Lager Love: Keeping it Crispy Since 1988

We love lagers. Ales, you’re great too, but we think bottom-fermenters are tops. In fact, when we first opened in 1988, the first two beers we brewed were our longtime favorites Dortmunder Gold Lager and Eliot Ness Amber Lager. We didn’t stop there either, with our award-winning Oktoberfest joining GLBC’s lager family in the 90’s, followed by newcomers Mexican Lager with Lime and Rally Drum Premium Lager. See? We’re really not kidding when we say we love lagers!

Back in 1988, brewing craft lagers wasn’t a common choice. Lagers typically take longer to ferment and condition, and it’s often said that it’s more difficult to hide flaws in lagers than ales. Still, co-owners Pat and Dan Conway were enamored with the flavorful, full-bodied lagers they’d enjoyed in their European travels, and wanted to bring that experience to American craft beer.

So how different are our three longtime lagers? Let’s explore!

Dortmunder Gold Lager

About the Style:
First brewed in mid-19th century Dortmund, Germany and frequently shipped internationally, earning it the nickname “Exportbier”. Due to its hometown’s water chemistry, Dortmunder-style lagers are both distinctly malty and firmly hoppy, while striking a perfect balance between the two.

About Dortmunder Gold Lager:
Brewed with our proprietary lager yeast, Dortmunder Gold hauled home our first (but certainly not our last!) medal at the Great American Beer Festival. We’re partial to Dortmunder Gold for its balance of sweet malt and dry hop flavors, which have served as many a Clevelander’s introduction to craft beer since 1988.

The Best Time to Drink a “Dort”:
Perfectly suited to any social occasion, from Guardians games to backyard barbecues, Dortmunder Gold is a certified crowd pleaser. "Dort" pairs well with salads, fish, chicken… pretty much any food you can think of! Enhance your perfect Dortmunder food pairings with our Dortmunder Gold Beer Mustard made in collaboration with Bertman.

Eliot Ness Amber Lager

About The Style:
While we call Eliot Ness an Amber Lager, the beer is inspired by Vienna Lager, the style perfected by Anton Dreher in 1841. Vienna Lager was the world’s first lighter-colored lager, and Europe’s most popular style for a number of decades. Interestingly, it’s now more commonly produced by Mexican breweries. Vienna Lager sports a reddish hue and toasty, bready malt flavors. 

About Eliot Ness Amber Lager:
Fun fact: although Dortmunder Gold is our hometown hero, Eliot Ness is actually the first beer GLBC ever brewed under original Master Brewer Thaine Johnson. With its untouchable blend of lightly toasted malts and earthy Mt. Hood hops, Eliot Ness has our current Brewmaster Mark Hunger’s stamp of approval as his favorite go-to brew. 

The Best Time to Drink a Ness:
Thanks to its caramel malt flavors, Eliot Ness is our favorite beer to pair with food, almost always finding a spot on a Brewmaster’s Dinner menu. And while it’s hard to think of somewhere that the smooth, approachable Eliot Ness would feel out of place, our favorite spot for a Ness has to be the GLBC taproom’s historic Tiger Mahogany bar – after all, Eliot Ness was known to have a beer there himself!


About the Style
Not to be outdone by his childhood friend Anton, Gabriel Sedlmayr released his own lighter-colored lager in Munich later in 1841. The German brewer managed to outdo his Austrian counterpart, as his even richer, more robustly malty lager was named the official beer of Munich’s Oktoberfest celebration in 1872. It’s remained a staple of Oktoberfest celebrations around the world to this day.

About Oktoberfest:
Speaking of staples, our Oktoberfest is often regarded as one of finest American examples of the style. No surprise there, as our brewers take extra time crafting our Oktoberfest using a decoction mash, an additional step in the brewing process that intensifies the beer’s deep bready, toasty malt character. So raise a stein of Oktoberfest and give a hearty “prost” to our hard-working brewers!

The Best Time to Drink a “Festie":
It’s right there in the name! Whether it’s those last warm sunny days on the beach, or the first cool, crisp evenings around a bonfire, Oktoberfest is perfect for anytime a late-summer celebration is called for. And since Munich is a bit out of the way, we hope you visited us the 2nd Weekend of the Cleveland Oktoberfest, where we poured Oktoberfest (and more) all throughout the grounds as the official beer sponsor!

Fall in love with lagers again! Use our Beer Finder to locate Oktoberfest, Dortmunder, and Eliot Ness near you.

Words by Michael Williams

Photos by Adam Ritterspach

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