Granville Island Brewing ("GIB") was founded in 1984 by Mitch Taylor, who recruited the company's first brewmaster, Rainer Kallähne. Taylor and Kallähne were jointly responsible for planning, building and starting up GIB during its early days. The current brewmaster, Vern Lambourne, joined GIB in 2002. In August 2005, Andrew Peller Wines purchased GIB from Mr. Taylor and in 2006 renovated the original facilities beneath the Granville Bridge in Vancouver, B.C. and expanded into new, larger facilities located in Kelowna. In 2009 Molson Coors Canada purchased GIB through its subsidiary, Creemore Springs Brewing. Though most of its current brewing is done in Kelowna, the original brewery continues to produce some of the company's beers, and offers daily beer-tasting tours.
When GIB's Lions Winter Ale ("LWA") made a rare appearance in Bucky's local LCBO, he picked up a 473 ml can with a printed production date of October 2012. As with most of the darker beers he buys, Bucky served this one only slightly chilled as opposed to straight from the fridge. LWA was 5.5% alcohol by volume.
LWA poured a clear brown/orange colour, with a ruby core when backlit. Pouring produced 1.5" of creamy beige head that faded to a foamy collar and thin film within 3 minutes, leaving a fair bit of lacing and spotting down the glass. Its aroma consisted of a distinct milk chocolate and vanilla sweetness, with undertones of unidentified spice. LWA's flavour very much followed its aroma, beginning with a milk chocolate and vanilla sweetness, followed by a subtle spice (too subtle for me to specifically identify), and ending with a very mild bitter aftertaste. The mouthfeel was creamy, but I found the beer somewhat light bodied and thin for a beer designed to keep you warm on a cold Canadian winter night. The level of carbonation was quite low, but well suited to the brew. Overall, an enjoyable beer with a combination of flavours and aromas that I haven't experienced in one beer before. At $2.85 per 473 ml can, LWA is neither cheap nor pricey.
With a rare sighting of a West Coast beer in Bucky's local LCBO, he pounced on a 473 ml can of Granville Island's English Bay Pale Ale ("EBPA"). EBPA was 5.0% alcohol by volume with a production date of October 2013 printed on the bottom of the can.
EBPA poured a very clear copper/amber colour with plenty of visible bubbles. A fairly aggressive pour produced 1 inch of yellow tinged off-white head, which faded quickly into a collar of foam and thin film, leaving some minor spotting down the glass. The beer's aroma was mild and dominated by caramel and bready malts. Its taste was also dominated by the malts, beginning with a slightly sweet caramel malt flavour, and ending with a just a touch of a delayed impact hop bitterness that lingered for a few seconds as an aftertaste...nicely balanced. I found the beer to be quite light bodied with a soft carbonation, with the mouthfeel smooth, although a bit on the thin side. Overall, a respectable effort from Granville Island, but this one seems brewed not to offend and there is nothing really memorable here that makes we want to come back. That being said, I certainly wouldn't turn one down. Reasonably priced at $2.85 per 473 ml can, but not in the same league as this brewery's Lion's Winter Ale.
Bucky was pleasantly surprised by the arrival of Granville Island's Robson Street Hefeweizen (“RSH”) in his local liquor store, and added a 473 ml can to his basket full of beer. RSH was 5.0% alcohol and had a date code that read C 12 4 93. This can't be March 2012…too long ago! If anyone knows how to read this code, please let me know.
RSH had a colour that varied from light orange to a darker muddy orange, with about ½” of bright wide head from pouring. The head lasted for about 3 minutes before fading to a thin film and collar of foam, leaving behind some minor spotting. Its aroma was very nice…sweet orange, lemon, yeast and an occasional flash of melted butter, with the alcohol becoming detectable as the beer warmed. Its flavour was equally appealing; sweet orange up front, followed by lemon, yeast, a touch of vanilla, with a delayed spicy clove finish. Not quite in the league of the best German hefeweizens, but very enjoyable nonetheless…and the Germans did have a 1,000 year head start on Granville Island. The beer was light bodied, with a fairly soft carbonation relative to most beers of the style, and a dry mouth feel. In summary, the best Canadian made hefeweizen that I have tried to date. Selling for $2.90 per 473 ml can at the time of writing.