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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:
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Reviews: 1,016 | Ratings: 3,135
Photo of xzqrut
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours out a nice amber/reddish color, with a nice two finger head. There is good retention and lacing as well. Smell is fairly mild, with some nice malt, caramel/toffee, and some hoppy aromas. Taste is excellent, with a nice sweet body, again dominated by malt and caramel/toffee, but balanced with just enough bitterness. Very nice full mouthfeel and goes down smooth. Great brew!

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Photo of mjd83goblue
3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle

A: Pours a beautiful perfectly clear red with 1 1/2" head that remains enough to cover the top.

S: Hmm...a little weaker than I would like. Mostly malts, but a little caramel/toffee/sugar.

T: Sweet malty flavor throughout. Somewhat buttery/toffee-ish as well. A touch of hops at the end. Very enjoyable, but maybe could have used a bit more hops.

M: I'm never sure how to rate mouthfeel, but I think this is what a 5 is supposed to be. Fuller body than SABL, but still smooth as silk.

D: Very easy to drink. The 6.2% might sneak up on you after awhile though.

The Eliot Ness holds a special place in my heart. I had been drinking what I thought was 'better' beer for awhile. (Guinness, SABL, etc.) But, the first time we went to the store and picked out something totally random we ended up with Eliot Ness.

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Photo of dansm
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a rich amber with a foamy off-white head.

S-Malty aroma gives way to a hint of spicy hops.

T-The slight sweetness of the malt is nicely balanced with a refreshing hint of spicy bitterness.

M-Body is is on the medium-heavy side. Just a touch of carbonation with a nice dry finish.

D-This is a nicely balanced, easy drinking beer.

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Photo of maundythirsty
3.95/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Right on top of the best-by date for this one, and from the look of the beer I'm afraid it's too late.

Clear beer with a very nice dark brown-amber color. Tiny little head disappeared in a hurry. Little ring around the glass. Smells pretty good, though I had to bury my nose in my glass. Toasty malt smell, but mostly good, solid noble hops.

Zing! Never judge a book by its cover. Or, I guess, only judge 20 percent of it that way. A crisp mouthful of malt. Bready flavor and some apple peel tartness. Just a hint of those hops. Silky medium mouthfeel.

A great Vienna. A favorite lager.

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Photo of EvilKeith
4.42/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes of 09/01/2006 visit to The Map Room, Chicago IL.

In the glass this one was a dark red amber color with very good clarity and a fluffy tan head. The lacing was off-white on color, sticky, and around for the duration.

The smell was sweet roasted malts, caramel, and a mild nuttiness.

The taste followed the smell fairly well. The taste was a sweet roasted toasty malt base, caramel, and buttery toffee with the nuttiness having a more pronounced roasted character. Light hop bitter signature in the middle with a sweet malty finish.

The moderate carbonation and medium-heavy body meld nicely to give this a crisp, creamy mouthfeel. I found this to be very enjoyable all around. This is something I could easily drink on a regular basis. Well done and nicely balanced.

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Photo of kbnooshay
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oh yes. This poured a nice ruby brown color with a 1 inch high frothy tan head. There was a low amount of carbonation. The aroma is really malty and dark fruit-like. There is a hint of caramel alcohol. The taste is malty but also nicely hopped. The caramel is there too but overall this tastes kinda like a belgian, im not sure why though. This was slightly warming to the belly after the 1st sip. THe mouth was dry, crisp and sticky. I could drink quite a few of these even though the alcohol is detectable. There is loads of flavor here. Nicely balanced.

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Photo of Budlum
4.3/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with once inch of foamy tan head. Vibrant amber and red body. Nice head retention and lacing on the glass.

Fresh and hoppy on the nose. Strong aromas of pine, geen onions and freshly cut grass. Sweet maple syrup and caramelized sugars. This smells so fresh it is similar to a freshly drawn IPA at a brewpub.

Hoppy and sweet on the tongue with an almost sugary sweetness. Great bready flavors form what is a very balanced malt blend. Earthy and smoky flavors in the finish as it warms. Balanced and very enjoyable.

Nice creamy mouthfeel with a smooth balance of effervesence and hoppy tingle.

Smooth, tasty and easy to drink. I would love to have this as a regular in my refrigerator.

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Photo of witster18
4.73/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A fantastic beer that bursts with hops. This is awesome not just on taste but on originality. Strong flavors but incredible smooth and crisp at finish.. a fine brew to enjoy if you find yourself in Ohio. . A certain nuttiness to this. My favorite of the always avail great lakes brews. This stuff is truly awesome. At the top of my list of flavorful beers with excellent drinkability. Good enough that I employ my brother to drive me at least two cases worth every xmas,...all the way to the Tenn./Ga. border.. Might be worth moving to Cleveland over(seriously-that's how good this is). I'm sure I'll be a little above the average score here because of IT BEING MY favorite beer in the world...I realize it's not for everyone but one thing is FOR SURE...I can EASILY tell this great beer apart from any other vienna lager in the world...it is complex and tasty with ample malt and hops and a great warming peppery bite that molds into the most awesome sticky aftertaste... and fantastic quality, mouthfeel, and above average drinkability. A well-balanced and flavorful 6.2 brew....this beer could get me in trouble....and often does.


Original and Balanced is a rare combination. Nothing in the world tastes like Nessy... NOTHING>!

I've tried about 350+ beers in my day.... I hope to review that many or more on here... BUT TO THIS POINT... THIS IS MY FAVORITE BEER IN ALL THE LAND.

Be very careful with nessy though.... this is undoubtedly the smoothest 6+ abv on the planet, and could get the average sessioner in quite a bit of trouble if he/she loses count/track of time.

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

12oz dated best before 9-22-06. Purchased at Merchant's in Dearborn and poured into a pilsener.

Clear copper under an inch of off white. Decent retention with layered spots of lace.

Malty nose with crackers and spice. A bit grassy with a hint of grains and butterscotch.

Caramel, bread, grains, grassy hops, and butterscotch flavors. Well rounded and smooth.

Moderate mouth with crisp carbonation. This could make a great dinner beer. Solid fours all around.

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Photo of andrewmartin
3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Best buy date on this bottle of 8/4/06, so I drank it just in time!

A: Pours a deep amber, almost red color with a one-finger head

S: Pretty restrained smell, some malt and pleasent spiceness

T: Very nice balance of malt and hops, a nice spicy backgroud, not much of an aftertaste

M: For the level of maltiness, the mouthfeel is quite dry

D: Didn't realize this was 6.2% ABV, it is dangerously smooth.

The mild spiceness and balance of hops and malt make this a great beer to go with just about any savory dish one could image-I enjoyed it with pizza, but looking forward to new combinations.

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Photo of wcudwight
3.82/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to my secret santa justcas for the sample
Pours a brass penny color with a 1/2" beige head that recedes rather quickly. Lot's of active carbonation bubbles. Not much lacing.
Smell is nutty. Dates. Cherries. Sweet caramel candy and some floral hoppiness.
Taste is grainy, toast, and sweet. It has a very bitter finish. Very dry aftertaste that lingers for awhile.
Mouthfeel is that of a nice summertime quaffer except the carbonation is a little too active. Think toddlers(that active).
Drinkability is good. The beer is a little too complex and carbonated to serve as a summertime hot weather beer though. This is more of a go to the bar and shoot the shit type of beer.

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

Bright amber color with medium tan head that lingers thru half glass and good lacing. Aroma was apples and bananas, with a hint of grapes. Initial flavor was the fruits, some hops and malt. At mid-glass, taste became more malty, and alcohol, though only 6.2 ABV, was more noticeable. A good smooth warming finish. I had heard there were freshness and dating questions with these Great Lakes Brews, but I’ve had no complaints so far with this or Dortmunder.

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Photo of Dewey0603
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Great American Ballpark during a Reds game and was impressed. This poured a deep amber with a medium tan foamy head that looked almost perfect. The smell is very malty with a sweet carmel aroma to it. The taste is a nutty,chewy malt filled, explosion. The malt really is the star of the show here,but there is a creamness to this that's very good. The m/f is medium with the flavors balancing very well. This is an excellant beer and kudos to the Reds for having this on tap.

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Photo of mherring
4.23/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really liked everything about this beer. The color was a very nice, clear amber/reddish with a bit of tan colored foam at the top. The smell was pleasant and not overwhelming, but gave off the scent of hops and some toasted malts, much like the taste. I was very impressed by the taste and how smooth this beer was. I definitely caught a bit of toffee/caramel somewhere in there, which was a nice surprise. Overall drinkability is very very high on this one...

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Photo of dirtylou
4.05/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz single, Riley's, $1.59

appearance: pours a rich and dark amber-mahogany into a mash house pint glass...light tan head with no retention/lacing

smell: big toasted malt aromas, roasted nut, sweet apple, caramel, light spicy nature, slightly woody...in general, aromas are quite faint on this lager

taste: great flavour...roasted nut, big and toasty malt presence, juicy sweet dark fruit, caramel, oak woodyness, cherry, rich and creamy...a delicious lager, one of the finer examples of the style on the palate

mouthfeel: medium body, big and bold, rich and creamy

drinkability: good

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Photo of Brian700
4.29/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a deep amber with an off-white head that has minimal lacing.

The aroma is of sweet malt and molasses. It has a Maris Otter Barley Wine -like aroma to it.

The flavor is of malt, malt, malt, caramel, molasses, and there is a nuttiness there as well. There is just enough hops to give it a nice balance.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation.

This is a very drinkable beer and is one I will definately be frequenting after this one.

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

Who knew that a Vienna Lager could taste so good. From the bottle, the beer smells like fruit cake without all of the plastic-y and potpouri flavors. Simple and pure. Rich in dark (dehydrated) fruits of dates, figs, nuts,... Sweet fruits are structured with a big bready flavor and aroma. Full and round in the mouth. Not too sweet or heavy. Finishes very clean for such sweetness. A little added alcohol keeps the beer interesting. Seems to give a little in the body and roundness compared to the tap version. Still, a best-of-Style contender.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
3.38/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A fair offering. Pours out to a reddish amber color with a short lived head of off white orange foam, and rings of uniform lace. Lower carbonation. Aromas of roasted rich malts, bread, yeast notes, some earth. Not bad. Taste is medium bodied yet still rather rich. Flavors of rich malt and a touch of alcohol are first noted, and then the beer kind of goes away. Hints of bitter hops and biscuts are noted, but not much else. Mouthfeel is bland and unexciting. Drinkability is average. Worth trying, but GLBC has better offerings.

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

a - deep copper color, small tan head that leaves only a ring around the outside, not much lacing

s - roasted malt and slight hops, caramel and toffee, not much alcohol detectable

t - very much like the aroma, roasted malt dominates, but a subtle caramel sweetness is also evident, nice bitterness on the finish, once again, could not really detect the alcohol much

m - medium body and carbonation, coats the mouth well and feels a little oily after swallowing

d - very drinkable, there is a slight warmness from the alcohol, but it's not evident in the taste, very subtle flavors make this a good beer to enjoy a few of

Great American lager...one of my favorites.

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Photo of soulgrowl
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very deep brick red-brown with orange highlights. Big ivory head with medium bubbles retains fairly well.

Smell: Great malt character, very nutty, bready, and earthy. Reminiscent of wheat bread, burnt sugar, roasted almonds, and peanuts. Odd canned corny sweetness throws things off a bit. Subdued leafy and resiny hop notes.

Taste: Scrumptious caramel malts with a roasty, nutty flavor balanced out by grassy and lemon-herbal hops and a light burnt edge. A slight tannin-like bitterness gives the impression of oversteeped tea.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat thick for the style, but still airy. Very well carbonated.

Drinkability: A great Vienna lager that goes down easy and would match perfectly with chicken.

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Photo of frazbri
4.62/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great Lakes Eliot Ness poured copper, bright and clear in my glass topped by a thick, off-white head. A noble fruity aroma with hints of orange zest & cinnamon. Flavor consisted of caramel with a hint of apricot and leather. Medium-light body with cabonation in the medium range.

This is a clean, balanced beer. It starts sweet, but bitterness comes in at the end. Don't expect to be overpowered by hops though. Eliot Ness doesn't stray from it's german roots. It's an impeccable vienna style lager.

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

It has ben over 2 years nice I have had this got in in a trade with LeopoldStoch. poured a nice dark amber, with a light tan head that left some lacing.aroma brown sugar, malts a little sourness. flavor a nice sweet malt with a caramel kick to it followed by a touch of hops. just going to tweek the rating just a bit.4/30/04amber with nice lasting head nice copper color nice smooth malty with a little fruit with a touch of bitterness . GOOD BEER

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Photo of ultralarry2006
3.68/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Left a tan one finger head that had some nice retention, and left some spotty lacing. Body was a clear copper-red.

Smell - Lemony hops. Caramel, toffee, bread, and some roasted malt. Diacetyl.

Taste - much like the smell. A toasty malt, with bread, toffee, and caramel tones, balanced with lemony, citrusy hops. Finishes with lemony diacetyl taste.

Mouthfeel - full, smooth, low carbonation, some hop oil slickness, and a little somewhat chewy.

Drinkability - goes down fairly easy, the diacetyl is the hang up here for me. Still, it's a good beer in spite of it. In fact, I really liked the first part of the taste before the diacetyl finishing part...oh well, I'd have a couple of these in a session on occassion.

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Photo of jdmorgan
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful dark amber with a medium head. The smell had a malty aroma with a hint of caramel to it. The taste was full of malty body with a medium hop bitterness to it. I didn't believe that the slightly higher alcohol content had any adverse effect on the taste.The mouthfeel was smooth with a medium carbonation and went down easilly. This is an excellent dark lager that is easy to drink and enjoy, and is now one of my favorites. I would highly reccommend it.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.58/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Eliot Ness pours with a minimal head atop a beautiful, crystal clear body with a red-tinged amber color. The aroma is pretty thin, with just a touch of sweet, toffeeish malts present. That trend doesn't hold up for the taste, though, which is full and deep while maintaining a quintessential lager smoothness. There's a sweet, tea-like character first off, which morphs into toasted malts and caramel. Really well done. The beer is smooth throughout, and the carbonation is perfect for the style. This is an interesting, pleasing beer, one that makes you want to drink more. One of the best American lagers I've had.

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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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