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.

2,758 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,758
Reviews: 960
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 11.52%
Wants: 215
Gots: 336 | 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: 2,758 | Reviews: 960 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of generallee
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass. It was sampled on 6-4-09 and had a best before date of 6-19-09 on the label.

Appearance: The body has an inviting deep reddish amber color with very good clarity. On top there is a modest sized, just off white colored head that hangs on well and makes some nice lacing on the glass.

Smell: The aroma has some sweet and toasted malty character with light mineral and leafy hop notes.

Taste/Mouth: Its flavor has a sweet malty and toasted bread base with notes of brown sugar, caramel and toasted malt. Hop flavor is solid and matches the sweetness of the malt with earthy, leafy and mineral flavors and balanced bitterness. The finish has toasted grains and hops fading slowly off the tongue. Its texture is smooth and slick with soft carbonation.

Notes: This is an outstanding Vienna Lager!!! The balance of sweet, toasty and hops is spot on. Well done Great Lakes!!!

Photo of deapokid
4.53/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Quite a profound pour. Boasts a big rich head with a deep red coloration. This model looks a little darker than most lagers I've encountered, even more so than Sam Adams and Brooklyn.

Scent is of sweet hops backed by a nice buttery richness, which, not surprisingly, is exactly what could be said of the flavor. Although I'm really not much of a lager enthusiast, this is absolutely delicious and a massive step forward for session lager as a whole.

This rich, but never heavy, liquid effortlessly rolls down the throat, masterfully melding smoothness and flavor. This rare combination is often what is missing from lagers, in my opinion, and I think it's a testament to Great Lakes amazing output.

Might be the best drinking lager on Planet Earth.

Photo of plaid75
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Hilton Hotel, Pittsburgh.

Poured a deep copper hue with a half finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a robust carMel and toffee with a respectable grassy hop presence.

The taste consisted of a burnt caramel and a lingering drying hop.

The mouthfeel was toward the fuller side of the style.

Overall a very tasty lager. Think Sam Adms kicked up
a notch.

Photo of atpben
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Appears a copper color with a medium size head. Aroma of mostly caramel with some very light citrus. Taste has more of caramel and also some maple syrup. Very smooth and creamy to drink. Leaves a very nice sweet aftertaste. This is the best Vienna lager I've had. Excellent - also a great session beer.

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

Light amber in color with a huge off white fluffy head leaving mass cling and lace on the glass when it finally dies down. Picture prefect!

Nice, malty, roasty aroma consisting of roasted grains, fragrant malt coupled with citrusy hop wafts. Hints of hibiscus, caramel and toffee. Quite a combination of interesting smells. Beautifully combined. The taste is really malty, clean and smooth. Slides down the throat with the roasty grains, caramel, toffee and some citrusy hops.

Slick and silky mouthfeel. Really nice, medium bodied with some hop in the after taste. Goes down so easy and with so much flavor it could only be called a beautiful beer.

Photo of association330
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle with a label which sports an image of (presumably) Eliot Ness himself. A bit of history & context.

A - Pours a rich amber with slight reddish tones. A finger of light caramel-colored head eventually drops to a thin cap with a thick ring of foam. Some spots of lacing stick to the glass.

S - Sweet toasted grains and nice fresh, earthy hops. A hint of fresh bread. Almost a bit of a honey character in the sweetness.

T - More sweet and toasted grains. Nice malt complexity and a spicy hop balance which doesn't overpower the malt focus. Slight bitter, semi-dry finish, while a lightly sweet, bready flavor lingers.

M - Light and crisp (though not watery). Creamy, moderate carbonation lends a refreshing quality to this sweeter brew.

D - Move over Sam Adams, there's a better Vienna Lager in town. Very refreshing, though at 6.2% it's just on the border of being sessionable. Nonetheless, it's great to taste an amber with some complexity, that still manages to retain a high level of drinkability.

Photo of bonsreeb85
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brought some bottles back w/ me from a trip to the Windy City. Finally got to try some of this stuff, here it goes...

A - Deep dark red w/ orange highlights. Single finger biege colored head w/ tiny foamy bubbles.

S - earthy and herbal hops, caramel malt. gives off a very bready scent. nothing too special here

T - very balanced, slightly hoppier than expected. Opens up w/ a slighty spicy and bitter intro which leads to a creeping malt sweetness that rolls out like a red carpet. some sweetness is there, but is kept to a minimum. the overall flavor is that of bread. this beer is not really dominated by any one element or flavor, but the starring role goes to the bread-yeast flavor, and is accompanied by an unidentifiable spice.

MF - medium bodied, medium carbonation and an overall creamy mouthfeel. very easy to drink and mellow on the palate.

D - Easy drinker, nothing too extreme in any way, good balance and ample flavor.

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

A - Deep golden brown, crystal clear, a few carbonation bubbles, light tan head which didn't retain much, and average lacing.

S - Kind of a faint smell but it was a nice lightly roasted malt with subtle sweetness and caramel. A few woody notes from the hops, but no bitterness at all.

T - Phenomenal taste on this one, in my opinion. Starts off sweet like a upper tier lager but has hints of vanilla and caramel in it. Leaves a nice vanilla/nutty aftertaste.

M/D - Medium to heavy body but has an awesome creamy texture, neutral carbonation, and is super easy to drink.

I received this beer as a gift not really knowing what it was and I was wonderfully shocked. This beer has one of the best flavor combinations for a lager that I've had plus the texture of this brew is awesome. Must find more ASAP!

Photo of russpowell
4.51/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Got this one from pwoods, Cheers Patrick! Review based on notes

Pours an effervescent copper with an inch of sand colored head. Some head retention & average lacing

S: Brown bread & herbal hops once warm

T: Toasty malt, breadyness along with drynesss & herbal hops up front. More breadyness as this warms. Finishes toasty with slight nuttyness & herbal hops

MF: medium bodied with moderate carbonation

Great drinkability, really nails this style! Well done Great Lakes!

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a flute.

4.5 A: Clear orange amber color. Two fingers of creamy head with excellent retention and lots of lacing.

4.0 S: Lots of crystal maltiness. A touch of fruitiness. I touch of spicy hops.

4.0 T: Sweet graininess first. Good hop balance with enough bitterness for my tastes.

4.5 M: Medium body. Good carbonation. Really creamy.

3.5 D: Really good, but a bit cloying.

Photo of ajr24
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The 2nd of my GL adventure. 12 oz bottle poured into a mug.

A- Pours a deep amber that glistens with golden highlights. Thick white head sits on top at first, but retreats into a thin coating. Nice lacing.

S- The aroma is sweet, tarty and piny. Chinook hops? I think so. Malty sweetness and hoppiness join forces to create pleasantness.

M- Smooth and lubricated describes it best. Overall enjoyable.

D- Smooth, tarty and zesty makes for some nice flavors and some nice drinkability.

Photo of Strix
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear orange/red, decent head

Smells of caramel malt, with a hint of maple syrup.

Caramel malt is the main taste, with a kiss of floral hops towards the end. Nicely balanced.

Light carbonation, smooth mouthfeel.

This went down before I noticed it was gone. A nice beer for a style that is generally uninteresting.

Photo of Reiksguard
3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Becoming a big fan of the Great Lakes Line Up...

A: Deep red character with brilliant clarity. Very nice.

S: Wonderful nose. Toasted notes with some malt character hiding behind it. There is a hint of hop character, but it fades in and out.

T: A lot more flavor and hops than I would have expected for the style. Strong malt flavor with a nice hops backbone. Seems like it might be a little over the top, but just then it all balances out to leave a clean aftertaste.

M: Good carbonation. Med to light mouthfeel.

O: A good beer. The alcohol starts to peek out from behind the malt flavor in the middle of the taste, which is a little distracting. I'd have one or two, but then I would have to move on to something else (and there is plenty to choose from if you are in the GL Brepub).

Photo of Natural510
4.52/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark amber color with thick, porous head which allows itself to slowly dissipate.
Rich, toasted malt scent with a sweet overtone. Nutty caramel note to the aroma as well. Very inviting.
Nutty, roasted malt flavor with a discernible hop bite. Yeast plays an active role in rounding out the flavor. Some residual sweetness from an underscore of caramel & brown sugar, but not nearly as much as the nose intended.
Smooth, crisp, refreshing, and a bit dry at the finish.

The best Vienna Lager I've ever tasted and likely ever will taste. My go-to beer, as it complements most any food or situation. The only thing better than a bottle of Eliot Ness is Eliot Ness from the keg (review soon to come).

Photo of civilizedpsycho
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured bottle into glass.

Appearance: Amber/red color with a good head that doesn't fizzle out too quickly.

Smell: Had kind of a sweet malty smell with a hint of a roasted smell.

Taste: Great hoppy bitterness but finishes very smooth. Smoother than I expected.

Mouthfeel: Had a mild body due to some fair carbonation.

Drinkabilty: Great beer too have at any time, anywhere, with anyone. Just a high quality lager.

Photo of beveritt
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a standard pint glass. Label depicts a fedora wearing man standing at a bar with his head hanging down. Freshness date didn't seem to print on this one.

Appearance: Pours with 1 1/2 fingers of light tan head. This settles to a thin, nearly complete cap of foam, leaving behind very nice lacing coverage. The beer itself is the color of burnished copper and perfectly clear. No sediment in the bottle.

Smell: Sweet caramelized malt with hints of toffee.

Taste: Mildly sweet malt upfront, followed by a more substantial caramel malt backbone. Finishes with a hint of toffee and an ever so slight hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is very good.

Drinkability: Another very good beer from Great Lakes.

Photo of minterro
3.96/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: dark red color beer with a light brown head that dissipates slowly and leaves some lacing.

S: nutty and malty

T: one word to describe this beer would be "interesting". toasty with hints of nuts and chocolate. alcohol aftertaste

M: light-mid body with good carbonation

D: easy to drink and a overall good beer.

notes: not my favorite GLBC beer but it was top 3.

Photo of ballewblake
2.68/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured from bottle into my Boulevard pint glass.
One finger cream head on a deep amber body. Head retention seems weak on first glance as it drops lower and lower before even the first sip. Sweet nose, sour taste. Alcohol is noticed right off. Almost a vinegar flavor there, tempted to throw a lime in. Great thick lacing trails the glass while the head has pretty much stuck at a shallow constant crown. Vinegar is telling me this one might be bad, I'm pretty sure this wasn't what it was intended. Though from all appearances it looks fine. First beer of the day and the Drain was fed.

Photo of macpapi
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle. Freshest by 6/5/09 (oh well a couple of days after that didn't seem to hurt.)

Eliot Ness pours a reddish/amber color with a good sized, pretty fluffy tannish head. Quite clear through the glass. Malt is most prominently noticed by the nose. Caramel and some biscuity presence comes through as well. The faint whiff of hops complete a very balanced and full aroma.

The taste is a good mix of malt, caramel, and biscuit, with a bit of molasses-like sweetness. There is just a bit of hop bite as well. Pretty medium body with a very nice presence on the palate.

Overall, this is an eminently drinkable and enjoyable beer. Very balanced and very refreshing. A bit too high abv-wise to be a session beer, but to my mind a slightly shorter session of GL Eliot Ness would not be a bad night.

Photo of endincolorado
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Pale amber, with a decently thick off-white head. Good lacing.

Smell- Very fragrant, malty nose. Caramel, biscuit, and a nice sweetness. Little to no hop-aroma.

Taste- Sweet, crisp caramel malt with a nice toastiness. Again, very little hops. Slightly dry finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium body, with a nice, slightly creamy texture. Good carbonation.

Drinkability- One of my favorite session beers. Good year-round.

Photo of LyonsHead
4.58/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: pours a perfectly clear amber/red with an orange tinted, white fluffy head

S: malty sweetness, nutty, biscuit and toast

T: warm malty sweetness, subtle earthy hop flavor with a pleasant residual sweetness in the finish

M: medium-light body, smooth. sweet finish but not cloying

D: you can't have just one, this beer has great drinkability about it. wow, this is good!

Photo of KBomb
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep red toned amber color, one finger of off-white head, and fine lacing that persists. Quite a bit of malt on the nose: sweet and roasted. Good aroma, a hint of maple and a hint of hops add something to it. It smells like a darker beer than it is! Taste is marked by caramel malts and toasty bread grain (a little sourdough taste perhaps?). A kiss of hops reminds you this is beer. Flavors are nice, but not very deep. Ever so sllightly watery. With the style in mind, I shouldn't fault it too much, but there might have been room in this beer for a little "bigger" flavor. A slightly metalic finish. Smooth, but crisp mouthfeel with a moderately light body despite the ABV. I could definitely pound a few of these.

Eliot Ness is plenty likeable. Great for washing down tacos and pizza. Doesn't entirely stand out as a beer to seek out, but I'm more than happy to keep this around as a "go-to" lager on a hot summer day.

Photo of PrAndo
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At this point in the beer tasting, my notes deteriorate. I apologize for a less than thorough review.

A - great eggshell colored head, fluffy, amber body

S - yeast and sweet malt

T - bitter hops up front, but couched in pleasant maltiness

M - light body. Lawnmower beer?

D - yeah, I could get into this all day.

Photo of asabreed
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: A nice dark copper color with an off-white, almost-tan head that keeps nice retention and soapy lacing around the edges of the glass.

Smell: A nice balance between caramel malt flavors, along with some mild chocolate, possible vanilla and maple, and big breadiness and sweet dough coming through, yet there's a nice citrus hop bite to add some depth and some balance. The quality is there too; it's clean and loves to get more complex as it warms, like good brews should.

Taste: Like the aroma, the malt flavors are dominant, though the sweetness isn't too sweet, thankfully. Good dough and bread flavors add depth to the caramel malt and maple and vanilla coming through. Almost like a good Oktoberfest brew. Yet there's a sharp enough citrus and hop bite to add balance and complexity, making it entirely too easy to sip despite being a bigger brew. A long and sustained finish of intermingling goes on.

Mouthfeel: Bigger and creamier than expected, with a good amount of carbonation and enough of everything to keep you going back.

Drinkability: One of my favorite beers to drink when I'm back in western Pennsylvania, since you can't get Great Lakes in the South. A bigger, bolder beer for a Lager, but one to sip and savor, and yet one that I can certainly session and love live for it.

Photo of eberkman
4.23/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a beautiful burnished copper with a nice, thick cream-colored head of a richer hue than you typically get for this category. Invitingly aromatic caramel maltiness in the nose balanced by some grassy notes. Nice rich malt presence on the palate -- good melange of toffee and caramel with a bready yeasty presence as well. Nicely measured tinge of hoppiness in the finish. Satiny smooth with the right amount of carbonation bite. Plenty of heft in the mouth -- almost like an English ale. I'd love to have downed more, but you've got to pace yourself with this one -- it's pretty darn big for a lager.

The best I've had in this style and possibly the best American lager I can recall off the top of my head.

Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 2,758 ratings.