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Lions Winter Ale | Granville Island Brewery

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BA SCORE
84
good
70 Reviews
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
70
Ratings:
229
Avg:
3.7
pDev:
27.03%
 
 
Wants:
13
Gots:
61
For Trade:
1
Lions Winter AleLions Winter Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Granville Island Brewery
British Columbia, Canada | website

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by IronDjinn on 10-11-2004

User Reviews
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Reviews: 70 | Ratings: 229
Photo of JFL
3.51/5  rDev -5.1%
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 patre_tim
3.96/5  rDev +7%
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 mick303
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
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 hopsolutely
3.77/5  rDev +1.9%
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...

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Photo of Long813
3.54/5  rDev -4.3%
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 spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev -5.4%
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 seand
4/5  rDev +8.1%
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 HATS4BATS
3.15/5  rDev -14.9%
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 thehyperduck
3.67/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of Kremlock
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Lets start by saying that I agree with JohnnyBarman on the can advertising. I totally walked by this can a few times until I saw the small letters saying Winter Ale which is what got me interested. Such a boring can that I thought it was just an other "whatever" beer.

A: Amber colour, pours a nice 1/2 inch head then settles to a think white film with medium lacing. Beer is clear.

S: Caramel, vanilla (lots of it), some milk chocolate. Sort of smells like a hot chocolate gone cold.

T: Heavy on vanilla, has a good bitterness balance to the malt. Taste a bit like pancakes with loads of vanilla in it.

M: Thin and a bit watery, good carbonation, great bitterness to malt, finishes with a bit of sweetness

O: This is something great for the holidays. I wish it had more body and perhaps a bit more bread/biscuit flavours to it. Or even batter, some smokiness to it. But those are only my opinions. This is going well with fruit cake.

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Photo of peensteen
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
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 JohnnyBarman
3.73/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Can from the LCBO. I remember having this beer about four years ago, and thinking that it was an extremely vanilla-tasting brew. Looking forward to revisiting this. Can label is pretty uninspired, I have to say, compared to the nice bottle, but what can you do.

Poured into a nonic glass. Dark amber-brown, bit of ruby around the edges. Nice creamy head of foam, good retention. Lots of icicle lacing as well. Kept up well in the can.

Nose is certainly vanilla-heavy, so that much has remained the same. Caramel, bit of chocolate, a few odd christmas seasonings, but vanilla sweetness rules the day.

Again, vanilla is this brew's strong suit, but it has a few other cards in hand to play. There is some hop bitterness in there, as well as a decent malt backing with some cracker and biscuit. Actually, quite surprised with this. A bit watery in flavour, but quite easy to drink. Nice break from all the clove/coriander/molasses heavy winter brews I've had recently.

Watery feel, slightly creamy, moderate carbonation.

I have to say I did like this brew, which is a surprise for me with Granville. I happen to like vanilla a great deal, so that helped, but in general it was more balanced than I thought it would be.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.59/5  rDev -3%
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 liamt07
3.66/5  rDev -1.1%
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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Photo of Converge
3.82/5  rDev +3.2%
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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Photo of tbeckett
3.97/5  rDev +7.3%
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 leaddog
4/5  rDev +8.1%
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 timtwoface
4.37/5  rDev +18.1%
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!

Cheers!

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Photo of beerayrton
3.05/5  rDev -17.6%
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 dougfredell
4.29/5  rDev +15.9%
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 ChrisCage
4.17/5  rDev +12.7%
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 JayAre46
3.52/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

 1,490 characters

Photo of Rutager
3.92/5  rDev +5.9%
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 wreckless
4.09/5  rDev +10.5%
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 CrazyMike
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber brown appearance with bubbly head that disappears quickly. Has a sweet smell similar to maple syrup with a hint of caramel and vanilla.

Has a strong vanilla taste with malt and nuts as well. Has a nice blend of spices, has a hint of caramel and bread. Taste overall is almost similar to the smell. Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Aftertaste is bitter and leaves a lingering vanilla taste in your mouth.

Overall this is a pretty decent winter beer, the overtly vanilla and caramel taste helps it stand out over other beers. Should give it a try when it's available.

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Lions Winter Ale from Granville Island Brewery
84 out of 100 based on 70 ratings.