Great Lakes Eliot Ness | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

1,021 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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,021 | Ratings: 3,170
Photo of jjanega08
2.2/5  rDev -46.2%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A= The pour yeilds an average finger high head that has some average retention and average lacing. The color of the beer is a magnificent ruby red however. Sort of looks like a few framboise I've had it's so red.

S= Interesting. I haven't read any reviews on this beer yet so I'm not sure if other people are getting it but this beer smells like Play Doh to me... It smells sort of salty and Play Doh like. I dunno how else to explain it but it's loaded with play doh.

T= Luckly it doesn't taste as much like play doh. There is still a very play doh like character to it. Not as salty. Sort of average maltyness to it and a balanced bitterness.

M= Smooth and a nice carbonation level. Prolly the best part of it being in my mouth.

D= Yes I have tasted play doh and yes this beer smells and somewhat tastes like it. I dunno what's going on here. I'll try this beer another time to sure just to make sure it's not a fluke but if this is what the beer actually tastes like I don't think I'll be having much of it.

 1,014 characters

Photo of MShirokov
2.31/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

I got this beer on-tap at the local bar yesterday based on the reviews, and expected a fantastic lager. At first I thought they gave me the wrong beer, but I double-checked and it was the right one.

It doesn't really taste like a lager to me, at least as far as the usual German lagers go. It tastes like.. well.. cardboard. My girlfriend said it after taking a sip, and I was amazed, because that same description was in my head the instant I tried it. It tastes like a combination of watered-down whiskey and cardboard. I hope something was wrong with the tap at that place, because it's hard to believe this is the beer that's getting such excellent reviews. The color seems to match though - a dark amber. So, it's definitely "unique" but I won't be drinking it again.

 774 characters

Photo of jrallen34
2.34/5  rDev -42.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I drank this from a bottle into a chalice.

This beer pours a very pretty amber with a light white head. The head lastes only about 30 seconds. It is very clear for its color, lacing is pour but it carbonates quickly with a swirl.

The aroma is very light, hard to detect anything. There are notes of light hops but they are kind of skunky.

The taste leaves much to be disered. The taste is very light you hardly taste anything, but what you do taste is tea. Its really not good.

Mouthfeel is ok, but I couldn't drink more than 2 sips before I had to dump it.

 561 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 loren01
2.51/5  rDev -38.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Poured an amber color, small head. No lacing observed.
S: Not much of anything really, slight sweet smell.
T: Was better than smell I guess, slight nutty/caramell flavor with a little bit of hop bitter aftertaste.
M: Mild amount of carbonation, goes down pretty well though.
D: Not the best tasting beer, I wonder if I got a bad batch

 341 characters

Photo of PeterBA
2.66/5  rDev -35%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not sure why I don't like this, it doesn't seem like a Vienna Lager at all.
Seems a bit weak with weird flavors, maybe it's the sweet fruit, spice, and floral hops.
Doesn't belong in a Vienna Lager, give me more of a pure, clean beer, maybe hold the hops!

 256 characters

Photo of JDV
2.68/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Have to say I'm surprised at the scores for this one. I wasn't impressed at all. Pours a maroon transluscent color with a medium head. Smell is a bit sour, slightly skunky, and metallic tart maltiness. Not terrible, but not inviting...Taste is not crisp at all, but rather sour smooth caramel. While drinkable, I wouldn't recommend it. If this as as good as the style gets, maybe I just don't like Viennas as much as I though I did..

 433 characters

Photo of ballewblake
2.68/5  rDev -34.5%
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.

 588 characters

Photo of alcstradamus
2.84/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Deep amber pour with 2 fingers of slowly receding head. Smell is musty malts mostly, which is mirrored in the taste. Almost has that expired-IPA feel, with the mustiness and crayon wax flavors. Just not something I really can enjoy. Perhaps if this was in the 4-5% ABV range I would like it more, but at higher than 6 it just isn't worth it.

 341 characters

Photo of armiakhe
2.84/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The visual appearance of this beer was a light brown or amber color. The smell of it was very rich and had a slightly malty smell to it. The taste was sour and rich with possibly a little bit of bitterness. This beer overall was just O.K. to me. It did have a very nice aroma to it especially right out of the bottle.

 317 characters

Photo of FtownThrowDown
2.88/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours brown in color with ruby brown highlights around the edges. Nice frothy inch of head forms on the pour. Smell is all malt and some sweetness. Very metallic/off flavor in the taste. Gets a bit cloying as well. First beer I've had from Great Lakes that has been subpar.

 273 characters

Photo of MaximalC
2.94/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a rich, clear copper color with a cream-colored head that lingers just long enough to appreciate. Aroma is mild and slightly sweet. Almost honey-like malt dominates the flavor profile. Hops are faint but noticeable. A little too sweet for my tastes, and not much to offer in the way of complexity. Not bad, but I'd be perfectly fine not having it again.

 359 characters

Photo of q33jeff
2.95/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Bottle to pint glass.

AROMA: Slight Apple,lemon, slight hops.
LOOK: Light brown color.
TASTE: A bit stale. Caramel flavor. Lasting positive aftertaste.
FEEL: A bit flat.

A nice beer.

 209 characters

Photo of RickS95
3/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Looks like watered down cranberry juice. Mostly clear, with a thin white head.

Has a smokey quality and if I didn't know better, I'd say there's some coffee hiding in the background.

The smoke scent comes through in the flavor, along with a typical lager's sourness in the swallow.

Kind of what I expect from a lager. I get mostly bitter and sourness on the palate, not what I'm really looking for in a beer.

Doesn't do much for me. Decent alcohol, but that's about it. I just don't care for lagers and this one is nothing special.

 535 characters

Photo of maximum12
3/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up in a mixed six pack on the way to our lakeside resort, & the second brew reviewed in my boat. Popped open after loosing a big pike on a head shake & tossing down my rod with a sigh. Perfect time for a consolation the accompaniment of four loons, a bald eagle, & a beautiful early evening.

Pours like copper piping, simple, quick. Smell is minimal to nonexistent.

Eliot Ness is a nice brew. Bready, with the lagering prominent in the mouth, coating everything it touches with yeast & slightly sweet, bisuity malts. Simple, but not truly satisfying, this is thin & a bit lacking in flavor. And as it warms, a metallic taste creeps into the mix, lowering the appeal further.

Go simple, but give me yum! For an example of a truly good Vienna Lager, I'd take a try at Schell's Firebrick. Pedestrian at best.

 828 characters

Photo of IdrinkGas
3.02/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a very clear amber color. It's looks remind me of a Red Ale. About a finger of a creamy off white head. Sweet caramel malt really stands out in the nose. Lots of sugar and a small amount of hops also come through. Taste is mainly sweet malt. Reminds me a lot of an overly sugary fruit punch. Light bodied with a low level of carbonation. An interesting Lager but not my kind of beer.

 431 characters

Photo of humuloner22
3.06/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I guess I am in the minority here. I will try another one, as I have a few. I am not a naysayer in regard to lagers, I cut my teeth on lagers, because our options when I began drinking was not as diverse as it is today. Anyway, I was not overly crazy about this beer. The first sip was not all that great. Too malty for my taste anyway. But as I continued on, I am one to push on through no matter what, it got better, but for it to be a 100 beer I disagree.

Look: Its a beautiful reddish brown color. That is the best part of this beer!

Smell: Not a lot happening here, but it was alright, lagers don't have a lot of olfactory dominance like an IPA or something in that order.

Taste: Eh, it was't great at first but then it opened up some and was better. Maybe I am under appreciating this beer, but that is my take on it. I just don't like a lot of malt anymore. I lean toward beers that get flavor from hops or yeast.

Overall: It was fair, but for a similar style I would pick Yeungling all day over this, its half the price and you can session the hell out of them. To me a lager is meant to be consumed in quantity, maybe they were shooting for quality, but if I go to a lager, its a warm/hot day and I want to drink at least a six pack. This one I could not do that with.

 1,284 characters

Photo of deejaydan
3.1/5  rDev -24.2%
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 inebrius
3.11/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I've held off buying Eliot Ness for a long time because I was under the assumption that it would be a little too sweet for my tastes.


Since when should a Vienna lager reek of citrus pith and fir trees? It's dry, prickly and more of a chore to drink than I would want or expect from a "malty" beer. Perhaps I've been spoiled by a few too many good lagers lately, but I couldn't see this beer holding up against more balanced versions of related styles.

 464 characters

Photo of tar
3.12/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The Eliot Ness pours a clear red amber color with a very thick, fluffy, off-white head. The smell is fairly mild, some malt is present as is an almost bourbon or whiskey type aroma. The taste is somewhat spicy. The primary flavors seem to be those of malt with a bit of hops. The finish leaves an oaky taste and a hint of the bourbon that came through in the smell. A relatively smooth, medium bodied beer. The drinkability has improved since the first time I had it, although it noticeably drops as the beer warms up. I've given this beer several tries at different times, thinking that I should like it more, but never seem to.

 629 characters

Photo of dherling
3.13/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured out a honey brown color with a creamy off white head, medium lacing. Nose was a funkadelic, with some green malt and other fresh smelling notes. The taste was like a straight up lager. This came accross like MGD to me. Mouthfeel consisted of a medium body and low carbonation. Not a challenging drink, but not an enjoyable one either. Translation: easy drinking, but who would want to?

 392 characters

Photo of jdhilt
3.15/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a two-fingered white head that fades slowly leaving some lace. Cloudy amber color. Hoppy nose. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Starts with a mix of hops and malt with the hops dominating, some sweetness, finish is clean and hoppy with some bitter after taste. $1.49 for a 12oz bottle from Liquor Barn Lexington, KY.

 327 characters

Photo of Grundle20
3.15/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

It pours amber as the bottle says. There's very little head and it disappears quickly.

Smells incredibly malty and caramel like for a lager. It's not a super potent smell but it caught me by surprise.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
It's smooth and lightly carbonated for the most part. The beer pollutes my mouth with tastes of grass, burnt chocolate, and strong malts which hang on far into the aftertaste. The taste isn't at all what I expected.. It would have been nice to have some hops to balance out the flavor but as far as I can tell there are no apparent hop flavors.

I'm left with an unpleasant enough aftertaste with this beer to scarcely desire a second drink let alone another bottle. I can only see myself drinking this when paired with a meal.

Bottom Line:
GLBC has far better offerings then this, especially in the lager department. A pass in my book.

 907 characters

Photo of Skidz
3.16/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out dark orange brown and sits dark reddish-brown in the glass with a small off-white head.

Smells of brown sugar, sweet malts with a light backing of spicy/herbal hops. Meh.

Flavor is malty with light hoppiness. Some fruity esters, apples mainly. Kind of bland. Hopping again, herbal and just enough to get by.

Crisp, medium body with sharp stickling carbonation. A decent beer and would be easy to drink with any good reason.

 442 characters

Photo of Keitherduder
3.17/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The nose was very malty with barley any hop smell. Which of course is the idea with the amber style. I did, as well, pick up a little roast which was very nice. I liked the clear redish brown color of the beer however the head didnt last nearly as long as i would have liked it to. The best thing about this beer is the taste. It's malty sweet with a hint of... uh.. what is it fuggle hops? or cascade? Whatever it is it's very well done.

The alcohal is up there around 6.2 (as i read it from the bottle!) which is pleasantly higher than what i would have thought. so of course.. that's always a plus!!!

This is a beer that I would recoment to someone thats trying to get into better beers. I could see myself saying, "here's a good example of a good ole american amber lager!"

 785 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
4.09 out of 5 based on 3,170 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.