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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 elricorico
2.1/5  rDev -42.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Pours a reddish brown with almost nothing for head despite an aggressive pour. Something about it is not very appetizing.

Smells a bit like vanilla, with a cut grass, peed on clothing smell mixed in. Again, not entirely appetizing... Things aren't looking too good for this one.

Taste is right up front vanilla. Tastes like the filling of an oreo cookie. Finishes up bitter and leaves a cloying flavour in the mouth.

I have nothing good to say about this beer. I've had a couple of bottles before, and tend to like it less each time.

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Photo of InsideLiquorMan
2.78/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.75

Tried this beer with high expectations. Seems to be a big hit on here and in my store, but I was not very impressed. The smell is amazing. Lots of chocolate, molasses, caramel and coffee. It has a really nice, dark, dark ruby red color that is almost more black than red. Taste is not impressive. This is not a beer for me. Way, way too sweet and heavy with that molasses taste to it. Almost like a dessert drink. Honestly, i'll take a spiced ale over this any day of the week. Not to say this stuff doesn't sell amazingly well in the winter season, but it's not for me and if you're an IPA, lager, pilsner or lighter beer guy, you won't like this. A beer is not supposed to be sweetened. Not going to try this again.

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Photo of EskimoDave
2.88/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Lions Winter Ale is a blood red beer. Vanilla dominates the nose with a milk chocolateliness to it. This carries over to the taste of the beer. Toffee is subtly present in the background through out. The low carbonation leads to an incredible smooth beer with a solid medium body. There is a residual cloying sweetness in the finish.

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Photo of BigBry
2.9/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

One of four selections in the Graville Island Winter Mingler 12 pack.
Orange amber color, with an off white-orangish head. Foam quickly disappeared leaving a thin ring around the glass. By the end, there was no carbonation left. First smell is sharp with some kind of spice, later on the aroma is quite strong vanilla. At first taste it is smooth, with some light vanilla, a little bitter finish leaving a tingle on the tongue. However, the more you drink of this the sweeter it becomes. Half way through I thought I was drinking a cherry cream soda. Very sweet and heavy feeling, could only drink 1 at a time.

Nov. 2014 - Tried the draft version with dinner.
Good looking clarity, small floating cap of foam, thin lace.
Great smell of vanilla bean, slightly sugary, and cream soda again.
Similar flavor profile, but not as sticky sweet as I remember the bottled version.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
3/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours out to a flat brown auburn color with a small head of foam that quickly dissipates. No lace. Low carbonation. Aromas of raisins, grainy caramel and roasted malts. Taste was a bit bland, but notes of grains, malt, and mild dark fruits were noted. Mouthfeel was far too flat and boring. Drinkability is not up to par. Thanks to Derek for the 12 oz. sample.

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Photo of Grunewald
3.01/5  rDev -18%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - poured from a 341ml bottle can into a tulip glass. It pours red with a quickly vanishing white head.

S - vanilla, toffee/tootsie roll,root beer, nuts and breakfast cereal

T - spicy malt with pop (vanilla cola and root beer) undertones and a strange tangy/vanilla finish

M - medium carbonation, medium body and a sticky finish

D - the flavors seem very artificial and remind me of name brand snacks/pop. The finish has a chemical taste and mouthfeel like cola.

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Photo of beerayrton
3.05/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I`ve had this beer multiple times, and thought it would be a good beer for my first review.

Appearance - Pleasant, not much head at all, less than a finger. Minimal to no lacing.

Smell - Vanilla with a hint of nuttiness. Not too bad, but for some reason I`ve had better pours.

Taste - Maple notes up front, desolving into vanilla notes the deeper you get into it. There`s a bitter note there as well.

Mouthfeel - Medium amounts of carbonation, and a crisp and clear, slightly bitter feel.

Overall - Very drinkable. The vanilla is really the key here, it is what makes it as palatable as it is. I most likely will order again next time I am at the pub that offers this beer, seeing as it`s the best one on tap. I will order it soon, especially if I am having a dessert.

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Photo of HATS4BATS
3.15/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Balanced but single-minded. Pours clear root beer brown. Overpowering sugared scent leaves room for little else. Candied infusion of vanilla overpowers without overwhelming; but prevents whatever faint notes of dark chocolate and malts/hops to that exist to develop with any meaning. Flavour quickly disappears with no after-taste. Novelty ale with little enduring seasonal value.

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Photo of Derek
3.2/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This one's not retired. It's a seasonal, that's available again!

A: Copper-orange/amber, very clear. Nice off-white head, zero retention, no lace.

S: Caramel, grainy and a little astringent.

T: Bready malt, caramel, a litte nutty, good bittersweet balance.

M: Moderate body and carbonation.

D: Good. Should appeal to the general public, if they're feeling a little aventurous!

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Photo of Archy
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%

Enjoying this one during the first snow of the year. A bit on the sweet side with heavy caramel notes. I think it could handle a bit more of a hoppy kick to balance the sweetness. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable and lived up to being a winter warmer.

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Photo of Cwrw
3.37/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A winter seasonal by Granville Island, BC. The appearance is average. A pop-fizz head, which is light brown and did not last long. The beer is reddish-amber, with some orange. Thin lace. Clear, but not transparent liquid. The aroma immediately reminded me of coke and vanilla. Buttery, definite maple syrup, dark candied malt, some grainy tree-bark, even pine aromas. Nuts, and root beer. A definite pop smell to it. Cinammon and tree resin. The bottle itself states there is vanilla in the taste and aroma, and it is true: vanilla is extremely evident in the taste. Almost precisely this beer resembles the aroma. There is a decent hop dryness, but a finish of cardboard or wood, which leaves a dry feeling. I dislike the finish. It is a little cloyingly syrupy on the tongue; a little lacking in balance somehow. Predominantly malty brew. This beer starts off nicely with a fruity-sweet smell, and a vanilla taste up front, but there is an undesirable feeling left in the mouth, almost as if this beer has been stored improperly.

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Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.42/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at a Calgary pub in the NE, same place I have sampled a few other Granville Island offerings. This rather sweet brew looks the part of a winter beer, a pleasing dark red amber to brown with around an inch of tan head. Looks like a classic English porter. Does not taste like a classic English porter. Smells like milk chocolate and vanilla, a candy bar in a pint glass. Tastes much the same, milk chocolate, vanilla, carob, caramel, and a nutty flavor a bit like pecans. I get some red fruit and raisin or plum notes as well. I often enjoy this sort of "dessert beer" but unfortunately this one became cloying and unpleasant about halfway through a pint. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy but the body is a little too light and crisp for what should be a sipper. Has the body of a session ale but tastes a lot darker and sweeter than any such beer. There are some flaws, including an unpleasant saccharine sweetness that does not taste natural (despite the fact that all-natural ingredients are used), what seems like oxidation manifesting as wet cardboard, and an odd melding of leafy aromatic flavors with the dark malts to produce a mint chocolate chip vibe that became way too dominant on the palate; it was all I could taste after a while. Not sure what the fix would be ... Perhaps less emphasis on the spice/flavoring component so that the malts can do the work of making things rich and chocolatey without the need for so many sweet tooth histrionics.

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Photo of OskarL
3.44/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear dark amber color with a two finger head that settles fast and leaves little lacing.

Smells of a lot of toffee, cloves, caramel, vanilla and spiced christmas bread.

Tastes quite like the nose but it finishes a bit sweet with some dark fruits.

Has a light/medium body and good carbonation.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.46/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle, procured in Vancouver a few weeks ago.

This beer pours a perfectly clear medium cola-tinted amber hue, with a satisfying amount of thinly puffy off-white head, which melts away at due pace, leaving some random specks of lace around the glass.

It smells of spiced, slightly sweet bread – ginger and nutmeg – quite light, all, with a further caramel/toffee maltiness, and a touch of smoky vanilla. The taste is replete with the aforementioned warming spices, a bit of yeastiness, a strong caramel malt backbone, some softly acidic hoppiness, and some earthy, sweetly boozy vanilla.

The carbonation is just about average, the body sporting an adequate medium weight, some sugary creaminess informing its overall smoothness. It finishes on the sweet side, as the spices drop away totally, leaving the caramel malt and vanilla all on their own.

With no appreciable warming from the tweak of extra alcohol, this is a nice, mild winter sipper, less spiced than many of its seasonal brethren, and another agreeable choice for those occasions when a six-pack is the order of the day.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a clear deep amber color ale with a medium size foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of caramelized sugar and light toffee notes with subtle fruity ester are quite interesting. Taste is also a great mix between some caramelized sugar and toffee while retaining a good balance of sweetness with some light subtle fruity ester. Body is about average with good carbonation. Easily drinkable winter warmer style beer with just enough complexity.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

473ml Can from the Ottawa LCBO for 2.50$

Appearance - Clear reddish brown colour with an above average size fizzy beige head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some faint lacing. The head lasted for 3-4 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, dark fruits, caramel/chocolate/vanilla

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, dark fruits, and some chocolate/caramel/vanilla. There is also a bit of a herbal flavour and it ends with malty slightly sweet aftertaste.

Overall - Not too shabby. It has a little something taste wise for everyone. I can see this working well as a good gateway beer to get into craft. Not something I'd buy another can of, but I'd probably get a pint on tap if I saw it at a bar.

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Photo of canucklehead
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2005 version and I must say that the often overpowering vanilla notes are moved to the back. The beer is creamier and more assertive in its flavour of hops. I will start buying this as thankfully the sickly vanilla esters are only a small part of the makeup.

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Photo of mick303
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured a pretty nice white foamy head, pretty decent retention. Leaves a good lacing and film. Colour is a dull ruby chestnut brown, very little visible carbonation.

Smell has really powerful sweet caramel and vanilla notes. Brown sugar and treacle, there might be some malt there but its sugar-coated. Some mild roastiness. A bit leather and oaky notes. Smells like caramel candy, no bitterness.

Taste has a initially dark caramel and brown sugar, some slightly roasty maltiness comes through. Some cinnamon spice and slight bitterness, sort of fireplace-like. Then more thin caramel, and lots of vanilla and really sweet coffee, which persists through the finish. Still very sweet throughout, but there are some moderately interesting balancing flavours and some complexity comes through eventually.

Mouthfeel has a moderate light body, little carbonation, and a thin caramel feel. A bit watery and noticeably sweet. Not much crispness, and finish is pretty wet, some late dryness.

Still maintain that this can at times be offensively sweet, once it develops it does show some other interesting elements. It cries out for balance though, and while a decent winter beer, I wouldn't say you're missing much if you give it a pass. Unless caramel beers are your thing.

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Photo of JFL
3.51/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Very dark red hue with a head ranging from half a finger to two fingers, within the same six pack. Head starts vanishing immediately, and within 45 seconds retreats to nothing. Very little lacing around the glass

Smell is overwhelmingly sweet, lots of vanilla, bit of caramel

Bit of the roasted malt, lots of vanilla, bit of nuttiness almost, but again, lots of vanilla. Maybe a little too much

Fairly smooth, not enough of the carbonation released during the pour

Good beer that is easily found at government stores, and many privates. Not worth writing home about, but definitely worth having a few of.

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Photo of JayAre46
3.52/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - poured firmly into a tulip produced 1 1/2 fingers of white head that reduce to a sheet that covers the top, auburn mahogany pretty deep and close to opaque. minimal lacing

A - get some pale malts and vanilla extract that smells absolutely great while not over powering maybe some earthy tones along with slight nutty aroma

T - Holy shit, up front the pale roasted malts, then the vanilla extract dominance this beer tastes very similar to the soda A&W makes, cream soda? very different beer, absolute vanilla bomb, the nose definitely suggests this flavor but not this much. Im not sure what to think exactly whether im enjoying it or not, perhaps on the slopes this might hit the spot...no hop presence or alcohol the cream soda is absolutely dominant.

M - light to medium bodied, medium carbonation, lost all focus from this cream soda....jesus christ maybe this is what a cream ale should be. slightly soothing on the palate, im going to say that this does not have a high drinkability when temps are over 50F and i live in texas....and its may

O - Thank you rutager for this brew,quite the experience. i have put this brew off for sometime now because i always looked at it and thought to myself, i already know what that tastes like...never have i ever been so wrong, the aroma got me thinking real quick im in for it. The character of this beer stands out a lot to me and while im not loving it, i am liking it and also can see how could this may be on the side of a mountain.

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Photo of Long813
3.54/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear red body with minimal head and lacing. Nothing to amazing about the looks.

S: Very pleasing mixture of caramel and vanilla with hints of roasted malt. The vanilla is a nice touch. Overall the aroma could be a touch stronger.

T: Following the aroma, there is a nice mix of roasted malts, caramel and vanilla. The taste is somewhat light though.

M: Water like texture with medium-low carbonation. There is a nice after taste of vanilla that lingers for a short amount of time.

O: A nice winter ale. It's a little weak overall, but as an easy to drink beer with flavour it's there.

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Photo of TheHammer
3.54/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: A respectable amount of lace with two fingers of head that retained respectably as well compliments a deep ruby red body with low carbonation.

Smell: Vanilla, caramel, and candy cane mint with huge brown sugar smells. It's strong and didn't need a lot of warming to come out, but it smells like it's going to be sickeningly sweet.

Taste: As I predicted, this beer is REALLY sweet. It starts with caramel malt mixed with molasses and brown sugar that turns more herbal as candy cane mint, cinnamon and vanilla notes come out and then fade away. It's just so overwhelmingly sweet...I'm almost inclined to think of it more like a liquor then a beer.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation is very low, and I think it's absence is what is letting some of the sweeter elements run wild here. The sweetness thankfully doesn't linger as a nice cinnamon/nutmeg note provides nice closure.

Drinkability: I don't know if I could stomach more then two or three of these. It's surprisingly heavy bodied, which you wouldn't think at first, but then makes sense as they must had added a lot of spice and malt to this to make it so sweet. Still it goes down well enough.

Final Thoughts: Well, this beer tastes like Christmas, simply put, and like Christmas, it is good it only comes around once a year. The good outweighs the bad here, but I wouldn't want to drink this on a regular basis.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.59/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber in colour, a bit of a caramel hue. A very small off-white head disappears almost instantly.

The nose is filled with vanilla, almost overwhelming. Behaind that, caramel malt, cocoa, hazelnut. Smells very sweet, candy like. The vanilla smells like it is probably extract or artificial- does not seem like actual vanilla bean.

The vanilla is also prominent in the taste, which is no surprise. Coupled with caramel and hazelnut, as well as some spices. Quite sweet. Finish is a bit metallic, artificial.

Beer is quite thin, strongly carbonated. Rather insubstantial, particularly for the flavours.

Overall, decent, but not something I would want often. I am a big vanilla fan, which probably helped, but I don't think it is done particularly well in this beer.

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Photo of peensteen
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber/copper colour, one finger of dense white head, good amount of lace here as well too. Smell is a nice mix of vanilla and spices, caramel, toffee, a subtle roast malt profile as well as some chocolate present. Taste is spicy and lightly sweet, vanilla with bits of toffee, chocolate and roast were more pleasant on the nose than on the palate, bit of bready flavours with a light bitterness. Medium carbonation, light to medium body. Not a bad beer and something I apreciate compared to some other spice bomb winter ales, a bit lackluster however but still a good drink.

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Photo of liamt07
3.66/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Steve, 341ml into a tulip.

Golden brown in colour, offwhite head - only a ring of retention persists, no lacing. Nose is full of vanilla, perhaps slightly artificial in tone. Some cocoa, brown sugar and nuts as well. Taste is lightly nutty, more breadiness, caramel, cocoa and vanilla. Carbonation is a bit higher than I'd like, but a few swirls of the glass took it down to a manageable level. Fairly thin however, and perhaps a little too sweet in the finish. Nose is quite nice, but palate doesn't live up to it. I thought this could've been a lot better with some more body and mouthfeel.

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