Moondog Ale
Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #12
Ranked #11,340
3.94 | pDev: 8.38%
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States
Very Good
Notes: Inspired by our rock 'n' roll city, Moondog's smooth body and undomesticated hop bite set the stage for late night howling.

Wild, floral hop scents shred their way through a tail waggin’, toe tappin’ blend of crisp, sweet malts.

30 IBU
Reviews: 149 | Ratings: 216 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Ozzylizard
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

$ 2.00 (Including tax)/16 oz can ($ 0.125/oz) from Franklin Beer, Franklin, PA. Reviewed 2/18/19.
“Enjoy by 12/11/18” stamped on bottom of can. Stored in reefer at distributor. Stored at 42 degrees and served at 42 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter.
Appearance – 4.
Body – Light gold, clear.
Head – Large (Maximum 5.2 cm, aggressive center pour), off-white, medium density, average retention, diminishing to an irregular lacy six to twelve mm ring and a partial layer of thick, rocky islands.
Lacing – Fair. Complete ring of tiny to small bubbles, with a few stalactites.
First pour – Light yellow, clear.
Aroma – 4 – Light floral hops and some caramel.
Flavor – 4 – Begins just slightly bitter with a bit of well-balanced floral hops and caramel malt. Ends with caramel. No alcohol (5.5% ABV) flavor. No diacetyl, no dimethylsulfide.
Palate – 3 – Thin, watery, soft carbonation.
Impression and interpretation – 4 – A very tasty, easy-drinking ESB.

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Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 ounce can into signature pint glass, best before 4/3/2019. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy deep golden/amber color with a 1 finger fairly dense and fluffy off white head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of lemon, orange, peach, pear, melon, red apple, wood, mint, peppercorn, pine, cracker, white bread dough/crust, toasted biscuit, light honey/nutty, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of bready malts and light-moderate earthy hops/fruity yeast notes; with solid strength. Taste of big lemon, orange, peach, pear, melon, red apple, wood, mint, peppercorn, pine, cracker, white bread dough/crust, toasted biscuit, light honey/nutty, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast earthiness. Light-moderate pine, herbal, floral, woody, grassy, minty, peppery bitterness on the finish. Lingering notes of lemon, orange, peach, pear, melon, red apple, wood, mint, peppercorn, pine, cracker, white bread dough/crust, toasted biscuit, light honey/nutty, herbal, floral, grass, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Great complexity, robustness, and balance of bready malts and light-moderate earthy hops/fruity yeast notes; with a great malt/bitterness balance, and no lingering hop astringency after the finish. Light-moderate increasing dryness from lingering bitterness. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/bready, and fairly crisp/sticky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Slight lingering resins. Zero warming alcohol for 5.5%. Overall this is a delicious ESB. All around nice complexity, robustness, and balance of bready malts and light-moderate earthy hops/fruity yeast notes; very smooth and fairly crisp/refreshing to drink with the mellowly bitter/drying finish. Feels like Northern Brewer hops. Very clean and nicely rich English malt showcase, balancing earthy hops, and restrained fruity yeast complexities. A very enjoyable offering, and impressive spot on style example.

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Photo of Nephilium
3.84/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Mild hop aroma with floral and earthy notes, pours a clear amber with a full white head. Light bodied, with a touch of malt sweetness in the beginning. This is balanced by a very nice earthy and herbal hop note. There's a very mild bitter finish, with a small amount of residual sweetness. Overall a very good take on an ESB.

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Photo of VABA
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A-Pours a very nice light amber color with a slight head and lacing
A-Aroma has honey and floral hints
T-The taste follows the nose with a nice honey and floral flavor
M-A light bodied well carbonated beer
O-A very nice easy drinking beer

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Photo of Bum4ever
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Straight gold color with a good amount of beige head that is frothy.
Smell is a lot of bread followed by slight honey and grain
Bread, malt and caramel. Almost tastes like a Belgian style beer.
Light to medium body with a good amount of bitterness, very dry.
Overall: Think this one just had too much of a bread flavor to it for me.

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Photo of Tucquan
3.62/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had this on 2018-10-22 in Columbia, PA from a 16oz can with a best by of 2018-12-15

A - Very clear gold with a 1.5-finger white head and good lace.

S - Mildly bready, honey, grassy and herbal spice. Not very aromatic.

T - Biscuit, bready Pils malt, honeysuckle, white pepper, grassy spice and then a punchy bitterness, which was more than I expected. It tastes like a 50/50 mix of a Surly Helles (which is also on the bitter side) and a German Pils.

M - Medium body and carbonation. Finishes dry and acerbic.

O - I enjoyed drinking it but I prefer ESBs that are less bitter and more malt forward.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.02/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 PINT can
Served in a Great Lakes pint glass

This beer pours a brilliant golden color. It is topped with an inch of beige head that leaves little lacing.

The smell is biscuit, toast, and some floral hops.

The taste is biscuit with some hoppy bitterness.

Light bodied. Medium mouthfeel

While Great Lakes may not make trendy beers they do make classic styles perfectly. This is no exception.

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Photo of SaltofOH
4.17/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Can, enjoy by 12/15/18. GLBC 30th anniversary tulip.

A: pours a crystal-clear, brassy gold with a thick, 2-finger foamy beige head. Roiling small-bubble carbonation. Thick sheets of lacing on the side of the glass I wasn’t drinking from.

S: earthy hops and dry malt. Slightly floral, slightly grainy. Like the inside of a grain silo.

T: dry, malty arrival. Mild sweetness in the middle, followed by the faintest citrus, then a pronounced, but not excessive, floral hop note. Floral hop lingers. Missing the woodsy, earthy dankness present in some examples of the style. Also missing the signature GLBC malt taste.

M: lighter end of midweight; mouth-filling; very well attenuated, but taste lingers, with a little residual slickness on the palate. Invites another sip.

O: I love ESBs, and I always knew GLBC made this beer, but it was a brewery exclusive. I am thrilled they put it into cans, so between my love of the style and love of the brewery, I was willing to buy 12, even having never tried it. It was worth it. Fresh, balanced, malty but not sweet, floral but not medicinal. Classic. The only thing this is missing as compared to the best English examples is the yeast eater character. But since most English ESBs are a year old when you get them, this makes up for that loss by being fresh. This is a must try for fans of the ESB style done by American brewers. I ended up splitting the 12 with a neighbor, but will have no trouble enjoying my 6! Would love to compare to Burning River, side by side.

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Photo of ONUMello
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served on nitro at the brewery
A: Dark yellow with a frothy two-finger head
S: Crisp grains, light hops & floral
T: Matches the nose. Light but tasty in its simplicity
M: Light-bodied, super smooth
O: A solid esb, extra solid on nitro

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Photo of billab914
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to siege06nd for bringing over a growler of this to share. It poured golden amber in color with a thin, spotty white head clinging to the edges of the glass.

The aroma has a nice mix of crisp, slightly tart fruits and pale, grainy malts. I get a little bit of a floral hoppiness to it as well. It's a well balanced aroma.

The taste shows more of the crisp fruits up front with some floral and bitter citrus notes coming out in the finish. I get some sweeter, grainy, pale malts to it along with a little bit of an earthy spice. Very smooth and balanced overall.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied for the style and carbonation is moderate. Overall It was a pretty solid beer of the style. It was flavorful, easy drinking and well balanced.

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Photo of WoodBrew
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great Lakes Brewery is the BOMB...not everything is a homerun....but in business....base hits are desired. The Moondog ESB is a good beer. The appearance is an rich amber. Thin white head was apparent to start, but dissapated over time. The scent included spome sweet malts that are matched with citrusy hops that are mild in bitterness. The taste is slightly bitter. The malts and sweetness provide a good balance to the hops which are citrusy and strong, having a touch of earthiness to them. The finish smacks of the hop profile, leaving the pallet a touch of bitterness. The mouthfeel is good, much more than a reserved ESB that I was expecting. Overall a decent beer.

D: At 5%, this is a quaffable ale. The hop profile will keep the hophead happy while the low alcohol pleases the sessioners.

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Photo of Jesse13713
4.16/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at the brewpub. My favorite beer of the day.

Appearance - An extremely vibrant and hoppy looking amber orange brew. Very lightly saturated and transparent. Slightly yellow with what appears to be average carbonation. A light soapy lacing.

Smell - Smells heavily of floral notes, hops, citrus and fruits. Specifically, I get strong hints of pineapple and grapefruit. A very 'springy' smelling beer.

Taste - The most bready and malty beer I've ever tasted. Rich foam is created on the tongue. Heavy floral with slight fruit notes. Slightly bitter hops jump around as well. More bitterness was noted when I paired the last quarter of my glass with Edmund fitz. porter chocolate chunk ice cream.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability - Very bready and yeasty. Slightly bitter on the tongue but not as bitter as expected. This brew is light bodied and crisp on the finish. Many floral notes accompany rich, caramelized breads. Very refreshing to have on a spring afternoon.

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Photo of alleykatking
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Great Lakes...

A- Came to me a hazy coppery orange color. Half finger off white head shows low retention. Some spotty lacing on the sides of the glass.

S- Toasted malts shine in this nose. There is a nice balance with a low caramel malt base to it. A citrus hop in the backing cuts through most everything else and balances the malt sweetness so this doesn't smell sickly sweet. There is some grainy aroma as well but I don't pick up on it until this beer warms a lot more.

T- Caramel sweetness in the front of the beer starts this malty bomb. Midway through the beer the malts turn from caramel to a toasty malt with a hint of grain as well. Floral hops in the ending of the beer bring this one full circle. I really enjoyed how the hops in the ending bring everything full circle.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style. Toasted malts with hints of caramel malts are left on the palate. Aftertaste is light alcohol, floral hop profile, and toasted malts. Flavors were balanced for the style and put together well. No off flavors at all in this beer. Light alcohol drying on the palate.

D- This beer was really really good. ESB's are interesting to me in either they are good or else they terrible. ABV on this makes it a easy drinker for the night which I had no problem drinking a couple pints of this.

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Photo of BB1313
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Great Lakes in Cleveland, Ohio

This beer is responsible for getting me into craft beer 5-6 years ago. I really wish they still bottled it. Pours a nice amber with a nice white head and nice lacing. Very floral, like a bouquet of flowers. The hops really shine and come though with a sharp bitterness. I'm picking up very slight hints of grapefruit, maybe some pine. Also picking up some lemon. Mouthfeel is nice, very crisp and refreshing. Drinkability is very very good. I could drink this one all day! Tons of flavor and very bold for a low ABV beer.

This is a classic Great Lakes beer.. Moondog is king.. I still haven't come across a tastier and more enjoyable ESB. Highly recommended.

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Photo of kels
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I can't thank sliverX enough for answering my ISO plea when this went on tap up at the brewery in Cleveland. I've missed it ever since they stopped bottling and distributing it, so keep in mind that despite my best efforts to be objective in this review, I'm probably going to be more impressed than most people by a mere ESB.

Pours a nice toasty shade of golden honey. Great clarity reveals gently rising bubbles within feeding the skim of white, frothy head after it's reduced from a 1 1/2-finger depth. Spots of spitty lace hang along the sides of the glass and slide back down into the beer.

Not a whole lot to mention about the nose. The toasty, bready malts and honey-like sweetness all but mask the soft, floral hops.

Mmmm...just as delicious and refreshing as I remembered it. The flavors are incredibly balanced while still shining individually. The malts walk the line between toasty and honeyed and provide the foundation for the beer. The hops come through slightly in the initial taste, bloom in the finish and hang around deliciously in the aftertaste. The floral element is clear, adding a herbal and perfume-like dimension to the beer. There's also a crisp and slightly tart green-apple hop that is more dominant in the finish. All of this is wrapped up in a well-carbonated, moderate feel that keeps things very light and bright and smooth.

Drinkability isn't even debatable. Goes down so easy and makes me want more. Read the description of an ESB, give this a try, and I'm sure you will find this beer better than average and expected.

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Photo of sliverX
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ON tap at the Brewery Pub.
Presented with a copper tinged gold brew with a nice thick 1 finger head which left decent lacing.
The smell was a slight pine and floral hop characteristic with a light sweet malt background.
Taste was sweet malt backed with very generous amounts of pine and floral hops.
Mouthfeel was medium to full and lightly carbonated.
Drinkability was about perfect the on distraction may be that it's a bit on the hoppy side for my tastes for the style but is a wonderful session type brew and it's sad that this has been taken out of the rotating bottle releases.

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Photo of kwjd
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap of the brewpub. Tons of off-white head on copper-orange colour beer with nice head retention and lacing. Smells of floral english hops and bready malt. Has a very nice floral bitterness to it. Quite smooth carbonation makes this an awesome beer to drink on the patio.

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Photo of kkipple
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A. Well, hello head! A pleasing and fat 3 finger head pops up as the beer goes into my glass, quite impressive. Unfiltered, orange and zesty looking, the ale swirls with bubbles and life. Quite pretty and lacy.

S. Hmm... let it warm and this opens up and crispifies. Is that a word yet? Should be. Slightly wet all around, nice toasty malt notes, sort of Marzen-lite, starchy, grainy, a bit raw. American hops here, citric and certainly not noble, but still somewhat mellow and low enough to let the malt shine through.

T. I like this... sweet and malty, toasted and crisp with floral (roses?) hop notes means this goes down easy and stays down. Very rounded and fat tasting, nothing is sharp or out of balance here. The hops liven things up and help the malt even off, and there is a lingering sweetness in the mouth after each sip. Surprisingly rich and flavorful for the style. Most certainly American.

D. Quite high, very sessionable and I wish I had another. Moondog is a fine Americanized ESB that drinks Real Good.

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Photo of Auspice
3.12/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Golden-orange color with great lacing and a small head of about one finger. A clean flowery hop aroma is heavy in the nose. Tastes of munich and crystal malts; semi sweet with a slightly citrus hop kick and a thin body. Overall, very drinkable but very underwhelming after hearing so many good things about this brew.

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Photo of adamette
3.82/5  rDev -3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Live review at the Brewpub earlier today. This is a "pub exclusive" right now. Poured into clean, clear glass. From notes at the main bar: "Lighter-bodied ESB with flowery hop bouquet."

A Very clear, light yellow body under a brief but creamy looking head.

S Light smell, some hops, slight bitter.

T Light slight bitter, some hops. Nice, balanced ESB with that familiar GLBC bitterness in the background. "Flowery Hops" is mentioned in the bar. I taste a nice citrus aspect to this beer as well.

M Light. The hops and brief bitterness increase the feel a little bit, though.

D Very drinkable, the best feature of the beer.

Notes: Interesting to have on tap at the brewery. Others have lamented the brewery's decision to discontinue bottling of this beer. I can see why. It is very drinkable and delicious.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Lightly hazy, amber body with a small-sized, white head.

Smell: Malts smelling of biscuits lovingly spiked with wildflower honey and a floral first, spicy second hop scent. Background note of fruit.

Taste: Lightly biscuity maltiness with sweet touches of toffee and honey. Splash of apricot juice garnished with a thin slice of lemon. Floral, spicy, even citrusy hops with a medium amount of balancing bitterness. The spiciness grows into a light taste of white pepper. Finishes dry and crisp with a bit of lingering hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Downright quaffable! A pleasant, refreshing ale I could drink all damn day.

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Photo of Yetiman420
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass.

Clear copper color with a foamy, big bubble two finger head that settles to a thin layer rather quickly.

Aroma is faint malt sweetness and what I believe is some spice aroma from the ESB yeast. Halfway through I pick up some fruitiness.

The taste is very clean, crisp, and...well, to be honest...weak. Can't say I'm an expert on ESB and I don't aspire to be. More body and flavor would make this better in my book. I pick up caramel sweetness.

I'm reviewing and grading based on what I experience. While I'd like "more" to this beer, the taste and drinkability are both good. Like all Great Lakes beers, it's very well done. This one happens to be on the bottom end of my style preference.

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Photo of beveritt
3.67/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a standard pint glass. Label depicts the outline of a wolf howling at a very large moon.

Appearance: Pours with 1 1/2 inch of nearly white head. This settles slowly to just a thin coating of white foam, but leaving behind a complete covering of lace where the head had been. The beer itself is pale yellow, completely clear, and shows slight activity. Absolutely no sediment in the bottle.

Smell: Sweet butterscotch malt aroma with sugary, bubblegum esters in the finish.

Taste: Starts with a noticeable hop bitterness, this lingers throughout the beer and well beyond. Finishes with a slight caramel sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Average to slightly higher than average carbonation. Body is good.

Drinkability: Much lighter in color than I would expect from an ESB, but is does deliver in flavor. If this were a little darker and a little less carbonated, it would be spot on. As it is, it is still pretty good.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I got this brew from Auslander, Thanks Chris!

12oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - clear, golden yellow color with a white head that left good lacing.

S - this sample was a bit past the 'best by' date so the aroma may have faded a little, still I got some faint floral hop notes.

T - good tasting, well balanced sweet malt and hop bitterness.

F - medium bodied with a clean feel.

D - goes down easy.

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Photo of generallee
4.48/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: It has a large frothy white head that has very good retention and make great rings of lace with each sip. The body has a light honey color with a slight haze.

Smell: The aroma is wonderful and well balanced. It has sweet bready malt with some buttery notes as well as some fruity notes and mild floral hops in the nose.

Taste/Mouth feel: The flavor matches the aroma with a solid malty base that brings buttery and fruity notes with perfectly balanced hop bitterness and flavor. Some of the fruity notes include elderberry and black currant and the hops give some floral and herbal notes to the party. The palate has a smooth silky texture with soft carbonation, a medium body and slow lightly bitter fading finish.

Notes: Wow, I really enjoyed this easy drinking and refreshing ESB!!!

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Moondog Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 216 ratings