Is this the beginning of the end of Fuller's ESB in the US?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by zid, Jan 30, 2023.

  1. zid

    zid Grand Pooh-Bah (3,036) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I've noticed how bottled Fuller's ESB has quietly disappeared from store shelves in my area (while London Pride remains). Curious, I went to the Paulaner USA site (Fuller's is in their brand portfolio) to see if I could get some info. Using their beer finder, ESB is now listed as keg only. Doing a search for kegs within 100 miles of various cities, the Philly area had 5 spots, Los Angeles had 8, Denver 3, Dallas 6, Portland Maine 0, Chicago 0, New York City 0.

    Just thought I'd throw this out there. ESB was recently suggested as an option in the thread looking for alternatives to Bass... and there seems to be some BA chatter regarding "classics" lately. It's clearly not the best of times for UK imports in the US, but that isn't new news.
  2. champ103

    champ103 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,520) Sep 3, 2007 Texas
    Pooh-Bah Society

    There is one place in Houston near me that still has Fuller's ESB on tap. The Red Lion, which is that pseudo English type pub everyone has around. I like the place fine, its been on all the Food Network shows (with a big photo of Guy Fieri from when he visited, to one side to boot, ugh). Its a perfectly fine place, and I definitely go there to get my ESB and Fish & Chip fix on occasion. The kegs seem at least relatively fresh, most likely cause thats what they push, but its hard to say for sure of coarse.

    The local bottle shop I usually go to down the road from me has small cooler space. It is one of the last remaining actual growler shops around, but does all singles in the coolers, and does a pretty good job of variety for the space they have. They got some London Pride (edit: bottles) in a while ago, it was already a year past its best by date. This was so called brand new stock that the owner got from the distributor, then the owner sent it back. Not looking good for Pride either IMO.
    #2 champ103, Jan 30, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2023
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  3. ZlaVydra

    ZlaVydra Savant (1,109) Jun 15, 2015 Georgia

    I haven't seen ESB in Atlanta for years now, although we still have London Pride. To add insult to injury, the Red Lion was out of ESB when I was in Houston last year.
  4. thebeeremptor

    thebeeremptor Zealot (628) Aug 12, 2018 California
    Society Trader

    Can confirm, Fuller's ESB has been basically impossible to acquire in SoCal as a retail buyer.

    It's been that way for quite some time actually. Feels like almost a year but probably only 6 - 8 months. I have a regular customer that used to buy it and asked for it a lot when I couldn't get it. He hasn't asked me in quite a long time now, I think he's admitted defeat and just buys more of the Pale than he used to.
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  5. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Zealot (566) Jul 1, 2009 Scotland

    There is some concern in the UK that Asahi might close down Fuller’s altogether. The land the brewery is on is close to central London and worth a fortune.
  6. BruChef

    BruChef Pundit (871) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    Who cares!!! There are so many great breweries putting hundreds of amazing NEIPAs on the shelves right now! Surrender and submit! Bask in the murky, milky, hazy glory! What a time to be alive!!!
  7. beer_beer

    beer_beer Pooh-Bah (2,115) Feb 13, 2018 Finland
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Yes, but when classics go, they deserve to have an RIP-thread like this.

    Fight on!
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Yes, things are indeed looking ‘murky’ these days.

    Maybe Fullers needs to get some of that murk? Maybe rebrand as Fullers EMB? :confused:

  9. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Pooh-Bah (1,877) Mar 19, 2012 California
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Great. You broke my sarcasm meter. This is the fifth one broken this month!
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  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,969) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    It's a shame that Asahi doesn't move the Fuller beers to Molson Coors' US import division. They do "OK" * with Pilsner Urquell and Peroni, two other Asahi-owned imported brands, MC continued to own the importation rights to those two former SABMiller brands, a by-product of the DoJ agreement which allowed ABInBev to buy SABMIller, allowing Molson Coors to buy the rest of MillerCoors they didn't already own.

    * Yeah, just "OK" - cause my last retailer who carried the Pilsner Urquell cans dropped them (and, when fresh, I'd buy it by the case).

    Supposedly Molson Coors is doin' great with Peroni these days, even tho' that heavily-advertised, uh, "crooked carrot" disease has an unfortunately close name. (But, hey, that didn't hurt Corona Beer too much, but it might also be why it's called Covid these days. Payoff?)

    Wasn't the deal that sold off the brewery originally that Asahi would continue to supply the Fuller pubs (which the Fullers company kept) with beer? Seems they'd have to buy/build a brewery to continue that or, I suppose, yet another UK heritage brand would wind being brewed under license by Marstons or Greene King.
    #10 jesskidden, Jan 30, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2023
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  11. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Pooh-Bah (2,561) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    That was the fate of Young's Ram brewery.
  12. County_Posey

    County_Posey Aspirant (215) Nov 24, 2022

    In Indiana, we have seen Fuller's disappear completely from store supply chains, while only the London Pride is available and only on draft.
  13. Foyle

    Foyle Maven (1,445) Sep 29, 2007 North Carolina

    Can't remember the last time I saw ANY Fuller's products in my area. I was a regular purchaser of ESB and Pride, but I guess I must have been one of the few.

    Sad to see so many great products disappearing and replaced by 100's different IPA's, Seltzers, and Flavored Malt Beverages.
  14. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Zealot (566) Jul 1, 2009 Scotland

    Yes, but Asahi has another brewery in London, Meantime.

    I don’t think the terms of the deal could force Asahi to keep the Chiswick site open forever.
  15. County_Posey

    County_Posey Aspirant (215) Nov 24, 2022

    I think a band once sang "one man gathers what another man spills", maybe this means an opportunity for someone in the States to step up and brew an "American Special Bitter"!?! Any takers???
  16. StJamesGate

    StJamesGate Grand Pooh-Bah (3,315) Oct 8, 2007 New York

    Only London Pride in Ireland, too, at the moment - we used to get London Porter + ESB in the supermarkets regularly.
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  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Don't forget beer smoothies!

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  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Well, if the 'transition' of brewing Bass Ale in the US (Anheuser- Busch) is a proper model here the answer is likely: fat chance?

  19. Domingo

    Domingo Grand Pooh-Bah (3,896) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    I love Fuller's, but I don't think I've seen anything fresh in my area in the last 5 years. I guess the Vintage would be an option, but I don't really care where age takes that one, either. Sadly, that's kinda my experience with low to medium strength imports in general. I'd buy 'em if they were fresh...but why are they going to put effort into selling fresh stock when nobody is buying the brand. Unfortunately, finding a local packaged equivalent is all but impossible, too.
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  20. Chaz

    Chaz Grand Pooh-Bah (3,532) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Malternatives for the Juice Box generation.

    (Insert old man shouts at cloud image, here.)
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  21. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Grand Pooh-Bah (3,600) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Brewery I'm at having lunch has a special bitter that is almost always on. It's quite good too. I've never had fullers esb so I can't compare
  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

  23. keithmurray

    keithmurray Pooh-Bah (2,721) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    I've seen London Pride, but haven't seen ESB or London Porter in quite some time.
  24. Braunmeister_1943

    Braunmeister_1943 Pooh-Bah (2,239) Nov 22, 2020 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Here’s the band and the song!
  25. russpowell

    russpowell Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,236) May 24, 2005 Arkansas
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Was sublime on cask in the Mother Country
  26. guinness77

    guinness77 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,408) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    I don’t come into this forum much anymore but this is the best post I’ve seen in this short year so far. :joy:
  27. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Savant (1,215) Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    This is a crying shame.
    E. S. B. Is such a fantastic style with so little representation, and Fullers was the poster child for it.
    Back in the '90's, everyone had an ESB in their variety packs.
    Nowadays, good luck even finding one in any given beer store, around these parts anyhoo.
    I really miss the Young's products too, along with Whitbread.
    Nowadays,if you want a great beer, you've got to brew it yourself I guess?
    Unless it's an IPA.
  28. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,627) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Yeah, that Cincinnati Whitbread actually insulted me. And that's hard to do!
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  29. slander

    slander Pooh-Bah (2,312) Nov 5, 2001 New York
    Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society

    I feel like imports go away and then resurface again.
    Hope Fullers ESB doesn't go away and stay away.

    At current, only London Pride in keg & bottle here in NYC.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Since you know the answer:


    I am in the process of writing an article with the working title: The Benefits of Homebrewing over Buying Beer.

    Cheers to homebrewing! :beers:
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  31. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,627) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    If a revered brand like Young's can disappear (except Chocolate Stout) the true English ales might just disappear within the haze. It is a shame. Young's Oatmeal Stout is very likely the best beer in all of my memory. As a young fellow in London (19 years old) I remember drinking more than several Ramrod Ales, realizing rich malt and Kentish hops immediately as way better than my American usuals. It was a Summer of palate and pleasure discoveries that prefaced a career.
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  32. jeff57

    jeff57 Aspirant (288) Mar 24, 2004 North Carolina

    The Beer Garden in Raleigh had Fuller’s ESB on tap when I was up there 3 weeks ago.
  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    “Is this the beginning of the end of Fuller's ESB in the US?”

    I will consult the magic 8-ball, maybe there is an answer there?


    Hmm, there is that word again: “hazy”. :confused:

  34. John_M

    John_M Grand High Pooh-Bah (6,253) Oct 25, 2003 Washington
    Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Same situation here in PDX. We still get London Pride and London Porter on draft, but it's been years since I last saw the ESB over at the Horse brass or the Highland Still house pub. Beer finder shows that there's one bottle shop in Vancouver Washington that has bottles, but I suspect that's probably inaccurate and/or dated information.

    And please don't remind me about Young's. I still remember having their ramrod ale on cask on a hand pump at a place called the white cockade years ago. It was so, so good. I still dream about that beer from time to time.
  35. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Pooh-Bah (2,561) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    There are a few others that can be found in the Young's pubs in London, but nothing like the range of beers before Young's was sold.
  36. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,627) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I remember London Special Ale as a rich biting hop-infused ale that made a statement about hops long ago and presaging the current-or just past West Coast style- and it really was tastier at about 55 degrees.
  37. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Savant (1,215) Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Sounds interesting, post it when you're done. I love to resurrect beers no longer available to me that I once loved. Heck, even brewing clones of existing beers is way more cost efficient, at least that's what I tell the wife.
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  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    If the beers you are "cloning" are pricey that is indeed the case (presuming you do not cost your labor).

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  39. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,923) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Not in a beer store, but if you get out here to the Philly suburbs - two local breweries, Troubles End and Forest & Main both brew a lot of English style beers including Bitters and also serve them via beer engines.
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    And a little further away from Philly, Bonn Place in Bethlehem makes English style beers they serve via cask. I am a big fan of their Bitter Ale (Mooey) and English Dark Mild Ale (Nemo).

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