Great Lakes Eliot Ness | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

1,018 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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Reviews: 1,018 | Ratings: 3,153
Photo of tone77
3.41/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has an amber color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is mild, some hops. Taste is good, malts with some hops, a tad bitter at the finish. Well balanced. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has good drinkability. Overall this is a good quality beer.

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Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks BuckEyeNation

Pours a clear dark amber color, nice carbonation, small fizzy head that leaves quickly, some lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, hops, and caramel. The taste follows the nose, sweet and malty, nice touch of caramel. Light-Medium body. Drinkable, a nice offering from Great Lakes.

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Photo of liamt07
4.01/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared with Steve and Josh, into a tulip.

Pours a copper/amber with some off-white head, that falls to some bubbles and a bit of foam. Some sediment in the body. Nose hold some bread, cracker, light caramel malt and light hop character. Some slight red apple notes. Taste is crisp initially with a good hop bite, some fresh bread, a solid pale malt base, slight grassiness. Good clean and refreshing feel, with a moderate lingering bitterness. On point for a Vienna lager, just how I like 'em. Absolutely crushable.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Another example of Great Lakes' mastery of lagers. Nice noble hop presence here, some slightly sweet toasty bready malt flavors, and a really wonderful crispness. It's got a wonderful fullness that belies the lower ABV. As drinkable as it gets. Always worth a revisit.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to hudsonphotog for sharing this beer.

The beer pours an amber color with a cream-colored head. The aroma is lots of biscuit malt. The flavor is toffee, caramel, biscuit malt and some fruit. The beer is slightly sweet. The mouthfeel is medium and the carbonation is medium.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.21/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great Lakes Elliot Ness

LOOK: Copper colored brew, perfectly clear. White soapy froth leaves plenty of bubbly lacing.

SMELL: Bready malts with minty, herbal hops. Light caramel, toffee and toasted malts.

TASTE: Caramel, rich bready malt profile, and solid earthy hop presence. Richly malty, as well as clean and refreshing.

FEEL: Mediun bodied, well carbonated, very smooth.

OVERALL: Another very solid offering from Great Lakes. A perfect lager for any occasion. I can picture this going just fine with baby back ribs and a loaded baked potato.

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Photo of plaid75
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Hilton Hotel, Pittsburgh.

Poured a deep copper hue with a half finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a robust carMel and toffee with a respectable grassy hop presence.

The taste consisted of a burnt caramel and a lingering drying hop.

The mouthfeel was toward the fuller side of the style.

Overall a very tasty lager. Think Sam Adms kicked up
a notch.

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Photo of biegaman
3.9/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

When Great Lakes labeled this an amber lager they neglected to mention that it is in fact a dashing, exquisite and, dare I say, very foxy shade of that colour. It combines caramel and candy apple tones and illuminates most resplendently when held into the light. Its head is but a thin draping but is well defined when viewed from the side angle.

There is an underlying candy-like sweetness to the aroma that flutters into the back of the nasal track where it seems to gain passage into the brain and proceeds to tickle the cerebral cortex with a gentle, tingling sensation. Hints of dark fruit, berries and brown sugar assist in this sensory caress. I'm now expecting a big malt presence.

And I am not let down. All the characteristics of the aroma are multiplied at least two fold; their soft, feather-like titillation becomes an unexpectedly intense and all-consuming onslaught of plum pudding, gingerbread, packed brown sugar, black currants, dark toffee and toasty, rich melanoidins. Its port-like sweetness is never too far in the distance.

I don't know of anyone who has ever drooled over the thought of a Vienna Lager before but although it's not common for liquids to fall out of the mouth, you can be sure that plenty gush in, often in one night. What this style (not necessarily this specific offering) may relatively lack in flavour it more than makes up for in drinkability.

That being said, Eliot Ness is a surprisingly weighty and satiating member of the style. For all its sweetness, a crushing, ever-lingering bitterness prevails even longer. Its nuances and heavy-handed maltiness lend it a miniature barleywine-type quality, one that grants the beer a larger appreciation than is customary for most others in the style.

Great Lakes must have as many gold medal winning beers as they do employees. This brewery has a record of consistency for turning-up quality, delicious, true-to-style beers that I doubt could ever be broken (if such records were kept). The town of Cleveland should build a Craft Brewing Hall of Fame and make these guys the inaugural inductees.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.68/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours with a brilliantly clear amber color that shows a rich brownish tinged ruby color when held up to the light. It is topped by frothy, almost creamy, light tan colored head. Wow the aroma is quite rich with a malty sweetness that I was not expecting from a Vienna. The aroma is so sweet it almost takes on a fruity note that is a bit like raisins, or even perhaps a hint of cherry. There is also a light spicy hop note here that accentuates the fruit character found in the nose. Underneath the sweetness is a bit of dry toasted malt aromatics that are just noticeable.

The taste is definitely sweet, though thankfully not nearly as much as the aroma might expect. There are fruity notes of raisins and again a hint of cherry. The hops have a nice, though subtle, contribution here that is lightly spicy, every so slightly herbal and a nice balancing bitterness in the finish. As the beer warms up the sweetness picks up a bit, at times it becomes a bit too much. Most of the time it is held in check by the hopping levels and the under-current of dry maltiness; like notes of biscuits and lightly toasted malt. This beer certainly blows most examples of the style out of the water, but I can't help but think that this would be that much better if it had not finished a little bit drier; it would be a bit more in balance and all that much more quaffable.

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: nice amber hue with just a tiny touch of haze. Head is a thick finger of amber-tinted ivory foam which leaves a good lace as it dissipates.

Smell: rich, sweet caramel malt aroma with little notes of brown sugar. There's also a little bit of earthy hop in there; I like it a lot.

Taste: sweet caramel malt with a nicely balanced bitterness that comes through well at the end. Flavorful yet drinkable.

Mouthfeel: medium-light body with a good level of carbonation and resulting creaminess. I like it.

Overall: this is a smooth, creamy, tasty and eminently drinkable beer. I just wish Great Lakes were available here in Washington.

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Photo of dar482
4.16/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a red ruby and amber color with a fluffy white head.

The aroma has toasted malt, some caramel and lightly toasted sugar sweetness, a bit of apple, strawberry and fruit esters. Grass. Floral.

The flavor follows with light caramel sweetness, lots of toasted bready malt, lots of herbal, a bit of grass and a gentle dry finish and slight bitterness. The highlight is the gentle balanced sweetness that balances with the herbal and piney hops.

A delicious lager. Tons of flavor for 6.2%.

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Photo of Zorro
4.13/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 Oz Bottle sampled through the efforts of justcas and BIF across America.

Pours a good clear red colored lager with a thick tan head.

Smell is clean and a bit lemony with a solid citrus zing from the hops. Toasted bread aroma and toffee and caramel smells add to the mix.

Taste is clean and slightly bready at the beginning. Lemony hop flavor is the next thing that kicks in to the taste. Slight sweetness and the flavor of Nobel hops kick in about sip number three and this starts tasting like a lager. A pleasant and mellow toasted bread flavor forms the major flavor of this beer and it is quite pleasant and similar to a less intense version of Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner.

Mouthfeel is quite good.

A very easy to drink beer which is pretty much what lagers are all about in the first place. Tasty yet easy to drink this is a great choice for a session beer.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Brian for sharing this at the Brick Store Pub. What a well crafted, very nice beer! Pours a beautiful reddish amber with a great head that's off-white and that hangs around. Smells grainy and even crackery with a nice dry, malty snap. The taste is beautifully balanced, being both malty and rich up front, but dry and with a crackery finish. Great for the style. Rich in the mouth but finishes crisp. I haven't enjoyed a beer of this style so much in a long time, if ever. Excellent.

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

A: Clear copper, off-white head, not much retention, hint of lace.

S: VERY malty (bready caramel), some clean hops, slight sulfur.

T: Bread, caramel, toffee. Slightly sweet, but nicely balanced. Lots of nice flavour; alcohol is on the high side for the style, but it's barely perceptible.

M: Moderate body is somewhat creamy. Light to moderate carbonation.

D: Very drinkable.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a somewhat murky dark red/brown with a lace ring down the glass. A mix of roasted and sweet malts dominate the nose. Medium-to-full body with a thick syrupiness making up its texture. A fruity taste along with sweet malts dominates the mouthfeel for a balanced beer that passes sweet and then has a minor drying backbite. Not a complex beer but a very enjoyable one.

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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.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: A deep glowing orange shows some light cherry tints while in the glass. The head is khaki, smooth and frothy but short lived dissipating from a solid foamy fingers worth to a skim milky covering in a matter of a minute or two. Visible carbonation was light, spacious, with a moderate pace of rise. Small broken lashes adorn the glass for a lacing.

S: Creamy caramel apple skins first appear on the nose of light to medium strength. Smells pretty much like caramel apples basically.

T: Sweet chewy caramel coated apples first come to mind with a soft noble flowery hopping. Malt forward with a flowery bite of hops occurring on the swallow. Reminds me of a hopped up Sam Adams lager with a little extra specialty malting to boot.

M: Creamy smooth caramel body provides a thick luscious feel on the tongue. Huge specialty malt base provides a good resistance with a thick viscosity along with a defining carbonation factor adding some tingle.

D: Nice session, again brings back memories of my first craft beer Sam Adams circa 1990. Huge creamy caramel malt base with a flowery hop bite and some alcohol mentions which is the only thing limiting me from many more.

End Beer Musings: Again not to harp but when considered by style this has to be an A example in my book, maybe a very good rating overall (B+) but this definitely trumps Sam Adams lager and I can hardly think of any more examples of Vienna lagers that come close. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From tap to nonic pint glass on 3/7/12
*From notes

-- On tap at Justin's Cafe in SE DC --

A: Rustic brownish-amber in hue. A two finger white head lingers for quite a while. Crazy lacing and a dense white collar follows.

S: Rather nutty. A strong malt presence balances a generous amount of earth.

T: Again, it's a bit nutty up front. As it wears off, the gently toasted grains fall in line and take the mid on quite a ride. The finish is bready, and a mild kiss of hops seal the deal.

M: Dense and thick. This is really a big beer at it's core, yet drinks like a lager should.

O: Great Lakes is one of the best in the lagering business, and I can't tell you how lucky we Northern Virginia residents are to finally have this available on our shelves. This beer is a "how-to" for those looking to make complex, delicious and easy to drink beer. Not every beer I consume needs to be crazy and sour or barrel aged. And when I'm looking for a beer drinkers beer, I reach for this a whole hell of a lot.

Highly, highly recommended.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On Tap

Appearance - Clear copper colour with a large size beige frothy head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for over 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Hops, breads/grains, grass, raisins, malts

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, nuts, and some raisins. There are some faint hops and a bit of caramel mixed with an earthiness. It ends with a malty/earth aftertaste.

Overall - One of the better examples of the style. It's very drinkable and has the perfect balance of sweet/bitter. Happy I had the chance to try it fresh on tap.

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

A: Bright, clear, caramel-amber color. Poured a 1 finger slightly off-white head that dissipated quickly. Ample lacing. Decanted continuously.

S: Light aroma of toasted malts with some caramel sweetness. Bitter hops.

T: Prominent flavor of lightly roasted malts, caramel sweetness. Bitter hops in the middle and finish.

M: Medium body. Ample carbonation. Crisp and clean.

D: Very drinkable; malt and hops in good balance with refreshing carbonation.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a deep reddish-golden brown body with a good carbonation of big bubbles. The head is a light creamy off-white that last for a good bit.

S- The smell of dry Munich malt with some notes of biscuit come through with a finish of light green hops.

T- The faint bite of green hops and carbonation great the taste buds. Some good complexity of lightly toasted and pale malt with a slight dryness is next to follow. The finish is a light hop bitterness with a dry sulfur note. After each sip there is a slight sweet light malt taste with a faint hint of corn when it warms, that hands on the tongue for a bit.

M- There is a medium mouthfeel but the fizz is really noticed in the texture. The fizz finishes in a slight water texture.

D- This is a smooth soft lager but it has nice depth and good qualities that give in more dimension.

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Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12 oz bottle from a recently purchased six pack.

A: The lager is a dark copper color, clear as day with a steady stream of carbonation that is around 1 finger on pour before dissapating.

S: The nose is a grainy, toasted cereal aroma that has a clear sweetness underlying it.

T: The lager is all malts, caramel sweet with a strong body that finishes long. The malts have an added sweetness that goes deeper than the caramel, affecting the entire mouthfeel with a dry honey flavor.

M: The mouthfeel is strong and malty with a clear sweet presence that makes for a satisfying drink.

D: The beer's malty sweetness fits nicely in the style. Frankly, regardless of the style, this beer is a good drink.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.53/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber in color, this is a red/amber lager in the Vienna category. Great Lakes usually makes nice looking beer, this is no exception. Aroma has that feel of a cool breeze in fall.

Some caramel and carbonation with noble hop spice. Plenty of grain feels. Not too sweet. Heartier than average for style.

Above average at everything. Manages to do a lot in a light body and a style with nuance.

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Photo of barczar
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color with garnet highlights and a frothy one inch khaki head that slowly dissipates, leaving sheets of foamy lacing.

Sweet, nutty, bready, toasted caramel malt dominates the aroma. Melanoidin caramelization notes usher in buttery toffee scents. There's a hint of floral hops, but it's very subtle.

Flavor follows suit, but adds in some fruity character and a bit of bitter, lightly roasted malt dryness at the finish. Fairly sweet initially, the dark fruit dampens the sweetness, transitioning well into the finish. Toffee, toasted breadcrust, roasted pecans, and a touch of caramel sweetness form the backbone.

Body is moderate, with slightly higher carbonation than expected, and a fair amount if alcohol warmth.

Very malt dominant brew that has a good amount of sweetness, but maintains a good balance due to the roasty, dry finish. Well developed malt character. Fruitiness is slightly more than I prefer.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle with a best by date of 8/14/07. The beer pours an amber/red color with about an inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both good. It smells like toasted malt, some grassy hops and some caramel. The taste starts off with malty sweetness, and then has a good hoppy bitter finish. Good, full flavor with this beer. Mouthfeel is medium, it's a little bit creamy and slick with just the right amount of carbonation. It has a coating finish which sticks around in my mouth for a while. Drinkability is pretty good, it goes down smooth and easy. Great choice for a session beer. I'd recommend it to anyone to try.

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Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
4.09 out of 5 based on 3,153 ratings.
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