1. One Hundred Mags (Rule). Check out the sneak peek of BeerAdvocate magazine #100, plus some of the changes coming your way.

LunaSea ESB - Empyrean Brewing Company

Not Rated.
LunaSea ESBLunaSea ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

110 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 110
Reviews: 66
rAvg: 3.65
pDev: 13.42%
Wants: 3
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Empyrean Brewing Company visit their website
Nebraska, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.30% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: PhantomVodoo on 10-05-2002

Extra Special Bitter is our homage to the best of English beers. Brewed with imported English malts for a bold, caramel-sweet, yet crisp ale. Brewed with English and American grown barley and American hops.

31 IBU
View: Beers (26) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 110 | Reviews: 66
Photo of BeerWithMike
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampling right now on 5/29/14. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured into a 'Empyrean Brewing Co." pint glass. LOT the artwork on this bottle and is updated from what the picture shows on here.

Pours a copper-amber in color with a good 3/4 finger off-white head. A good amount of spotty lacing is seen with each sip. The aroma is of some caramel and hops for the most part. The taste is about the same with some spice in it as well. A slight 'hoppy' finish is noted but doesn't linger. Typical of the 'ESB' style beers

Photo of Bear1964
3.38/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz Bottle into a Pint glass with a nice white head and a cloudy apricot color, a little lace on the glass. Aroma was spicy and solid malt, a hint of alcohol in the mix. Taste held black pepper notes and a malty finish, solid for this brew. Mouthfeel was smooth at first and finished dry and spicy. Overall a nice ESB, local and I will grab it again!

Photo of XxNitExX
2.56/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Poured into a Brau Brothers Pint Glass- Pours nice honey color with a thin white head. Lacing is beautiful sticks around for awhile.

S- Smells of sweet bread and I mean sweet. Toasted busicuit also in there, very little hop aroma to me

T- I am very sensitive to bready tasting beers and that is what I get here. Like wet buscuits or crackers. Better the warmer it gets but just not my favorite. Lightly hopped. (I do not eat bread so bread tasting things are hard for me to like)

M- Nice creamy mouthfeel, not like a stout but not watery as it kind of looks.

Can see how many others would like this beer, but just doesn't fit with what I enjoy.

Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.11/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

The beer pours a amber copper color with a white head that turns into a wisp. Good world map lacing covers the glass.

The aroma is hoppy, then sweet caramel and crackers come in.

The beer tastes really well balanced. Warm sweet malts bring in caramel before giving way to a clean, dry hop bite. There's a nice bready, cracker heartiness in here too.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and clean.

Overall, probably one of my favorite beers from this brewery.

Photo of russpowell
3.86/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best enjoyed by October

Pours an effervescent amber/caramel with 2 fingers of tan head. Superior lacing & head retention

S: Biscuitty malt, woody hops & a bit of pear. Fruittyness increases as this warms

T: Follows the nose, along with herbal hops up front along with some apple tartness. More fruittyness as this warms, more woody hops. Finishes crisp & fruitty with a touch of dryness & a bit of herbal hops

MF: Medium bodied, slightly over carbonated at first, calms down as it warms. Good balance

An alright take on the style, nothing to really brag about, but solid & very sessionable. Worth a try

Photo of philbe311
3.62/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love me a good ESB... Let's see how this one measures up...

A - One finger's worth of late-to-rise slightly lopsided off white colored head with a couple of big chunky bubbles mixed in... Limited retention gives way to a mostly full lacing that has some carbonation bubbles bursting through the surface... The color is a mix of pale gold and light amber... Loaded with small bubbled slightly sluggish carbonation...

S - Pleasant, but slightly understated aroma... Toasted malts... Warm fresh baked bread... Caramel... Maraschino cherry juice... Perhaps some faint golden raisins as well...

T - A bit fruity to start... Next is an over abundance of malty goodness mostly in the form of light breads and toasted malts... There is also a faint hint of toffee and caramel mix in as well... Lots and lots of bread crust on the finish... Just the faintest earthy hop presence as well...

M - Medium bodied... Some prickly carbonation... Sleek... Perhaps even a bit sticky... Starts a tiny bit lush, but the finish is surprisingly dry...

D - A very respectable and enjoyable ESB from Empyrean... It's a style that I wished more brewer's would take the time and effort to produce... This one is fairly text book... Lots of good things going on, but nothing outstanding... I would gladly drink again, but it's not a must have...

Photo of zeff80
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, copper color with a one-finger, white head of foam. It left sudsy trails of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled earthy and spicy. Some caramel and toffee aromas, too.

T - It had a nice spicy bite upfront with some earthy tones. Some caramel maltiness and toffee sweetness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry, clean finish.

O - This is a nice ESB. I'm glad I picked it up at Goebel's in Wichita, KS.

Photo of KansasBeerLover
3.08/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had a pint on tap with supper tonight.

Glass was a standard ale pint. Came with little head, but I didn't see the draft. The head quickly disappeared, and left little lacing. Body was a strong wheat, cloudy.

Smell was decent, malty and not too strong.

Taste was malt with some sweetness.

Mouthfeel was smooth, thick with little bitters.

Overall, I was not impressed. While it was a good beer, it was not a bitters. I will second the ESBrown motion.

Photo of Mora2000
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a hazy orange-brown color with a white head. The aroma is full of toffee and grass and is fairly sweet overall. The flavor follows the aroma, with a lot of toffee and a hint of biscuit malt coming through up front, and a hint of grass and a very low amount of bitterness coming through from the hops. Easy to drink with a medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of mothman
2.88/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a white head. Leaves some nice lace rings. Color is a clear golden bronze.

Aroma: Caramel and bready malts. Grassy hops. More malty than hoppy.

Taste: Grassy, earthy hops. Some citrus. Lots of bready/pale malts.

Mouthfeel: Bitter and smooth. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry.

Overall, an average bitter, but a little too malty for me. Not enough flavor for the amount of bitterness that this beer brings.

Photo of lawlerj
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic pint glass. Best by notch is March of 2012.

A - Pours a a hazy amber/copper with an off white two finger width head. Speckled lacing. Appears to be well carbonated.

S - There is a caramel/toffee breadiness coming through from the malt mixed with some citrus and fruity hop notes mixed in as well.

T- More or less follows the nose. Mild hops and prominent bready malt body is the main story here. Finishes with a nice dry burst of hops. Pleasant aftertaste - a bit astringent on the back end but not in a bad way.

M - On the lighter side of medium. It is well carbonated, as I suspected by looking at it, and give it a nice crispness.

O - Overall, nothing crazy going on here, but just a damn fine beer. Highly refreshing, highly drinkable. Nothing really to complain about. I really like this one, and it might be one of my favorites from Empyrean.

Photo of TippySelenoid
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured intoa pint glass.

Hazy,copper color with a resilient, white head.
LOTS of bubbles can be seen in the beer.

Smells like an Irish red. Peppery? Bready malts?

It tastes like an Irish red only better. It's got some of the same flavor profiles. Not much for hops though.

Medium bodied or perhaps thinner. Pretty smooth for all the carbonation.

Overall this beer is more than the sum of its parts, but its just pretty good.

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A special thanks to Kris in the service, for lugging it to Zach's, who provided me with this well traveled sample.

LunaSea ESB
Empyrean Brewing Company

Pours a hazed bright amber in color, with a creamy, well retaining head. In the aroma, floral and citrusy hops, with a bit of toffee. In the flavor, more mellow flavors of toffee and caramel, with slight citrus and toasted notes. Pretty well balanced and easy drinking, anyone could find a brew like this approachable. Medium bodied, smooth feel with moderate carbonation. Overall, a touch more American than English, but still a fine ale, worthy of the brewer's pride.

Photo of budgood1
3.82/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours out of the 12 oz. stubby bottle a hazed glowing bronze colour with a bit of a head and some slight wispy lace. aroma is malt heavy with notes of cocoa, nougat, caramel and some green apple. definitely some "box of chocolates" smells going on. flavour profile reinforces the malt-centric profile...after having the brown last night...it doesn't seem like the malt profile has changed much...these brewers like the choco and caramel malts a lot. certainly it has the traditional english bitter characteristics...justed ramped up a bit with a cleverly hidden boozy note. hops are all flowery and herbal without adding much bitterness...very nice. it all works well in making a tasty brew. medium bodied with a well rounded mouthfeel. it has a nice drinkability...questionable sessionability due to the malt heaviness...lingering sweetness is another wild card.

overall....i can see where this might be a popular choice amongst the thirsty Nebraskans. this breaks the mold for an ESB. tasty...i keep thinking that this could be an Extra Special Brown...whatever that is.

Photo of Forb
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle best before September...

Appearance: An amber color is seen here with with a think solid white head.

Smell: Sugary spice inside of a biscuity malt essence.

Taste: Tastes of a sweet breaded malt with very faint terra quality to the hops.

Mouthfeel: A medium leading into a full body with this one accompanied by refreshing carbonation.

Overall: A good solid beer. Nothing extremely special here for me but definitely not something to shun.

Photo of dbossman
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brownish amber with a large and steady head--great retention and lacing

S: A sweet bready malt backbone with a touch of lemony, grassy, and earthy hops; pleasant but fairly subdued and simple

T: Nice grassy hop bitterness with a touch of lemon followed by a strong burnt, grainy malt flavor; the charred malts are a bit harsh but the sweet, toffee breadiness works to balance things out

F: Carbonation borders on too much up front and then the beer doesn't quite stick to the mouth as you would wish but in the end a decent amount does cling to the roof of the mouth making for a pleasant all around mouth feel

O: A decent, balanced interpretation on the style; not my favorite but an easy-to-drink, pleasant session beer nonetheless; I am sure I will return to this on occasion

Photo of beerwolf77
3.35/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks goes to a77cj7 for this extra. Poured from a bottle into a standard pint.

A: Crystal clear amber orange. Solid two fingers of cream hued head. Good retention, thick sticky lace. Looks great.

S: Plenty of biscuity malt and mild hops. Some sugar dusted toasted bread crust with a little cinnamon.

T: Earthy malt and a mild hop bite. Faint astringent bitterness holds my tongue as it finishes.

M: Light to medium body. Mild carbonation.

O: Not bad, easy drinking although it really lacks in complexity.

Photo of scarfield
3.09/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

App- amber/copper in color as it pours it leaves a half inch head. nice lacing throughout the glass.

Smell- A bit musty, some citrusy and hops comes through as well.

Taste- Very bready taste here for me. Malty and the hops are subdued. Some sourness also coming through with a bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel- the beer has a nice balance to it. Not too carbonated, thick, runny or chewy, but if you concentrate you can get any of these.

Drink- it is fine for a couple, but there really is not anything that stands out to me about this beer. I think that Empyrean has better offerings.

Photo of scoobybrew
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - slightly hazy (perhaps from bottle conditioning) orange color with a thick white collar head that leaves a nice lacing

S - sweet biscuity malt aroma with a touch of yeasty esters and faint earthy hop in background

T - rich malt characterized by bread and biscuity flavors with mild herbal and earthy hops; finish is moderately dry with modest hop bitterness lingering

M - medium-full body with moderate carbonation

D - This is a fine beer. I think it stacks up to the ESB style fairly well. It definitely goes down easy and would make a good session beer. This beer has me curious about the brewery's other offerings (as it's my first from Empyrean).

Photo of TheOtherMike
5/5  rDev +37%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Another vacation discovery surprise. It seems the central plains are producing some exceptional IPAs ans similar brews. Although this is not an IPA, I think it fits in quite well.

I was on vacation in the Black Hills / Rushmore area and dined a few nights in a small town restaurant. I tried several offerings that were new to me. This wasn't one of them, but the locals directed me to a local grocery store that carried a decent selection. As I prefer IPAs, I grabbed a six of this and struck gold. Not my #1 discovery on this trip, but a close tie for second. Time for a road trip!

Photo of StoneTSR
3.74/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: Poured on tap at the brewpub in the Haymarket District in Lincoln. The LunaSea was a cloudy, copper color with a thick, almost creamy, half-inch head. Good looking beer. Very thin lacing clung to the glass from top to bottom, not much coverage area, but what did stick did not budge throughout the whole pint.

SMELL: Mildly bitter nose, but not very much umph behind it.

TASTE: A mildly bitter flavor to start, followed by a pleasant and mild citrus finish. Rather light tasting at first, but the hops and citrus seemed to build throughout the glass.

MOUTHFEEL: Very light and refreshing. Delightfully bubbly. The tickled palate only adds to the refreshing, citrus flavors. Great feel.

OVERALL: This was hands-down one of my favorite beers on tap at Lazlo's. It was a pleasure to be back in Lincoln at one of my old college stomping grounds, even though they moved the bar next door to where it used to be. This is not a very intense beer, but the word that seems to keep coming up in this review is refreshing. Fantastic beer for the hot, summer day that I enjoyed it on. Glad I found this in my notes on my phone.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Of all the lunacies earth can boast
the one that must please the devil the most
is pride reduced to the whimsical terms
of causing the slugs to despise the worms."

-Robert Brough

Glowing coppery orange with honey highlights and sheets of fine bubbles zipping up to a two finger crown that is lightly toasted skinned almond in color. Enough sudsy sea foam lace sticks... and most of it stays.

The aroma is toasted-earthy-nutty, so it's obvious that Munich malt (or something along those lines) is present. The hops don't stand out, which is a concern, but it might be a different story on the palate. Full disclosure: the 'best by' date is this month.

LunaSea is still acceptably hoppy beer, so it's great that the brewery's 'drink by such-and-such a date' suggestions are spot-on. If you like your ESBs to pay as much attention (and maybe more) to malt flavor as hop flavor, then this English-style ale should be right up your alley.

Specifics include heavily toasted whole grain bread, steely caramel, bitter peanut skins, and a woodiness that has nothing to do with wood aging, which obviously has no part in this beer's creation. The finish is nice and tight, which is amazing since there were 'only' 31 IBUs when the beer was superfresh.

No complaints about the mouthfeel. It's plenty big for the style/ABV and the bubbles are neither too scarce nor too abundant. In fact, the zestiness that they add to each and every mouthful is welcome.

LunaSea ESB is quality beer that failed to reach the next highest flavor score because of my dislike of melanoidin-heavy malts like Munich. Your mileage, as always, may vary. It wouldn't be one bit surprising if this is one of Empyrean's biggest sellers.

Photo of eclaycamp
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce shorty bottle. Interesting name, Luna Sea ESB (a play on Lunacy, perhaps?). Breaking out the ususal basic tumbler for this beer. Pour is a very hazy red to orange, super-cloudy. It doesn't appear to be condensation on the glass so I will chock this one up to the filtering, of which there doesn't appear to be any. I'm guessing this could be bottle conditioned as well, though the label didn't do me the courtesy of a heads up. Small fizzy head that fades pretty quickly. Low to mild levels of carbonation. Aroma is of light grains and gym socks with some honey sweetness. Mouthfeel is more robust than I expected, with an unsweetened black tea finish. The flavor reminds me of honey and biscuits, like I used to have when I was a kid. Some citrus and floral notes are mixed in with the malts. Not bad for an ESB, but I've had better.

Photo of JohnQVegas
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into shaker pint. Another thank you to Chris (RedHaze) for sending this one on its way from Nebraska here to Nashville!

Pours murky dark copper leaning towards amber, with little to now head on top.

Nose carries light notes of caramel and some citric hops underneath, straightforward but pleasant enough.

Taste follows suit. Caramel body is satisfyingly simple, with a light, snappy citric hop bite coming towards the finish, and perhaps pairing with the slightly over-aggressive carbonation. Just a bit toasty. Finish is moderately long, snappy hop astringency sticks around alongside a bit of grapefruit rind, almost tea-like.

Mouthfeel is a bit aggressive on the carbonation side, could be toned down a hair, with a dry, almost tannic (grainy?) mouthfeel.

Straightforward and nicely drinkable after several hours of work in the outdoor heat.

Photo of tpd975
3.25/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice light amber hue with an nice solid off white head. Okay retention with light lace noted.

S: Somewhat light nose. Hints of grain, caramel, and a touch of apple.

T: Fairly malty, with notes of caramel, and yeast. Slight bitter hops on the somewhat dry finish.

M: Medium to light in body, okay carbonation with dry finish.

D: If I lived in Nebraska I would drink it.

to view more.
LunaSea ESB from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 110 ratings.