Lions Winter Ale
Granville Island Brewery

Lions Winter AleLions Winter Ale
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #70
Ranked #31,337
3.78 | pDev: 15.08%
Granville Island Brewery
British Columbia, Canada
Very Good
Lions Winter AleLions Winter Ale
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 85 | Ratings: 271 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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Jiminie from Canada (ON)

1.06/5  rDev -72%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

I guess it's not surprising for a city that doesn't have winter to produce a "winter ale" like this. Appearance is not bad, but it's all downhill from there. It tastes like some unidentifiable liquid with vanilla extract and chocolate dumped in after the fermenting process. The flavour is entirely separate from the liquid itself. Somebody wrote elsewhere that it tastes "artificial," and that doesn't go far enough. Someone else wrote that it doesn't seem like these flavours came from malt alone - no kidding!! It's the winter ale for people who don't like beer, because it doesn't taste like beer at all. I suppose I should have been warned when I read "flavoured beer" on the label. If you are actually a beer drinker, stay away. This is like drinking Malibu Rum if you appreciate good rum. Disgusting.

Dec 11, 2020
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InspectorHound from Canada (ON)

3.47/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Look: Pours opaque coppery brown with a foamy 2 finger white head.
Smell: Dominated by the vanilla.
Taste: Tonnes of Vanilla, some caramel, very sweet.
Feel: This beer is a little light and more watery than I remember it from past years. Plays forward in the mouth.
Overall: This beer was a favourite dessert beer of mine from years past. I always looked forward it becoming available in the LCBO each winter season. Not sure if the recipe has changed or my tastes have, but now this beer is underwhelming me. It's not a bad beer, but it's not anything I'm going to be seeking out. I'd give this beer a B-

Mar 07, 2020
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altstadt from Canada (BC)

3.64/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear red-brown color. Head formed of medium sized bubbles and quickly dropped down to a thin skiff. No lacing. High flux of small bubbles rising from the bottom keeping the minimal skiff of head replenished.

Very sweet smell blended from caramel, marshmallow, and some floral/herbal scents that seem more familiar in a soft drink like a coke. Swirling the glass kicked up cherry and chocolate scents as if a black forest cake had gone into the mash.

Tastes like a thin black forest cake, with sweet cherries and some mild chocolate. The caramel malt joins in a mid-taste. The aftertaste is of a slightly bitter chocolate that has been baked a bit.

Some tongue tingling for a while as it builds to a large bubbled foam. The foam ends up feeling like a medium heavy body.

Interesting scent and flavor. This should probably appeal more to the chocolate lovers. I would have enjoyed it more if there had been more caramel malt and less chocolate.

Nov 05, 2019
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woodychandler from Pennsylvania

3.99/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Happy CANada Day, hosers! Take off, eh? This is one of my FAVORITE holidays of the year since it provides me with the impetus to a) drink CANned CANadian beer ISO The CANQuest (tm); b) watch hockey (either pre-recorded games or movies, like "Slapshot"; c) watch "Strange Brew"; d) eat some beaver & e) parade nekkid in the street while waving a CANdian flag. 2017 was their 150th Anniversary so I pulled out all of the stops, using sparklers & firecrackers as accoutrements, which was attention-getting, to say the least. The local CANstabulary was bemused & amused as they led me away, but I was less-than-thrilled with the 1st & 2nd degree burns, especially to my sensitive bits! Needless to say, I have scaled back since then. This will be my last for the holiday since having drank extensively of Ontario & some of Quebec, now it is British Columbia's turn!

A BIG "THANK YOU!" to my local, in-person trading partner, @tone77 , for providing me with a buncha beers for today's CANebration! He said that many of them will take me back to the early days of The CANQuest (tm), when AALs were the standard & the norm. No matter! Today, we CANebrate & inebriate! Cheers to our CANuck neighbors!

From the CAN: "This winter warmer features robust notes of cocoa, caramel and vanilla. So get out of the cold and into the bold. It's good to be here (R)."

I had "Rush's Greatest Hits" playing on YouTube as I Crack!ed open the vent to begin this momentous CANebration. I went with a slow, gentle C-Line Glug on this one, having just awakened from a late-evening nap. I watched in rapt fascination as it billowed into two-plus fingers of dense, foamy, rocky, deep-tan/light-brown head with moderate retention. Color was a gorgeous Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with CANadian-quality clarity. Nose smelled like a liquefied chocolate cookie with notes of chocolate and vanilla with a bready, doughy sweetness. Mmm. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste was VERY chocolaty & quite sweet with an inherent doughiness. It was closer to cookie dough than an actual cookie. Finish remained sweet & chocolaty. I was less-than-enthused, but only because sweet does not do it for me. YMMV.

Jul 02, 2019
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tone77 from Pennsylvania

3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a bronze color with a 1 inch head. Smell is of cocoa, malts. Taste has lots of cocoa powder, some vanilla is present. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall, not exactly what I expect from this style, but an enjoyable beer nonetheless.

Mar 22, 2019
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polloenfuego from Canada (NB)

3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a tawny amber color with a decent thumb and a half of fluffy head. Break leaves a nice collar and some spotty lacing.

Smell is rich. I get cocoa powder, vanilla and spices. It really mixes well and is quite pleasant.

Taste follows the nose, with the vanilla and chocolate battling out for the lead. The spices come in on the back end and there is a hint of cinnamon that I pick up.

Feel is medium bodied with good carbonation. Finish is cocoa and spice.

Well slap my ass and call me Randy. I tried this beer on a lark and damn but if I don't like it. Not a beer you would want a ton of, but still solid. A way better winter/holiday beer than say some of the Central City stuff.

Nov 09, 2018
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

this tastes a little artificial to me, but i really like it for some reason, almost a guilty pleasure sort of thing. it tastes a little cheap too, and adjuncty, like their is no way they got these flavors from grain alone, there is straight up cocoa and vanilla in here i would have to think, both are forward and sweet, and do not taste malt derived, but i could be wrong. i like these flavors in an amber brew, not a stout or a porter, its a neat change of pace and a cool idea for a winter beer, i think this is the seasonal window that needs innovation more than any other, so it was cool to discover this, even if it seems a little contrived. the flavors work really well, sweet caramel malt with a little european character, vienna type sweetness there is cool with the dry powdered cocoa i taste, and its all extended and warmed up by vanilla, which is as flavorful as it is aromatic. sounds like this one may have changed a little over time based on the other reviews, but these flavors did not taste natural to me. good carbonation, some hops at the end, and a lighter body for all the flavor, its drinkable oddly enough. cool beer, weird and cool, i dig it.

Feb 12, 2018
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Beerbuds from Canada (ON)

3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: deep amber colour with off white head. Not very thick that fades quickly.
S: Smells of banana vanilla and toffee
T: tastes of caramel vanilla cocoa
M: pretty thin. light mouthfeel
O: Decent but nothing great

Jan 18, 2018
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rudzud from Massachusetts

3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Received this bottle in a Secret Santa. Cool!

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a nice crystal clear chestnut hue with a one finger tan head that fades slowly to leave a thin blanket and super light side lacing.

S - Aromas of winter warmer spices. Light chocolate, vanilla, metallic malts, winter warmer spices, light chocolate covered toffee. Quite pleasant.

T - Taste is similar to the nose. Rather strong metallic notes sadly. Nice light chocolate toffee, big vanilla notes, decent winter warmer spices. Malts are lightly sweet. Finish is more lingering vanilla.

M - Mouthfeel is very lightly carbonated, super thin on the body. Very very watery.

O - Overall, this was a solid winter warmer. If the mouthfeel was better this might be the best winter warmer I've ever had. It's still up there because of how nice the taste and aroma is. Man though, the mouthfeel ruins this beer!

Serving Type: Bottle

Dec 28, 2017
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JonnyBeers from Canada (BC)

2/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Last time I had this I couldn't believe what a shell it was of it's former self. Good job Molson. Sickly sweet and a big hit of extract awaits you. Yum...

Apr 30, 2017
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Guillaumeprovost from Canada (QC)

4.37/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a classic Pint glass.

A- Really thin collar of foam about 1/4 inch. Nice red/brown semi-transluscent color.

S- Pretty intense sugar smell.

M- Nothing really remarkable about the mouthfeel. Instead its really comforting to drink and well done. When you drink it you detect maple syrup aroma and fruits. Its really a winter warming stuff. I would probably buy again if I can.

O- Pretty cool beer wich goes down really easily. The aromas seems pretty authentics ( non-artificial ). The beer is overall really enjoyable and fun to drink


Mar 29, 2017
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pmoersch from California

3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.75

Initial taste is spicy and vanilla but that gives way to a creamy white chocolate finish. This is an ideal beer for winter consumption and with heartier beef meals. I could not drink this all the time due to the strong extra flavors but it does avoid the curse of most winter beers that lean too heavily on the spice.

Feb 11, 2017
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kevinlater from Canada (ON)

3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

like chocolate chip cookie dough in liquid form. a really pleasant and highly flavourful beer for the winter season. well, i really wouldn't mind having this at any time of the year. quite lacking in body though

Jan 07, 2017
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RobbieG from Canada (ON)

3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - deep Amber, fairly quick disappation of head
Aroma - very strong smell of vanilla and cocao
Flavour - continuation of the vanilla and chocolate, but fairly dissapointing finish, very bland. Has "watered-down" feeling.
Mouthfeel - medium carbonation, very little body or lingering sweetness from the malt
Overall - from first glance and smell, was very excited to taste this beer, flavour and mouth feel very underwhelming.

Dec 24, 2016
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Lewnanny from Canada (NB)

2.81/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer taste peppermint and chocolate. This beer could be serve at Christmas.... I had it two time this week and I was not impress with that taste. It is too sugary and the taste don't match at all what a beer should be.

Smell the chocolat and not inviting. The color is a dark orange.

The ABV is 5.5 % and the IBU is 22. You don't it since the sugary taste cover all the bitterness.

The 341 ml bottle was in sale and sold ad part of a degustation pack.

May 02, 2016
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smirks from Canada (ON)

4.48/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Serving: Tall boy can, chilled, poured into a pint glass.

Look: 1.5 inches of cream-colored, foamy head that dissipated fairly quickly (~3min). Color is a very red amber, almost a scarlet cream soda color. Lots of very prominent carbonation bubbles.

Smell: Predominently cocoa powder, like hot chocolate mix, dry, faint, milky.

Taste: Immediate cocoa powder taste with a hint of mint. Also a milky, creamy cream-soda vanilla flavour, followed by a roasty, chestnut quality and a little hops bitterness at the end before a final sour ale note. There is more going on than in the nose.

Feel: Pleasant carbonation, slightly thicker but not creamy mouthfeel.

Overall: An interesting winter offering. Comforting, like hot chocolate. Just enough flavour complexity and sweetness to be warming without throwing the entire spice rack into it.

Pairing: I would honestly drink this with powdered donuts.

Apr 01, 2016
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joesi from Canada (MB)

4.47/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

double edit: this seems like a very variable/two-faced beer, depending on the batch. I had a 6 pack from bottle, and one of a few that I had at room temperature tasted really nutty. I'm not sure why the others didn't. Sometimes it depends what you've eaten, but usually I don't eat anything before tasting beer (even hours), and just drink water.

Edit: Originally I tried it in a can, and now I tried it in bottle. Bottle seems a fair bit worse; I'm surprised that there's such a difference. Seems more watery, less flavorful. Could just be my perception though. The following review is only for the can.

Smells fantastic. I've had a couple other beers with this smell. Smells strongly of chocolate —liquor chocolates in particular— and some vanilla or cream soda smell as well. A bit of other typical beer smell perhaps, too, but mostly just the previous two.

Carbonation is medium high, and quite fine and not coarse. I like the mouthfeel.

Taste: Chocolate, vanilla (possibly a somewhat artificial vanilla? It reminds me of cream soda, granted cream soda is vanilla-flavored as well) are the most prominent. However, I can also notice a nice bit hops later on as it finishes, as well as occasionally some roasted taste. Overall the flavors are very well balanced in my opinion. Oh yes, and lastly it definitely tastes very sweet for a beer. I rather like that, especially for something that has chocolate and vanilla.

If I recall correctly, it reminds me of Waterloo Brown Ale with vanilla and chocolate flavors added to it. That was another sweet beer, but it didn't have as varied flavors as this, with most of it being roasted malt.

Overall I really love this beer. It's like a liquid desert — and while I've heard people describe beers like that before, this would be the first time I'd definitely or easily agree with them, more than any other beer I've had. Do note though that while I love it, if you don't like sweetness, or prefer prominent hops flavor, this probably isn't for you.

Feb 29, 2016
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kevofficiel from Canada (QC)

4.09/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Granville Island Lions Winter Ale

Look: Dark brown medium carbonation

Smell: chocolate malts vanilla and a touch of mint maybe

Taste: Chocolate, vanilla, mint.

Feels: mild carbonation

So overall would I recommend it? Yes give it a try, you won t be dissapointed. One of my favorite Granville Island Brewering

Feb 18, 2016
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fortyfield from Canada (ON)

4.04/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A shiny copper colour, noticeable carbonation, and a thin off white head forms. Doesn't stay long and doesn't have strong legs.

The smell is a strong aroma of chocolate which outweighs any of the other scents, though there may be some detectable vanilla as well. Chocolate is stronger but still not overwhelming. Very enjoyable.

The flavours come off as the aroma suggests. This is an interesting winter warmer, not quite like any of the 5 or so that I've had. The chocolate dominance is very enjoyable in the style.

The feel is just slightly thin and prickly, which to me is the only slightly disappointing aspect of the beer.

Overall I am very impressed and slightly surprised by this beer. It is one of my favourite winter warmers and is also my favourite beer from Granville Island. For the $3 price of the can, I recommend giving this a try.

Feb 03, 2016
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al_al1357 from Canada (ON)

3.84/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very interesting beer served from a can. Beautiful colour with a quickly dissapating but small remaining head. Not much on the nose other than molasses and chocolate. The taste is quite fascinating with notes of spices, cocoa, vanilla and sweet molasses. Smooth and creamy on the finish making this a very enjoyable beer for the long Canadian winter.

Jan 20, 2016
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crimsonknight331 from Canada (SK)

4.36/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is just an all around exceptional beer. It looks good, it smells good, and most importantly it tastes great.

It has that sweet fresh taste of winter Ales and it does it well. It tastes almost like a candy cane, which is perfect for that Christmas feel, but ends with the distinct ale taste.

Overall it's not the best winter ale I've ever had, that goes to Okanagan Springs winter ale but the Lions by Granville Island is a very close second.

Dec 17, 2015
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RQuigley from Canada (ON)

4.39/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This tasting was opened as my Day 14th of beer in my Beer Advent Calendar for 2015. This is the 2nd year my wife has made me one of these and it is a great to open a beer every day.
Number 13 - 473ml can - 5.5% - 22IBU
A>4 : Dark with a light head
S>4.25 Vanilla
T>4.5 Hints on chocolate & vanilla
M>4.5 Smooth, creamy, like the finish, bit of a bight
Oall>4.5 Like this Winter Ale a lot. This is a great beer to just enjoy

Lions Winter Ale from Grandville Island Brewing from BC. rq @RorQuig

Dec 15, 2015
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headlessparrot from Canada (ON)

3.4/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

For such a widely available, mass-produced seasonal, it's actually pretty tasty. So that's the good news. The bad news is that it doesn't hold a candle to the really great versions of the style out there (I'm thinking of Deschutes' Jubelale, in particular).

Pours a cola colour, ruby-ish around the edges. Decent, carbonation-heavy head that recedes fairly quickly to a few islands. Smell is cocoa powder (like hot chocolate mix?), artificial vanilla, caramel malt, chocolate malt? Chocolate milk syrup? And the taste echoes most of those notes, even down to the almost gritty, chocolate-powder-like flavour. Some dark cherry notes? The vanilla feels a bit off, here, somehow synthetic? And the whole affair is rather sweet. Body is light--almost too light, and yet it feels heavy in its sweetness and artificiality.

A mixed bag. I always remember this one fondly, but every year when it finds its way back into rotation, I'm reminded why I'm never that sad to see it go again in the spring.

Dec 10, 2015
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InsideLiquorMan from Canada (AB)

2.78/5  rDev -26.5%
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.

Oct 28, 2015
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BeerWatcher from Canada (ON)

4.04/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

Jan 11, 2015
Lions Winter Ale from Granville Island Brewery
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 271 ratings