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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 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 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 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 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 BeerBob
3.86/5  rDev +4.6%
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

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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 Bdc
3.8/5  rDev +3%
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.

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Photo of swid
3.8/5  rDev +3%
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.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.83/5  rDev +3.8%
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!

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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 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 ZAP
3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The first thing I noticed with this one is the impressive amber color as it pours out....settles in the glass nicely with minimal head...nose is fruity like apples and pears...body is medium...a little slick and sweet in the mouth...not much hops or bittering to this...tasty though....flavor profile includes caramel and the same fruits on the nose (apples/pears)...the mingle nicely...I really like the flavor of this (and would definitely drink more of this) but prefer my ESB's with a bit more assertive hopping...this seems ot be maybe more of a red ale or even a mild...

Thanks a bunch to bditty187 for this beer I would have never gotten a chance to try...

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