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LunaSea ESB | Empyrean Brewing Company

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LunaSea ESBLunaSea ESB
125 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 125 |  Reviews: 69
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!

 584 characters

Photo of TrojanWheels
4.5/5  rDev +23.3%

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.

 930 characters

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.

 486 characters

Photo of Jodio
4.3/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.27/5  rDev +17%
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!

 650 characters

Photo of bjohn84
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

Photo of mwayne
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

Photo of pjbfromkc
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

Photo of PDF
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

Photo of ssjkyle
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

Photo of stegmakk
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

 264 characters

Photo of tavernjef
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

 841 characters

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.

 932 characters

Photo of Squirrel84
4.18/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Reanimator
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
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.

 768 characters

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.

 491 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.1/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

 870 characters

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!

 713 characters

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!

 467 characters

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.

 1,358 characters

Photo of Cramerican
4/5  rDev +9.6%

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.

 582 characters

Photo of beerdhabelly
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of Haybeerman
4/5  rDev +9.6%

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LunaSea ESB from Empyrean Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.65 out of 5 with 125 ratings
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