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Great Lakes Eliot Ness | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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1,016 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
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Reviews: 1,016 | Ratings: 3,135
Photo of Mojo
4.26/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle -> snifter

A - deep amber with a fluffy two finger head with no retention and small bits of lacing.

S - beautiful nose on this. Very earthy smell, grasses, and grain.

T - champion Vienna Lager. Well balanced between malt and hops.

M - medium thick, no aftertaste whatsoever, very clean.

O - excellent example of Vienna Lager.

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Photo of Troy_P
3.98/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nice lager. Light amber in color. Not much lacing. Good aroma. Smooth taste. Not slit of after taste. A quick drink. Would definitely have this one again. Not a specialty beer it a really nice daily drinker. 6.2 on the the alcohol level, so not a light weight.

This is a really nice beer for general drinking. That's not a bad thing. Good beer. I think I'll go have another.

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Photo of redearth329
4.01/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured on the cold side, ~40 degrees (F) into a weissen glass

A - medium dark clear reddish bronze, evident carbonation, 1 finger of coarse light brown head that quickly settled into lace with minimal stickiness.

S - not a lot offered on the nose, but in line with the style. Bready malts form the backbone.

T - Tastes very good. Sweetness dominates in my opinion, with notes of toasted bread, caramel malts and a hint of a maple syrup sort of character. Not much in the way of hop notes.

M - creamy, medium to full bodied (think whole milk), light/fine carbonation, syrupy finish that coats the tongue, but my mind might be tricked by the maple notes I mentioned earlier.

O - Very tasty beer. I would pair it with some fried chicken and waffles.

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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.

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

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a ruby-tinged dark brown color with good clarity. The head is a finger high, and off-white in shade. Retention is a bit weak, but the head leaves behind nice rings of lacing on the glass. I think this one has a great look.

S: At first, it's very caramely and toasty - typical of a Vienna, but somehow more defined. At times, I'm even getting chocolaty hints. Let it open up just slightly, and it will develop that awesome fruit punch character all Great Lakes lagers seem to have (house character?) Everything about this seems more defined than other examples of the style, and that's what makes it so good.

T: I'm getting a goodly amount of toasted caramel to start, along with an undercurrent of brown sugar. The hops here are nicely complex - grassy, zesty, perfumey, and even fruity. Of course, the hop profile is very subtle, never overpowering the malt backbone. This is ridiculously enjoyable in almost all facets.

M: This is so crisp and refreshing it's unbelievable. It's not a bone dry beer in the least, but regardless, it's very drinkable. With just a hair more carbonation, the feel would be damn near perfect.

O: This beer has 'it' - it just seems to have more pizzazz than other examples of the style. Basically, it's the best Vienna I've ever had. The complexity of this really caught me off guard, too. I contemplated buying a 6-pack of this beer - and honestly, I really should have. This one bottle I have isn't enough.

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Photo of delta490
4.21/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a deep clear amber with a thick creamy white head. The head has great retention and leaves great lacing. The aroma is rich and malty, with bread and burnt sugar. The taste is equally rich, with nice caramel malt flavors and just a hint of hops on the finish. It has a great mouthfeel and is all around a top notch amber lager.

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Photo of Zetcha7x
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz single purchased from Wegman's in Collegeville, PA. Poured into a pilsner glass.

A-clear amber color. finger thick of white head. nice lacing left behind.

S-malty caramel. fresh bread/yeast. hint of hops.

T-lots of sweet malts. bread. caramel. herbal grassy taste.

M-light-medium bodied. very crisp. nice carbonation. high ABV gives a slight warming quality.

O-another solid lager from Great Lakes. this is very drinkable, looks great, smells great, and tastes great. I've been a big fan of GL's Dortmunder Gold, but this may surpass it. might have to have a few more before I make that official. either way a highly recommended amber lager.

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Photo of Ohiolager
4.1/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Eliot Ness 6pk bottles $8.99(OH)

12 oz brown bottle poured into a pint glass. freshest taste date clearly marked.

pours a deep red amber color. with a two finger thick head that stays around for awhile. give way to some nice lacing.

i smell malted noble hops, followed by a caramel yeasty smell. smells more like a malted German pilsner than an american malted balanced lager.

the taste mirrors the smell. German noble hops, nicely malted with an amazing finish. it may be warm on the finish for some, but not for me.

the mouth feel is great. for an amber lager with noble hops it is in perfect balance.

overall this is a solid brew. noble hops and all. they are in there. malted to perfection. this brew is great but over shadowed by IPA's and and stouts.

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

Pours a beautiful dark Amber with minimal lacing. Smell and taste is sweet malty goodness. This is an excellent beer to sip on those chilly fall days when the leaves are changing colors.

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Photo of alphagnome
3.59/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Hazy, rust colored body plays host to a decent stream of carbonation. A thin, tan ring around the top of the brew is only a little less than what was present upon pouring. No lacing to speak of.

Very malty with caramel being dominant and sharp. Yeast and fresh bread and trace notes of herbal hops. Light funk. Very clean and simple.

Much like the aroma, with a malty caramel backbone supporting light toffee notes and lemon zest. Finishes with quick, earthy hop bite.

Crisp and refreshing. Light to medium body with subtle carbonation. Sweet finish and aftertaste.

East to drink lager that won't offend anyone. An acceptable amount of character here, but I'd personally prefer a bit more vibrancy. Worth checking out if you're in the market for a session beer that won't weigh you down.

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Photo of Uniobrew31
4.93/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark amber with a thick tan head. Good retention throughout and nice lacing. Hoppier than most lagers but not overbearing. Taste is awesome. bold malt profile balanced with an almost sour hop profile on the back end. Mouthfeel is perfectly smooth with a great aftertaste. Overall this is the best lager out there today. This beer is what Sam Adams is trying to be, Great beer!

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Photo of thegodfather1076
4.49/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Awesome label in the Great Lakes tradition with eye-catching artwork/graphics. Label gives ABV info, a short back story on the beer, serving temp recommendation, web info, a bit of brewery info, states “Gold Medal Winner World Beer Championship”, Best by Date 10/3/13. Neck label has GLBC logo and gives a small description of the beer. 25th Anniversary Cap.

Appearance: An aggressive pour from its 12oz brown bottle into a 20oz dimpled beer mug led to a 3 finger white-ish tan head of a medium density resting atop a deep rust copper color beer that is crystal clear. Head retention was a solid 3min 16sec before fading to a thick coating and ring with excellent lacing.

Smell/Aroma: Smells of toasted grain and malts with a bit of breadyness and a sweet toffee scent. Also has a slight bit of earthiness to it.

Flavor/Taste: Taste is very malty heavy with hints of toastyness and sweet toffee on the front end along with an earthy herbal hop bitterness that is the perfect counterpoint. Toastyness is prevalent throughout the mid point along with a bit of spicy nuttiness on the finish.

MouthFeel/Drinkability: Thick and on the full bodied side of medium bodied with a smooth and chewy mouthfeel. Perfect amount of carbonation. Very drinkable.

Overall/Comments: Another awesome brew from GLBC that is an excellent example of the style and a world class must try offering. Has an excellent flavor profile that is just complex enough to keep you coming back for more! Classified as a Vienna Lager @ 6.2% ABV. Consumed 8/13/2013.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.78/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Perfectly clear ruby, light tan head, sparse sticky lacing. No visible carbonation.

S: Mixed malts, mild toffee sweetness, background breadiness. Fits the style perfectly, but somewhat plain.

T: Lots of malt providing ample sweetness, some bready undertones with caramel notes. Rich but, again, plain.

M: Smooth and somewhat velvety.

O: Great for the style, but not up my alley. Malt is needed, but doesn't do it for me as a lead role.

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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 mvanaskie13
4.29/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tall pint glass: color is amber, darker side, head is huge and tan in color, very fine bubbles. As its enjoyed there is very good lacing and great head retention.

Smell is very clean, mild notes, mostly vienna malt and clean, crisp, grassy hops. Very subtle.

Taste is also very clean and crisp. Malt presents nicely vienna malt creates biscuit, toast, bready flavors upfront, lighter sweetness and subtle fruitiness on the finish. Hop bitterness is noted, cleaner flavors, mostly grassy.

Mouthfeel is also very good: crisp presentation on the tongue, nice lingering flavors and good presence. Carbonation is just right to clean up any potential sweeter flavors.

Overall, a near perfect amber lager, clean crisp flavors, great mouthfeel and subtle aroma.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

True deep amber with a sudsy top that lays low after a minute. Laces well.

Bright citrus hop notes seem bright overtop a solid toasty grain. Clean and well-lagered with no aromas of husk or must. Good ol' two-row.

Floral hops and pithy citrus also. Lemon, toast, Germanic malts, faint grapefruit, and perfumy notes. Killer flavor. Awesome Vienna Lager that I'll always take over Penn Pilsner.

Easy-swigging with a spicy carbonated finish. Mellowed body measures medium.

A class-of-its-own kind of beer. Very good.

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Photo of NeedBeerHere
4.63/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours out translucent brown in color with a small white head that dissipates quickly. Smell is of sweet malt, definitely some caramel in there, really smell sweet. Taste is really nice. Taste is definitely sweet with everything in the nose but a SLIGHT bit of bitterness from the hops that I didn't notice in the nose. Mouthfeel is fairly thin as one would expect from a lager. Overall I really like this beer. Definitely one of the better lagers I have tasted in a long time.

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Photo of JJKBeerLvr
3.78/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Deep amber, with nice thick and light colored head. The head lasted a very long time, and left a nice coating on the inside of the glass.

Smell: Pleasant, with a nice balance of hops bitterness in the aroma. There is some sweet malty aroma, which balances the hops for a nice aroma.

Taste: A nice mix of hops, malts, and herbs in the flavor, that make for an interesting and complex lager, but with a little bit of sweetness. There is a nice after-taste, that lasts for a while but not too long.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and crisp, with a medium body.

Overall: This is an interesting and complex lager. I definitely prefer this over the brewery's Dortmunder Gold.

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Photo of xabyss
4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: A gorgeous copper amber with two fingers's worth of creamy white head that's a bit quick to dissipate but pretty nonetheless.

S: Toasty malts, bread, with some musty notes that are just a bit off putting.

T: Toasty malts and some sweetness up front. I feel like I"m drinking toast. Caramel, bright but subtle hops, a touch of honey in he depths. Quite a complex brew for the style. Tasty stuff!

M: Very smooth, medium bodied with subdued yet biting carbonation.

O: Not my favorite GLBC brew, but a great, solid lager.

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

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a bright, vibrant, rich, amber coloring with a slow flow of carbonation bubbling and a filmy, wispy, low profile, off-white head. Looks fantastic. Aromas of rich caramel and nut, blended and balanced very well. Roasted notes throughout. Flavors are roast forward, with nut and toffee all over the forward tongue. Subtle hops bitterness in the tail end of the palate, with an overall tangy sweet feel. The aftertaste is roasted and tangy sweet, with highlights of sugary caramel. Smooth, light, and slightly crisp body, with a slight cloying linger in an otherwise clean finish. Great beer.

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Photo of Hallabrew
4.73/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I poured a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass

A: This beer has a deep clear brown amberish color with a light tan head which reduced to a thin layer of bubbles.
S: This beer has a great aroma with a nice malty smell that is rich, toasty, nutty, and caramel-like. There is some hop aroma but not too much. The characteristics are much like a light brown ale.
T: The flavor here is top of the line. It is crisp like a larger and so refreshing with a very smooth delicious malty start that carries through. This beer delivers flavors of roasted nutty biscuit and subtle hops. The finish for this beer is about a medium as the flavors turn very smoothly to a pleasant hop flavor that lingers only for a short time leaving you feeling refreshed.
M: Crisp, refreshing, and with light carbonation. Overall a dry beer with malty sweetness in all the right places.

Overall, they knocked this one out of the park. I would buy this any day of the week. This beer has the characteristics of a good English Brown Ale and combines them seamlessly with the light, refreshing crispness of a lager. Delicious.


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Photo of cjgiant
3.71/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sure there are enough straight reviews on this to view, so I went a little different direction:

Much like the Dortmunder Gold, this offering is very smooth, crisp, and refreshing, while having some flavor characteristics that sometimes are missing in lagers. As I said in my review of the Dortmunder Gold, I had high expectations for this beer, but I liked Dortmunder better, and thought it was more complex than this beer.

That is not to say this is a bad beer. I find it less bitter than some amber beers I've had (although they may be more ales). In comparing this to Devil's Backbone version of a Vienna Lager, I enjoyed DB slightly better (granted, I had the DB from tap, not bottle, and sadly, didn't rate here to compare). In both cases, I think the complexity is minimal, which might make these beers more appealing to a larger crowd.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass. Liquid comes out a nice dark golden amber color. Glows like a nice red sunset when held up to the light, perfect clarity. Nice light orange creamy colored head, looks frothy with mostly small bubbles, but a few medium sized ones creep in there as well. Head is pretty big after an aggressive pour. Really good lacing and glass retention.

Smell is really good, nice big malt bill on this one and not quite as hoppy as I expected, but still really good. Very bready with lots of toasted caramel and maybe some pale malts. Nice grassy and slightly spicy hops at the end, mesh well together.

Taste is equally as good, especially for the style. It's not overly sweet, but sweeter than you'd probably expect. Caramel, toffee, toasted grains/brown bread with a hint of honey. Nice grassy and spicy hops with a slight hint of pine at the end. Incredibly well balanced.

Full bodied, flavor really lingers nicely for a while. Great carbonation level and not really much of a bite anywhere. Starts smooth with a subtle bite at the finish. Great drinkability on this one. This is something any beer lover could regularly have in their fridge. I understand why this is a year round brew from Great Lakes, great beer on in what my opinion is a fairly under appreciated style.

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Photo of Chiefy770
4.71/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Served on-tap in a pint glass.

Appearance: Red amber body sits beneath a white foam head which leaves thick lacing throughout.

Smell: Toasty. Bread and grains.

Taste: Sweet caramel notes. Full malt and grain flavors. Decent kick from the hops as this one goes down.

Overall: Another great brew from Great Lakes. Full of flavor and does not disappoint!

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Photo of USAF77
4.4/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A moderate fast pour with a disappointing head. OK Lacing, "I wonder why mine was so much less then others:?

But who cares? Just a gorgeous golden amber thats very pleasurable to watch in the light.

Even better, the taste is outstanding. The smell also reflects the grainy, bready quality that a fine Lager should have, while also keeping the refreshing taste of a Pilsner. A nice dry after taste as well with just a little bite to it, and you can feel the alcohol with the after taste. For me ABV = taste. I like my brews to be a minimum 5% ABV.

A first class Lager. Maybe the best. I have about 8 types of Lagers in my fridge and I think the others will have to wait. Great Lakes hit it perfect.

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Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
4.09 out of 5 based on 3,135 ratings.
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