1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Great Lakes Eliot Ness - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Eliot NessGreat Lakes Eliot Ness

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,755 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,755
Reviews: 959
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 11.52%
Wants: 214
Gots: 333 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
Vienna Lager |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-11-2001

An amber lager with rich, fragrant malt flavors balanced by crisp noble hops.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Great Lakes Eliot Ness Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,755 | Reviews: 959 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of aepb1
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Red body with a bubbly off-white head that fades slowly

S- Some roasted malts and some citrus hops

T- Sweet caramel malts with some nuttiness and nice spicing

M- Light bodied and moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth.

O- An awesome example of the style and it's very easy to drink

Photo of Tschnab
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Eliot Ness was one of the chief enforcers of prohibition, so I will drink this one in honor of his failed efforts!

A- a deep amber, almost ruby hue with a fluffy head that quickly dissipates to a thin film. A little bit of lacing here and there.

S- nice and bright fruitiness here, maybe strawberries. Also some toffee and caramel, as well as some floral hop aroma.

T- the taste confirms the nose, but everything is a little more pronounced. It's very malty, but balanced by some hops. Very refreshing and quaffable .

O- I was really surprised by how good this lager is, the number one rated Vienna lager for a reason.

Photo of metter98
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that slowly died down and left some lacing on the surfaces and down the sides of the glass.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of caramel malts and spices in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the flavors of caramel malts dominate the taste, which has a slight amount of sweetness. There is some spiciness and a mild amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer is very easy to drink and goes down smoothly.

Photo of liamt07
4.01/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared with Steve and Josh, into a tulip.

Pours a copper/amber with some off-white head, that falls to some bubbles and a bit of foam. Some sediment in the body. Nose hold some bread, cracker, light caramel malt and light hop character. Some slight red apple notes. Taste is crisp initially with a good hop bite, some fresh bread, a solid pale malt base, slight grassiness. Good clean and refreshing feel, with a moderate lingering bitterness. On point for a Vienna lager, just how I like 'em. Absolutely crushable.

Photo of Erish
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I poured this 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Best by 04/16/11.

A: clear reddish amber color, 1-finger head quickly falls into a thin but persistent cap with very good lacing.

S: vanilla, woody/oak, rich, bread-like malt, some ripe fruitiness.

T: the rich maltiness hits big up front, along with a generous helping of vanilla/toasty oak goodness, the middle has a gentle earthiness and a supple fruitiness, the finish is dry, gently bitter, and features grassy/herbal hops.

M: medium-bodied, silky texture, plentiful carbonation.

O: yet another wonderful beer from Great Lakes. This brewery exudes quality and good taste.

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

How did it take to the third or fourth time having this until I was bopped in the skull with how good a beer this is. And I could've sworn it was an ale with how rich and full its malt goodness is. It's fairly clean-drinking, don't get me wrong, but it sports just enough husk and grit to make you second-guess.

I must have somehow never noticed its awesome autumn-red-amber color. Well, it's awesome. Deep. There was some lace on the glass left by its otherwise ordinary head.

Fruity, bold-hoppy, rich, bold toasty-caramel malt aroma. Super. Bold as well is the caramel and toast malty-as-crunk flavor. Slightly bitter hoppy-toasted in the finish.

Excellent smooth, full body. And it honestly drinks more like an ale. But they say it's a lager.

Gotta try this again and again. I think I rushed through this most recent sipping - too good.

Photo of nezelrac
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into shaker pint

A - deep amber with orange highlights; a nice off-white head; moderate retention

S - malty, lightly toasty grain; some sweetness to it; hops are subtly present; a little citrus rind

T - excellent set of malty flavors; sweet toffee/caramel; light toasty malt note; smooth graininess; hops are totally in the background; good length

M - slightly chewy malt body; medium weight; well-balanced and smoothly firm; CO2 is low

O - really excellent beer; very sessionable; plenty of interest; Great Lakes hits another 4-bagger

Photo of weller1js
4.26/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

appearance: pours clear, crisp, and vibrant, deep brown amber in color, moderately carbonated with off-white bubbly foam that remains bubbly with the lacing.

smell: the malt aroma is exceptional, with a sweet toffee-toastiness, and a light yet noticeable earthiness; hops have a light bittersweet sensation.

taste: malts and barley present themselves outright, very toasty with earthy undertones, hops are light but not without character, bittersweetness of both the malts and hops make for a pleasant finish; alcohol was noticeable in taste but not overpowering.

drinkability: high quality lager that one can definitely appreciate, with a higher than usual abv for a lager to go with it, very on-point.

Photo of tjwarren
5/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at a local bar and grill. 16 ounce draft at $3.00 is a steal. Have had it in a bottle many times.

Appearance - deep amber, almost brownish purple. Unusual and very nice. Not much head.

Smell - exceptional. Caramel, malty, hint of hops.

Taste - knocks your socks off. All konds of things going on. Malty, caramel with just enough hops to keep it interesting but never overpowering. One of the best tasting beers I have ever had. I think the balance is perfect.

Mouthfeel - it is easy going down, no bitterness, nice and thick, not watery, I was going to go less than 5 here just so that there were 5's all the way across but I just couldn't find a legit reason for it.

Overall - you will want another. There is nothing lacking here. Drink it nice and slow. There is no weakness here cold or warmed a little. The best lager I have ever had.

I am not the biggest GLBC fan but this is perfection. Bravo.

Photo of spitInTheOcean
4.88/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

what this is is a gorgeous glass of beer.

it smell richly of malty goodness. the caramel and toasted notes are the most pronounced, but the hop note is subtly present.

the taste is sweet and malty. caramel and toast really come through, and i swear, there the finish seems almost kind of nutty, like hazelnut or walnut. its so rich it challenges an ale, but the carbonation is pronounced and unmistakebley crisp.

the finish is also nicely balanced with the 27 IBUs. but even with the IBUs this beer is like a scotch ale recipe made with lager yeast.

all that being said, this is perhaps the best lager i have ever had.

Photo of KAP1356
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap last night at Club Cafe in Pittsburgh. Served in a pint glass...

A - Poured a clear, caramel-amber color. A nice 1.5 finger, eggshell whit head stuck around a while and left some nice lacing down the glass.

S - Carmel malts, breadiness and some floral compinents right up front. Some hops come out next along with a slightly fruity notes as well.

T - Malty grains, strong caramel malt presence. Hops make a nice showing rounding out the flavor. Nice floral/fruity aroma in the finish.

M - Medium bodied beer with only light-moderate carbonation.

O - Really nice beer and one that I would pick over Yuengling anyday in a bar (can't believe I just said that). Refreshing while giving you a clean malt bill that makes this a solid beer.

Photo of Northsider
3.44/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

With all the great reviews on this beer, I expected more from it. To me (and my probably undeveloped tastes), this was nothing spectacular. It's good for sure, but nothing I would rave about. The appearance was for me the best part, as it pour a deep amber and white head.

Photo of Rifugium
3.38/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Casey Moran's, Chicago, IL

Nice and smooth, middle of the road amber.
Poured clear, reddish-brown with a small white head. Caramel maltiness aroma with some light nuttiness. Simply caramel malt smoothness in the taste, with a hint of light hops for balance. Bready, with just a touch of fresh cut grass. Light-medium body and easily drinkable.

Photo of Arithmeticus
4.56/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured chilled in ale glass

A: reddish dark amber; light head; not much carbonation
S: very pleasant aroma of caramel, malt, spicing
T: oh, beautiful; what a very interesting compound of tastes; darker lager; sweet and caramel-malty up front, moving into savory, spiced flavors on the tail end
M: nice buzz, despite the poor carbonation

Overall, a fantastic, brood-worthy beer, a very hearty lager

Photo of gabedivision
4.48/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 12oz bottle to a Pilsner glass.

Ah, pours a clean brownish red, with a 2 finger head that lays on top of the glass and almost looks like cream as it slimes to the side walls. This fuckers got a big lager scent with a note of spice. Caramel malts, bready, alcohol, cloves, ginger, and a wiff of bittering hops on the end. Sweet and smooth caramel on the tongue, again with the breadiness, nuts and whole grains. Sweet throughout the whole sip until the end, then the hops come into play and give a big biterness on the finish that would otherwise go unoticed. Hearty but not too much, about a medium feel, maybe a light to some, medium carbonation that tickles the tongue, and dry on the finish, pairs fantastic with a big dead animal on your plate. What can i say? Great Lakes cant lose, and this is a home run, cheers!

Photo of DrewV
4.8/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle (drink by 5/7/11) from my beer fridge (45 degrees) into a Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner glass (tulip). But I actually prefer it in a SA Perfect Pint glass where the aromas contribute more significantly to the overall tasting experience.

A: I have to admit, this is a sexy-looking beer. Pours a deep ruby-gold color with 2-finger creamy head from a conservative pour. 3- or 4-finger head easily possible with an aggressive pour. Generous lacing that sticks around quite a while.

S: Pure creamy Munich malty goodness! Bready malt hits the nose first and is supported by a lesser amount of caramel. Possibly some noble hops hiding in the background, but tough to distinguish. Some darkish fruity notes are evident when presented from a snifter/tulip glass that don't show up in the SA Perfect Pint glass.

T: Deep sweet Munich malt base with a very faint spiciness (hops) near the finish. I would like to roll this around in my mouth all day, savoring the flavors. Caramel malt becomes more intense as the beer warms. Flavor is always sweet, but never cloying. Aftertaste is almost completely neutral and leaves you anxiously awaiting the next sip.

M: Chewy throughout, slightly dry, but finishes oily. Moderate-to-high carbonation suits the beer nicely. Carbonation fades slightly as it warms.

O: Best Vienna Lager on the market, in my opinion. SA Boston Lager can't hold a candle to this in any department. My preference is to serve this a bit on the cold side, as it keeps the sweetness down. But it's hard to go wrong in any way with this beer. My favorite from GLBC, I could drink this every day. A relatively high ABV prevents this from being a session beer, as it does creep up on you, but the 6.20% ABV is 100% hidden in both aroma and taste. Incredible.

Final note: Unfortunately I can't give this 5's across the board due to the slightly unbalanced flavor profile, which might benefit from a slightly heavier dose of hops. But it's damn close to perfect. Grab this whenever you see it available.

Photo of bs870621345
3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a perfect pint glass.

Pours a moderate amber color with an inch of head. No real lacing to speak of.

Smell is bread, caramel, herbal hops, and light pine and citrus.

Taste is bread and caramel up front, moving into the hop character and finishes extremely clean. Very juicy and clean.

Mouthfeel is light and nicely carbonated.

Overall its good. Very nice and easy drinking.

Photo of jsh420
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

best by 06/11/11

pours bright clear caramel with a 1+ finger off white head that left lacing all down the glass

smells nutty caramel malt with some light fruit apples

taste is like the nose - sweet fruit apples up front then the caramel malt decent amount of hop bitterness

mouthfeel was medium full body with lacking carbonation

overall - nice lager at a nice price - call me crazy but i think i would take a boston lager over this

Photo of secondtooth
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Attractive red-amber, with a rich and frothy head. Deep, intricate lace. Lovely.

Rich aroma --- sourdough, rye maltiness, with a touch of caramel. Very nice!

Taste is malty, with some toffee tones up front and a hoppy twang at the finish. Enjoyable.

Photo of bum732
4.43/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

S: Toasty sweetness, herbal and slightly spicy hops, some caramel.

L: Crystal clear amber, off white tight head with good retention and great lacing.

T: Semi-sweet caramel sweet malt followed by a medium herbal bitterness. Finishes with more toasty sweetness and a touch of hop spiciness. Clean sweet malt throughout.

M: Medium-full bodied for the style, medium high carbonation.

Very Sam Adams lager like with much bolder flavors. Also more malty and less hoppy than SA lager. But overall, just fantastic and the best Vienna lager i've ever had.

Photo of b3shine
3.76/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft to imperial pint glass. Looks good, amber with malty expectations. Smell is its weakest asset. It's almost nonexistent. Tastes good; malty, yet crisp. Goes down nicely. Could make for a good session beer. I enjoyed it overall, although I prefer more of a bitter beer in general. Think of it as Killian's on steroids.

Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful crystal clear amber color with a couple fingers of sudsy white head. Beautiful color that is a bit dark for the style. Not much of a nose to speak of. Some toffee.

Very nice flavor and mouth feel. Imagine Sam Adams Boston Lager, except maltier and chewier. The hops make a brief cameo and wave bye-bye as it oozes down your throat.

Very nice beer and an outstanding example of the Vienna Lager style. I'll admit I'm a fan of Sam Adams. This is a nice alternative. An excellent beer. Easy to drink and easy to enjoy. I'll buy this again. It would go perfectly with pizza, pasta, chicken, just about anything.

Photo of BigDRS
4.55/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A - Copper in color. Two finger head dies down to nothing, very small amounts of lace.

S - Roasted malt and nuts come across for me. Smell is fairly muted though.

T - Nuts, brown sugar, and caramel. Nutty character lingers in my mouth for a while after each sip.

M - Relatively light and very refreshing. Just enough carbonation.

O - Very high drinkability. Yet another excellent Great Lakes beer.

Photo of pocwolf
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Very clear light red in color. Had a nice white head that faded to a ring.

S - Slight smell of spicy hops and the smell of toasted malt

T - Very clean on the palate, toasted and sweet finish

M - Dry and crisp

O - A great beer, I really enjoyed it. I could easily session this beer.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.34/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Matt (mtunnell) for this one. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Harpoon pilsner glass.

A: Standard pour yields a 1 finger light brown and creamsicle colored frothy dense head with good retention. Beer is an attractive clear, dark amber. Lacing is stringy and spotty with moderate cling. Head and color are very impressive.

S: Nose is very muted. Caramel, brown sugar, and some pureed citrus and nuttiness. Pretty plain and again, barely detectable.

T: Opens sweet caramel, brown sugar, and some toffee. Strong malty body with near no hop bitterness. Nutty towards the middle with more brown sugar. This carries to the end unchanging, finishing with a slight yeasty spiciness and some fresh plum and more brown sugar. Aftertaste is sweet and nutty. Reminds me of a brown ale with a more robust malt profile.

M: Light bodied with good carbonation. Smooth in the mouth but with little bubbles erupting every once in a while. Slightly abrasive going down. Finish is accented and aftertaste lingers pleasantly. Light, crisp, and refreshing.

O: To me, this beer is what the big companies wish they could make. Light, refreshing, tasty, and highly drinkable. Worth a try and a great beer for lounging around during the warmer months.

Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 2,755 ratings.