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Lions Winter Ale - Granville Island Brewery

Not Rated.
Lions Winter AleLions Winter Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
84
good

60 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 60
Hads: 199
rAvg: 3.72
pDev: 6.72%
Wants: 11
Gots: 36 | 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: 60 | Hads: 199
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
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. (473 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
3.46/5  rDev -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. (1,097 characters)

Photo of biegaman
3.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Chestnut is always a handsome colour for a winter seasonal and, indeed, Lions Winter Ale has a look that exudes both class and personality. It demonstrates flawless clarity, decent froth and is rich with gleaming highlights. You'd sell a lot of magazines with this on the cover!

A bit quiet initially, the aromas of vanilla and creamy caramel build effortlessly once they've had a chance to properly breathe. A dash of carob and pecan-like nuttiness also grows on you, as does the faintest whiffs of waffle and bittersweet Belgian chocolate. These sweet, universally appealing scents make a very friendly introduction.

The vanilla flavouring is hardly creamy or candy-sweet - it tastes like vanilla pod not vanilla cupcake. Still, the beer feels a bit artificial. The toffee and creamy caramel notes aren't the subtler, nuanced type typically suggested by specialty malts - they are the kind you get in a store-bought cake. The flavours are rather buoyant and very toothsome, which isn't bad...

though it must be said that there is hardly a palpable taste of winter in this 'winter ale'. Christmas, maybe, because of a carob/nutmeg-like spice. But winter? This doesn't quite have the body, strength or makeup to match the harsh realities of a (non-Pacific) Canadian winter.

British Columbia's Lions Winter Ale is kind of a reflection of where it's brewed. It would be a great pint to share with friends after a mild day on the slopes, but it doesn't have the depth and complexity to support a long night of solitary inner-reflection in the midst of a dark, dead, frost-bound environment. Very tasty stuff, but buy accordingly. (1,633 characters)

Photo of liamt07
3.66/5  rDev -1.6%
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. (611 characters)

Photo of Derek
3.2/5  rDev -14%
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! (391 characters)

Photo of Viggo
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
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. (462 characters)

Photo of wordemupg
3.79/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle poured into 400ml dab glass nov4 2009

A clear amber leaning towards red, very fast falling two finger head that leaves no lace

S a fair bit of milk chocolate with some spices and vanilla

T tastes as it smells and that's not a bad thing the spice is mild not over the top, pretty mellow

M thin but has good carbonation helping its cause

D pretty easy drinking but not worth looking for, not quite enough booze for a winter warmer in my eyes

good but not great, worth drinking good flavor going on but I think you can get better winter ales with little effort (576 characters)

Photo of spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
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. (779 characters)

Photo of tbeckett
3.97/5  rDev +6.7%
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. (467 characters)

Photo of Rutager
3.92/5  rDev +5.4%
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. (390 characters)

Photo of andrenaline
3.84/5  rDev +3.2%
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. (757 characters)

Photo of canucklehead
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
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. (270 characters)

Photo of jrenihan
3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
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. (774 characters)

Photo of peensteen
3.65/5  rDev -1.9%
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. (574 characters)

Photo of IronDjinn
3.87/5  rDev +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. (1,177 characters)

Photo of BigBry
2.9/5  rDev -22%
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. (872 characters)

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.04/5  rDev +8.6%
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 (593 characters)

Photo of patre_tim
3.96/5  rDev +6.5%
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. (601 characters)

Photo of TerryW
3.68/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Actually a fairly interesting brew built around a very nice malt backbone. Very sweet, but not overpowering, nicely balanced off by hop bitterness. Interesting flavours of vanilla, caramel, cocoa, dark fruit work together well.

Clear coppery-amber brew under a short head that settles to a steady cap and gives up lots of lace. A pretty beer.

Nose is full of vanilla, caramel, very pleasant malt character.

I like this simply because it comes off as fun to drink. Lots of simple, interesting things happening in the glass. On one hand almost comes off as caramel sundae topping, but is quickly brought around by malt and spice.

Reminds me off a lighter, poor man's Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. Nicely done. (712 characters)

Photo of mick303
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
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. (1,270 characters)

Photo of thehyperduck
3.67/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

473 mL can from the LCBO; packaged in October (apparently their codes only provide the month). I've tried this brew before, and although that particular occurrence was now many years ago, I do remember enjoying it. Served only slightly chilled.

Pours a clear ruby-copper colour, topped with one finger of off-white head that wastes no time fizzling away into a creamy collar and thin film on the surface. Almost no lacing, but other than that it looks fine. Sniffing this stuff definitely brought back some good memories - the pronounced vanilla and milk chocolate sweetness gives it a relatively unique and recognizable profile, with underlying notes of butterscotch and hazelnuts. Enjoyable, but it really reminds me of Vanilla Coke which makes me think something artificial was used. Maybe I'm paranoid.

Nice, light, drinkable flavour with a good mix of malty flavours, spice and hops. Vanilla is still a major contributor, with more hazelnut and toasted malt backing than the aroma lets on. Small hints of maple and chocolate, with some modest spice and vaguely herbal hop notes. Surprisingly dry finish, with the vanilla and spice lingering into the aftertaste. Fairly light-bodied, bordering on watery, with moderate carbonation levels. Very drinkable for the style, due to its lightness and restrained abv/spice.

Final Grade: 3.67, a serviceable B grade. Granville Island's Lions Winter Ale is a highly quaffable, enjoyable little warmer in its own right, but what it comes down to is this - if someone gave this to me blindfolded, I seriously might mistake it for Vanilla Coke or cream soda, and for that reason I really can't take it seriously. This isn't the greatest winter beer in the world, but it's still a charming brew with far more drinkability than the average warmer. Of the Granville brews I've tried, this is easily the best and probably the only one I would seriously consider recommending to others, or re-purchasing. (1,943 characters)

Photo of Frozensoul327
3/5  rDev -19.4%
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. (360 characters)

Photo of BDTyre
3.92/5  rDev +5.4%
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. (453 characters)

Photo of hopsolutely
3.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

My expectations of any Molson-Coors product are pretty low, but purchased based on a local recommendation and this can offered a very pleasant surprise!

Pours a dark amber colour with a minimal off-white head that has good staying power. Sweet aroma of chocolate "nestle quik" and vanilla is pretty powerful. That sweetness is tempered in the taste, which has a decent malt presence and underlying hop bitterness to the finish. Still reminds me a bit of chocolate-covered candied pineapple, but that's only one side of the flavour and it's better balanced than that sounds. The vanilla is not as subtle as I'd personally choose.

All in all, a winter warmer I'd recommend and a vanilla-lover’s dream. My compliments to Granville Island and I hope Molson continues to allow them brewing autonomy... (800 characters)

Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.42/5  rDev -8.1%
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. (1,465 characters)

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Lions Winter Ale from Granville Island Brewery
84 out of 100 based on 60 ratings.