Lions Winter Ale | Granville Island Brewery

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Lions Winter AleLions Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Granville Island Brewery
British Columbia, Canada

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

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Reviews: 74 | Ratings: 247
Photo of Guillaumeprovost
4.37/5  rDev +17.8%
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


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Photo of pmoersch
3.97/5  rDev +7%
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.

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Photo of kevinlater
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%
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

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Photo of RobbieG
3.6/5  rDev -3%
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.

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Photo of Lewnanny
2.81/5  rDev -24.3%
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.

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Photo of smirks
4.48/5  rDev +20.8%
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.

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Photo of joesi
4.47/5  rDev +20.5%
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.

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Photo of kevofficiel
4.09/5  rDev +10.2%
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

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Photo of fortyfield
4.04/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

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Photo of al_al1357
3.84/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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Photo of crimsonknight331
4.36/5  rDev +17.5%
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.

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Photo of RQuigley
4.39/5  rDev +18.3%
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

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Photo of headlessparrot
3.4/5  rDev -8.4%
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.

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Photo of InsideLiquorMan
2.78/5  rDev -25.1%
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 BeerWatcher
4.04/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.79/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at the LCBO for just under $3.00 for a 473ml can. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well and pours a good dark head that is gone within 1min. Dark brown and filtered.

S- Lots of malt here. Tons of chocolate. Almost inordinate amount of chocolate.

T- Chocolate and spices. Hint of cinnamon. Bit of hops

M- Nice and creamy but a touch bitter

O- Nice beer. Will buy again if I see it. Nice break'er up'er.

Food Pairing

This wonderful little brew went well with...... Chicken wings boiled to perfection in oil than topped with some hot sauce.


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Photo of LampertLand
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

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

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

S-chocolate malts

T-caramel & coffee

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

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

prost LampertLand

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Photo of Daefido
4.5/5  rDev +21.3%

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

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Photo of Archy
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%

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 wolf6656
4.5/5  rDev +21.3%

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

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Photo of souvenirs
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Purchased a 473 ml can from the LCBO for $2.90 CDN. While I've enjoyed the winter warmers thus far I haven't been truly impressed by anyone. Hoping that this beer changes that. Served fairly cold into a pint glass.

Appearance - Dark red color, 2 fingers of frothy off-white head. tons of effervescent bubbles. Overall great color with good head retention and even some lacing. So far so good.

Smell - Big molasses nose, some fruitcake and other Christmas baked goods. Milk chcoloate is also rather prominent.

Taste- Heavy on the malts and the spices, caramel, molasses and mixed chocolates (milk and white) as well as a nice blend of spices. Probably the tastiest of the style I've had yet.

Mouthfeel - A bit strange in that one sip feels very smooth and rich and yet another will be on thin side. Medium carbonation and a nice warming effect with a moderately dry finish.

Overall - Very good winter warmer, probably my favorite I've had this season. Can realistically see my self picking up another can or two of this during the holiday season.

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Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.42/5  rDev -7.8%
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 TerryW
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of Digimaika2
3.7/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

(4.0) A: Beautiful clear mahogany-amber with a sizeable and creamy head. Recedes to a blanket fairly quick while clinging to the glass well.

(4.0) S: Dry cocoa, vanilla, marshmallows, figs and dates, some dark fruits (mostly cherries), and spice. Overall leans towards a generally sweet (marshmallow & cocoa) aroma but it’s very enticing and wonderful stuff.

(3.5) T: Cocoa, dark fruits, nutmeg, and caramel. The taste comes across as a subdued and scaled back version of the aroma. Slight mineral quality. Restrained hop and malt presence.

(3.5) M: Lighter bodied with a lighter carbonation. Fairly thin, a bit powdery, and rather flat.

(3.75) D: Flavours could be more prominent and mouthfeel is lacking a bit, but overall still a decent winter ale. This would actually be a good gateway winter ale to introduce to those just getting into spiced/hoppy ales.

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Lions Winter Ale from Granville Island Brewery
3.71 out of 5 based on 247 ratings.
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