Vern is all smiles with this 3 year vertical of aged Barley Wine

Vern is all smiles with this 3 year vertical of aged Barley Wine

Aging a beer is a little like enjoying music. You either chase the newest release, or you stick to the classics. Some like bass, some like treble, and some just love to sing kumbaya. But no matter what your taste, there is one thing that we can all agree on; and that’s the love of better beer. So we’ve devised your step-by-step guide on how to age your beer.


First things first:

3 year vertical of aged Barley Wine. From L to R: 2012, 2013, 2014.

3 year vertical of aged Barley Wine. From L to R: 2012, 2013, 2014.

There are a few things you need to look for. For starters, look for brews that have been ‘bottle-conditioned’. The active yeast will continue to ferment the beer as long as you store it, lending it new and exciting flavours.

A hoppy or seasonal beer that takes advantage of fresh ingredients should stay that way. Hops fade with time, so drink your favourite seasonal beer, IPAs, or any other hop forward beer as soon as you get home.

High-alcohol beers tend to age better. Look for a brew with an ABV of 8-10% or higher. Typically, higher percent beers are so complex that some amount of age will take off the sharper edges and you will get a velvety finish.

Now with all of this in mind, you’re ready to get started. We recommend you try aging your favourite Stout or Barley Wine. Try our: Cocoa Loco Chocolate Imperial Stout or 2014 Barley Wine (available at our brewery, and all great liquor stores).


How to store it:

  • Find the right spot. A dark cool area that’s kept around 10-12 degrees Celsius. This prevents the heat or light from degrading your beer and turning it into skunk water.
  • Store your bottles upright. Most beers are capped with a crown bottle cap, which has a plastic lining that protects the beer from the metal. If you store a beer on its side, the beer will eat away that lining over time, and eventually spoil the beer.
  • Keep track of when you put it into storage, and drink your beer at its prime.


How long should you age your beer?

Enjoying a vertical of aged barley wine

Enjoying a vertical of aged barley wine

This is the fun part, but it’s also an exercise in restraint. For starters, we recommend buying 4-6 bombers of the same beer. Try one when you get home, one in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years. Make it your special occasion beer. Commit to drinking one of your bottles every Canada Day for as long as they last for instance. And always remember to invite the homies.


Flavours to expect:

Although every beer is different, here is a quick look at what you can expect to happen over time:

  • Harshness increases
  • Alcohol sharpness decrease
  • Fruity and floral esters decrease
  • Catty/blackcurrant character increase
  • Bready character increases
  • Sweetness (toffee/honey) increases
  • Caramel flavours increase
  • Earthy character increases
  • Straw character increases
  • Woody character increases
  • Wine/sherry/stale fruit flavours increases
  • Meaty-like/broth flavours can develop

barley wine

Just like a good 24-hour marinade gives you the meat sweats, by the time you’re ready to crack your first aged brew, you’ll be salivating with the beer sweats. Believe us when we say, it’s worth the wait.
Happy aging!

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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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?

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