One of the city's oldest microbreweries set the bar for winter ales long ago with its renowned iteration, and now, it's launching a long-awaited companion in the brand new Lions Summer Ale.
Granville Island Brewing brewmaster Kevin Emms says the follow-up to the brewery's Lions Winter Ale has been in the works for quite some time, and he's excited to launch it at the brewery this weekend.
"Some of our inspiration for this beer came from that legendary Winter Ale—obviously that beer is a huge success for our brewery and we still get compliments on it all the time," Emms tells the Straight over the phone.
"It's become the definitive beer for winter in Canada, and everyone has their own winter ale story, so we were looking to create a companion to that, that would capture the spirit of B.C. summer."
For Emms, that meant creating a beer perfectly suited for being outdoors, experiencing an English Bay sunset, and relaxing on the patio with friends while sharing stories of a busy day at the beach.
The longtime brewer says the most recent addition to GIB's epic lineup of brews makes for a more well-rounded selection of warm-weather styles.
"Now it feels more complete. Something I actually like a lot about it is that it feels like it really rounds out our summer offerings a bit," he says, adding that the new Summer Ale will be available in the bottled version of the brewery's summer mingler pack.
Where the Winter Ale is more suitable for sipping around a fire after a long day on the mountain, Emms says his latest is quite the opposite.
"Where our Winter Ale is more of a sipper, the Summer Ale is more crushable," he says.
Ringing in at a very manageable 4.7 percent ABV, the slightly hazy golden ale is made with passion fruit and pineapple juice, for a slightly fruity flavour that offers a tart edge. That juiciness is balanced with subtle biscuit notes for an easy-going summer beverage.
"Summer Ale was really born out of our small batch program," Emms admits. "There were several versions that we brewed onsite at our Granville Island location before we arrived at the one that was truly dialed in."
Taking inspiration from a handful of different beers where he'd previously worked with fruity and sour flavours, Emms strove to create a beer unlike anything currently offered on the Canadian market.
"To me, what's really cool about this beer is that it's really approachable, but at the same time it's something that is totally new," he says.
"I know there are other golden ales with fruit, but the approach and combination of the dryness and tartness is new and unique, especially for a brewery like us.
"It does finish a bit on the dry side, and it's not overly sweet. It's definitely meant to cleanse your palette and refresh you."
While the idea behind the beer may have presented Emms with a difficult task, it's one he considers a milestone in his career.
"Taking the spirit of Winter Ale and applying that to the summer to create something approachable was a huge challenge, but as a brewer, it makes me proud," he says.
Emms and the team at the brewery invite beer lovers down to Granville Island Brewing's headquarters at 1441 Cartwright Street on Saturday (April 1) to try out the brewery's latest offering.
Watch out for Lions Summer Ale in B.C. and Alberta as of April 10, and across Canada shortly after.