Straight from Canada’s first microbrewery, Granville Island Brewing’s Vern Lambourne gives his expert opinion on why you should participate in Beer Cheers this holiday season.

12 Reasons Why You Should Drink Beer Over The Holidays

  1. To make shopping marathons more bearable

Long line-ups and endless searches to find the perfect gift are inevitable during the holiday season, but shopping pain doesn’t have to be. Treat yourself to a lunch brew or two to break up the day, and make the mall marathon more tolerable.

  1. To put up with your annoying relatives

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Although we all love our kooky clans, there’s nothing like a beer remedy to increase your tolerance for these inescapable awkward encounters.

  1. To flush out those heavy holiday meals

Beer, especially dark beer, like Barley Wine, contains fibre. After countless servings of turkey, potatoes and stuffing, you’ll be grateful to have counteracted those holiday helpings with a beverage that will keep you regular and absorb feast fats.

  1. To deal with your in-laws

Enough said.

  1. To help you sleep during the cold winter months

Beer hops contain chemical properties that promote the zzzs. Drink a hoppy beer at dinner to help you snooze throughout those cool Canadian nights.

  1. To cheers to the end of a perfect day on the slopes

The robust flavour of winter warm beers, like Lions Winter Ale, are the perfect pairing to winter escapades. Come in from the cold and celebrate the best winter has to offer.

  1. To act as your plus one

Whether it’s a work holiday party or a New Years Eve bash, a roasty bottle of beer is the ideal stand-in for an actual date. Already have a plus one? Grab two beers and make it a double date.

  1. To keep you hoppy and healthy for the holidays

Hops contained in beer contain antiviral properties that fight against cold-like symptoms in adults. Though we don’t recommend using alcohol as a primary medicinal source, we beer lovers can dream.

  1. To prove that you’re a knowledgeable holiday host

Impress your guests by pairing a delicious Honey Smoked Scallop and Bacon Chowder with a hearty Lions Winter Ale, or a smooth Pot de Crème with a rich Chocolate Imperial Stout.

  1. To implement your best Saint Nick impression

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry…

  1.  To spread the holiday cheer(s)

Beer is the quintessential social beverage. Drink a few beers, share a few laughs and cheers to lasting memories this holiday season.

  1.  To save up for the next holiday season

After all the gift exchanges and elaborate holiday events, you’ll surely search for ways to make extra cash in the new year. Return your empties to the Granville Island Brewing retail store and receive 10 cents for each GIB recycled bottle/can. After a holiday season of beer drinking, it will be the gift that keeps on giving…

Cocoa Loco Blog Image

December brings cold temperatures and the threat of snow, (code for rain in Vancouver’s case) making beers with a little warmth and character that much more appealing. This November and December we see the return of the warm and jolly, with two holiday Small Batch releases – our Cocoa Loco Chocolate Imperial Stout and 2014 vintage Barley Wine.

With Cocoa Loco’s monstrous blend of roasted malts, cocoa and coffee flavours, it’s no wonder this ultra-bold creature makes an appearance every winter. After a very limited run last year we are back to full production. This dark chocolate coloured ale is brewed with four different types of malt, Sterling hops, cocoa and cocoa nibs, and rings in at 8.7% abv and 45 BUs. Cocoa Loco is a full, bittersweet somewhat fruity concoction with the unmistakable flavours and aromas of chocolate. Perfect for the holidays, pair it with blue cheese and rich desserts.

Now there’s nothing small about our latest batch of Barley Wine. Aged in Jack Daniels barrels, this year’s brew has an abv of 11.5% and a BU of 60. Full of flavour, our Barley Wine is loaded with Australian hops – balancing the beer’s sweet malt character and dried fruit flavours, while allowing the oak, vanilla and alcohol characteristics of the barrels to shine through.

The perfect accompaniment to a cold day, (and any beer aficionado’s stocking) we have also cellared a few cases of our 2012 and 2013 batches of Barley Wine – which will be released alongside this year’s brew. Look for all three batches in our retail store.

Cheers, happy holidays and stay warm!

Both additions to Vern’s Black Notebook Series are available in our Taproom & retail store on Granville Island, as well as in select stores in BC & AB for a limited time.

Decade-by-decade beer pairings for three standout Movember ’staches

Growing and styling a moustache can be a long, involved process, and conditions need to be just right. Length of growth and trimming can greatly affect the look, thickness, colour, and of course ‘flavour’ (kind of like brewing a beer!).

Since we’ve been around for 30 years, I decided to pair each decade’s classic ’stache style with a classic GIB brew. Let’s start with the old school classic:

The 80s copIsland Lager

Pair with a turtleneck sweater, pair of aviators, and a classic Island Lager. Think Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop. You want to make sure that this brew passes smoothly and uninterrupted through your neatly trimmed whiskers to really get the full spectrum of aromas. Keeping the ’stache clean and trimmed also allows you to pair this lager with anything thrown onto the coals. You don’t want leftover BBQ sauce tainting your brew now, do you?



The 90s ski instructor – English Bay Pale Ale

Pair with a pastel snowsuit, long flowing hair (bonus points for frosted tips), and our award-winning English Bay Pale Ale. This skillfully balanced brew is so laid-back it won’t mind saying “hi!” to that duster on your upper lip. However, be pre-warned; this brew demands stunning views, casual banter, 90s mountain slang, and a good beef burger. Shred it to the max, dude!


The 20s hipster connoisseur – Barley Wine

Pair with a chambray shirt buttoned all the way up, and an aged Barley Wine. This moustache and brew were cool even before we discovered that they’re deeply rooted in English origins. Just like your ’stache takes time to wax, this complex brew can be cellared and enjoyed for up to five years… Which is probably about how long it will take for that patchy caterpillar you call a moustache to fill in enough for you to call yourself a connoisseur.


These are just my personal suggestions, but we would love to hear yours.

Get involved with our Movember initiative at

Happy Mo’ing, gents!




Inspired by Ireland’s patron saint and my favourite Irish band, Thin Lizzie, I bring you Shamrocker Potato Stout. A beer brewed for spring, this stout, much like the music that inspired it, has a complexity that belies its simple list of ingredients.

Amped up with tones of coffee, malts, barley and a hint of caramel, Shamrocker is a dry Irish-style stout brewed with delta hops and crystal malts – with potatoes added to the mash as a special nod to the Emerald Isle.

Chiming in with a 4.8% abv and 35 BU, Shamrocker is the latest addition to our Black Notebook Small Batch series. A black but not heavy medley of Celtic proportion, this potato stout has a dry finish that will leave you begging for an encore.

Shamrocker Potato Stout is available now for a limited time at our Granville Island Taproom and in selected liquor stores in BC.

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Under the cover of malty darkness and mighty hops, we find a brew that could have only come from one place, Cascadia – the inspiration behind our latest re-release, Cloak & Dagger Cascadian Dark Ale.

One of the newest beer-styles to hit the beer scene, Cascadian Dark Ale is named after the geographical area that inspired it. With a dominant hop flavour typical of a CDA, the hop-factor of this year’s brew has been upped; having increased the amount of aroma hops found in the beer. We kept the bitterness the same, but switched Amarillo hops for the Ahtanum variety before dry hopping with Chinook – two of the hop varieties found in Cascadia.

Though black in colour, the roast malt flavour of the brew is refined – rounded out with mildly sweet caramel malt flavours and a dry finish which is credited to the roasted malts and copious amount of hops added to the beer.

Gold medal winner at the 2012 World Beer Championships, this year’s batch of Cloak & Dagger may have more hops than in previous brews, but is still packed with the complex blend of flavours you have come to expect of the Ale.

Back for a limited time, our 2014 Cloak & Dagger Cascadian Dark Ale has an ABV of 6% and a BU of 60. Look for it in our Taproom & retail store on Granville Island, as well as in selected stores in BC, Alberta and Manitoba.


Auld Skool Label

Back for a limited engagement and with a flavour as bold as the lochs, hills and coastline that inspired it, we introduce our newly named Auld Skool Scottish Ale.

The Scottish Ale category is at least as diverse as the Pale Ale category but tends more towards malt flavours, whereas Pale Ale’s tend to be more hop-forward. Scottish ales can range from light amber to dark brown in colour, dry to sweet, low alcohol to high. This year’s Auld Skool sits towards the bold end of things.

Full-bodied and malt-forward, this re-vamped re-release is a bold brew of pale malt, crystal malt, roasted barley, a touch of wheat malt and Sterling hops.

With bold coffee-like aromas and an off-dry finish, Auld Skool Scottish Ale has an ABV of 6.25% and a BU of 20 – making it the perfect brew to enjoy on a cold (or in Vancouver’s case, wet) day.

Pick up a bottle and toast to Robbie Burns Day. This one pairs well with, (you guessed it) haggis or a hearty meat or veggie stew – thanks in part to this beer’s roasted and caramel malts.

Dark, strong and moderately sweet, look for our 2014 Auld Skool Scottish Ale is available in our Taproom & retail store on Granville Island and in select stores in BC and Alberta.

Our Brewmaster

Always wanted to know the difference between an Ale and a Lager? Or when hops are added? Or the correct serving temperature for a stout?

Whether you're a 10th level beer mason or just a guy who picks up a six pack for the game, you can ask the Brewmaster. Simply leave a comment for Vern and check back for an answer. Who knows your question could be the topic of Vern's next post.