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LunaSea ESB | Empyrean Brewing Company

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LunaSea ESBLunaSea ESB

Brewed by:
Empyrean Brewing Company
Nebraska, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.30%

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

Added by PhantomVodoo on 10-05-2002

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Reviews: 68 | Ratings: 122
Photo of TheOtherMike
5/5  rDev +35.5%
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!

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.37/5  rDev +18.4%
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.

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Photo of brewjones
4.32/5  rDev +17.1%
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.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.27/5  rDev +15.7%
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!

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Photo of stegmakk
4.2/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice amber color with little off white head. Not much. Very little lacing. Aroma was sweet malt some hops.
Flavor was sweet a little fruity with a nice all round sweet malt and balancing mild hop flavor. Mouthfeel was a little thin.
I could drink a few of these.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.2/5  rDev +13.8%
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.

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Photo of MinorThreat
4.18/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

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Photo of Reanimator
4.15/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

LunaSea ESB, brewed right here in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Light, enticing aroma upon opening. Sweet and quite fruity, some malts perhaps. A rather thin head tops the unfiltered, cloudy golden orange brew.

The flavor is balanced and deliciously sweet, and the mouthfeel is smooth and creamy yet dry on the finish. The initial fruity and piney hop bite is followed by a weighty feeling malt. At 6.3% there is some slight alcohol on the finish as well. Not as much caramel as the website describes, and still very enjoyable despite uncharacteristic fruitiness.

This is my new favorite Empyrean ale, I'll be sure to bring some of these home to Iowa with me. If you're new to the Empyrean lineup go for this ESB or their DarkSide Vanilla Porter, both are absolutely awesome.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.11/5  rDev +11.4%
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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

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Photo of BadRockBeer
4.08/5  rDev +10.6%
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!

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.07/5  rDev +10.3%
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!

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Photo of BigRedN
4.02/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

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Photo of number1bum
4/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

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Photo of StevieW
3.98/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz stubby bottle. Medium copper color. Nice khaki fluffy hop bubbled head. Laced the glass nicely. Toasted malt smell, matched with some butterscotch diactyl flavors. Not offensive though. Nice carmel malt taste with a well balanced hop presence. Biscuit like bread flavors, toast. Bitter middle keeps this one extra smooth and refreshing. Medium bodied, moderately carbonated. Very smooth and drinkable. A very well done ESB.
Tip of the hat to bditty187 for sending this one and singing it's praises. bditty's doing some fine work out in the heartland, listen to him. He know's his stuff.

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Photo of Morris729
3.97/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

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Photo of bditty187
3.95/5  rDev +7%
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!)

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Photo of tayner
3.95/5  rDev +7%
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 :)

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Photo of aforbes10
3.95/5  rDev +7%
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.

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Photo of BeerTruth
3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from Mr. Met himself number1bum. Thanks man, Phillies suck.

12 oz. stubby bottle poured into a nonic. BEST ENJOYED BY 09/08 notched in the side.

It's an ESB kinda night in Syracuse. My first beer from Nebraska, nice.

Pours a very murky rustic orange with a big three finger off-white head that dies down to a creamy foam. This beer is defintely unfiltered and unpaseurized. Stickiness is decent, a thin wall sticks here and there on the sides. Smell is very light and enjoyable. Toasted grains, sweet malts, and a touch of sugary grapefruit. Taste begins with creamy honey and an interesting cherry sweetness. A nice balance of caramel malts and earthy hops midway. Aftertaste is sweet citrus with a hint of leather. Solid flavors with this one for sure. Creamy medium bodied feel with a weak carbonation. I like my ESB's with more bubbles, I bet this would improve on tap. I was surprised by the abv, I was thinking more around 4.5-5%. Drinkable beer for sure. I'm very interested to try more beers from this brewery. Thanks again Josh for hooking me up with this one.

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.93/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Plain amber color with little head, some tiny carbonation. Delicate, malty aroma. Sweet malts and some hops are noted up front, ever so bitter, but not offensive. Complex and creative, some fruit is noted throughout, seems to be medium bodied, toasty, some caramel flavors should be noted as well. Finishes a bit dry, pretty good for an ESB as the bitterness doesn’t micro-manage the full flavors of this beast! Thanks to bditty187 for this bad boy!

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

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Photo of swizzlenuts
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.89/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Mahoghany brown in color with a light haziness present. There's a fingernail of tan resting on top. The aroma is a dark bready note with almost a light metallic edge. I taste that dark bready note with a sharp, but malty bitter note. The mouth is very dry, crisp, and clean.

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LunaSea ESB from Empyrean Brewing Company
3.69 out of 5 based on 122 ratings.
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