Review: Granville Island Brewing - Lion's Winter Ale

A couple months back I posted a review about Granville's Heff. It was a pretty solid summer beer (even though I reviewed it out-of-season.) Recently one of the boys brought over Granville's Winter Mingler pack, and while all four beers were delicious, one in particular stood out that I thought might pique some people's interest.  That beer is none other than their Winter Ale (and this time we're still in the right season to review it!)  I ran out of the bottles, but lucky for me a fellow OBC member happened to bring a few cans over and left one behind for me to enjoy (thanks Luc!)

This hearty winter ale weighs in at a 5.5% alc./vol.  It pours a deep brown-red with an off-white head with little retention. The nose gives off a beautiful mix of sweet caramel and vanilla, and I can detect faint traces of banana, nuts and roasted malts.  The banana notes remind me of the Heff, and I'm wondering if the two share the same yeast (which commonly contributes to estery/fruity notes in beer.) When you dive in, the first thing that hits is that sweetness you get in the nose, followed by a strong roasted maltiness, hints of cinnamon and fruitiness. All very well balanced with no bitterness. The mouth coating is smooth and creamy, with a medium body and light carbonation.

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Overall, this is a nice change of pace for me.  It feels like all I've been drinking is stouts or IPAs for the last 6 months. That being said, this is something I would have one or two of in an evening - it's definitely not a session ale.  I'd serve this as a dessert beer, and I would most likely pair it with an icecream of some sort; the obvious choices being vanilla or caramel, although I could even see a mint chocolate going well with this.

If you're interested in giving it a try, you can pick up individual 500mL cans at the LCBO for about $3 a pop.  Spring beers are already starting to hit the shelves, so I recommend acting fast before they're gone. Have a try and let me know what you think!

Cheers!

James