Brew Review

Beer Review – Great Lakes Eliot Ness Amber Lager

When someone mentions Eliot Ness to me, the first things that come to mind are Chicago, Al Capone, Prohibition, and of course, Brian DePalma’s 1987 film, The Untouchables. What I didn’t know was that in December of 1935, Eliot Ness was appointed Safety Director of Cleveland, Ohio. So what does this have to do with beer? Apparently, Eliot Ness’s stenographer, a woman named Margaret Conway, is the mother of Great Lakes Brewing Company co-owners Patrick and Daniel Conway.

The Eliot Ness Amber Lager (technically a Vienna Lager) has won a total of 11 medals at the World Beer Championships between 1995 and 2010 (3 Silver and 8 Gold).

Let’s find out if this beer lives up to its reputation…

  • Appearance: Clear red/orange color that reminds me of a perfect summer sunset. Thick one inch head that dissipates slowly and settles down to a quarter inch. Very little lacing. Lots of small, clear, fast rising bubbles.
  • Aroma: Tangerine and lemon. Honey. Brown sugar. Faint hop aroma.
  • Taste: Medium carbonation. Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Sweet malt at the onset. Mild bitterness kicks in at mid-palate. Crisp, clean, citrus finish.
  • ABV: 6.2%

Great Lakes really needs to start canning this beer. Besides being a great tasting, easy drinking, well balanced, and session worthy beer, the Great Lakes Eliot Ness Amber Ale has excellent thirst quenching capabilities! Can you say Ultimate Summer Beer? It will also pair well with a wide variety of food, i.e. burgers, BBQ, grilled or fried fish, as well as most Pub fare. I highly recommend this beer!

And speaking of The Untouchables, here is one of my favorite clips for your viewing pleasure…

10 replies »

  1. Having spent 3 years of my exceptionally studious college life with a roommate who hailed from Rocky River, OH, a suburb of Cleveland, it’s second nature for me to abuse, berate, offend, assail and otherwise encase in offensive verbitules, all things Cleveland.

    Thus is not the case with any case of craft beers from Great Lakes. These guys turn out first class brews with amazing consistency. They’ve only recently (within the last 18-24 months or so) been available in NJ and after sampling everything I’ve been able to get my hands on, I’d say they are possibly a top 10 or 15 brewery for me. That said, I’m sure they aren’t really in Cleveland. I think their brewery building out there is really one of those blow up balloon buildings like Vector’s pyramid from Despicable Me. In fact, only the genius of Stone’s Greg Koch or Gru’s Dr. Lothario could consistently turn out such outstanding beers so I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the real Great Lakes Brewery is nestled along a vibrant spit of land in San Diego County just south of the Orange County Line.

    And as for things that come to mind with the mention of Elliot Ness, I get the Untouchables references and Al Capone, but my mind travels to more subtle connections, such as:

    The Dewey Decimal System,

    Electric Eels whittling busts of 19th Century Suffragettes out of freshly hewn mahogany,

    Circa 1960s kitchen counter formica with gold sparkly boomerangs and olive green ovals,

    That’s about it. Pretty straightforward stuff.



    • Since I have very little direct connection to Cleveland (other than the beer of course), the commonplace is all I could come up with regarding Eliot Ness. All I know is that it’s a damn fine beer!


      • It has been brought to my attention in a not-so-subtle way that I may not have revealed my opinions on the specific subject brew of your post…..

        Preface: I’m not a fan of the style. I’ve rarely found a truly enjoyable Amber Lager. To me they seem like a year-round Octoberfest. My take has always been that the style is intended to be an entry style into the wider and far more interesting world of craft beer. Because it’s such a pedestrian style with few memorable qualities I doubt it has served as much of a entry brew. In any event, Elliot Ness is a nice beer. I’d rarely choose it over a Stone Levitation (though, in fairness, that’s an Amber Ale) but it has it’s place and, on occasion, it’s place would be in my craft beer fridge.

        And now for the shiny side of the velcro


  2. I gotta find some Great Lakes out in CA. I can’t find it in SJ (not that I can’t find good beer out here, though). And great suggestion on canning beers. I feel like cans have a bad stigma, but they’re actually better than bottles.


    • Yo Chad!

      Very true. There is no shortage of amazing beer in SoCal!

      And as far as the whole canned beer thing, I think the stigma is slowly going away. 21st Amendment, Oskar Blues, and several other brewers are changing everyone’s opinion by putting some great stuff in cans. Cans have many advantages. They’re lighter in weight. They are easier to store in the fridge and in coolers because you can stack them. They are opaque, so they keep beer from skunking for a bit longer. They don’t usually break when you drop them which makes them a better pool option. They get cold faster than bottles (but they also get warm faster). I’m sure there are more advantages.



  3. Great Lakes is in fact brewed, bottled and shipped from cleveland. W. 25th. I live in Cleveland and have been to the brewery many times.


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