Great Lakes Eliot Ness | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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1,014 Reviews
Great Lakes Eliot NessGreat Lakes Eliot Ness

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

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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,014 | Ratings: 3,127
Reviews by SportsandJorts:
Photo of SportsandJorts
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Type: On-tap pitcher
Glass: pint
From: Old Town in Ann Arbor
Price: ~$13 a pitcher

Appearance: deep amber color, with a nice white foamy head that fades to a lacing. nice clarity and pretty bubbly

Smell: spicy hops, sweet malts, earthyness

Taste: starts of with some sweet caramelly malts, balanced out by hops. some fruitiness and spicy hops. well balanced and complex

Mouthfeel: crisp and clean. refreshing.

Overall: Great Lakes does not mess around with their year round beers. This is another beer that is unbeatable for the price. I haven't had a lager that competes with this one lately. An easily sessional beer that is enjoyable won't break the wallet

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Stevedore
4.24/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pint served in a shaker pint at Pigs in a Fur Coat, Madison Wisconsin, 9/27/2014.

A- Clear amber body with a one finger tan head, good retention, leaves a fuzzy film on top, lots of lacing all around. [4]

S- Sweet toffee malt, earthy noble hops, some caramel, crisp banana bread, yeast. Sweet but not cloyingly so and in a refreshing way. [4.25]

F- Toffee, caramel, hint of raisin, a little banana (hence banana bread in the nose), earthiness, and the signature GLBC yeast flavour. This is excellent, not quite perfect but just about as outstanding as any brewer can make a Vienna lager. [4.25]

M- Medium bodied, refreshing and crisp yet smooth and silky at the same time. They did a great job on this one. Very drinkable, no real effects of the ABV on the flavour at all. [4.25]

O- Excellent take on the style, as I would expect from GLBC and their tradition of brewing excellent lagers. Why I never reviewed this before, I'm not sure, but I ought to get around to reviewing their other offerings as well! [4.25]

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Photo of Jonoesh5
4.28/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Looks beautiful with a deep amber body and tan head. No suspended yeast or floaties makes for a very polished look. Scent is in the background, nothing pronounced other than a malt blend. Taste begins with mostly malts, then gives way to hops. Notes of red apple were also present. Mouthfeel is soapy and carbonated with significant, and a surprising amount of alcohol warmth for a 6.2% ABV lager. Overall, a solid anytime beer. Great first impression with Great Lakes!

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Photo of Doctor_Bogenbroom
4.65/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Newly introduced on tap at my local drinking establishment. Here goes nothing:

Appearance: Beautiful, copper red with golden undertone (at least in this light) with a tan head about one finger's width. Minimal lacing.

Aroma: Definitely strong noble hops. I like the slightly sweet, fruity aroma.

Taste: Ah, not bad! Smooth, slightly toasty taste, with some sweetness that doesn't overpower the lager.

Mouthfeel: Some moderate carbonation, medium body, and quite smooth. A very drinkable amber lager.

Overall: This is the way lagers should taste. The macro-brews obviously have nothing on this. I was very impressed with it overall, and the fact that it was on draught made me a very happy man. I would definitely get this again (and probably will).

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Photo of PA-hunter
4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured 12oz bottle into glass. 6.2% abv

Appearance- Pours a rich ruby-amber hue with a frothy 2 finger or more head with good retention.

Smell- A sweet malt smell, bits of caramel and toffee in there.

Taste- At first there is much more a grainy flavor than the smell suggests. This transcends into a sweeter finish, with the toffee flavor coming through later. Slight roasted type of qulaity to the taste as well. Some hop bitterness in there ever so slightly. Dry finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium in body; ample carbonation.

Overall- A unique and memorable lager. This is a good one to sip on as it is not super light but has plently of flavor. Not the everyday lager for sure. A great beer to try to divert oneself from the norm. Another Great Lakes home run.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.84/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass at approximately 40 degrees F.

A: Looks like free-flowing honey on the pour, which swells into a beautiful clear amber. Small streams of bubbles rise slowly from the bottom at the start, before dying away to leave the beer a deep amber shading towards russet. A thick head of foam forms, which slowly dies down to a cap. The lacing is minimal, but present.

S: Sweet toasted malt and caramel, wreathed around bready yeast with some faint notes of rich soil and ripe fruit.

T: Mother of god, this is a fantastic Vienna lager. The taste opens with sweet bread and lightly toasted caramel, before some hints of walnut, raisin, and pecan join in. There's some slight bitterness from the malt, as well as an earthen, loamy bitter that offsets the sweetness just enough. Warm yeasty bread with toffee-like tinges form the finish, which lingers a bit without coming close to overstaying its welcome.

M: A light, smooth, silky lager, with exactly the right amount of carbonation to avoid feeling flat without sparkling up too much. It feels heavy enough to impart a feeling of drinking a good beer, while remaining light enough for refreshment duty.

O: I have yet to encounter another Vienna lager that's comparable to this one. It's virtually everything I could look for in this style, from the complex malt profile to the slight hop presence and the silken mouthfeel. This is a staple of my beer enjoyment.

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Photo of car2052
4.36/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a goblet style pint glass.

A: Clear, dark reddish amber. One finger of tan head.
S: Scent of baking spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, derived from the noble hops. Toasty caramel malt peeks through the nose as well.
T: Toasted caramel malt makes its presence first with a sweet, smoky taste. The malts give this a nice body. The hop presence comes out in the end as a tingle of bitterness on the tongue. Finish is neither too sweet nor too dry.
M: Medium bodied. Slightly creamy. Very drinkable.
O: Very good crisp lager. Reminds me of some of the Marzen beers.

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Photo of taters21
4.31/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a nice ruby reddish amber color with a half finger white head, low retention.
Smell: Piney and citrusy hops, sweet malt
Taste: Citrus, tart cherry, with a biscuit dry finish
Feel: About you standard ale feel, but somewhat heavier more towards a creamy mouthfeel, which is unexpected but quite welcome
Overall: Crisp, clean, well balanced, with a nice mouthfeel

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

Good malty-spicy beer,smelled like bread rising,went great with pizza nice high alcohol content went well with the spiciness of the pizza.I honestly havent had a bad beer from Great Lakes yet.Best brewery in the midwest,with Kalamazoo(my beloved Bells)not far behind.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Just a wonderful beer and supremely drinkable beer.

Crystal ruby-amber with a nice but thin off white lace.

Smells of sweet toffee, toasted grain, hex nuts.

Tastes of tremendously malty toffees and caramels. Nutty.

Mouthfeel is sweet and chewy. Oh so rich and creamy. Mmmm…

Drinkability couldn’t be any better.

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

Presentation: 12oz brown with a drink before date clearly marked.

Appearance: Crystal clear reddish amber in colour with a well retaining off white lace that holds its own all the way down.

Smell: A bit of toffee, a bit of toasted grain and a touch of sweetness.

Taste: Full rich and smooth with quite a chewy malt mouth feel. Very malty on the palate with toasted and caramel all over, just enough hops to balance and a dose of spicy/herbal hop flavour to add a complexity. The toasted grain seems to go on for a while into the dry finish which is reminiscent of toasted whole grain bread.

Notes: Indeed a awesome brew ... high quality and oh so flavourful, very hard to find anything wrong with this beer. A definite BeerAdvocate pick!

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Photo of gangstafaceclay
4.54/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice amber red with a decent white foamy head.

In the smell you get a good amount of Carmel sweetness and some spices.

For the taste you get Carmel/toffee sweetness, a good amount of toasted nuts, some subtle earthy hops, spices, and breadiness.

For the mouthfeel it's medium bodied, clean crisp finish with a decent amount of carbonation.

Overall this is a fantastic lager by Great Lakes..this beer definitely doesn't lack on flavor and is one you can drink and not get tired of. I'll definitely be pickin this up more often

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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.

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Photo of JLaw55
5/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is what all lagers should aspire to be. This was fantastic. A beautiful red/amber color with great clarity and a thin quarter inch of white fluffy head. Flavor was smooth and clean with a slight caramel sweetness. Very refreshing and one of the easiest drinking beers I have ever had. Absolutely stunning.

Would Drink Again: Yes
Would Purchase Again: Yes

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Photo of Jgoth34
4.93/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: A dark amber, clear with solid head. Great looking lager.
Smell: Very clean, sweet smell. I get a hint of toffee.
Taste: You get the sweetness at first like caramel or toffee. Then you get hit with a nutty flavor. Solid taste.
Feel: Very warm yet light, could definitely have a few of these
Overall: A fantastic beer, looking to find more by this brewing company.

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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.

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

Favorite beer at our get-together. Preferred over La Fin Du Monde.

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Photo of Mikus
3.68/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Deep reddish brown hue, very little head, lots of bubbles throughout. Slightly fruity, slightly spicy hop presence on nose... clean malt profile, slightly bready. Crisp and clean with some nice bite (bit of rye?)...Smooth flavors overall. Malt forward yet nicely balanced. Bit of grassy hop on the finish. Light to medium viscosity, nice bready aftertaste (light). Excellent lager (and I'm not crazy about lager). Great Lakes keeping it classy.

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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!

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Photo of kojevergas
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard branded pressure cap acquired at a local bottle shop and served into a Uinta pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are sky high given current ratings, and to a lesser extent the brewery. 6.2% ABV confirmed. "Best served at 45 degrees F." Enjoy by 03/28/13. Oops. Didn't catch that at the bottle shop. Reviewing as an Amber even though it's currently classified as a Vienna lager; I trust the brewery over beeradvocate's often clunky ratings system.

Served cold, straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 2.5 finger light khaki colour head. Nice soft creamy complexion. Flocculent. Good frothiness. Good thickness. Good (~5 minute) retention. No bubble show.

Body colour is a clear translucent vibrant amber. No yeast particles are visible.

Great appearance all around. Spot-on for the style. Very inviting and appealing.

Sm: Hot damn those malty notes are fresh. Smells like the malt room of a brewery. Lovely German style amber malts. Light toasty malt character. Caramalts. Pleasant graininess. Lightly bready. Live yeast. Extremely inviting; I can't remember ever experiencing an aroma this fresh - and it's two months past its recommended enjoy by date. A fantastic aroma of moderate strength. I can't wait to try it. Near perfect for the style. Wow.

T: A well balanced seamless blend of the primary malts used; German amber malts, caramalts, toasty character. Hop character is light and floral, complementing the other flavours nicely. Full-bodied and tasty, with a refreshing finish. Lots of flavour for an amber. Damn, that's tasty. Excellent balance and good complexity. Fair subtlety to boot. Good creaminess.

Mf: Nicely creamy. Perfect coarseness and wetness, adequately coaxing out maximal depth of flavour whilst remaining refreshing. Good presence on the palate. Decent thickness; if I have any one criticism of this beer it's that it feels a bit too thin - a feature that becomes more noticeable as it warms. Nice full body. Clean and crisp. Very soft and welcoming. Complements the flavour profile excellently - even coming off feeling like it was custom-tailored to do so. Great execution.

Dr: Extremely drinkable and sessionable stuff. I'd definitely get this again and would buy it by the six-pack happily. Every beeradvocate needs to try this; they do so much with so little. Elegant simplicity is admirable here. An impressive gem from Great Lakes, and one I'm told has a good price point where it's distributed. Definitely amongst the best in the style. Wow.


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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.

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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.

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Photo of CIBoy10
4.16/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

By far the most complex Vienna-style I've ever encountered. Points for uniqueness. Heavy biscuit on the front leads to a surprising floral-esque finish. Quite boozy for the style at 6.2% ABV - and it can be felt as the beer is much heavier than say Boston Lager. As far as this style goes, I wish this one was lightened up a little bit. All in all it is a fantastic unique beer. Cheers!

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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

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Photo of aszatk01
3.75/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
4.09 out of 5 based on 3,127 ratings.
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