Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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1,336 Reviews
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 07-08-2001

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Reviews: 1,336 | Ratings: 2,865
Photo of Foyle
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from 11.2 oz bottle into nonic glass.

Appearance: pours a 2" pillowy cream colored head that falls slowly with abundant lacing. Color is slightly hazy copper with moderate streaming carbonation.
Aroma: raisin and ripe fruit, bread dough and some earthy hops.
Mouthfeel: medium bodied, sticky, with a slightly damp finish.
Flavor: raisins, plums, a bit of toffee, bread crust with a nice fruity and earthy hop balance.
Overall: probably the best beer in the style category.

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Photo of otzhorse
4.48/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Brown golden color with 2 finger head and a little lacing
S: Smells nutty and hoppy with some fruit smells
T: Nice smooth caramel, malty flavor
M: Full bodied and smooth, light carbonation
O: Outstanding beer. London has done itself proud with this beer. If I'm looking to drink a bitter this is a great one.

12oz bottle in a pint glass

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Photo of DrMullet
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an amber color. Smell is of slightly sweet, toasty malts.
Taste starts with caramel malt followed by some dark fruit.
This is smooth and well balanced.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into pint glass. It pours an attractive amber with a one-finger milk-white head and minimal lacing. It smells of biscuit, malt, yeast, and caramel. "Bitter" is really not a good style description as the primary taste is caramel and malt, with some light spices and hops. It's like drinking an english muffin with a caramel spread. It's really good! This beer has a pleasant mouthfeel: medium-bodied, moderately carbonated, and extremely drinkable at 5.90% ABV. Overall, this is a delightful English bitter. I enjoy caramel in beer and this one doesn't disappoint. It has a great reputation which is well-deserved. Jolly good!

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Photo of Craigory
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep copper body with excellent clarity and creamy, off-white head with good retention. Aroma features resiny and fruity hops, with lightly toasty and caramel malt. The flavor features complex fruity malt flavors; the overall impression is of biscuits lightly buttered and plentifully spread with marmalade. Just enough hop bitterness to balance and add a medium-dry finish. Reminiscent of a mini-Vintage Ale, but drinkable by the imperial pint.

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Photo of OlaB
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: clear copper color,with a small head that disapears quite fast ,carbonation seems pretty high
S: Malt,yeast,caramel,dark fruits is the first that comes to my mind
T:Sweet malts, caramel ,herbs and spices
F:well rounded, bitterness are quite comfotable, very refreshing
O: It was my my first encounter with this brew , and i was very positive suprised, i enjoyed this beer a lot and i look foward to try the other beer styles have from this brewery

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Photo of Spike
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a 500ml bottle into a pint glass.

Pours crystal clear. Beautiful amber colour shines when it catches the light. The white head reduces to a thin, patchy cap very quickly. Ring of lacing. Handfuls of tiny escaping bubbles provide additional interest.

Plenty of malts. Some toasted notes present. Damson jam.

Good balance between sweet malt and bitter hops, finishing on the side of the malt. Caramel, hardwood. Nicely spicy.

Rich mouthfeel. Oily. Some alcohol. A little spritz. Sweet finish.

Great example of a strong bitter. Maybe the classic example of this style. Most often drunk on tap but, in this case, the bottled version was extremely satisfying. Very enjoyable. Supremely drinkable.

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Photo of hophead723
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I grabbed this one, with high expectations. I'm already liking this brewery.

Look: Golden mahogany in color, with a sticky off-white head. Nice lacing down the glass

Smell: It smells like orange marmalade and toasted biscuits. There's also a leading hue of orange blossom honey and fruity ale yeast. The aroma shouts quality.

Taste: The taste and aroma are similar with a predominant unique and delicious orange marmalade base of sweetness that is complemented quickly by a toasted english muffin backbone of malts. This can only have come from Great Britain!

Feel: Incredibly smooth with a delicate bitterness that lingers on the palate to give a perfect finish.

Overall: Top notch delicious beer! Absolutely world-class!

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Photo of MarkQ617
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at Ramsi's. The appearance is almost exactly what you want from an esb, a nice opaque light brown color. Flavor and aroma were however a bot weak in my mind - the bitter bready hoppiness youd want is there, its just not nearly strong enough. Mouthfeel was totally decent, fairly smooth. Maybe a bit overrated.

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

The Fullers ESB poured a nice amber clear with thin white head that did not lace. The scent had nice English style hop presence. The taste was a nice balance of hops and malt....with it finishing with just enough bitterness to confirm that you're drinking an ESB. The mouthfeel was medium in body with subtle carbonation. Overall.....good beer.

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Photo of ARoman
2.98/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

On cask, poured into a nonic. The aroma is lightly waxy, a bit leathery, with caramel notes. The beer is an oily amber color with a white soap head that has light retention and lace. The taste is a medium bitter followed by a medium sweet. The oily and slick texture is flat. The light body has flavors of salted caramel, musty leather, a light, mellow citrus / marmalade and a light bread crust. The finish is grainy with an aftertaste that's lingering, primarily waxy, with notes of caramel and grain.

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Photo of SometimesIfart
3.52/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Fullers ESB.

Looked this bottle over a few dozen times at my local craft shop and decided it was finally time to give it a shot. Haven't had much of this style but from the few I can remember I'm not expecting too much out of it.

Look - Pours a see through clear amber with a two and a half finger slightly off white head that retains exceptionally and drops down slowly leaving tons of sticky mountain ranges of lacing. Carbonation appears to be pretty high with this beer. The lacing remains like an acid tripped out night looking at the moving clouds. This is one beautiful brew 5.

Smell - Burnt and toasty malts make up a big heft of the nose with a touch of hops out know will be bitter. Nose truly isn't all that impressive as the scents quickly slip away. 3.

Taste - Upon the drink initially meeting the mouth you get the taste of cardboard which rapidly disappears as the brew hits the palate. Hops are a bit onion like ( yep onions, sue me ) at first but the malts take over in toasted varieties as you swallow. 3.5.

Feel - Mouthfeel is pretty well rounded for the lower ABV with heavy though seemingly dying carbonation. Also highly creamy due to the well retained head. Malts take on almost a chestnut esque flavor as the beer sits. 4.

Overall - Overall it isn't spectacular but I could happily drink this sessionably. The onion ordeal is a touch off putting for me but there was a great malty backbone to make up for it in the flavor department. 3.5..

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Photo of maedhros09
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Light Amber-gold with a bit of lingering head throughout
Smell: malty sweet caramel
Taste: sweet caramel malt with some fruity acidity and a light herbal bitterness
Feel: medium body, smooth carbonation

Overall: A great hearty session ale, with a focus on the particularly English caramelly malt character. Its hallmark is an impeccable balance that makes it very flavorful yet quaffable too. I remembered liking this one but this time I could appreciate how perfectly crafted it is. Justly reputed as the definitive ESB

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: crystal clear; copper colored; 1 finger khaki head that receded to a thin collar; OK lacing;

S: toffee, caramel, dried fruit;

T: sweet malt, toffee, bread, raisins; finish is herbal and lightly bitter;

M: medium bodied; light carbonation; lightly dry finish;

O: I realize that this is a style that features malt, but there was virtually no hop character.

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Photo of beer488
3.37/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Dark amber color. No head, with low carbonation. Smells of malted barley with light fruit in the background. Mouth feel is medium, with a bitter entry. Finish is slightly bitter. Prefer london pride and london porter which are tastier imho.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lots of warm, biscuity malt aroma, with some oak vanilla and faint scotch peat as well. The flavor struck a little flat for me after that really powerful aroma. The sweetbread malt is present with some nutmeg and raisin, but it is really washed-out and lowkey. The hops come in for support but they provide just a medium bitter kick but not much flavor. Bottle was dated fresh so I don't think it was past its shelf life or anything. It is still very drinkable & there are no bad notes, but it is more muted than I hoped.

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Photo of sejorules
4.49/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Clear copper color with an almost inexistent head. Few bubbles.
S: caramel and roasted malt, perhaps some plum that gets mixed with the sweetness from the caramel.
T: caramel, and specially lots of roasted malt, with medium bitterness in the end. It tastes sweet and roasty at the same time. Extremely nice. One little thing is that, despite being a more alcoholic beer (5.9°), you can't taste the alcohol whatsoever, which is also a very positive point.
F: medium to low carbonated, and clear. The taste is very well defined and full. Refreshing, but very strong at the same time.
O: Really nice beer. Would totally drink it again. Well balanced. One of my favorites

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Photo of Tom_Banjo
2.93/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

330 ml bottle purchased from City Swiggers and poured into a pint glass. Do not understand the hype this beer gets. To me it was like a partially flat American Amber Ale. Will not be going out of my way to have this again.

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Photo of breadwinner
2.81/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Absolutely wretched pint on cask at the Lamb and Flag in London. Given the rep of the establishment, I'm not inclined to think it was a poorly kept cask, but you never know. Either way, just a painfully sweet mess, as though someone took mixed equal parts generic cask ale with Southern sweet tea. Will have to give a bottle a go sometime, but this particular pint was surprisingly awful (esp given its reputation).

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Photo of TH28
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

330ml bottle. 8/3/15 code date. Appearance: Reddish copper, clear, with a moderate white foam cap. Aroma: Fruity, candy like English yeast esters, with some biscuity, toffee malt notes. Taste: Sweet, biscuity malt, with some molasses. Moderate herbal hop bitterness. Hint of bread crust on the swallow. Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation. Finish: Lingering bready, toasted crust flavors. Overall: Leans toward the malty side, sweeter than I expected. Bitterness is there, but reserved. Wonderful fruity yeast and malt aromas.

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Photo of clager
3.1/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Bready/caramel flavor with minimal bitterness. Some tropical fruit flavor finish but predominant malt flavor throughout. Not bad, not great, what I would expect from an English bitter.

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Photo of Gajo74
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark copper, good lacing and carbonation visible. Caramel sweet aroma, malts and dark fruit. Bready and malty sweet taste, alcohol and a slight alcohol and hops bitterness. Medium bodied, low carbonation, dry alcohol finish and very drinkable. This was my first experience with the English bitter style. I was impressed.

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Photo of Chris_Burton
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Fuller's have a reputation as one of the best traditional British breweries, and with good reason. This ESB has a lovely amber body with a finger of head. Smells of marmalade on toast. The flavour is rich, fruity, slightly woody and spicy, with enough hop presence to avoid an intense sweetness from the malt. Perfectly balanced, as a good ESB should be. Mouthfeel is smooth, fairly low carbonation but not flat, and fairly full.

It's easy to see why this beer is seem as the quintessential ESB. It's a fantastic example of the style, and highly recommended.

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Photo of PorterPro125
4.75/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Serving Type: 500 mL Can

A- Clear and clean amber topped by a silky white 1 1/2 finger head that doesn't seem to want to disappear! Light lacing on the glass.

S- Creamy orange with a great backbone of sweet malt. Earthy bitterness from the hops balances things out to perfection.

T- Same as aroma. Extremely pleasing.

M- Creamy but not overly thick mouthfeel and medium high carbonation. Perfect for a bitter.

O- Absolute classic of a beer. In my opinion (and in the opinion of many others), this is the beer by which all other ESB's are put up against.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.59/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

BBD 8/3/15. Pours a clear amber with a slight garnet cast. World class head volume, lacing and retention.

Rich world class complex nose of citrus hops (orange), herbal hops (coupled with an airy spice note), huge caramel malt and the classic mineral water. As it warms, a touch of diacetyl (butter) is noticed.

Medium bodied with a silky smooth texture that approaches creamy. Soft, but perfect, carbonation that releases an effervescent undercurrent from the middle on.

The flavor profile is world class and is the standard to which others are judged. It is intense, complex and balanced to perfection. Some ESB's take the bitterness too far, this one takes it to perfection. It begins with a wave of sweet citrus (mostly orange), but no hint of rind. Then the other hop aspects (earthy, with only a hint of being dank) appear. Underneath is a rich malt base of caramel and light crystal that balances to perfection. The middle is mildly bitter, but he bitterness is smooth and retains it's varied flavor components along with a hint of toffee. The finish is where the classic mineral aspects of the water shine and add the final layer of complexity. The finish is a slow fade of mineral sweetness with just a touch of bitterness. Sometimes the original is the best version. Such is the case, here, with the ESB style.

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Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,865 ratings.
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