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Lions Winter Ale - Granville Island Brewery

Not Rated.
Lions Winter AleLions Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

61 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 61
Hads: 204
Avg: 3.67
pDev: 28.34%
Wants: 12
Gots: 40 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Granville Island Brewery visit their website
British Columbia, Canada

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: IronDjinn on 10-11-2004

Our Lions Winter Ale combines premium malt with aromatic specialty hops. The vanilla-like finish of this robust ale is a great excuse to get out of the cold and enjoy BC’s favourite winter beer made from the finest natural ingredients.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 61 | Hads: 204
Photo of indysamra
4.72/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A smooth dark Ale, its name serves it well. On a cold evening, theres nothing quite like a Granville Island Lions Winter Ale. It warms you nicely, and your first taste leaves your mind wandering as to what ingredients make up this aromatic ale. Although, it's flavored with vanilla, I'm led to believe that its actually made up of something a little more nutty.

Nutmeg like. This is the one thing I miss most about winters in Vancouver.

To experience this ale to its full capacity, i really would suggest visiting the Granville Island Brewery, on a winters day, taking up a window seat, and admiring the snow fall as you kick your feet back, and just enjoy that holiday aroma as the smooth ale does exactly what its supposed to.

If you prefer darker ales: Guiness, Newcastle Brown, and most winter ales, you'll love this one.

Indy :o)

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Photo of Doppelmax
4.57/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I liked this beer so much I just had 3 pints. Usually Canadian micros leave me a bit wanting. Not so for this brew. It was served at Snowshoe Sam's at Big White ski area and drawn from a tap that was labeled "Granville Island Winter Ale"
A wonderful reddish copper color but the head faded quickly. The malt aroma was predominant really no hops were noticed. I found the flavour very surprising, the malt just jumped out and grabbed my palate. The hops were so far in the background I didn't detect them at first. All in all a very caramel taste that just seemed right for my liking. After the first pint I had a few plates of various flavoured chicken wings but the malt just kept right up with the various types of wings. A dense body best describes the mouthfeel. I could have certainly had a few more if my much better half said it was time to head back to our condo. I'll certainly try this beer again and again

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Photo of wolf6656
4.5/5  rDev +22.6%

I eagerly await the arrival of this ale in Ontario every year. This is exactly what it says. A Winter Ale. This is not a patio beer.
They make some other very good beers, but none excites me quite like this one.
This is easily in the top 5, probably top 3, beers I have ever had.
Every beer has it's proper place. This one is in my mouth.

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Photo of Daefido
4.5/5  rDev +22.6%

very sweet chocolate smell. That lasts to the end of drinking. fairly smooth comparing to other ales, I think. nice ruby or copper colour. pleasant feeling until the last drop.

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Photo of slitherySOB
4.46/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is one pleasant ale that reminds me of Christmas. Deep brownish red with a thick, creamy, two finger head, this beer is a beauty to behold. Smells of banana bread, malts, caramel, vanilla and winter fruits. Tastes delicious. Big bold malts, bready character, strong hint of vanilla, some banana and plums... Mouthfeel is velvety and smooth. Too bad I'm having this during the spring.

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Photo of timtwoface
4.37/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ahh, a Christmas classic in the Vancouver area. This was my first winter warmer and still among my favourites. When I was first of age, as far as beer is concerned, this beer defined what Christmas was supposed to taste like. The really striking aspect of this beer is the vanilla flavours that go all the way through, from the initial smell to the lingering aftertaste. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that appreciates beer with that sweet vanilla taste; it's so very drinkable.

Another similar one to this in BC is Tree Brewing's Vertical Winter Ale; I think it's even better, though GI's Lions Winter Ale is still excellent. Try 'em both and support your BC breweries this Christmas!


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Photo of dougfredell
4.29/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer. As far as I'm concerned it is the best tasting local beer in Vancouver. It reminds me of Unibroue beers from Quebec, which is high praise. Awesome beer!

I guess it was slightly foggy - but I don't care about that at all - so long as there's no actual chunks in it.

Presumably it tastes better because it's more fresh. It's only available in the fall, so theoretically it's been brewed more recently.

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Photo of MAB
4.22/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Despite rating it good on three of five points, I actually think it is better than good. Just not outstanding.

The main thing you notice, both in aroma and in taste is vanilla. This isn't like a vanilla soft drink since, although there is an underlying sweetness, it isn't overly sweet. There's some nice balance going on here. The color is a nice light amber and the head is not too thin. The first few sips are a taste experience and then you get used to it and appreciate the subtle hoppiness and flavor. Well worth a look for, but I'm not sure if you can get it in a six pack on its own. I got mine in a Xmas sampler pack with three bottles each of the Winter Ale, Lager, Pale Ale, and Amber Ale.
Nothing wrong with any of the other brews either. A worthy purchase.

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Photo of ChrisCage
4.17/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A- I poured this fairly aggressively and was greeted with a modest looking white head that settled very quickly into nothingness. The color of the brew is a clear looking, maybe slightly chill hazed brown flat out, not super dark, not real light....just brown. There appears to be an average amount of carbonation, and there isn't really any lacing to speak of....kind of disappointing to look at to be honest!

S- Lots going on here, and most of it is sweet aromas! I'm picking up vanilla, macintosh toffee, milk chocolate and pancake syrup all rolled into one. It really smells like dessert or fresh baking....delicious aromas for sure!

T- Whoa, the flavors are just as variant as the smells! Overall, it mimics the aromas closely, just with more earthiness and some nut qualities mixed in as well. The finsih is dry and slightly spiced. Overall, it's really tasty, just not as prominent as the previous category!

M- I was kind of disappointed again in this category....I find the body to be thin like a cream soda pop, which is what I really can liken this to! The carbonation is actually quite smooth allowing this to not make me feel bloated on the other hand, so I'm torn but wanted this to be a full bodied brew....oh well!

O- A very tasty beer, that while considered a winter warmer, I'm finding quite enjoyable on a summer evening! The alcohol isn't super strong to begin with, but it is very well hidden behind all the sweetness. I'd have no problem having several of these in an evening/afternoon! I do recommend this one and will pick this up again when in season! I'm in the same boat as the previous review....had this one maturing for some time...my wife picked it up for me....I thought I knew what I'd be getting but I'm quite happy with the surprise I ended up with!

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Photo of Viggo
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a sixer of this. Medium brown/red colour with good head and good lacing. Smells like light malts and vanilla, smells really good. Its subtle but still strong, just have to try it to understand. The taste is vanilla as well, with some bitterness. Kind of tastes like beer cream soda, i really really like it. Very smooth, could see anyone slamming these back, very tasting and refreshing and not really like any other beer I've tasted. Very recommended.

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Photo of wreckless
4.09/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vanilla, Vanilla, and more Vanilla.

Appearance: a clear, dark amber, light off white head, slight lace and retention.

Smell: roasty malt and caramel, nutty yeast, dense chocolate and vanilla bean.

Taste: thin bready malt initially, followed nutty chocolate and strong hints vanilla.

Mouthfeel: light carbonation with a smooth, creamy, fluid body followed by an amazing dense vanilla finish.

Drinkability: a great winter ale with an extreme vanilla personality makes this the perfect beer up on the mountain or by the fire on a cold winter night. the elegant mixture of chocolate, yeasty malt, and vanilla give a great balanced feel.

i first tasted this ale after a day of riding at Mt. Seymour. It was on tap, and was an exceptional winter ale. as i've said, this ale is all about vanilla, and although some may frown at that, i embrace it as it is a perfect compliment to the winter months. i have since drank this winter ale in bottle form and can't get enough of it.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
4.04/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - clear amber, one thumb of bubbly off white head that fizzled away to a light covering
S - roasty malt and semi sweet chocolate, light ginger and nutmeg, and a resiny hop note, very complex
T - sweet caramel and light chocolate up front, very subtle nutmeg and allspice, and just slight herbal hop hint
M - nicely carbonated, light feel with the spice filling the mouth just enough, but a little thin on the finish
D - an interesting mix of aroma and flavour, the winter warmer spice is there but not over the top as so many seem to be, one could likely enough several of these in a sitting

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Photo of BeerWatcher
4.04/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark cherry wood pour with an ever so slightly off white head.
Aromas are all vanilla and chocolate bars.
Tastes are totally the same with the addition, of a sneaky hop bitterness on the finish.
Overall, if you like a sweet beer, it's hard to go wrong with this offering.

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Photo of souvenirs
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: auburn and clear, two fingers or so of tan head that dissipated fairly quickly, leaving lacing across the top
S: caramel, vanilla, cocoa
T: not overly sweet, but sweet flavours - milk chocolate, caramel
F: smooth, creamy
O: I'm not sure I like this quite as much as I did last year when I was first drinking it, but I suppose the good beer becomes separated from the truly great beer the more beer you try!

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Photo of leaddog
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Clear, copper hue with thin white head. Lots of bubbles are present.

Smell - Vanilla, caramel and hazelnut aromas are the most predominant. Very sweet smelling like candy.

Taste - Very nice vanilla flavour. Light caramel flavour. Not overly sweet despite the sweet aromas that are first encountered. Slightly bitter aftertaste at the end.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with nice tingly bubbles. Goes down smooth.

Overall - A pleasant winter warmer from GIB. The vanilla flavour was very nicely showcased and was well-balanced. This ale would be even better if some spices were thrown in - perhaps clove or nutmeg. Would definitely buy again.

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Photo of seand
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear brown with a fair amount of light tan head. The foam dissipates to a ring around the glass and some film on the surface, which leaves small walls of lacing.

S: Sweet brown sugar and honey with christmas spices.

T: As the smell suggests, sweet with christmas spices. It's mild, nice, and sweet, without being overly sweet.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation.

Overall, very nice. It's a very drinkable sweet winter beer.

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Photo of tbeckett
3.97/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pint at Cat's Social House on Granville Island. From notes.

A - Amber pour with a one finger white head. Bright. Light carbonation, spotty lace and a film of retention.

S - Sweet spice, lot's of caramel and toffee.

T - Nice toffee and caramel, hops, sweet spice.

M - Nice carbonation, medium body, some hops and spice in the finish.

O/D - Very nice spice which was subtle but mixed well with other elements. Rich malt and nice hops in a winter beer. Good stuff.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.96/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Deep brown with a reddish hue, clear filtered, little carbonation, 2 finger beige head fades fairly fast.

S: Malty, deep goodness. Some fruitiness and candy like quality. Banana. Caramel.

T: Follows nose: Malty, deep goodness. Some fruitiness and candy like quality. Banana. Caramel. Some kind of fruity kids candy.

M: Medium body, medium low carbonation. Slight bitter cling, typical to winter warmers.

O: Good, malty, delicious, balanced good beer. My first by Granville Island and was glad to find it at an LCBO in Ontario. Would like to try more by them, but they're hard to find out here.

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Photo of Rutager
3.92/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a nice amber-brown. Half a finger of off-white head.

Smell. Vanilla, roasty malts. Pretty nice.

Taste. Artificial vanilla and light, roasty malt. Just a hint of sweetness with a beter vanilla aftertaste than the initial hit.

Mouthfeel. Medium carbonation. Quite thin.

Drinkability. A pretty good drinker. Goes down easy due to it being a bit watery and not too sweet.

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Photo of BDTyre
3.92/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another good SEASONAL (not one-off) from Granville Island. The colour is a bit light for a dark mild; it looks more like a dark bitter or pale ale.

The smell is malty, and there are strong chocolate hints with definite vanilla scents.

Tastes strongly of vanilla and chocolate, with a bit of deeper malt and coffee traces. The hops are not quite noticeable, but do lend some bitterness to it.

I'd love to try this on tap if I could ever find it.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

How did I beat the B.C. boys to reviewing this first? Did they not get the memo? Found a couple of 6's of this left at the Chateau Louis while in Edmonton for Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving that is).

Pours out of its 341 ml brown bottle a clear burnished copper hue, but seems a bit watery right from the start, which is typical for Granville Island from my exerience. Thin fizzle of beige head with little retention. Things pick up on the aroma, dense caramel malt, chocolate wafers rounded out with vanilla bean, very appealing. The flavour starts out a little thin, light grainy malt, but starts picking up momentum in the middle. That malty wafer flavour appears, along with the dry cocao, which carries to the finish where there is some slight vanilla waiting to join the party. The mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side, but I've taken this to be the standard that Granville Island aims for. The texture of the finish is rather quite dry and wafery, which I find unique for a winter ale, but I like it. It's pretty much an easy drinking flavourful ale to offer guests at seasonal shin-digs who are less prone to drinking heavier porters or stouts or dark belgians.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.84/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Another in-person trade acquisition.

A - Pours a crystal clear copper brown, thin layer of head with no real retention, no lacing, and decent visible carbonation on the body.

S - This one is super bready with some rye malt characteristics, buttered bread, caramel, cinnamon and vanilla.

T - Holy vanilla! Though rather discreet on the nose, the vanilla comes through quite strong on the flavour followed by sweet caramel and buttered bread. Bit of a pepsi-cola flavour to it as well, very unique and tasty.

M - This stuff goes down smooth, but it is a tad watery.

D - I like this winter warmer because the flavours are mild enough that you could enjoy several in one sitting. Definitely a tasty offering from Ganville and I will be buying more of this.

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Photo of LampertLand
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Granville Is. 'Lions Winter Ale' @ 5.5% , served from a 6pack of 355 ml cans purchased for $12

A-pour is brown from the can to a dark amber in the glass with a smallish beige head

S-chocolate malts

T-caramel & coffee

MF-low/mild carbonation , feels full bodied , very filling

Ov-ok beer , good local version of a winter ale , decent price

prost LampertLand

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Photo of Hornet2003
3.82/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer confuses me a little bit. In previous years, before I was really into craft beer, this would be my pride and joy during the winter season. The heavy spice flavors combined with the vanilla finish were unique to me at that point and seemed unfathomable in other beers.

Well my perceptions have changed slightly.

Appearance: The beer pours a beautiful colour. Dark amber with a finger's head.

Smell: Delicious. The aroma on this beer never ceases to impress me. Lots of clove and vanilla. Overall, a "sweet" aroma.

Taste: This is where the beer falls short of my memories. It seems somewhat cloying. The flavours are unrefined. They are all there but not as blended as I would prefer. Bold vanilla dominates the taste. The first bottle of the sixer tasted rather metallic and artificially chemically. I figured it was still young(The beer was just released 2 days earlier) so I left it in the fridge for a couple weeks. The next ones I tried seemed to be better so maybe I had a bad bottle.

Mouthfeel: This is a lighter beer overall, especially for a supposed winter warmer. Good carbonation level...Not too much, not too little. A little watery.

Drinkability: I can drink this like water. Alcohol is relatively low so it's not overly aggressive in aroma or taste and the vanilla flavour is different enough to make you want to keep drinking it. It's a good conversation beer as everyone around you can smell the vanilla and spice notes in the aroma. I got my cousin's boyfriend hooked on this stuff last year so it's obviously drinkable to craft beer geek and everyone else in between.

Overall: I give it a high rating because I have enjoyed it previosuly for the past 2 years before I was into craft beer. Now that I have some more experience, I'll say that it is a very average beer that serves it's purpose during the holiday season. I'll still buy it because it's so drinkable but for a treat I'll take a Granville Island Merry Monks or a Tree Spiced Mid-Winter Ale.

This beer is definately NOT retired. Seasonal for sure, but it's back in full force for 2006/07.

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Photo of Converge
3.82/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle poured into a 16oz pint glass. It was a year ago yesterday that I did my first review here on BA, so to commemorate that I've decided to re-review my first beer on here.

A - Pours with a decent sized head of light-tan bubbles atop a deep amber brew. The head reduces to a thin skiff of foam that leaves some small patches of lacing.

S - Not at all what I remember. Tons of sweet malty goodness upfront, with strong vanilla, maple, toffee, and nut notes. Quite woody, maybe oak, with some smokey tones as well. I just can't get over how sweet and rich this smells. Almost reminds me of Rogues Hazelnut Brown Nectar, but with some of the nutty aromas replaced with vanilla and toffee.

T - A malt bomb for sure. Piles of caramel malt, vanilla sweetness and toffee notes dominate upfront. The woody character is subdued but still detectable, coming through along with the nuttiness and smokey/light roastiness. Finishes with a touch of holiday spices and more lingering vanilla extract sweetness. Very well put together if you don't mind sweet, malty beer.

M - Feels a touch on the lighter side, but the fine carbonation that thoroughly fills the body gives it a nice feel overall.

D - Pretty good stuff, and certainly a better brew than my memory had me believe. Really easy to drink, with a sweet and malty profile making it perfect for the chilly holiday season.

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Lions Winter Ale from Granville Island Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 61 ratings.