I’m really excited to try the Fuller’s ESB (Extra Special Bitter) for The Brew Club’s English Ale Month because the last beer I reviewed was Fuller’s London Pride which I thought was very good. I’m curious to see how the two beers compare. In addition, Bob the Brit also just reviewed Fuller’s London Porter, so its a bit of a Griffen Brewery streak!
The Fullers ESB is another beer, like the Fuller’s London Pride that has won a ton of awards at various beer competitions over the years. For example, the Fullers ESB had won the CAMRA award for best strong ale in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1991, but I guess its enough awards because its now almost 20 years since winning. Fullers ESB was also named ‘Champion Beer of Britain’ a few times, most recently in 1985.
So, this beer has been rather successful over the years, but what has it done for you lately? Lets find out!
This 5.9% ABV Extra Special Bitter was a coppery color as you might see in the picture. It created a nice foamy head that diminished to a frothy coating on the beer’s surface.
As with the London Pride, this beer is perfectly clear with just a few bubbles lazily making their way upward toward the surface.
The aroma was something on the bready side, and I could also pick up a sweetness from (I think) the malt was most noticeable as well.
Moving on to the taste, I got mostly the malt, but then as the name suggests, you get this dry, bitter kick from the hops that leave the whole mouth tingling. There is a lingering and lightly fruity bitterness in the aftertaste, and a little bit of an alcohol warming as well that persists between sips.
At almost 6% ABV as compared to the 4.7% ABV of the London Pride, maybe that’s why. Still, its not that you get an alcohol taste that ruins the sweet/bitter balance that’s going on here, but you feel it on the tongue and its noticeable.
So, wrapping up, its a good beer no doubt but my personal opinion on it is mixed. I’d say that the Fuller’s ESB is a nicely balanced beer that is quite drinkable and indeed enjoyable. They have a good thing going with the malt and the hops, a very nice balance and a very smooth drinker.
On the other hand, I wasn’t thrilled about the bitterness, it was a little much for my taste. This is probably my first ESB ‘style’ beer I’ve had – so my frame of reference is a little weak.
Still, Fuller’s ESB has won a ton of awards and it is held in very high regard in beer circles so you should probably try it and decide for yourself if its your thing. It just wasn’t mine.
Have you had the Fuller’s ESB? What did you think about it? Is there an ESB you would suggest to compare it to?