Dismiss Notice

Site Performance Updates: We're aware of the nightly site outage, and working on resolving the issue.

Follow our progress ...

Great Lakes Eliot Ness | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

1,007 Reviews
For Trade:
Great Lakes Eliot NessGreat Lakes Eliot Ness

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States | website

Style: Vienna Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
An amber lager with rich, fragrant malt flavors balanced by crisp noble hops.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-11-2001

User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,007 | Ratings: 3,090
Photo of R2-the-Bruce
4.11/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into a Rocket Republic pints glass.

L: caramel color with thick head that dissipated slowly.

S: lots of caramel malt

T: caramel/bready malt with a bit of hop bitterness on the finish. As the beer warms, hop bitterness disappears.

M: medium body, clean and dry finish.

O: Exactly as expected, based on other reviews. It's a rich man's Sam Adams (no disrespect to Sam - it was the first craft beer I ever loved). Excellent take on the Vienna Lager style.

 477 characters

Photo of sjdevel
4.5/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Decent head with a moderate pour from a 12oz bottle (1-2 finger head). The head leaves abruptly, but nice lacing continues on. This lager is a deep copper color and crystal clear.

Nice floral, fruity, and malty aroma. The fruity aroma is slightly tart.

Slight hop bite at first that leads to a strong caramel malt flavor. It is nutty and almost smokey. Fruit flavors are tart but fade into a nice sweet medley of caramel. The beer ends up finishing a bit dry.

Full bodied and thick for this style of lager.

This was surprisingly interesting and I was not expecting it. It is classified as a Vienna Lager, but it seems maltier and has more of a roasted grain flavor than some that I have had. I really like this one and would recommend highly. I have a clone recipe for this one and will brew it in the near future.

 866 characters

Photo of lastmango
4.32/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful pour that is light ruby with 1finger creamy head. Nose is a faint malt and taste is of caramel malt witj a touch of hops on the end. Medium thickness and carbonation.

 176 characters

Photo of jds16
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

How easily we neglect the beauty that's always available...picked up a mixed 12 pack of hometown GLBC to have some more "regular strength" beers on hand. I've had this beer 1000 times, and forgot how simply excellent it is. Beautiful clear caramel color, off white head fades slowly. Smells of sweet grain, caramel, noble hops. Taste: caramel, toast, slightly sweet, just enough hops to balance the sweetness. Smooth, chewy full body for a lager.

 446 characters

Photo of rjd722
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Washington Old Engine 12, beautiful deep amber color with a decent head and not much lace. For me, this lager can be summed up in one phrase; super caramelized malts. The aroma is dominated by these malts, not being a huge lager fan it's nice to see this particular offering have so much going on from a sensory perspective. The taste is laced with caramel and some raisin notes, kind of an earthy fruit mouthfeel. A lager with personality!

 450 characters

Photo of AllDayIPA23
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle.

Great Amber color. the smell and taste are fantastic. I have not had many lagers, of any form, but this is definitely the best I've ever had. Heck of an all around beer.

 196 characters

Photo of Cannibalgasm
3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12oz. bottle.

A: Pours a clear and beautiful deep amber color. Head is two fingers of frothy, foamy off-white color. Retention is phenomenal and lacing is plentiful.

S: Aromas of caramel and sweet bready malts greet you initially. Then you get some subtle fruitiness, primarily raspberry, and cherry. On the end you get aromas of cracker like malts and some subtle earthy hop notes.

T: Flavors of caramelized malts, raspberry, and cherry make themselves apparent up front. If you dig deeper the middle of the palate reveals sweet bread like flavors and an ever so subtle hint of cocoa. Finishes with a earthy pepper like spiciness and an aftertaste of caramel.

M: Medium bodies with moderate carbonation. Very slick and smooth on the palate. There is a nice warmth to this brew despite the 6.2% abv. Finishes very pleasantly. A great easy drinker.

O: An incredibly well crafted amber lager. Pours one of the most beautiful shades of amber I have ever seen, truly world class in appearance. The great aromas and flavors you would expect are present and backed up well by a great feel on the palate. Overall this is a great brew with excellent drink-ability, making it a great choice for a got to any season brew.

 1,232 characters

Photo of KomodoDragon
4.41/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Amber. Dark Amber pour. Plenty of activity to watch, plenty head, plenty of lacing. Prunes in the nose.

Rich malt flavor, very smooth. Rich mouthfeel, sweet caramel, slight nuttiness, some raisins. dry finish, hops to support. lots going on. Terrific weight to each flavor. Nothing light. Like drinking a freshly homemade raisin bread.

Not a lager fan, but this is about as good as it gets.

 403 characters

Photo of PhillyJay1701
4.53/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Sam Adams Lager glass.

Look: beautiful, amber glow with copious bubbles and a rich, off white head. Really a great lookin' beer, folks.

Smell: caramel is the star of this show, and fruitier than expected with a strong malt backbone and a hint of hops.

Taste: hops are a bit stronger than the smell but the malts balance perfectly with it. Toasted bread taste rounds it out.

Mouthfeel: probably the best thing about this beer, has a creamy feel with nice carbonation and some body to it. Complex and eminently drinkable.

Another great beer from the folks in Cleveland.

Here is a link to my video review of this beer:

 684 characters

Photo of Trombone69
3.8/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

It's pretty. A very nice deep amber color, not a lot of lacing, not a lot of head retention. I really taste the alcohol up in my sinuses - it feels stronger than 6.2%. I don't really get the high ratings for this.... it's not bad, and it's going down without much trouble, but I'm getting a bitter bite on the back of my tongue that I find a bit displeasing.

 361 characters

Photo of bwesthoven
5/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I sincerely enjoy this beer. It is smooth yet shows good hoppiness for a lager. The color is a nice amber. Truly one of the better amber lagers I have had.

 158 characters

Photo of morris786
4.16/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very nice looking medium amber color. Medium bodied feel with some sweetness but does not overpower. Light Carmel and toasted grain flavor with light earthy hops. A very smooth refreshing beer. I would definitely purchase again.

 228 characters

Photo of Hayley_86
3.25/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A tasty lager but not much more than that. Decent look and smell to it. And the beer has an okay feel and taste to it. But to me this was nothing to get overly excited about.

 174 characters

Photo of dacrza1
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

DATE TASTED: June 14, 2015... GLASSWARE: Hennepin pokal... OCCASION: Cavs/Warriors Game 5--have a good feeling about this one, so I will pair it with a good--and Ohio-brewed--beer... APPEARANCE: Amber, almost ruby red, dark but mostly translucent; head is off-white, swift and forms a halo around an island... AROMA: a slam of caramel with cherry, raspberry and other fruity hints; the hops are not so present, but in a lager, I am not surprised... PALATE: speaking of style, unlike any Vienna I have had--full-bodied, balanced between the teeth and the tongue, and dry--almost a winelike finish; the ABV is clearly a force... TASTE: again, the strength of a pinot noir, with caramelized malts and pepper, chocolate, and some cherry qualities as well... OVERALL: as formidable a lager can get, in terms of flavor and strength--balanced and full, with a pleasant, drinkability; something of a dessert lager (?) that finishes an evening properly...now, if only the Cavs can do the same...

 987 characters

Photo of TheBeerMaster1
3.48/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

The most confusing beer I've ever rated. Comes in smooth, crisp and refreshing then Bam! It Hits you with complexity and a clusterfuck of flavor at the end. I need to try it again

 179 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a nice creamy head that takes a long while to dissipate and covers the surface pretty thoroughly. The beer itself a clear and very deep amber. I really like the hue on this beer because of the way the beer really glows.

The beer smell is what you would expect from a Vienna Lager. Sweet caramel notes and a nice bready malt smell with a sharp hop bite to it. The smell isn't complex but don't be fooled by its simplicity. The smell is very well done and very pleasing.

The beer taste is the same as the smell. The beer has a strong sweet bready malt note with a slight hop bite to it. The hop is a bit stronger than the smell but the sweet malt finish fixes that.

The mouthfeel is pretty good. The beer is a bit sticky and has some weight despite being medium bodied. The biting carbonation gives a nice feel to the upper mouth parts.

Overall, a very good beer and one worth getting. The craftsmanship is superb and its reputation is rightly deserved.

 971 characters

Photo of PatrickCT
4.66/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a can glass.

a: Clear amber body that with a 1 1/2 finger off white head with excellent retention and lacing.

s: Toasted, bready malts, toffee, earthy, grassy, green banana, sweet purple grapes.

t: Toasted bready malts with a nice toffee sweetness, I am getting the same grape/raisin flavor that the aroma suggests...and under ripe bananas. Earthy, medicinal hops.

mf: Medium body with good carbonation. Wonderfully crisp up front, turns in to a creamy fullness and finishes dry with the alcohol being very well hidden.

o: Crazy good.

 569 characters

Photo of SFNC
4.17/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

As good a Lager as I've ever had. It's a dark copper color with a eggshell head. Smells lightly of toast and a light hop bite. Taste is very satisfying. The feel is fine, if a tad thin. Great Lakes have pulled off a great one here, this goes into the summer rotation.

 272 characters

Photo of Gote
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

²nd outing with Great Lakes and I'm still impressed. This one pours out a dark reddish-brown that tells me it has potential to slake my thirst. Full bodied but not as rich as a stout it's light enough I could drink it year round but not over powering. This could earn a permanent place in my fridge.

 301 characters

Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Brilliant amber with a light copper tint under a thin cream colored foam cap.
S: Malt and kettle sugars but not caramel. Faint hop.
T: Rich malt, very light toast, no fruit, grain and malt complexity, spice.
F: Medium light body and medium carbonation.

 258 characters

Photo of Shade1951
4.24/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is a lager that gives lagers a GOOD name. I have probably become unfairly biased against lagers in general because most of the ones I've tried simply don't have much flavor. Ness delivers on the flavor, but without tasting like an ale. It has the crisp, refreshing feel and taste that many lager lovers say appeals to them, but you can actually taste malt and just a bit of hop bitterness. I have had this beer previously, and the fact that I am having it again means that it is quite good!!

 496 characters

Photo of chuckpalka
3.85/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle a medium to dark brass color with an off white nice head. Smells of bread grains. Taste is a nice combo of sweet at first then quickly a slight bite of hops and then quickly to a dry finish. Kept a very thin head throughout with low carbonation and slight lacing. A buttery mouth feel and with just that slight bitterness. Goes down nice. At 6.2 % it's a lot higher than Sam Adams Lager and Abita Amber which are my other two favorites in this style. Very Good

 484 characters

Photo of ARoman
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

*transferred from previous notes - 1/2/2014*
12oz bottle poured into an English Tulip pint glass. Buttery caramel, and fruit are the first aromatic impressions that struck me - a faint berry and/or orange citrus aroma. This gives way to a slight dampness / mildewy smell as the head recedes, but the buttery notes are present and eventually turn to a baked cookie smell. There’s also a faint roasted grain in there too. The head is a creamy, slightly yellow/brown shade, a hearty amount of which remains throughout the drink, and it leaves an abundant lacing along the glass. The head sits atop a very clear orange-brown ("deep amber" I suppose) beer. It’s mostly a sweet beer, but a mellow sweet at that.. It has some spiciness to it too - root beer comes to mind as there’s maybe anise or sarsaparilla notes to it, as well as perhaps some molasses? There’s some light roasted bitterness with an ever so slight hoppy kick too, but the hops only appear at the finish. It’s a astringent too. It’s a medium bodied beer with a decent amount of carbonation to it - although it goes down smooth. There’s a roasted flavor that sticks around shortly, but it’s a mostly clean finish. The hops also contribute a slight grassy coating of the mouth, but, again, it doesn’t stick around long. As it warms up, the root beer flavoring disappears and is replaced by maple syrup and butter (pancakes came to mind) with some slight burnt toast hints.

 1,451 characters

Photo of tom10101
2.41/5  rDev -41.1%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Bottle (12 oz). From Brian, thanks.

Appearance: Muddy reddish-amber with a small ring of off-white foam and little to no lacing.

Aroma: Really metallic at first, it then settles a bit and there’s some citrus and earthy presence.

Taste: Slightly sweet with mineral and earthy presence, toasted malt and a strong metallic presence.

Palate: Medium body. Moderate carbonation. Earthy and metallic finish.

Overall: Not really good and definitely "off". Considering the other ratings, I think I got either a bad or an old bottle. I wasn’t able to finish a third of the bottle.

 584 characters

Photo of Bone53
4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Spot on Amber Lager look. Pours a beautiful amber red color with a fingers worth of light beige head

Smell: Sweet (caramel, toffee) and bready malts that balance great with the noble hops

Taste: Sweet bready malts upfront with hops on the finish

Mouthfeel: Pretty full bodied for a lager yet goes down amazingly smooth with a slight bitter finish. Very refreshing

Overall: Iv said it before and ill say it again. Great Lakes makes some of the best lagers i have had from this country. I think a lot craft beer enthusiasts get lost in the double and imperial beers and cant appreciate a well crafted lager. For what this is, its pretty amazing and the benchmark for an amber lager in my opinion. Great balance between malts and hops, yet light enough so you know its a lager. Along with Dortmunder Gold, this is my go to lawn mowing, bbq lager of choice. That's all folks

 887 characters

Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 1,007 ratings.