Empyrean Brewing Company - Burning Skye
Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs):13
Serving Temperature:48-53º F
Suggested Glassware:Thistle Glass, Pint Glass
Malts:Pale 2-Row, Biscuit, Honey Malt, Dark Crystal, Smoked, Midnight Wheat
Empyrean’s Scottish-style ale presents a medium amber hue in the glass, topped by a significant head of light beige foam. In the aroma there’s quite a malty impression, as expected for this rather malty style, and it offers us a good deal of honeyed character in concert with touches of toast, prominent caramelization, and a wisp of smoke from the use of smoked malt. Some fruity esters are apparent, as well, generating some stone fruit and even berry-like touches, while a pleasant hint of floral and very lightly citric hops adds yet another layer. On the palate, look for a nicely round malt profile to form the central core with notes of toasty bread and caramel. There’s a touch of fruitiness here, as in the aroma, while hop bitterness remains low but in pleasant balance with a little malty sweetness. That smoky note makes its appearance here too, and perhaps a bit more prominently than in the aroma. As with Scotch whisky, smoked malt is often – though not always – a feature of Scottish ales, with some exhibiting tons of peaty character while others have none. We enjoyed Empyrean’s restrained but noticable usage in Burning Skye. For pairing options, we’d look to barbecued or grilled meats & veggies, as well as aged cheeses. Cheers!
The story of Empyrean Brewing Company begins with the founding of Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill in Lincoln, NE in 1990. Accomplished homebrewer Rich Chapin was brought in as Head Brewer to helm the brewing side of the new business. When Lazlo’s opened its doors and served its first beers to the public in March, 1991, it became the state’s first brewpub, going on to produce about 500 barrels in its first year. The brewpub concept proved popular with the locals, and in 1997 the brewery was spun off as its very own enterprise under the name Empyrean – a word tracing its origins to Aristotle’s notion of cosmology and representing the highest part of the heavens. By 1998, production capacity was expanded to 2500 barrels per year, though at this point it was all draft. When they installed a bottling line the next year, Empyrean became the first craft brewery in Nebraska to do so, and it allowed them to begin establishing a retail footprint for the first time.
In 2000, Lazlo’s expanded by opening a second brewpub location, and the increased demand from the restaurant plus their growing retail business pushed Empyrean to open a newer, larger brewhouse in 2001. By decade’s end, distribution had reached throughout all of Nebraska and into neighboring Iowa and South Dakota.
Today, Empyrean can be found in nine states, including in the Chicagoland area as of 2022. They produce a slate of around ten core year-round beers along with five rotating seasonals and an array of additional limited-run, hop-focused, and barrel-aged brews. In addition to a focus on excellent beer, Empyrean is focused on being good stewards of the planet; they donate 150 tons of spent grain to local farmers each year, use geothermal heating and cooling technology, and their warehouse boasts the largest privately owned solar array in Nebraska. For more info, visit them at empyreanbrewingco.com.
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