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LunaSea ESB - Empyrean Brewing Company

Not Rated.
LunaSea ESBLunaSea ESB

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108 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 108
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 (23) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 108 | Reviews: 66 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of atigerlife
3.27/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours the color of light ice tea. Small white head that dissipated rather quickly. No carbonation rising.

Aroma of honey, fruits, passionfruit, hops and malts. Nice.

Taste of honey, malts, caramel and some fruits.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and dry.

Overall, a decent brew that is drinkable. Seemed a little confused as to where it was going, but I would have another without hesitation.

Photo of number1bum
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this both on tap and in bottle while visiting Lincoln. Pours a slightly hazed copper color with a couple inches of creamy light tan head. Retention is pretty good and it leaves some stick, too.

Smell has some caramel malt, a hint of toasted malt, and some light fruity and grassy hop aromas.

Tastes of slightly buttery, caramel malt with a nice level of sweetness. Well balanced with some fruity, grassy hops that have a low-moderate level of bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, quite smooth with a nice creaminess.

4's across the board. A very solid, drinkable beer.

Photo of Georgiabeer
2.69/5  rDev -26.3%
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.

Photo of tayner
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz stubby bottle marked with best by date of 08-08. Thanks to jhammerly in the april powerball for this beer.

Poured into my murphys stout pint glass. Very hazy dark amber color with a white head that stayed for a long time and left a skim coat for the entire beer. not a ton of lacing, but some.

Smell was sweet and biscuity with slight hop aroma, but overall could use a bit more aroma hops.

Taste was sweet adn biscuity just like the nose, only much more flavorful than it smelled. It was then hit mid palate by some pine/earthy hop notes which dried away the sweetness and make it more balanced.

There was plenty of carbonation in this one, and the mouthfeel was light to moderate.

This one is super easy to drink. I did not realize it was 6.3%, i could easily drink more of these than i should at one sitting... very nice beer from a brewery i have not heard of until now. I shall keep this one in mind for future trading :)

Photo of brewjones
4.32/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy medium amber in the glass with good head retention and a creamy white head. A wonderful aroma of noble hops and toasted malt come through. I am going to say Maris Otter....ok I cheated, it's on the bottle. At first sip you get a lot of the Maris Otter flavor so there is no mistaking that. A bounce of hop flavor and bitterness round it out and make it really easy to drink. This is a very nice ESB and is a nice surprise coming from a brewery I have never even heard of.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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

This would be the best Nebraska-brewed beer that I've ever had. Copper-colored brew, not a ton of head, but decent lacing and retention.

Very balanced, classic ESB nose, some toasted malt as well as a fair amount of hop bitterness. The hops vacillate between fruity and a slightly spice/herbal aroma.

Again, great balance on the palate, hop bitters matched perfectly with caramel malts and a little diacetyl alcohol flavor. Very well done, finish and mouthfeel are solid. Just a good all-around drinkable ESB and a quality craft beer.

Photo of BadRockBeer
4.08/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type Sampled: 12 fl. oz. stubby brown twist top bottle. Freshness date featured on six-pack box.

Appearance: Copper in color, slight haze. Very small ½ finger head. Zero retention but still a little lingering lace.

Smell: Doughy, crystal malt, ting of alcohol.

Taste: The taste is very nice semi sweet malts with mild hop bitterness. I taste a little dried fruit and maybe some apple. I also get a touch of warming alcohol in the finish. But it still manages to finish pretty clean.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium in body, mild carbonation.

Drinkability: Great. I really like this beer other than the slightly high ABV I could put away quite a few of these. Meets all the style criteria, Nice!

Photo of Vancer
3.65/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of JohnnyM2002
3.2/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled from a 12 oz bottle, poured into a white wine glass at 50 degrees. Picked up in a trade from swid...thanks!!

A - Pours a clear amber color with yellow highlights and a small, but long-lasting head.

S - Grassy/floral hops tickle the nose, but not very strong.

T - Floral, citrus, and mild hoppy flavors poke through, but never really amount to anything. No real discernable taste or bitterness.

M - Bubbly, medium body.

D - A drinkable brew, but not a strong enough example to make a session beer.

Photo of blackie
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
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

Photo of IntriqKen
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A very pretty golden amber with a half finger head that melts to fine lacing.
Aromas are full of toasted malt and nuts with a hint of caramel
Taste is the toasted malt and caramel at first but the citrus hops come in at the right moment to balance it out and turn it into a very quenching, mild ESB.
Aftertaste of nuts and citrus hops.

Photo of thaichile
2.83/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear, darker amber with hardly any head and not much carbonation. Nose is bearly discernable. Flavors are roasted coffee and that dwindles to almost nothing except for some slight bitterness. A thin. watery brew without much support from hops, malts or much else. Not a bad beer, just sort of a nothing. Bottle courtesy of jhammerly.

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle courtesy of jhammerly

Pours a semi-clear amber/copper color with a small white had that fades. Mild lacing on the glass.

Aroma is very malty with caramel notes and just a slight hint of herbal hops.

Very malty tasting upfront with a nice bitter hop bite and a slight herbal hop flavor. Finishes slightly bitter and a bit dry.

Medium body, nice carbonation.

Easy drinking ESB and a good example of the style.

Photo of bkett01
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jhammerly for this one...

Pours a rich amber hue with little to no head present. No hops detectable in the scent, just a carmel malt aroma. Almost reminds me of a caramel candy apple smell.

Even harder to detect hops in the taste. A deep roasted malt taste led by the caramel I detected in the aroma. While this does seem to be rather malt heavy, the carbonation does pick up the taste. Definitely sweeter than bitter, contrary to the ESB labeling. Worth a try.

Photo of aforbes10
3.95/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had this on tap at Lazlo's. Appearance...light brown color. no head, but maybe because it had to be carried form the bar to my table. Odor - malty and not strong. Taste - malty, some sweetness, a bit bitter, retains a good flavor. interesting mouthfeel, good drinkability...bought a sixer to take home with me.

Photo of neonbrown82
4.37/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a good ESB, though it has more of an American flair to it than the traditional british style. The beer pours to a nice golden amber color with ample carbonation to support a nice pillowy head, which happens to lace quite beautifully down the glass.

The smell is of herbal/grassy/spicy hops. Has a bit of a "burtonized" mineral characteristic to it, but it is not nearly as harsh as real burton water. Has a light caramel backbone to it.

The smell and taste reminds me of a Bluebird XB, though much more fresh and less harsh from the minerals. The taste is of fresh noble hops with a bit of a lemon zest and sharp caramel malts. Very fresh. I love local beer.

I could drink quite a fair share of this in a night, and I recommend you do as well if you are ever in Nebraska (Empyrean doesn't make it beyond the state lines, unfortunately). Nebraska's Ogalala Aquafir hides some great beer making water in its depths.

Photo of BigRedN
4.02/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured from the stubby 12 oz bottle with no date (6 pack box was date stamped, best by 3-10-06) into a pint glass. The beer is a clear, dark amber liquid with an off-white 1/2 inch head. The head lasted less than five minutes before fading away to a thin ring around the glass. Minimal lacing as well.

Smell: Initial scent of hops, mostly floral yet slightly citrousy (acidic citrous like lemons). As the beer warms it becomes more malty, slight sweetness, aroma of roasted barley (roasted chocolate?) and caramel. While the scents are not overpowering they hint at a very well balanced, well rounded beer.

Taste: Taste is slightly subdued for the style IMO. Not overly bitter, more sweet. I imagine this is somewhat intended as there are a majority of bland macro drinkers who the brewery would be trying to woo with this beer. This beer has a good balance of malty sweetness and hop bitterness, althouogh neither are overpowering.

Mouthfeel: A little light, just enough carbonation to keep it lively, not flat and dull. Relatively low bitterness and no lingering aftertastes.

Drinkability: Highly drinkable, and almost always on sale someplace in Lincoln for a low price it is easily affordable. Not sure about the alcohol content, but this one is near "sessionable". I could consume multiples of this beer and not get tired of it.

Photo of BeerBob
3.86/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Empyrean Brewing Co. "LunaSea" (one word) E.S.B. pours a chestnut brown from a 12oz very dark brown glass bottle. Head went to about two fingers before going poof, gone, nada, zip, nothing.

Nose is a firm floral hops with a bit of sweet barley malt notes. Palate is an assertive well bittered pine that turns barley malt sweet with a drying finish.

Fragrant, tasty, and enjoyable, LunaSea from Empyrean Brewing Co. put a smile on my face, and if you are into ESB’s, then this should be right up your alley

Photo of Morris729
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber color with a creamy off-white head that slowly dissipates over time. Nose is sweet buttery caramel with some very faint underlying notes of honeysuckle. Creamy texture with a moderate amount of carbonation. Taste begins with a light fruitiness and notes of toffee followed by a rich malitness and finally a moderate amount of hop bitterness towards the finish. Quite nice.

Photo of Bdc
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled from bottle. Traded with Bditty187 from NE. Pours a clear copper/amber with a thin, scattered off-white head. Aroma is rich caramel with floral, spice and citrus notes from the hops. Flavor is balanced with s strong, complex malt backbone and some spiciness from the hops. Some fruits are noticable. There is a bit of astringent bitterness that lingers, but it is very subdued. Medium-bodied and moderately carbonated. An enjoyable session bitter.

Photo of swid
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Luna Sea ESB pours a nice amber brown color, and is slightly hazy. A cream-colored 1/2" head appears, and dissipates quickly. Weak lacing. Noticeable bitter or "pine" aroma, whiff of chocolate and sugary sweetness. As the beer warms up, the sweeter smells become more dominant.

The bitterness is initially apparent, becoming slightly sweeter as chocolate and caramel flavors in the malt are picked up, finishing off with a noticeable roasted flavor. This ESB is quite well-balanced. A fairly light mouthfeel, finishes with a slight bitterness.

This is one of Empyrean's best offerings; unfortunately, it's not quite bitter enough to be a proper ESB but is still more special/strong than your average red ale. It's better on-tap or (if you're fortunate enough to be around when available) cask-conditioned, but Luna Sea in the bottle is still an enjoyable beer.

Photo of sulldaddy
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
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!

Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.07/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Minimal tan head sits atop this coppery brown beer.
Aroma of caramel malt and fruity, slightly floral hops.

Taste shows a toasty, caramel malt backbone. Good fruity, slightly floral hop balance. Juicy Fruit gum type fruitiness. Good malt and hop flavor that are balanced and meld together well. Light, crisp and clean. Finishes well.

Good mouthfeel.
Very drinkable; definite session beer material.

Overall, a good ESB. Big thanks to bditty for the sample!

LunaSea ESB from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 108 ratings.