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Great Lakes Eliot Ness - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Great Lakes Eliot NessGreat Lakes Eliot Ness

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,509 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,509
Reviews: 922
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 11.25%
Wants: 177
Gots: 203 | 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:
An amber lager with rich, fragrant malt flavors balanced by crisp noble hops.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-11-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,509 | Reviews: 922 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bruachan
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%

pours a brilliant copper color with an extra touch of orange, and a slightly orangish head to boot. a frosty collar sits a thumbs from the glass' lip
rich caramel nose from some roasty vienna malts, with a slight musty hop

dry, bitter finish that hangs around until the next sip. probably more so than a style stickler would permit, but i like it

another great one from GLBC

bruachan, Sep 24, 2005
Photo of rajendra82
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%

Deep amber colored body with a perfectly proportioned beige head made this a very attractive looking beer. The beer was well carbonated, but not fizzy. Aromatically clean and unobtrusive, the beer had a malty, floral, sweetish smell. The taste was also pleasant, with a toffee like sweetness, spicy hops, and a touch of mandarin orange sourness. There was not much hop bitterness, but the well attenuated beer did not suffer much because of it. Very clean and easy drinking beer with a simple but flawless construction typical of classic German styles.

rajendra82, Sep 05, 2005
Photo of KarlHungus
3.7/5  rDev -9.5%

Pours a clear bright red color. The head is huge, creamy, and white with reddish hues. The aroma is malty and fruity. The taste is sweet with some cherries, but some how lacks complexity. The mouthfeel is light bodied, and slight over carbonated. Overall, this is far from being a bad brew, but I would choose Sam Adams Boston Lager over this one any day.

KarlHungus, Aug 24, 2005
Photo of mynie
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%

What a fanastic pour! The prettiest amber red you ever did see is topped off by a wonderful, volumous head.

Wonderfully fruity smell. Sweet barley with a light finish of floral hops.

Smooth, very crisp and refreshing taste. Big malt fruit along that's more sweet than anything, mellowed out by caramel. It gets more and more malty as the flavor goes out and eventually ends on a hint of hops.

This would be one hell of a session ale if it didn't pack such a kick. It still goes down like fruit juice, though.

mynie, Aug 15, 2005
Photo of Illini5596
4.72/5  rDev +15.4%

An excellent full bodied lager. Very complex taste, filled with an almost fruity, yet deep and sophisticated body. Deep amber color, but a bit light on the head, and the smell was a little weak (though it is tough to be too critical on this point as it taste damn good). The mouthfeel is near perfect. One of the best beers I've had in a long, LONG while. You will not be dissapointed. Be sure to note, my few objections with this beer in the end don't matter a bit, it's damn near perfect.

Illini5596, Aug 08, 2005
Photo of PBRstreetgang
4.53/5  rDev +10.8%

Pours a magnificent shade of red amber, with a two fingers of tan foam crowning over streaming carbonation; leaves delicate patchwork of lace. Medium bodied and nearly translucent. Excellent head retention. Smells of sweet toasted malt, german and floral hops. Marvelous balance of toasted malt and Noble hop flavor. Very smooth with a sweet but mostly clean finish. If you are in the Cleveland area, be advised it is well worth the trip to the brewery for the freshest beer possible.

PBRstreetgang, Aug 07, 2005
Photo of gimmehead
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Appearance: russet amber, creamy two finger off-white head

Smell: loads of grainy malts, a little sweet, a bit of spicy hop twang and some yeasty bready notes

Taste: caramel malty goodness; sweet with what seems to be some noble hop bitterness, lots of bready notes and a sticky sweet finish

Mouthfeel: medium body, medium carbonation

Drinkability: very well balanced; makes a fine session

gimmehead, Aug 06, 2005
Photo of nomad
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%

How many ways can you describe a beer's appearance that falls generally in the category of "red?" Well then, this one pours red with a light crimson hue to it, clear as day and shiny to boot, with a fair-sized head of tight, proteinaceous foam. Retention isn't always spectacular but surely better than most Viennese lagers I've encountered.

Smell is an even lineup of light caramel, apple tones, soft-toasted bready malts, and what seems to be a woody, almost floral hop scent (though that could just be the complexity of high-kilned base malts). Aroma is soft in texture but solid in intensity, and residing beautifully when kicked up by a swirl of the glass. Pretty impressive for a bottled lager.

To understand what a lower gravity lager can achieve in balance, flavor, and drinkability, this beer just about sums it up. In an almost perfect replica of the aroma, a row of light caramel, strong red apple notions, robust breadiness, and nips of minty hop flavors stroll across the palate. Smooth and full in flavor but far from filling, the mouthfeel complements the flavor will belying the almost heady alcohol content. Eminently drinkable and perfectly balanced between malty push and just enough hop dryness in the finish with neither impression dominating, but instead leaving you refreshed and ready for more. From ice cold to room temperature it shined and never decreased in quality, a sure sign of craftmanship.

For United States microbreweries Great Lakes ranks close to Victory in quality of lagers and this beer alongside their Dortmunder are prime examples. I struggle to find top-end lagers that are domestic and fresh, and this is one. I will note, even more than ales, a lager like this must be found fresh and due to geography I'm blessed to do so. When I used to get Great Lakes bottles in Philadelphia they were most often toast.

nomad, Jul 15, 2005
Photo of AltBock
4.18/5  rDev +2.2%

12oz. bottle that I got in the Great Lakes sampler 12 pack.
Appearance: Poured a dark copper color with a small head of foam that faded quickly. Also had plenty of carbonation bubbles in the glass rushing to the top.
Smell: Not much of a smell, except that of sweet hops. After the beer is finished, you get a nice aroma of sweet caramel.
Taste: Plenty of malts with a nice hoppy aftertaste. Tasted like their Dortmunder, but not as hoppy.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied that finished crisp and smooth. It really hides that 6.2% alcohol content.
Drinkability: This beer would make an excellent choice for a session beer and summer beer. To me this was a little bit better than their Dortmunder. This a beer that I would buy again and easily found in theses parts.

AltBock, Jul 11, 2005
Photo of quasimoto
3.23/5  rDev -21%

This beer poured a copper/amber color with a light tan head that held it's own for several minutes, and then hung around the rim for the length of the beer. the aroma is of a watered down hops and slight wet paper and caramel. The taste is of toasted malt and caramel. the bitterness leaves it it dry in the end and quite "bitey". Its light bodied which is good, but really slight on the all-around flavor. It's a nice summer time beer.

quasimoto, Jul 09, 2005
Photo of Stubbie1
4.53/5  rDev +10.8%

This beer pours a nice deep gold color, call it amber. A nice slightly off white head reaches the top of this brew. The head slowly fades a stick lace forms to the end of the glass. Aroma is of toffee and bread and sweet malt. Taste is wonderful sweet malt and a bread and toffee with a small bitter bite in the end.

A real creamy feel in the mouth and easy to sit and enjoy. A great brew with food or alone.

Stubbie1, Jul 09, 2005
Photo of tom444
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%

Pours a deep amber, with a thick tan head. Head retention is very good, with good lacing.

Aroma is fairly malty, with some decent floral hop notes. Rather sweet-smelling.

Taste is crisp, with a bit of malty sweetness, and some interesting hop flavors - I'm tasting something different, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is. A good finish with a little bit of sweet aftertaste, but nothing bad.

A fine lager to enjoy with a meal, or anytime.

tom444, Jun 22, 2005
Photo of JackStraw22
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Appearance: Rich, slightly opaque amber body. Good off white head.

Smell: Nice and malty, but not sweet. Spicy hops really come through, but aren't dominate.

Taste: Very very sweet, but a good hop bite to counter. There's an aftertaste I wasn't thrilled about at first, but it grew on me.

JackStraw22, Jun 16, 2005
Photo of Backer2004
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%

(part of a sampler at the Great Lakes brewpub)

One of my favorite from Great Lakes and quite an interesting style. This would probably be the one I would order a second and study (and enjoy) more carefully. Nice lacing and head. Creamy with caramel and toffee scents and tastes. Dances on the tongue. Pretty easy to drink, but not all evening long.

Backer2004, Jun 03, 2005
Photo of merlin48
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%

Appearance: 12 oz bottle pours a clear dark amber body, with a small beige head that retains well for several minutes. Sticky, patch lace hangs on the glass.
Aroma: Toasty, biscuity, malt notes begin with caramel, and move into molasses territory. Spicy, German hops lend a nice background.
Mouthfeel: Solid medium body with good carbonation. Nice malt presence here, that is smooth and almost chewy.
Taste: Heavy caramel maltiness opens the door to some bready and biscuity, malt toastiness. Hopping is equally aggressive, with slight floral and aggressive spicy hop bitterness. Supremely well balanced, overall, with a long and bitter spicy hop aftertaste.
Drinkability: A very well executed German lager style, with excellent taste. Enjoyable drinkability.

merlin48, May 30, 2005
Photo of findlayfan
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%

Medium, off-white head.

Good smell, with definite caramel notes.

Nice, clear amber body, with modest carbonation and lacing on the glass.

Goes down very easily - reminds me a bit of Dos Equis amber.

Overall, a good, drinkable lager - one that I'll certainly come back to (and could certainly make a decent session beer).

findlayfan, May 22, 2005
Photo of SupaCelt
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%

Appearance: Cloudy tan. Beige head that quickly settles into a ring. Spitty clings of lace hang on to the rim.

Smell: This one has a malty, bready smell to it. Roasty and caramel tones come out with warming. Brown sugar seems to be evident as well. I am unable to detect any hop character.

Taste: Malty with underlying bitterness. It seems to be lightly hopped with reliance on the malt flavours to be the showcase. Bready and sweet without getting overly so. This tastes very hearty. The finish is crisp and sweet with the bitterness drifting away into a memory. Interesting.

Mouthfeel: Great Lakes. A peculiar flatness and watery feel. Not much bite or heft to it. The flavour is somehow strong, but the body is oddly light.

Drinkability: Good. Not spectacular overall, but a very interesting beer nonetheless. No problem drinking them. This will not become a preference for me though.

SupaCelt, May 16, 2005
Photo of deejaydan
3.03/5  rDev -25.9%

Pours a beautiful amber color, with a minimal head. Aroma is rich and carmelly. Taste is strange, I get a funky, almost lactic acid taste. Perhaps it's the hops that I'm pick up, but it's odd. Crisp enough, but not floral hops, it's spicy. Some toasty notes from the malt, but this is a hop driven brew. I need more sweetness and malt in my Viennas. Mouthfeel is adequate, crisp and nice there. Overall, not an awful beer, but there are much better ones from Great Lakes.

deejaydan, May 16, 2005
Photo of Gaisgeil
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%

A quite good session/staple beer, nice!

Pours a clean amber in color with a thin light tan head with good retention. Nose is a bit floral, definatly a hoppy undercurrent. Taste is slightly bready but definatly bitter, a nice hop bite happening here, wasn't expecting that from this one. This beer actually reminds me a lot of their Conway's Irish Red, only a bit less complex overall.


Gaisgeil, May 06, 2005
Photo of far333
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%

Hazy, dark honey colored, thick looking. A half inch of thick beige foam rises up and then just sits there, not moving. Inviting aroma of banana and butterscotch, sweet malt and honey. Flavor is rich and chewy, heavy malt and caramel, some tangerine in the back of the mouth, followed by a mild hop flourish, and a bitter orange peel linger. Mouthfeel is thick and full, moderate carbonation. Really good beer, very drinkable.

far333, Apr 29, 2005
Photo of mattcrill
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%

Presentation: Label states that it's a gold medal winner, gives a little background on Eliot Ness, reminds me of the Bavarian Purity Law, and that I should enjoy it by 6/8/05.

Appearance: Pours crystal clear and amber with a perfect puffy beige two finger head. Edges fade to orange and there is some carbonation bubbles on the bottom.

Smell: Carmel, toffee, coffee with cream, some tea-like hop bitterness all gently fill the nose.

Taste: Nice balance between some hop bitterness, green tea, a lemony bite, some carmel notes, a brush of alcohol in the background, and a touch of a bittering hop finish. Some cool yeasty, wheatbread burps after a few sips.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, a touch creamy, and lively due to the carbonation.

Drinkability: Absolutely a session beer. I could see myself enjoying this all night long.

Notes: It is a great middle of the road beer. I realize saying that implies mediocrity but that's not what I mean. There is enough hop presence and malt balance to satisfy most beer lovers. It's certainly not an "extreme" beer but it definitely scratches the beer itch for me. Another good one from Great Lakes (is there a bad one??)

Strongly recommended.

mattcrill, Apr 26, 2005
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev -6.4%

Bottle: Poured a mid-brown color beer with an above average white foamy head with good retention. Nice malty aroma with some roastiness and some nuts. Taste is quite malty with a smooth creamy taste and light bitterness at the end. Body is fuller then expected and probably fuller then most Vienna I tasted before. Overall, this is real good stuff.

Phyl21ca, Apr 25, 2005
Photo of beveragecaptain
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%

This beer pours out an attractive clear amber color with a foamy head and lots of bubbles. Strong grain aroma, a little like hay, along with nuts and spice. Nice malt flavor up front with some caramel. Nutty in the body. The finish comes with some slightly spicy hops. Medium mouthfeel. This is a highly quaffable beer, and it's no trouble drinking several. Another good beer from GLBC. They are becoming one of my favorite American breweries.

beveragecaptain, Mar 30, 2005
Photo of karst
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%

Investigated this Vienna lager along with two other local BA's (Beer Agents?) after picking up a couple of 12 oz bottles in Granite City's Corral Liquors (where they were detained on "ice") . Not expecting as good as beer as Edmund Fitzgerald Porter or Burning River Pale Ale we found that the 6.2 % lager was a "gangbuster" of a beer!

Eliot Ness's career in Cleveland ended with a bang, literally- according to Paul Heimel, of Coudersport, Pa.,Ness biographer and host of "An Evening with Eliot Ness" at the Great Lakes Brewing Company (1997). Heimel stated that America's foremost Prohibition agent had a blossoming drinking problem and late one night, Ness struck another car with his, fled the scene and later tried to cover up the accident. He resigned his post three weeks later.

If what he was drinking was as well crafted as his namesake brew I can understand how it led to his demise.

Coming back in 1947, Ness was trounced almost 2-to-1 in his bid for mayor by incumbent Thomas Burke. Heimel said Ness spent a great deal of his personal fortune on the race.

Eliot Ness the beer is brewed using a three step decoction boiling process, using Munich, Pilsner, Vienna toasted and dextrin malts to produce its sweet toffee, toasted grain aroma. It surrounds the taste buds with its full rich and smooth and chewy mouth feel. Malty flavor backed with toasted grain and caramel. Hops to balance perfectly with their spicy/herbal flavour to adding to great complexity. The toasted grain persists and finally fades to the dry finish. I would guess that wheat is added. judging by the excellent mouthfeel. Style calls for subtle hops, crisp, with residual sweetness. Eliot Ness the beer may be pushing these last characteristics but the result is a fine complex beer that is balanced and finishes well.

Other classic examples Dos Equis and Negra Modelo are no where near this untouchable beer from Great Lakes Brewing Co. Immigrant brewers from Austria have spread the Vienna lager to many parts of the world.

Ness's biographer revealed that "Hoover thought Ness was too much of a glory hound," Heimel said. "Ness was literally blackballed from the FBI." Even after Ness was dead, Hoover kept a running file on him, assigning agents to watch TV's "Untouchables."

This beer is certainly due any and all glory. One that you will want to rerun over and over. A must try for your "folder" from that notorious Cleveland gang.

karst, Mar 20, 2005
Photo of Shultzerdugen
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%

12 oz. bottle with best before date of March 09 05. Well a week's not that long past the date...

Poured a clear copper with an off-white froth made of tiny bubbles.

My first impression of this beer was the spicy hops showing off in my first sniffs. Creamy, with a definite alcohol smell.

Hops attack right from the top with a coniferus bent. A little toffee flavor in the malt, nice round feel on the palate. Alcohol is noticable, but not in an offensive way. Just right.

This is a hell of a lager! I think I just found a great summer beer. Shit, it doesn't even have to be summer, it would be top notch any time.

Shultzerdugen, Mar 19, 2005
Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 2,509 ratings.