Great Lakes Eliot Ness - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Great Lakes Eliot NessGreat Lakes Eliot Ness

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969 Reviews

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Reviews: 969
Hads: 2,900
rAvg: 4.1
pDev: 9.27%
Wants: 241
Gots: 451 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 969 | Hads: 2,900
Photo of PBRstreetgang
4.48/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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. (484 characters)

Photo of gimmehead
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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 (401 characters)

Photo of nomad
4.47/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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. (1,860 characters)

Photo of AltBock
4.17/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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. (762 characters)

Photo of quasimoto
3.23/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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. (436 characters)

Photo of Stubbie1
4.52/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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. (411 characters)

Photo of tom444
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. (458 characters)

Photo of JackStraw22
3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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. (295 characters)

Photo of Backer2004
3.97/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(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. (351 characters)

Photo of merlin48
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (764 characters)

Photo of findlayfan
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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). (332 characters)

Photo of SupaCelt
3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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. (901 characters)

Photo of deejaydan
3.1/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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. (471 characters)

Photo of Gaisgeil
3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

Slàinte! (400 characters)

Photo of far333
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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. (426 characters)

Photo of mattcrill
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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. (1,201 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.82/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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. (348 characters)

Photo of beveragecaptain
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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. (443 characters)

Photo of karst
4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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. (2,442 characters)

Photo of Shultzerdugen
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (625 characters)

Photo of elricorico
3.65/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark dark orange or reddish brown colour with a thin tan head that faded into nothingness right away. The beer smells of cherries slightly, almost reminding me of a cherry flavoured cough syrup. There seems to be a bit of cut grass to the smell as well.

Taste is fairly sweet malt up front with a bit of bit of a bitter finish. The sweetness has some toffee to it, along with a bit of the sugary cherry noted in the smell. The finish is fairly dry.

Mouthfeel is nice, not so thin as expected and with a good level of carbonation. The beer goes down easily and is certainly drinkable.

All said this is a nice lager, something that would make a good session drink. Many thanks to Praneel for bringing me this beer from Ohio. (739 characters)

Photo of bnuttz
4.42/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful caramel-copper color, with a thick and creamy tan head. Smells of caramel, toasted nuts, and spicy hops. Taste is biscuits, roasted nuts, caramel, all in all, just very malty and delicious. The hops balance this beer out perfectly. The mouthfeel of this beer is very creamy smooth. I would have no problem putting down six of these. Now to find this stuff on tap. (381 characters)

Photo of Bierguy5
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber/reddish color. Thick foamy off-white head. Good retention and lace all about on the glass as I finished. Big rich toasted malt aroma, slightly herbal. Good chewy toasty malt flavor, along with some caramel malt flavors. Slightly sweet in the finish. Very clean flavors, balanced by just a good touch of herbal hops with slight bitterness. Light to medium body, good amount of carbonation. This is top-notch for a vienna lager. Another solid winner from GLBC. (478 characters)

Photo of BarrelBrother
4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a wonderful brew and another winner from Great Lakes Brewing Co. I was already a huge fan of their Edmund Fitzgerald Porter and tried Eliot Ness because I really liked Bell's Amber Lager. Wow, what a tasty treat, but I now have come to expect excellence from Great Lakes.

Appearence: Wonderfully ruby and quite clear. An Amber Gem.
Smell: Very pleasant, with a carmel overtone. Faint hop aroma.
Taste: Mmmm..slight sweetness with a toffee finish. More please..
Mouthfeel: Smooth, velvet like. Crisp & clean after taste.
Drinkability: Well, this is a fine brew that sits easy with spicy food and certainly can be a session beer for me! Lots of character in this brew and that is what GLB seems to do so well in all their offerings. Bravo! (752 characters)

Photo of FenwaySquid
4.4/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Presentation: 12 oz bottle with a drink by date on it.

Appearance: Reddish brown, with a nice head that dissipates to a lace that holds for the remainder of the beer.

Smell: Sweet and malty

Taste: Toasty malt flavor, a little bitter but not too bad.

Overall: An excellent brew. I wish I lived closer to Ohio so I could enjoy it more often. (351 characters)

Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 969 ratings.