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Fuller's ESB | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

1,329 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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,329 | Ratings: 2,844
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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

Photo of Greywulfken
4.38/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: deep amber ale, perfect clarity; a few fingers of fat tan head left lotsa lace down the glass

S: something sweet like dark fruit atop a fresh, wet grain aroma of malt

T: caramelized sugars, toast points, roasted nuts, and pale fruits like apricot or fig

M: silk smooth and slick - quick across the tongue; mild bitterness and a roasty, toasty aftertaste

O: super-fine drinking experience here, lads and lasses - make sure to find your way around to this, yet another fine ale from Fuller Smith

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Photo of JamesMN
3.79/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best before 3/12/15.

Appearance: Subdued caramel color with brilliant clarity. Some effervescence making its way from the bottom of the pint glass to the thin layer of off-white foam on top.

Aroma: Stone fruits and sweet apricot. Different than I was expecting.

Taste: It starts with a nice blend of lightly bready malt and smooth low end hop bitterness. The hop character comes out more with each sip and reveals sweet hearty fruit flavors, apricot, date, etc. The overall bitterness builds over time and reaches a moderate level, maybe like 35 IBUs. The finish is a little muted but transitions to an aftertaste in which the bitterness builds slowly and then fades along with the fruity hop character. A lot of flavor and never watery, which is impressive at 5.9% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a smooth feel but enough carbonation that it is never tepid. Good drinkability.

Final Thoughts: I had I expectations going in to this one based on Fuller's other offerings. My expectations were met by this ESB. With all the up-and-coming breweries these days it's nice to drink a beer with a history spanning several generations. Would I drink it again? Yes.

 1,165 characters

Photo of gutbucket2
3.25/5  rDev -20%

Bottle. A: amber, quickly subsiding head.
S: plums, raisins, caramel.
T: fruit and caramel, appropriate bitterness.
M: rather thin, plenty of fizz.
O: Could be improved by secondary fermentation in the bottle.

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Photo of JTuomi
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

0,5 l bottle into a pint glass. Clear pale amber color, two finger white head that fades quickly, ample lacing. Smell is light and fresh, malt and caramel with a hint of nut.

Taste is light and crisp, fruity, malty and nutty with some caramel and toffee notes. Floral hops rise up in the end with a slight bitterness to balance the taste. Light body and mouthfeel, stingy medium carbonation, very drinkable.

Overall light but flavorful. I could easily have another after finishing the first one.

 497 characters

Photo of TimZebGir
4/5  rDev -1.5%

A: Pours a clear amber with very thick foamy head that dissipates quite slowly (3/3)
S: Fairly fruity nose with a little bit of alcohol in between roasted malt notes (9/12)
T: Sweet maltiness, almost like a fruity jam, with a bit of toffee and raisin (16/20)
M: Very bubbly and wet with a little bit of dryness on the finish (5/5)
O: A remarkably drinkable beer given how sweet it is. Surely a classic, but I think the hops could have played a slightly bigger role (maybe my subconscious desire for bitter to mean bitter). The after-taste is a treat that keeps on giving. (7/10)

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Photo of The_Mad_Capper
4.53/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There's lots of rich caramel in the aroma with a slight tartness akin to molasses or prunes. The crystal clear body is an orange-ish copper with an eggshell-white head. The flavor is primarily bitter and coppery with considerable caramel-like sweetness; the hop flavor is woody, resiny, spicy; some alcohol warming is present; there is a roasty, earthy finish from the malt. There is some alcohol dryness and a slight bite from the mineral texture and carbonation.

A very characterful and sophisticated beer, the aromas and flavors are consistent throughout and all-around satisfying. The structure of the flavor is largely well balanced.

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Photo of barczar
3.94/5  rDev -3%

Pours a brilliant deep copper with a lingering frothy cream head. Floral and lightly fruity notes counter a light caramel malt backbone in the aroma. Very perfumey. Flavor echoes the aroma, with a toasted finish, which becomes bitter in the aftertaste.

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Photo of bristol2120
3.25/5  rDev -20%

Was motivated to try this after tasting Beer Camp There and Back ESB in order to get a read on what a classic ESB should drink like. Hey, the label even says it's the ESB by which all others are judged.
Poured from an 11.2 oz bottle with best by date of 4/17/15. Nice offwhite head eventually settles down leaving a decent amount of lacing. The beer itself is a very nice deep orange copper. Nose is slightly less prominent than expected. What is there is pleasant enough with malt and hops detectable in equal measure.
Taste has a slight hoppy spiciness to it along with a solid malt foundation. On the negative side, there is also a steady presence of what I can only describe as a "wet dog" character lurking in the background that really takes away from the rest of this beer. I don't have a great deal of experience with this style so I am not sure whether this is a typical trait. Mouthfeel is very smooth with a nice level of carbonation.
Overall, this is a really solid effort that sadly is marred by those odd notes in the taste.

 1,040 characters

Photo of MNAle
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%

Amber color. Pleasing malty aroma. Light carbonation. Slight hop bitterness is present, but this is dominated by the slightly sweet malts. Excellent body. Wonderful bitter, even considering this was the USA import version rather than the cask version. Very nice malty finish with some hops presence. Interesting fact: English Bitter, despite the name, is not particularly bitter. All of the American bitters I have tasted thus far are too hoppy to be a true English-style bitter.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

A: poured into a nonic pint to a clear golden copper hue with a small white head that fades quickly
S: smells of fruity esters, caramel and some juicy hops
T: taste is caramel malts, fruity esters, and some slightly floral hops. swallow is a nice lingering floral bitterness with a little more caramel malts
M: this beer sits at the lighter side of medium on the palate with soft carbonation and a refreshing finish
O: very well made and this beer has no apparent faults. very drinkable and a great example of the style.

 530 characters

Fuller's ESB from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
91 out of 100 based on 1,329 ratings.
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