photo of Ottertude
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Fuller's ESB poured a dark copper into my pint glass with an off-white head that left nice lacing.

The smell was of biscuits, a little toffee and a hint of grapefruit. The taste was more of the same. Perhaps the toffee flavor seemed a bit more pronounced in the taste and the background citrus hop flavor lent to a very nice balance indeed.

The mouthfeel was not too thick, not too thin and the carbonation level was very nice as well. This bottle went down real easy. The mellow but complex flavor make this a good session beer, although with the 5.8% alcohol I need to take it easy and not drink this too fast.

This is a really good ESB and in the future I will compare other ESB's to this fine offering from Fuller's. Good stuff.

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Photo of templar316
4.77/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep rich amber with an off-white head that falls back quickly leaving little lacing. The sweet biscutty malt nose is inviting. The flavor rolls softly across the toungue soft buttery malts, caramel sweetness, and a finish of hop bitterness to perk the nose. Softly carbonated and easy on the palate I could drink this all night.

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Photo of MattyV
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep copper with an off-white head that quickly dies down to a thin cap

Very pleasant aroma, a slighlty dominant bready/biscuity malt with hints of fruity and floral hops

Tastes of the same buttery biscuit malt, caramel, nice toasted character, balanced out smoothly a bitterness that lingers around for just long enough

Pleasant soft carbonation that is typical of English brews, makes this all the more drinkable, is a nicely balanced choice to put back in quanitity, except for the slightly high ABV (for a session beer)

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Photo of cpetrone84
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours a clear golden orange beer with bubbles sticking to the side of the glass. The head is thicker and slightly off white with a good 2 full fingers. It lingers for a bit and leaves no lace to be found

S-Caramel malts with a touch of toasted bread set in first. A fair amount of sweet caramel. There are some grapefruit notes in the back underneath the metal; but they are faint.

T-Lots of sweet caramel and a touch of brown sugar. Lightly toasted malts in there as well to start. Bitterness seems to pick up in the middle and continues to gain strength from then on out. A nice grapefruit hop profile and bitterness really shows itself at the finish

M-medium to light in body with a smooth texture on the tongue. High carbonation and crisp finish.

D-this has a great balance with malt and hop. More bitterenss than I am accustomed too but it seems to work pretty well. Solid beer!

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Photo of ivanwatling
3.76/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Copper coloured, clear. Creamy head quickly fades away

Aroma: Very little aroma

Taste: Smooth, rich, fruity with a slight bitterness

Mouthfeel: A slight biterness in the aftertaste

Drinkability: Enjoyable drinking experience, smooth and satisfying. Has a high ABV but alchohol certainly doesn't overpower.

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Photo of Evocatus
4.36/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a dark red-orange amber color with a bubbly tan head that dwindled to a ring rather quickly. Continued bubbles throughout the drink. Aroma was a mix of butter and malts. Taste was similar to the aroma. Definitely a strong malty character to it, flavored with a buttery biscuit taste. It also had a slight kick to it as well. Well carbonated and great body. Wonderful taste and perfect amount of body, which means I could have one of these anytime.

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