beer: winter ale (love letters to granville island)

truth be told, i’m not much of a winter girl.
i’m a sun lover and i hate being cold… and in a lot of places winter = sun, but not in vancouver… it usually means grey weather.  now, grey weather i can dig when it’s not freezing, but combine the two and i’m fucking out.
which is why i’m spending 15 nights in hawaii in december.  i like to call it “the great winter escape!”

one of the things that i really do love about winter is the seasonal return of winter ales.
in particular, this one:


granville island’s lions winter ale is the first one i had ever tried and still remains my absolute favourite.

now, if i may back up… i have a long and healthy relationship with granville island beers.  i have been drinking them faithfully and at times exclusively for about 10 years now.  they have never done me wrong.
and my personal palate leans me towards full flavoured beers on the darker scale, and GI definitely had my back there.

i first fell in love with their pale ale.  it was rich and not hoppy like a lot of pale ales and oh-so easy to drink.  believe me, i tried to stop (no i didn’t) but it’s just too tasty to resist. and it was local & independent (at the time), so wins all around.

then they wowed me further when they introduced their kitsalano maple cream ale.  oh the maple cream… i honestly do not have the capacity to count the number of bottles of this beer that i drank over a solid 5 year period.  this was my absolute go-to beer.  rain or shine, this one went with everything.  and i know, because i tried to pair it with everything.  and it all worked.
i would say that this beer was a signature item in my fridge.  i always, and i mean ALWAYS had at least a 6 pack on hand… usually more. one time i had a keg of it on my balcony, lol.

now, around this time, the robson hefeweizen came out for the summer.  and it was a delight.  i remember when my work teamed up with GI to promote it and i spent an entire summer drinking this for free at various bars with rock stars… ah, good times.

and my beer soaked memory fails me, but i believe it was the same year that the hef was introduced, the winter came out in the fall.  and wow.  if i thought i had swooned before, it was nothing to my mad lust for this beer.
and at first, it was hard to find… certain liquor stores would carry it and when i’d see it, i’d buy all of it.  no jokes, like 6 or more 6-packs at a time.  i was obsessed.  when i found out it was to be a seasonal release, i started hording.
then bars started to carry it.  the first place i recall was the cambie… and they served up super cheap ($8 was it?)  pitchers of it on mondays.  -as a sidebar, drinking draft at the cambie is a terrible idea, but that’s a whole other blog-

there was something about the vanilla symphony in my mouth hole that made my taste buds sing.  it was like they had taken my favourite beer -the maple cream- and turned up the volume on it.  it was darker, heavier, more flavourful, but still had the qualities that made me fall in love with the maple in the first place.

now this beer… well, to me, it pairs perfectly with winter nights… hockey games, fireplaces, couch forts, movies… you know… all those things that you want to do with your winter.  stay indoors.
but i’ve also roadtrip’d this beer and found that it also pairs well with playing in the snow and outdoor ice rinks.  and hot tubs in whistler. in short, it’s the booze soundtrack to cold weather.

winter beers are pretty common nowadays… most of the indie breweries make one, and even some of the larger breweries… and i’ve tried a number that i’ve enjoyed, but none that i love like the granville island lions winter ale.
it’s like it’s set the gold standard for my tastebuds and everything else is just a weak imposter in my mouth.

the winter showed up a few weeks ago in liquor stores and my fridge is fully stocked.  in fact, i’ve already gone through 4 6-packs of it.  *note – they now sell it in cans – don’t do it. it’s best out of the bottle, no glass required*
and last weekend we had a guest over in the form of captain charles and i gave him his very first GI winter ale.
he opened it, smelled it, looked up at me with amazement and said “WOW, this smells incredible” and took his first sip and just smiled.  and that’s how you know a beer is good.

…and now i’m going to drink one, because it’s my day off dammit and it’s all i can think of…


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jen
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 11:12:24

    Hear, hear!

    I couldn’t have done a better job of describing it myself.


  2. Moonbeam Bouvier
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 11:43:39

    I fully support your morning beer adventure ’cause if I wasn’t working right now, I’d be right next to you getting morning drunk.


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