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LunaSea ESB - Empyrean Brewing Company

Not Rated.
LunaSea ESBLunaSea ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

101 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 101
Reviews: 66
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 13.93%
Wants: 3
Gots: 4 | 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:
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

(Beer added by: PhantomVodoo on 10-05-2002)
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Ratings: 101 | Reviews: 66 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2010 13:32:20 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of mikesgroove
mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out again to swid who sent me some very solid beers from Nebraska. I popped this one open right after the vanilla to get a nice taste of what else they could do. Served cold, and poured into a pint glass. This one was consumed on 11/23/2008.

The pour was very nice. A rich dark amber color with a nice amount of clarity to it. A good two inches of white foam coming up over the top settled down nicely into a thin layer of white crown that capped it and brought down tons of side glass lacing.

The aroma was highly charged. Nice light hop profile was highlighted by hints of grapefruit and fresh grass. As it warmed it got tremendously more balanced, with a light bready malt character coming through and a light herbal like quality to it. Smooth flavor here, though the hops did seem a touch off to me. Light, with a grapefruit, peach, lemon like tartness coming through in the front and an almost green tea leave like flavor in the mid palate. Intresting mix of flavors here, some biscuit and a touch of light grain coming through now. Smooth, mellow, and consistent carbonation never failed and allowd this very sessionable lager to really be a smooth and easy drinker.

Overall yet another solid brew from them. I am most impressed with what is going on here. I cannot waiot to try the brown ale, this is a great brewery who seems to be setting the bar pretty darn high here.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2008 00:02:03 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect

Kentucky

3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Of the few beers that I've had lately from the brewery, this one fared the best. A part-malt, part-hop balance set the stage for a crisp, flavorful, refreshing brew. Looks amber in color with some golden highlights and a modest haze. Good head formation and retention released lots of carbonation and lightening the body. Spicy, pine and grassy hops rest on a sweet, biscuity malt taste and offers some subtle fruitiness (peaches, pears, apples, and nuttiness), and leaves finishes modestly crisp and with a hint of caramel sweetness. Light apple flavor chases the hops into the aftertast, otherwise a fine beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2008 21:00:12 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of jaydoc
jaydoc

Kansas

3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

11-16-2013 04:05:24 | More by jaydoc
Photo of spycow
spycow

Illinois

3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

03-10-2013 20:16:38 | More by spycow
Photo of zeff80
zeff80

Missouri

3.88/5  rDev +6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-17-2012 01:56:15 | More by zeff80
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled

Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A rough pour brings up a thin and foamy ivory-colored head atop a hazy copper body. The retention is good and the head maintain a thin but creamy surface covering throughout most of the glass. Some nice lace is present but it doesn't stick... it's formed each time you sip, but erodes shortly always keeping just about an inch above the surface. Fruit and butter-laced caramel mingle in the soft, pleasing nose with just a slight hint of hops. A firm, malty body and fine natural carbonation accentuate its maltiness in a flavor that's fruity (apples, berries) upfront, displays caramel across the middle, and follows with a gently floral and grassy hop flavor. The hops linger with some sweetish malt and a gently balancing bitterness in the finish. Very nicely done! Quite enjoyable with enough character and complexity to keep it interesting throughout several pints.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2003 04:41:40 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of feloniousmonk
feloniousmonk

Minnesota

4.3/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: clear, deep amber hue, with a shortish head atop.
Aroma: abounding! Rich and malt-accented, flowing out from the instant the cap is cracked off, sweet, fruity, caramelly, toasty, and just damned nice.
Taste: those very same flavors continue and treat the tongue, on down to the tummy. Hops provide a tidy, tasty shuffle on the tastebuds up front, then slowly fade. Malt is copious and constantly delivers rich, complex flavor.
All ESBs should at least try to be this good, and it's a pity that most don't. I could sit with these for a spell, that's for sure!
A grand Thank You to the Champion Advocate of Nebraska beer, Mr. bditty187!

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2003 02:43:00 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of russpowell
russpowell

Oklahoma

3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
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

Serving type: on-tap

08-23-2012 00:25:22 | More by russpowell
Photo of Mora2000
Mora2000

Texas

3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-03-2012 18:41:27 | More by Mora2000
Photo of Georgiabeer
Georgiabeer

Georgia

2.7/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I received this bottle in a trade with Redhaze. Thanks for the opportunity to try this beer. Pours a hazy reddish-golden with a decent head that leaves some lacing and settles to a ring. Smells strangely fruity for the style and a bit like acetate. Taste is better, but there is still a strange fruitiness underlying everything. Some biscuity malt above that and well as a mild bitterness. Smooth, but tangy in the wrong way. I didn't enjoy this.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2008 02:09:58 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch

Utah

3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to jhammerly for this brew.

Pours a cloudy dark amber color, nice carbonation, little fizzy off-white head, not much lacing at all. The nose is malty, slightly hoppy, some spices, and lots of caramel. The taste is malty, with a slight hoppiness thrown in, some spices, and a good dose of caramel. The finish is dry and slightly bitter. Medium body. Drinkable, a nice ESB.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2007 00:21:08 | More by Wasatch
Photo of mothman
mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

2.88/5  rDev -21.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2012 22:00:48 | More by mothman
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss

Pennsylvania

3.55/5  rDev -3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2012 06:07:45 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of Viggo
Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired via trade with RedHaze, thanks Chris!

Pours a slightly hazed dark copper, some orange in the edges, thick off white head forms, nice and dense, drops some solid lacing, good retention, settles to a thin layer and doesn't quit. Smell is sweet and toasty, some caramel, light floral, bit of citrus, biscuits, nice maltiness in this one, light herbal spiciness rounds out the malt sweetness. Taste is nice, rich toffee, bread, biscuits, floral, bit of yeast, bit of a lemon poppyseed cake finish, real malty but nice. Mouthfeel is medium to light bodied with medium carbonation, very drinkable. Solid ESB, wouldn't have guessed its 6.3% as well. Thanks Chris!

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2008 00:41:14 | More by Viggo
Photo of tavernjef
tavernjef

Minnesota

4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Nice copper color thats slightly chill hazed with a solid cream colored head thats about a finger high and recedes fairly slowly and some lace shows up but drips back and clears up quickly. Smell is a pretty nice ESB style nose with a toasty sweet malt, slight caramel and balanced well with floral dried hops; Cluster variety maybe. Taste is more of the same with a nice mixture of toasty caramel malts and floral dried hops, bitterness kept in a calm even manner, nothing overwhelming, simple yet subtle and enjoyable. Starts out toasty sweet with light quick fruitness that gives away to caramel toasty biscuit flakes. Finishes easy and lingers some floral hops bitterness thats very smooth and easy. Good medium body feel, lightly creamy and very quaffable and enjoyable. A decent ESB I'd have again. Thanks to bditty187 for the bottles.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2003 01:57:05 | More by tavernjef
Photo of ZAP
ZAP

Minnesota

3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The first thing I noticed with this one is the impressive amber color as it pours out....settles in the glass nicely with minimal head...nose is fruity like apples and pears...body is medium...a little slick and sweet in the mouth...not much hops or bittering to this...tasty though....flavor profile includes caramel and the same fruits on the nose (apples/pears)...the mingle nicely...I really like the flavor of this (and would definitely drink more of this) but prefer my ESB's with a bit more assertive hopping...this seems ot be maybe more of a red ale or even a mild...

Thanks a bunch to bditty187 for this beer I would have never gotten a chance to try...

Serving type: bottle

09-26-2003 04:38:02 | More by ZAP
Photo of barnzy78
barnzy78

Illinois

3/5  rDev -18%

11-25-2011 04:59:44 | More by barnzy78
Photo of Haybeerman
Haybeerman

Colorado

4/5  rDev +9.3%

02-06-2013 23:19:56 | More by Haybeerman
Photo of blackie
blackie

Virginia

3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: The pour gives a very low white head that recedes to a thin ring. The beer is a hazy medium-amber in color.

smell: Buttery caramel upfront with hints of a toasted malt sweetness. Some light fruity hints, especially sweet apple. Nondescript, lightly herbal hop aroma.

mouthfeel: The carbonation and the body are both around medium.

taste: Toasted caramel malts with a light sweetness and note of apple juice. Some leafy, earthy notes. Low, grassy hop flavor and a light to moderate bitterness that slightly dries out the finish.

drinkability: An enjoyable beer, and pretty easy to drink.

received in a trade with jhammerly

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2006 01:18:10 | More by blackie
Photo of tpd975
tpd975

Florida

3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2009 00:55:45 | More by tpd975
Photo of Vancer
Vancer

Illinois

3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This ESB arrives with an orangy amber, along with an ivory head that pooped out too quick. Now, I can’t believe it, but chocolate malt pops up in the aroma! Weird.

The taste reminds me of cooked chocolate bread, this is freakin me out a bit. Bits of woody herb pop in there, just enough to settle the brew down. One of the strangest brews quaffed to date. Still, drinkable and enjoyable – I’d have another, if offered.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2007 21:11:01 | More by Vancer
Photo of Whiskeydeez
Whiskeydeez

Kansas

3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

03-13-2013 16:27:28 | More by Whiskeydeez
Photo of sulldaddy
sulldaddy

Connecticut

3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was an extra bonus thanks to bditty187. I actually visited this brewery in my pre BA days. Good times.
The beer is chilled and in a pint glass.
Pours a clear amber with a tightly packed off-white head foaming up and fading to an edge layer quickly.
Aroma is mild with some caramel and toffee, but also a nice floral and grassy hop character.
First sip, average bodied brew with fine yet prickly carbonation. Flavor is toffee and caramel that rolls to a nice earthy hop finish. None of the flavors are very strong which allows for a very smooth and easy to drink brew. Could be a great session beer. I would imagine this would be good with a nice turkey sandwich.
Thanks again bditty187!

Serving type: bottle

07-18-2004 14:34:09 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of bditty187
bditty187

Nebraska

3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Empyrean Ale’s landed a bull’s-eye with this one! It was served to me on tap; it came with a creamy off-white head, one finger’s worth. The body was coppery-golden. The aroma was blended perfectly, lovely hops (bitterness) and malt (sweetness) in the nose. The flavor was what I expected, hoppy bitterness mixed with sweet malt and a hint of butterscotch. The carbonation was ideal as well and overall the beer was very drinkable and very tasty.

I can see myself drinking more of these! (and I have!)

Serving type: on-tap

10-05-2002 07:49:23 | More by bditty187
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LunaSea ESB from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 101 ratings.