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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,021 | Ratings: 3,170
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 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 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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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 Vancer
3.96/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

First Great Lakes – nice! A tasty lil’ amber, that would make for a good drinker for anyone – good crossover brew. Best before 7/06 & 6.2% clearly labeled - very nice.

A clear rudy red with a foamy tan head. Sweet malts and fresh bread in the aroma. Turns doughy in the quaff, really nails the Vienna style – this one rivals Fat Tire.

Clean finish, crisp and dry – just a tad thin. The 6.2% make it a little tough for a session brew, but a good performer nevertheless.

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Photo of shbobdb
3.97/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Well well well . . . I managed to grab the last few offerings in Indy of this spectacular brew.

It pours a deep amber with an off-white head. . . but let's not dwell on that, let's dwell on the smell. Ahhh malt. Truly fantastic! Truly, the malt aroma is almost too much on this brew, like a fine (not fruity) barleywine. Hops mingle into the hops nose to form a fine ivy that climb up your nasal cavity.

The taste is good . . . but pales in comparison to the smell. It is by-and-large a dry beer. That makes sense, it is a vienna lager, after all. However, it is somewhat watery. Again, this isn't a bad thing for a Vienna Lager, but it is so out of allignment with the smell.

A touch of sweetness and bitter tree bark lingers after the sip. The aftertaste is quite long, and quite good. However, it keeps this from being a session beer.

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

12 oz bottle brought to me by one of my friends from Cleveland.
I used to enjoy this offering from Great Lakes alot when I used to live 15 minutes from the brewery, this is my first since I have moved.

Apperance: reddish-amber color with a nice head, about a finger or two.

Smell: I got a nice malty sweet smell kind of like toasted bread and dates, a little bit citrusy spicy.

taste: Great malty flavor a little sweet carmel and figs or dates come to mind. A nice little bite twords the end from the hops with a touch of sourness kind of cirtus like.

Mouthfeel: Medium to light bodied, carbonation is just right doesnt take over

Drinkability: I forgot how drinkable this one was, it is a very tasty lager that makes you want another.Perfect Session beer in my oppinion. It is also fantastic with food, My favorite in this style.
GLBC always seems to make beers that are a good benchmark for whatever style they are offering.

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Photo of HoboAGoGo
4.41/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark, reddish copper, very dark, yet very clear body with a thick, fluffy head that laced the entire glass. The nose was very malty, biscuity, with a citrusy, piny nose with the slightest floral. The taste was sweet maltiness, a little caramelly, waxy hop that finished grassy. Very good drinking beer, it is a clean drinker. Had this with an egg and cheese sandwich on bagel with spanakopia, went very well.

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Photo of mcallister
3.88/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark coppered amber. I'm not sure if this beer being on draught is the problem or the shitty pour by the waitress but little aroma is showing as compared to when drinking from bottle. What is there is malt and dried fig components.

Ahh....once it hits the taste buds the perplexity of this great brew comes around. Very malty, and extremely clean tasting. The forte of GLBC in my opinion. Mellow hop component with fig, brown sugar, and a tad or raisin. A terrific finish keeps the palate enchanted for well over 40 seconds.

Very drinkable but will re-review from bottle for the smell of this beer. One I can pour.

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Photo of Illinick
4.35/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Classic Great Lakes bottle and label. Copper with reddish and amber hues. Thin, fluffy head that dissipates to a ring and large island formation. Rising carbonation and spider-web lacing throughout. A good brew to look at.
S: Caramel and sweet bread up front and throughout with flavors of hop oil and citric acid and pulp in the background. Also some roasted nut scents.
T: Great sweet bread and caramel flavors up front with some chewy malt flavors throughout. Some citric pulp - grapefruit and lemon - and oily hop flavors in the background. Smooth flavors with a sweetness throughout that is offset by just the right amount of herbal, and a bit spicy, hop flavors. Great balance with the ending being slightly sweet.
MF: Medium and chewy with a smooth finish.
Overall: Excellent brew! Definately a staple in my fridge and one of the best brews I've had in a while. I've never been dissapointed with a brew from Great Lakes and this does nothing to change my mind. It looks like Great Lakes brews are starting to monopolize my fridge. An awesome brew from an awesome brewery.

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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 klewis
3.83/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

5/10/06 freshness date

A: Pours a clear red color with a foamy two-finger head. Plenty of sticky lacing on the glass.

S: A solid malt presence fills the nose with a honeyish aroma

T: Lots of thick malt taste with some grainy flavors and a bit of hops kick in the finish.

M: Very smooth with a medium body and carbonation that stays out of the way. Chewy and sticky.

D: I haven't had too many brews in this style, but I imagine that it would hang with the best of them. Great taste and mouthfeel make this an excellent session beer.

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Photo of JiminKY
3.78/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I am a huge fan of Great Lakes beers, but this is not one of my favorites. I've had many bottles of this beer in the past, and my impressions have always been similar to this bottle I am reviewing. In the interest of full disclosure, I note that this beer has a "Best if Consumed By" date of November '05, and it is currently mid-March '06. However, it is my understanding that Great Lakes puts a best by date of only 2 months from bottling, while 6 months is generally thought to be a more acceptable period for consumption of craft brews--especially for a 6.2%abv beer such as this.

Perhaps it's just the style that isn't my favorite, as this beer compares well to the few other Vienna lagers I've had. It is certainly as good as Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and miles beyond Negro Modelo, Bohemia, and Dos Equis.

A- Pours a clear amber color with a tiny ring of head and thin lacing, whisps of which stay on top of the beer but do not coat the sides of the glass. As good as any Vienna lager I've seen.

S- A rich syrupy smell with hints of cinnamon foretell the sweetness of the beer's taste. The smell is one I would expect more in a pastry shop than in a glass of beer.

T- A sweet and cinnamon-tinged taste. Smooth but somewhat unbalanced with little hop presence and a slight sourness in the aftertaste. Not off-putting, but not what I would call "delicious." I give it a 4 within the style. I'd probably rate lower if comparing it to my favorite beers.

M- Crisp and relatively light mouthfeel. Passes the tongue quickly and becomes an aftertaste before you know it.

D- I could probably get through 2 or 3 of these before switching to something else. The sweetness and lack of hops gets to be a bit much for me to consider this a session brew. But I'm the same way with SA Boston Lager.

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Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
4.09 out of 5 based on 3,170 ratings.
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