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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Reviews: 1,021 | Ratings: 3,170
Photo of mjc410
4.27/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The pour into my Spaten becker glass raises a fast-falling light tan head with large bubbles, over a deep, dark ruby copper body. The lacing is substantial. The nose is very mild, just hints of sweet caramel and graininess come to me, along with a distinct suphury smell that adds a lot. Perhaps there are some English malts in here. The taste is really subdued, but quite nice. There's a perfect, light balance between the malty goodness and bitterness. Caramel is definitely present. The mouth is medium, with fine carbonation, which I've noticed already in other GL beers. Very smooth, yet still refreshing. This is a very well crafted, balanced beer that is a joy to drink. It would possibly convert macro drinkers well, too.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this beer on tap last night at the Great Lakes Brewery. This beer is a deep amber red color. Mine had a nice head about an inch thick that settled to maybe 1/3 of an inch about 5 minutes of so after being poured. Aromas of cirtrus, malt, caramel, and a bit of spice are present. Tastewise there are flavors of citrus, malt, and caramel along with hints of spice and bread rounded out by a slight touch of hops. Nicely balanced taste indeed. Medium bodied with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel with minimal carbonation. One of the most drinkable lagers I have ever had of this style. Another excellent offering from Great Lakes.


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Photo of brewcrew76
4.6/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Pours clear dark ruby amber with a 2 finger creamy tan head.

S - Toasted malt with toffee, biscuit, nuts and a bit of sweetness.

T - Toasted malt with nuts, biscuit and caramel. There is a bit of a spicy bitterness to balance it out. Hints of complex multi grain breadiness are mixed in.

M - Mouthfeel is rich and creamy. Just the right amount of carbonation.

D - About as good as it gets. This is a very drinkable, very flavorful beer. This one could easily become my everyday drinker.

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Photo of joe1510
4.06/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a 12oz. bottle

Eliot Ness poured a very nice, very clear amber. Some red highlights when held to the light. The head was white and creamy with a few larger bubbles mixed in. Only about quarter inch head which disappeared rather quickly to just a light sprinkling on top throughout the drink. Minimal lacing. This beer looked real good except for the head dissapating so quickly.

The smell is just average. Smells of grain and maybe a little husk? It's strange but for some reason theres something in there that brings to mind a wet dog. I also pick up a tiny touch of sweet malt and when it warms a little alcohol.

The taste is very good. A slight sourness on the tongue at first followed maltiness quickly and a touch of bitterness to finish things off. As it warms it brings out a tiny bit of alcohol.

Medium bodied. Not a whole lot of carbonation. Tastes right.

The drinkability is very good. I can easily sit around with friends and drink a few of these. I have yet to be disappointed by any Great Lakes product.


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Photo of peabody
3.56/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours out brown to reddish and very clear. Not much suds and very little lacing.
The smell is yeasty malt caramel and orange.
Taste is crisp and clean and a sweet caramel with a hint of hops at the end. No alcohol can be detected but the aftertaste yeilds a little warmth.
Mouthfeel is crisp and clean but very little carbonation.
Drinkability is very good here. I like this beer but not as much as the Edmond Fitzgerald.

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