AT THIS POINT it’s hard to find a member of Great Lakes rotation that hasn’t won scads of awards. Each of their year-round beers has at least three gold medals from World Beer Championships (some more like 10) and could easily be the brewery’s flagship if its peers weren’t of comparable worth. Dortmunder Gold is reportedly their top-seller, but its lead over its brothers is declining. Perhaps this is only appropriate: the idea of an ensemble cast just seems right for these Midwestern stalwarts.
Still, if any beer were to take that crown from Dortmunder, it would likely be Eliot Ness, a robust lager of 6.2% ABV colored a marvelous deep amber, crystalline clear and with a straw-colored head of medium-sized bubbles. Its aroma is clean, not quite noble but still a little earthy (single-hopped with Mt. Hood to 27 IBUs) with some crisp minerality and the light graininess of Munich malt. Higher temperatures and a few swirls bring its sweeter side to the fore, showing caramel, pecan, and a little biscuit. Two kinds of caramel malts combine with Munich and Harrington in a substantial body (est. 3.5 Plato), full enough to assert itself early on the palate but light enough for the carbonation and small dose of alcohol to leave the finish full of sensation instead of residue. A light leafy bitterness last for a while, persistent though not growing in strength, making this beer a flavorful foil to moderate fare and refreshing enough to be enjoyed alone. A touch more assertive than its original inspiration, Eliot Ness remains balanced and dapper. Quintessential Great Lakes.
Served: 12 oz bottle best by 1/25/14