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
Reviews: 1,021 | Ratings: 3,162
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.

 502 characters

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

 448 characters

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.

 756 characters

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.

 470 characters

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.

 616 characters

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.

 387 characters

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.

 480 characters

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.

 847 characters

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.

 944 characters

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.

 417 characters

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.

 628 characters

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.

 1,086 characters

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.

 878 characters

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.

 546 characters

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.

 1,808 characters

Photo of fightingwords
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a fresh bottle in to a .5L siedel.

A--DEEP copper color, like a dark bourbon. Kind of a redish glow when held up to the light and it has a clean transparancy. 1 finger head that stuck around for a few drinks and had an okay lacing.

S--Super malty. Toffee maybe. Toasty and biscuity that finished with a light hopy alcohol scent. Great smelling beer.

T--Really smooth malty tastes. Well balanced with a clean hop finish. Buttery and carmely kinda like a bitter (oddly enough). Not complex just good beer. malts and hops. I could taste the alcohol, but it was all part of the experience. IMHO.

M--Thin to medium bodied depending on your palate. Has a carbonated feel that goes away as the beer warms.

D--I like the tast and I like the body, I could take out a 6 pack--respectfully. I know it's a lager but it just reminds me a of a bitter, but much more malty.

O--Its got malt, so you'd better like malts, but have no fear, just enough hops to finish. Well worth a try. I found it simply awesome. This is in regular rotation. Great Lakes has always impressed me with their traditional tastes and they are right on here.

 1,149 characters

Photo of neonbrown82
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is easily the best vienna lager I've had. Thanks to jpm30 for providing this bottle as part of a bonus in our trade.

The beer pours to a golden color that fades up into a dark amber color. The carbonation is perfect, making this beer shimmer in the light and creating for a decent head. Retention is not all that great however, but lacing is decent.

The smell is very herbal and floral from the hops with a bit of a sweet biscuity caramel from the malt. The taste is likewise. Very crisp and clean. Fairly aggressively hopped for the style. Just an ever so subtle tartness is the only thing that keeps this from being much more enjoyable.

The body is surprisingly huge! Very surprising for a light-ish lager. Still has the sharp and stinging, crisp carbonation. Finishes very clean with a nice crisp bitterness.

Drinkability is good, but not great.

 865 characters

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

Poured from the bottle into a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer is scarlet to a deep amber coloration. The head was off white about an inch thick. The head quickly resolved into a ring of foam. Streaks of foam line the glass.

Smell: The beer has a very malty sweetly roasted smell. Little bits of spicyness play in the smell.

Taste: The beer has a very nice roasted barley taste. Very nice malt base with a slightly spicy taste.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This is a medium beer with a very nicely creamy texture. Dam this beer is tasty. Bring me some more.

 564 characters

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

Bright amber with sufficiently frothy off-white head. Bit of hop spice aroma on an inviting caramel malt base. Sweet (but not too sweet) maltiness with just the right amount of hop bitterness at the finish and a wonderful biscuity aftertaste. Light-medium body with a juicy mouthfeel. Easy to put several of these back. Solid brew, yet again, from Great Lakes.

 360 characters

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.

 896 characters

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Just a wonderful beer and supremely drinkable beer.

Crystal ruby-amber with a nice but thin off white lace.

Smells of sweet toffee, toasted grain, hex nuts.

Tastes of tremendously malty toffees and caramels. Nutty.

Mouthfeel is sweet and chewy. Oh so rich and creamy. Mmmm…

Drinkability couldn’t be any better.

 328 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
3.63/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I am drinking this one courtesy of Stopper. I am drinking a chilled bottle in a pint glass. The beer pours a bright clear amber color with a creamy beige head that foams up 1.5 cm and fades gradually to thin collar. The aroma is caramel and toffee with no real hop presence, just rich malt profile. I like this feature.
The first sip reveals an average body with rolling fine carbonation, the beer glides across my palate. Flavor is sweet, as the nose advertises, with caramel and toffee again and a roll to some slight roasty graininess. The beer is smooth and enjoyable with no hint of alcohol. Not an overly robust beer but tasty nonetheless.

 646 characters

Photo of Applesauce1
3.58/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got the bottle of Eliot Ness at the Cat's Eye Saloon in Athens, OH.

The smell had some hops, maybe caramel?; a good smell though
The taste of this was pretty good, not great though. Detected some hops and some caramel. Similar to a Sam Adams Boston Lager, but not as sweet. Overall, a good beer though.

 306 characters

Photo of heyitsbyron
3.3/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a bottle from a six pack into a pint glass.

Nice amber color, clean and clear. Head between 1cm and 2cm that stuck around longer than expected. Sure looks good.

Smell was so so. It smells real solid with good hoppiness, which is a plus. On the other hand, it has a macro lager sort of metallic smell. A mixed bag.

Taste wasn't that great. Starts off sweet, but what overwhelmed me was the metallic macro lager sting and a chemical burning flavor. On the plus side, it was nice and hoppy. But there was no escaping the miller light taste that obscured anything but the hops, including the malts. Think of it as Miller Light with more hops and no stink. No hint of booziness, though it is 6.2%.

Mouthfeel was solid, but it was a bit over carbonated for the mouth and then there's that problem of the chemical burn. Smooth on the throat though.

Here's the deal. It's a beer that I would love to have in a keg at a party, but I would never pay for it myself again in a bottle, in a keg, or at a bar. It beats macro lagers and some poor micro brews, but that's it. I love that it goes down smooth and has 6.2% alcohol, but it's not worth it because it doesn't taste good.

 1,188 characters

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

i discovered this beer this summer and have been drinking it as a regular now.
pours a deep amber with an off white head that drops into lace rather quickly.
the aroma is very malty and a wiff of hops
the flavor is very malty little sweet, has a distinct hop sack flavor, dropping off with a minerality in to a pleasent spicines.
very drinkable no matter the weather, great with burgers, veggie burgers

 406 characters

Great Lakes Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
4.09 out of 5 based on 3,162 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.