Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,339 Reviews
Fuller's ESBFuller's ESB

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

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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,339 | Ratings: 2,873
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.

 559 characters

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.

 563 characters

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.

 1,337 characters

Photo of captaincoffee
4.02/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pretty classic English brew here. Copper with medium head. Nose is muted, but has a good English hop presence. Flavor is fruity and bready, although I would have liked a bit more substantial mouthfeel. A classic ESB. A beer you find yourself drinking much faster than you planned to.

 288 characters

Photo of Mike_Aguirre
4.91/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Awesome beer, I loved it. Complex, strong, not too bitter, not too sweet, perfect balance. Smells malty and has notes of noble hops in the aroma. Taste improves as it warms up .

 177 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.84/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

really interesting to have this one side by side with the one from breckenridge here in colorado. they are so different, but yet so similar, and as the label says, this is indeed the esb by which all others are measured. honestly i like this one a little less. its not quite as rich in the malt build, this is a maris heavy version, and although its awesome beer, it doesnt quite have the grain depth as the breck one does. that said, i like the yeast better here, its more traditional and it speaks louder in the overall reverberation of the beer. that is to say its more flavorful, and it takes me to england the way the breck one never could. its also well balanced with a healthy hopping for the style, much more bitter and bright in the hops than others, with just the right amount of caramelization to balance it in the boil. carbonation is also high for an enlgish pub ale type, it feels so much more alive than some of the crusty old ales of england old. i like this a whole lot, and when its fresh, it truly does set the standard for the style coming out of europe. also, definitely one of, if not my single favorite of the fullers beers.

 1,147 characters

Photo of DypsoBubble
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours from the bottle a copper colour. Head dissipates quickly with a few bubbles raising to the surface after the initial pour.

Smells of hops, lemon and caramel.

Tastes of apples, lemon and sherbet with a caramel base. Low carbonation and being pretty strong, is almost wine like with a touch of sharp acidity.

A lighter mouth-feel than I expected and does not cling. Hoppy after-taste.

Light, tasty and refreshing and yet pretty high in alcohol.

 463 characters

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

-clear copper with almost no head
-low carbonation visible
Huge toffee,grassy,plums,raisins
-caramel,big sticky toffeeplums,raisins,slightly nutty,slightly toasty finish
-medium grassy hop bitterniss
medium-high carbonation,medium-full body
Really nice brew

 272 characters

Photo of supervike
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I'm unsure really what a 'bitter' is. I do know, however, that this one is damn tasty.

It's a caramel color, the smell is slightly copper. it's light on both hop and malt, but both are balanced nicely. It has a clean finish. The only thing I do not like is the lingering metallic taste on my tongue. But ,another sip fixes that. Good stuff.

 347 characters

Photo of pat61
4.66/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Brilliantly clear gold, 1” frothy head reduces to thick film, pencil lead to pencil eraser sized bubbles, ledges of lace.
S: moderate light fruit – grape, slight maltiness, moderately low hop and malt. No DMS, no diacetyl.
T: Moderate earthy hop flavor, noticeable hop bitterness well balanced by the malt. Rich well attenuated malt, not sweet. Suggests nuttiness and biscuit.
F: Medium full body, medium low carbonation
O: Drinkable higher strength session ale with well balanced hop, fruitiness and malt with the balance tilted slightly to the hop. Could drink all day.

 581 characters

Photo of coltonbrimhall
3.71/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

-looks like a IPA but the head dissipated
-smells is mostly a tart note
-taste is smooth but with a weird tart taste
-almost feels watered down for a beer with big complex flavors
- i was sadly not very impressed with this must just not be my style

 250 characters

Photo of teddibrewski
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I enjoyed this one, not sure if it outsanding. I had it from a bottle this time I will re-rate when I have it from the cask. In my experience british ale is a much better from the cask than the bottle.

 201 characters

Photo of BowWowWowYippyYoIPA
2.94/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Best before July 24 2015

Look - Pours light amber with fluffy white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Medium bubble distribution. Head fades to absolutely nothing. 3 paws.

Smell - Huge aroma of apples, almost smells like a cider. That's about the only aroma I'm picking up, maybe a little bit of bitter hops. 2.75 paws.

Taste - Apple taste present as well, slightly bitter finish. 3 paws.

Feel - Medium feel, slightly wet, tingle on back of tongue. 3.5 paws.

Overall - Not sure if this is how the beer is supposed to taste, just tasted like unfiltered apple juice to me, which usually means acetaldehyde is present. Label says marmalade fruitiness, but again, nothing but apple for me. Since it's well before the best by date and was properly stored, I can't give it a good score. 2.75 paws.

 809 characters

Photo of Lomac4
3.54/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Not a huge ESB fan, I either like or love them. Fullers I love, it has a nice bready taste and goes down fast and easy just like an ESB should. Good beer for those nights when you know your going to be drinking a lot of beer. This beer has a shockingly good mouth feel to it. A smooth and crisp feel that is refreshing, it's hard not to say AHHHHH after a big gulp.

 366 characters

Photo of sjccmd
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear deep orangey amber. Small off-white head that fades quickly. Some lacing. Fairly low carbonation.

Rich malt in the aroma with significant fruity esters. Loads of caramel and toast. Some spicy and fruity hops, but those are in the background. A hint of diacetyl, but within appropriate range.

Caramel and apricot in the flavor. Finishing with toasty nutty malt. Medium bitterness and some fruity spicy English hop character. Sweet and fruity upfront finishing quite dry.

Rich and filling mouthfeel with low carbonation but not chewy. Dry bitter finish with malt lingering on the palate.

Rich and refreshing ESB. Definitely a classic example if that even needs to be stated.

 688 characters

Photo of car2052
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz. bottle to English nonic pint.

A: Clear copper with noticeable carbonation. Not much of a head.
S: Smells like a wine... nice grape and other dark fruits. Slight hint of banana and yeast. Malty.
T: Very malty. Toasty malts like the ones found in porters is balanced by a bitterness at the end of the palate. Nice.
M: Medium feel. Bitter aftertaste.
O: My first real ESB. Not bad, and pretty balanced.

 419 characters

Photo of Tucquan
3.81/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had this on 2015-01-20 in Lancaster, PA at Quips Pub

Lots of malt favor With caramel and decent bitterness. A good ESB although a bit higher ABV than I prefer for the style.

 174 characters

Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.67/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce glass poured into a nonic pint glass.

Light and airy pale white head that somehow still looks thick and chewy. Lace is just everywhere, demonstrating a stickiness that is inescapable. A dark amber color with light copper hues glimmers from the body and carbonation bubbles up steadily.

The aroma is not so fresh, like a once-bright floral arrangement gone dull. It's pungent with a bit of a tart bread note, similar to the kvass I'd had recently. I'd like to try this fresher, but in my part of the world, that's close to impossible. Still, Fuller's suggests this beer is good until May of this year, so I have good reason to have higher expectations.

All is not lost here folks. Somehow despite the less than appealing nose, this beer tastes pretty good. It's toast-like and caramelly before becoming earthy, floral and even slightly sweet with citrus. These flavors are all mostly understated and mellow and work well with each other.

As far as tossing a few of these back, it's not exactly in the light, smooth-sipper category. There's a medium-body, light sweetness and bitterness that sneaks in and seems to crescendo to a lingering mellow exit.

For not having this fresh, it's still impressive and enjoyable. It seems the nose takes the biggest dive with some time on the shelf and that's okay because it still drinks well.

 1,348 characters

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

look - very clear light amber color, good head retention and lacing

smell - very balanced smell of citrusy hops and caramel malt

taste - clean, crisp, well balanced again with the caramel flavor of the malt at the forefront and the bitterness of the hops showcased as it finishes. delicious

feel - smooth, very drinkable

overall - I was very impressed with this beer. i can see why it has won many awards. it is very well crafted and aesthetically pleasing and delicious. i definitely recommend trying one

 509 characters

Photo of kevinlater
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle into nonic pint. best before 05 sep 15. consumed on january 12, 2015

a: extremely clear amber colour with absolutely no bubbles streaming upward. finger and a half of off-white head that disappeared after i blinked

s: very grassy up front, with subtle caramel. fig, and apple notes. getting some metallic aromas too

t: caramel, grain, toast/bread, grass, raisin, apple, fig, nuts

m: stellar. medium-plus, very creamy and thick. little carbonation

o: a straight malt and fruity yeast bomb, like others are mentioning.

 540 characters

Photo of TheBierdimpfe
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Copper color. Minimal head that dies fast. Sour smell but slightly fruity. Smooth taste with a perfect crisp. Rich and hoppy feel.

Overall : Fully bodied beer with well balanced flavors. Truly a blast to drink!

 211 characters

Photo of infinitebruner
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

January 4, 2015

11.2 oz bottle, English dimpled pint glass

A – Dark gold to copper, high clarity, some small bubbles rising. About two inches of thick, luscious foam sits on top, mildly craggy, with very high retention. I’ll have a mustache after my first sip.

S – A toasty, toffee wave with just the slightest impression of peat in the foam. Hop aroma is mild floral, a lot of hop bitterness on the nose, a slight bite. Very malty upfront though.

T – Damn, that’s good. Strong malt presence of light caramel and toast, incredibly smooth, with a touch of fruity esters, apples and pears. Floral hops are present in the second wave, and bitterness is strong but provides a backbone for the malt. The finish carries for a long time.

M – Very sudsy, high carbonation, but thick and full on the tongue. Malt provides flavor without a ton of sweetness, and/or the bitterness is in great balance.

O – One of my great regrets is spending a week in England and not taking full advantage of the pubs, and/or not taking note of the experiences I did have. As such, I expect my foray into British beers to be eye-opening, and to only strengthen my regret. And what a start! This ESB is sublime, the perfect pint to quaff on a hot day or to put down next to a warm fire. Consider me blown away.

 1,314 characters

Photo of tekstr1der
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours gold-amber with thin white head. Toffee and malt in the nose and flavor. Well-balanced with a mild stylistic bitterness on the finish. One of the best ESBs I've had, and hard to imagine improving.

 202 characters

Photo of majorbase2
4.01/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, radiant amber color with a small off white foam head. Dissipates quickly. Good amount of visible carbonation. Small amount of lacing around the edges.

The aroma comes through mid-pour. Good deal of fruitiness detected. Upon bringing the beer to the nose, the fruitiness has faded and given way to subtle dark fruit, and some caramel malt. A little bit of roasted malt.

The fruitiness returns in the taste, with a hint of tropical as well as dark fruits. Some grainy malts come through as well, forming a nice combo with the fruit. As it warms a little nuttiness comes through. Excellent touch. A very well balanced beer.

Light bodied. Super easy to drink. Might be one of my new go-to's. Well carbonated.

Overall, a supremely easy to drink beer. Strongly recommend.

 784 characters

Photo of Taybeh
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%

From a bottle into an imperial pint glass
A: amber, clear, minimal head
S: caramel malts, plums, raisins, a tinge of floral hops
T: follows the nose, but also some nuttiness. This is quite good. Toasted whole grain bread, then a lot of caramel and toffee, together with some nutty flavors and very slight and subtle dark fruits. Floral hops come in at the margins. Ends with caramel/toffee and nuttiness.
M: Smooth, toasty, low carbonation; pleasantly filling
Overall: do I really need to hop the Atlantic to find this on cask somewhere...?

 546 characters

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
4.06 out of 5 based on 2,873 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!