1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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 (25) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 110 | Reviews: 66
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 TrojanWheels
4.5/5  rDev +23.3%

Photo of mthalman
3/5  rDev -17.8%

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 barnzy78
3/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of FreshmanPour77
3/5  rDev -17.8%

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.

Photo of joe1510
3.61/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz Stubby

Best by: 1/09

Empyrean's ESB, Luna Sea, fills an imperial pint glass with a liquid the color of a tarnished penny but when backlit the copper glows like it was freshly polished. A fat finger of dense, incredibly creamy white head formed on the pour but soon thereafter fell to practically nothing. A few huge carbonation bubbles explode to the surface here and there. The look of this ESB leaves a lot to be desired.

There's a ton of fruity esters coming off of this beer. The fruitiness is mildly berry like with a little sweet pineapple roaming around in the back. Those esters add a sweetness to the nose that seems to be a little overdone but isn't off-putting. Biscuity malts and a touch of caramel make an appearance as the malt base. The more my nose is in the glass the more those esters lean toward blueberry. The smell isn't all that traditional but it is good.

Each drink starts off with the biscuity malts that have a light drizzling of caramel to sweeten the deal. The hopping brings a mild but enjoyable floral quality but the esters really are the star of this beer. The berriness comes back but is much quieter and a squeeze of lemon follows closely behind. This is an enjoyable ESB from Empyrean.

The mouthfeel fits the beer well. Mellow carbonation and leaves a touch of snap but lets the beer work through at its own pace. There's a ghost like hoppiness on the back of the tongue and the body seems moderate.

I can put this beer away pretty easily, going through a couple a night without a problem. It's a refreshing brew with a nice ester quality.

While the look of this brew could use a some help everything else seems to fall in place nicely. I could see myself picking this ESB up occasionally if I were stuck in Nebraska for whatever reason.

Photo of Goliath
3.37/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky amber color with a one inch off white head. Decent retention and a little soapy lace.

The nose is weak. Kind of iced tea like, herbal, earthy, fruity, and slightly malty.

The taste is ok. A decent malt presence giving a raw grain feel. A bit of the tea and herbal qualities linger in the mouth. A bit of a phenolic bite comes towards the finish and seems a bit out of place. A slight bitterness finishes this beer out.

Mouthfeel is thin to medium bodied, and slightly watery. The carbonation is fairly low. All in all, the mouthfeel isn't very satisfying.

Drinkability is decent. The flavors are ok, but it's certainly not the best ESB I've had. Seems pretty average to me.

Photo of MinorThreat
4.18/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle purchased when back at home in Lincoln Nebraska.

A-Copper/rust color with a murky low clarity (still very appealing) with a strong pour about 1/2 an inch of super dense off white head.

S-Yeasty with aromas of freshly baked bread slight raisen sweetness and subtle earthy hop tones

T-God I missed this beer! Nice biscuit maltiness nice pop of yeasty goodness slight dark bakers chocolate and all of the sweetness is balanced with earthy mossy hops. Very well balanced.

M-A bit watery for my tastes but the taste makes you forget about it being slightly thin.

D-Yes please. I only grabbed a 12 pack and won't go back to Lincoln for at least 6 months, my mistake. I could drink this by the gallon if it wasn't fairly big (6.3% ABV).

Hold friends and family, this beer is one of the few things I miss about Lincoln. Great sessionable beer brewery and this is their best offering as far as I am concerned.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

Photo of Viggo
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
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!

Photo of swizzlenuts
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a mahogany red with a small head without any retention, as expected. The nose is fruity, yet a bitterness comes out through the malts. Some subtle dark fruits come out while drinking the beer while the main portion of the beer tastes like a combination of bittering hops and some caramel/toffee notes. The balance in this beer is perfect, just like most ESBs. This is an incredible session beer. The mouth feel is kind of watery and a let down.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
LunaSea ESB from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 110 ratings.