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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 XxNitExX
2.56/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Poured into a Brau Brothers Pint Glass- Pours nice honey color with a thin white head. Lacing is beautiful sticks around for awhile.

S- Smells of sweet bread and I mean sweet. Toasted busicuit also in there, very little hop aroma to me

T- I am very sensitive to bready tasting beers and that is what I get here. Like wet buscuits or crackers. Better the warmer it gets but just not my favorite. Lightly hopped. (I do not eat bread so bread tasting things are hard for me to like)

M- Nice creamy mouthfeel, not like a stout but not watery as it kind of looks.

Can see how many others would like this beer, but just doesn't fit with what I enjoy.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
2.69/5  rDev -27.1%
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.

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Photo of thaichile
2.83/5  rDev -23.3%
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.

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Photo of mothman
2.88/5  rDev -22%
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.

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Photo of KansasBeerLover
3.08/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had a pint on tap with supper tonight.

Glass was a standard ale pint. Came with little head, but I didn't see the draft. The head quickly disappeared, and left little lacing. Body was a strong wheat, cloudy.

Smell was decent, malty and not too strong.

Taste was malt with some sweetness.

Mouthfeel was smooth, thick with little bitters.

Overall, I was not impressed. While it was a good beer, it was not a bitters. I will second the ESBrown motion.

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Photo of scarfield
3.09/5  rDev -16.3%
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.

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Photo of JohnnyM2002
3.2/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

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Photo of tpd975
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%
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.

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Photo of atigerlife
3.27/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

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Photo of beerwolf77
3.35/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

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Photo of Goliath
3.37/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

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Photo of Bear1964
3.38/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz Bottle into a Pint glass with a nice white head and a cloudy apricot color, a little lace on the glass. Aroma was spicy and solid malt, a hint of alcohol in the mix. Taste held black pepper notes and a malty finish, solid for this brew. Mouthfeel was smooth at first and finished dry and spicy. Overall a nice ESB, local and I will grab it again!

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Photo of bkett01
3.41/5  rDev -7.6%
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.

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Photo of eclaycamp
3.42/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
3.42/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

 859 characters

Photo of Forb
3.48/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

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Photo of Parmesan
3.48/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

L: Amber honey color, with a medium white head, and some lacing on the glass.

S: Overpowering smell of caramel, strong enough that it is a little off putting. Some cracker and a slight bit of hop.

T: Strong caramel, not a strong as aroma but still dominant, some sweet malt, a little hop bitterness.

F: Medium body,good carbonation

O: Lots of caramel that overpowers most everything else.

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampling right now on 5/29/14. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured into a 'Empyrean Brewing Co." pint glass. LOT the artwork on this bottle and is updated from what the picture shows on here.

Pours a copper-amber in color with a good 3/4 finger off-white head. A good amount of spotty lacing is seen with each sip. The aroma is of some caramel and hops for the most part. The taste is about the same with some spice in it as well. A slight 'hoppy' finish is noted but doesn't linger. Typical of the 'ESB' style beers

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Photo of dbossman
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
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

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.55/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.58/5  rDev -3%
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.

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Photo of joe1510
3.61/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

 1,784 characters

Photo of philbe311
3.62/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love me a good ESB... Let's see how this one measures up...

A - One finger's worth of late-to-rise slightly lopsided off white colored head with a couple of big chunky bubbles mixed in... Limited retention gives way to a mostly full lacing that has some carbonation bubbles bursting through the surface... The color is a mix of pale gold and light amber... Loaded with small bubbled slightly sluggish carbonation...

S - Pleasant, but slightly understated aroma... Toasted malts... Warm fresh baked bread... Caramel... Maraschino cherry juice... Perhaps some faint golden raisins as well...

T - A bit fruity to start... Next is an over abundance of malty goodness mostly in the form of light breads and toasted malts... There is also a faint hint of toffee and caramel mix in as well... Lots and lots of bread crust on the finish... Just the faintest earthy hop presence as well...

M - Medium bodied... Some prickly carbonation... Sleek... Perhaps even a bit sticky... Starts a tiny bit lush, but the finish is surprisingly dry...

D - A very respectable and enjoyable ESB from Empyrean... It's a style that I wished more brewer's would take the time and effort to produce... This one is fairly text book... Lots of good things going on, but nothing outstanding... I would gladly drink again, but it's not a must have...

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Photo of TippySelenoid
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

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