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

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,999 |  Reviews: 1,375
Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I reviewed the "bottle-edition" some time ago, but this is a beer really blooms on tap. Yesterday I was at the pub with some friends, and on of the taps was this one...

A: Deep amber, with an long-lasting creamy off-white head that leaves a healthy dose of lace.

S: Malty, and lots of floral hops. This is a very fruity beer - I can sence lots of differnt fruits here, both red and green apples, dried dark fruit, different kinds of citrus; oranges and some faint grapefruits.

T: Lots of bready malt - almost like sourdogh-bread. Floral and some faint bitter hops. Much of the fruityness from the smell is also present but not as strong as in the smell.

M: Lots of bitterness in the long aftertaste. Fullbodied - it's almost like you need to eat it with a spoon, moderate carbonation.

D: Much of what I wrote in my earlier review still stands, but the biggest difference between the bottle-edition and this one is that everything is a little bit better this time - it smells stronger, it tastes stronger and the body is (if possible) fuller.
If you see this one on tap - don't hessitate.

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Photo of MikeBrandman
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First off, I don't quite see the hype around this beer. I didn't taste that much of anything the three or four times I've had it. Carrying on...

A - Definitely looks enticing. Transparent, orange amber that looks yellowed where my Guinness pint glass contracts. No carbonation, off white two finger head that quickly subsides to a ring. No lacing on a clean glass.

S - Smell is probably the best part of this beer. You can smell the malts and faint hops for a profoundly sweet aroma. Almost coffee like, which is surprising for such a light colored.

T - Taste is a little lacking. Not much to speak of. The coffee strength taste is surprisingly still there, although not as pronounced as in the smell. Not much lingering taste. Comes and goes very easily.

MF - Very smooth and easy to drink. Full bodied and creamy. The lack of carbonation keeps it going down consistently even as it warms.

D - Great to drink. Could even call it a session beer.

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

This beer is quite drinkable and fits the style very well. ESBs are not my personal favourite style (flat carbonation as it is suppose to be low) but this is a very good beer.

Pours a clear dark copper with a thin dense head to start the recedes away with no lacing.

The smell is nice with more sweet malt than I expected. Hops don't seem to be dominant which is what I expected for an ESB. That's a testament to the great balance that an ESB should have.

Smooth and creamy with no courseness and low carbonation. Starts caramel malty and is very well balanced with nice herbal hops that are not overly bitter in the semi-dry finish. This is a good representation of the style - well balanced. Good aftertaste with a little mineral and then diactyl.

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Photo of Spineypanda
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I, for the most part, enjoy ESB's but not to the point that I like a good pale ale or IPA.

This ESB however has made me rethink that statement.

The appearance is great, with a nice dark golden color.
Smells wonderful with the hops being the most prominent along with a slight sweetness that I look forward to.
It tastes like what I would expect an imperial IPA to have... but milder obviously.

A VERY good ESB, and probably the best I have had. Just enough bitterness to enjoy thoroughly.

I will buy again.

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Photo of uno99
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sampled from can purchased at cooper street LCBO.

A: not much head. I think i poured it too slow. nice deep amber. looks almost like a heavy IPA.

S: Hops definitely come through. nice fruity malts. quite nice

T: hops go from beginning to end. its got a kind of mellow bitterness that really sucks you in. what wonderful stuff this is.

M: thick and juicy. just enough carbonation to make it come alive. very clean and refreshing.

D: this is the quintessential pub beer.

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

The colour of the beer is dark amber, with a touch of red. The head is tan, thick and a bit like whipped cream in texture.

The aroma is intensely fresh and rather fruity, with a hint of citrus and apricot. The bitterness of the beer is when first touching the taste buds high, but then mellows out into a much fresher aftertaste, as the taste rolls off your tongue. I also found the brew quite fruity in taste, with a small hint of lemon.

The mouthfeel is great, with that wonderful melange of bitterness and freshness. This makes for a very drinkable beer, and you could easily sit and blissfully down pint after pint of the brew.

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

A: A fluffy, full and well textured head on top of an amber-red body. I've been canning so condensation is forming like madness on the glass, but it seems pretty clean and there's nice active carbonation. The color is a little dark, but the great lacing makes up for that. But the head doesn't stay around for long. Sad.

S: Light hops, they're very much there, but not overpowering. Herbal, but I pick up a little grapefruit as well. Simple, but you know it's there.

T: Well balanced and light. Not really "extra bitter" at all though. I get bready and toasty notes of malt, nothing roasted though, nor burnt. More of a dry malty taste though than sweet, underattenuated malt. Very nice, very quaffable.

M: It leaves me feeling a little dry in the mouth, and I think if I drank this all night I would get serious cotton mouth. But other than that, it's fairly light, not too carbonated but not flat either.

D: As I said, very quaffable. I could see putting back quite a few of these.

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Photo of aeminter
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - light brown (reminds me of iced tea), almost 2 fingers of foamy white head
S - moderate hop aroma with a definite caramel smell.
T - mild and balanced, initial malt sweetness with a nice punch of hop bitterness in the back of the mouth which lasts only a few seconds. medium finish
M - moderate carbonation

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Photo of juhl31
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

wrote this a little bit later than i wanted to and didnt give myself enough notes, but i remember liking it although i thought it would be a bit more flavorful

-light amber in color with a smallish head

-a fruity nose with a touch of hops

-again it is sweet and a bit fruity with minimal hops

-some carb mouth in there

-good summer drink and a solid english esb

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

A dark, copper/amber with a slightly creamy head that trails down the sides of the glass.

The smell is definitely enticing. Not the best beer I've smelled, but definitely among the best/better ones.

Rich, smooth, & slightly creamy, this beer tastes good at every stage of a sip. I like its earthy, natural tones... kind of a woody/smokiness in the aftertaste that I really enjoy... maybe a bit of a burnt caramel taste. Also some lighter hints of some citrus.

Feels great in the mouth. Creamy, not really "chewy" as some might say, but not watery at all, either. The light tingle of carbonation lingers on the tongue. Just about right. No complaints.

Very drinkable. I wouldn't sit and drink a case, but the best beers shouldn't be consumed like that, anyway. A couple or few of these would be great.

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

Pours a hazy amber with medium size off-white head that laces the glass. Its aromas of toffee and autumn leaves is very pleasant. Flavors of minerals, herbs and leafy hops do an excellent job of supporting its toasty and fruity malt profile, reminiscent of trail mix with dried apricots I'm sold on this classic.

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Photo of hoplover82
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a crystal clear deep golden color with a medium creamy off white head that slowly dissapates to a thin film on the beer leaving only a solid colar around the beer. As the beer comes down the glass there is not much lacing.

S-I am drinking this right after fullers london pride and I'd say it smells way too much like their pale ale. I smell the smame fruity esthers, the same sweet pale malts, same earthy/floral hops. It's not bad, but you'd think that being a whole different style of beer, it would have a very different aroma.

T-And the flavor is much of the same, but with an added toasty malt character to it. It's nice with a little bit more bitterness than their pale ale.

M-A full-medium body that is creamy. There also is a setback to the mouthfeel, a slight hot alcohol bite, which is not desirable.

D-Although there is a slight alcohol hotness, I think this beer could be quite sessionable. It's a good beer, just not all I was expecting.

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Photo of dbmcrorie
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz brown bottle with Best Before date printed on back. Label boats of being the "World's Original Bitter". Poured into an American pint glass.

Pours a copper amber body with a light khaki head; dissipates quickly to a ring of sticky lacing.

Exceptionally smooth. Soft hop residue swirls with caramel malt, candy esters, and faint metallic notes in the nose. There is a dry grain somewhere in the middle trying to peak through, but fades as quick as the hops.

Leafy hop profile leads into a juicy wet mouthfeel. Hints of chocolate and caramel lay underneath the rich and toasted malt body. Sugary sweetness tickles the tongue as the malt makes it way through the mouth. A flash of toasted pecans in the finish. Faint bitterness slowly fades in along the back sides of the tongue, but offers no astringency or drying bitterness (as seen in most Bitters). Pleasant earthy aftertaste leaves you with a flavored, yet clean, palate.

Phenomenal bitter. I would approve of ESB's more often if they followed this brew's format. Great malty platform with enough toastiness to offer a bitter profile, but not too many hops to overwhelm the palate; just enough to add flavor and ambiance. Extremely smooth and enjoyable.
Because of the smooth profile, I would suggest pairing more delicately. Try starting with any nutty cheese or sharp cheddars. It could easily go well with smoked seafood or lightly fried game. However, despite common suggestions, I would almost avoid heavily/deep fried foods, simply because of this beer's smooth profile. Instead, try softer dishes such as pizza or lamb. This is definitely a beer that can open up wonders to various cuisines.


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

Poured from a 16.9oz heavy dark brown bottle into a clear pint glass with very attractive label. Best by date of October 5, 2009. Single purchased at Cost Plus World Market.

A-Pours a copper-amber with nearly a one finger cream color head. A more vigorous pour of the remaining content produced a two finger head. Very scant lacing. Very effervescent.

S-Mildly fruity with hints of sweet caramel malt. Not much hop aroma.

T-Fruity with a pleasant malt sweetness. Finishes with noticeable hop bitterness. Nicely balanced and complex.

M-Very smooth and extremely well balanced, even slightly chewy.

D-Not as bitter as I expected. And thus more drinkable. This is very nice, but not a favored style of mine.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got tjhs at the LCBO in my town.

From a bottle into a pint glass.

APPEARANCE: Pours a fluffy 2 finger medium off-white head. Color is a rust brown with lower end carbonation evident. Head quickly recedes to a good foam cap, but only a ring remains around the rim leaving no lacing down the sides.

SMELL: Caramel malt with some floral hops and citrus notes. A touch of toffee and sweet honey as well. Some bread notes with hints of vanilla in the background. Complex and very enticing indeed.

TASTE: Follows the nose very well, with caramel malt, toffee, along side floral and citrus notes. Some vanilla touches come through, as well as a strong dose of bitter hops at the finish. A stronger and longer lasting bitter-sweet aftertaste is a very welcome ending.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Goes down creamy smooth and finishes slightly dry on the palate. Complements the taste profile well. Good for the style.

OVERALL: Great strong bitter. Perhaps this one doesn't get the notoriety it deserves because it's so easy to find. Great nose and taste profile, this is one worth checking out if you're a fan of bitters and haven't gotten around to it yet. Recommended.

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Photo of allergictomacros
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Clear copper with an inch of jiggly tan foam. Nose is sweet malt, grapefruit and lemon, light caramel. Taste is caramel, juicy lemon hops and a light toasted grain. Some butter perhaps and light fruitiness and a background nuttiness as well. Finish is a slow, mild bitterness and a bit of metal. Smooth, medium body and low-ish carbonation. Incredibly well balanced and drinkable.

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Photo of ADZA
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a pale copper hue with nice carbonation that leaves a one finger head with sporadic lacing,it has aromas of fruity hops and a malty alcohol backbone,it has an above average mouthfeel with a big citrus floral hop taste that finishes with a nice strong malty,bitter finish,quite a nice beer thats easy to drink.

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Photo of 2roosters
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type: 500ml brown bottle with best before date

Appearance: Cooper, gold thin slightly off white head that doesn't last but good lacing

Smell: Caramel, malt with a bit of yeast in the background

Taste: Delicious, roasted nuts and yeasty grain with a bit of floral undercurrent. A classic of it's style.

Mouthfeel: the only shortcoming is a bit of a short finish

Drinkability: Too rich for a session, well maybe a small session but two is a good number - maybe three.

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Photo of jsh420
3.27/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

best by 01/01/2010

pours copper with a 2 finger head that leaves lacing

smell - something is off here reminds me of sunscreen

taste - good thing the sunscreen smell does not come through - but still the beer taste like you standard english pale with some fruit and nutty flavors

mouthfeel is light and a little thin - no carbonation

drinkability is good if you can get past the smell

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

This brew's a rich amber, almost copper, color. A slightly orange-tinted head sat at about one finger, leaving some thin patches of lacing partway down the glass.
There's a light hops aroma with a malt back and a bright, subtle sweetness.
The flavor is to par, with a little bit of a metallic touch that just barely touches the tongue and then is gone. There seem to be a nice mix of malts in this one, making for a nice complexity that doesn't overwhelm the senses. The bitter of this one is all for the flavor, neither destroying the palate for the novelty of it or too weak, making this about as well-crafted a bitter as could be.
The mouthfeel is very smooth, almost creamy. Body is moderate and carbonation is fairly light.
This is a tasty bitter with great balance, delicacy, and craftsmanship.

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Photo of zornbeast
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fuller's ESB lived up to my memories. The wonderful complexity of a beer you could easily quaff all night. It came out a shade darker than Amber, great clarity, a modest carbonation (classic to the style). The aroma was fantastic, notes of malt sweetness with a hop aroma that was gone before you could put your finger on it. Taste is full but not heavy, delicate flavors of the English hops surround the tongue as the malt complexities become more apparent. Starts with the toffee, caramel malted flavorings and finishes slightly sweet with a mellow honey note that was delicious. Finishes a bit full in combination with a slightly less carbonation left the beer feeling richer and more complex. This still is a classic among English beers. As Sierra Nevada is to Pale Ale, we can see Fuller's is to ESB.

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Photo of gory4d
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep toffee color with a dense white head, lots of lacing -- this is a good-looking beer. The smell is grain, brown sugar/mild molasses, hay or dry grass, flowers. The taste comes on big and malty, moves into nice raw sugar notes, then grain, with orange-peel tang and more sweet malt in the finish. It's highly carbonated, light in body, refreshing but rich. It's not a sipper: a slow gulper, perhaps. The best in its class.

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

A - Crystal clear copper/amber color. Thin white head, minimal retention but good lacing.

S - Malts! Carmel and sweet malts. yeasty bread scents. Light fruity hop note.

T - Malts! roasted nuts, cereal grains, sweet carmel. Sweet fruity hop background. Light hints of bread.

M - Medium bodied, excellent carbonation level.

D - Excellent beer in its class! top notch.

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Photo of trentley87
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My first experience with the ESB...wow!

Deep rich amber color with a thing, rapidly dissipating head.
Aroma is fairly light hops, hard to detect much of anything. Citrus hops flavors with a nice malt balance in the finish. Perfectly balanced. Mouthfeel is smooth and dry with just the right amount of carbonation. Crisp. I could drink this all night.

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

Upon pouring the Fullers ESB into a pint glass, the appearance is a thick amber color, quite a bit of cloudiness to the looks of it.
Smell consists of light hops, bitterness, and dryness.
Taste is rich, sweet, with caramel and hop aspects also coming into play here. Mouthfeel is earthy, fairly robust, finishes dry. Drinkability is better than average, very good beer.

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