The Sip: Ranking Granville Island Brewing’s New Beers

The long-standing brewery rolls out a rebrand. 

April 30, 2019

By Nathan Caddell / Photo: Granville Island Brewing

Granville Island Brewing is something of a sleeping bear. And it may have just been poked.

Founded in 1984, it calls itself “Canada’s first microbrewery,” but has since become one of B.C.’s more well-known brands (being bought by Molson Coors in 2009 certainly didn’t hurt production capabilities). It’s also found itself in something of a state of stagnation in the past few years.

As smaller, hungrier breweries continue to nip at its heels, Granville Island may have become lost in the fray. Indeed, that much was acknowledged by Jackie Fox, general manager of Granville Island Brewing (GIB), who admitted that the company “hasn’t evolved to the same point as some of our competitors.”

That means that, with over 150 breweries in B.C., having a “West Coast” motif to your brand doesn’t really say much anymore. As such, GIB has identified a completely new look for its cans—they call it “vibrant industrial”—moving away from one of the more iconic designs in Vancouver brewing to one that features a nod towards the past of the Island it represents.

And with the rebrand comes some new beers as well. The English Bay Pale Ale was granted a stay of execution, but the other three flagship beers are completely new and represent something of a change in direction from head brewer Kevin Emms.

Here’s what we thought of the three new additions.

3. Northwest Pale Ale

First off, we’re sorry if you came here to see us slag on Granville Island’s new offerings. Truth be told, they’re all pretty good. (And yes, a mighty improvement on some of the past creations, we’ll get to that later though.) Some of the newbies are better than others, yes, but this pale ale will no doubt have its fans. ‘

Drawing on beers like Portland-based Deschutes’ Mirror Pond Pale Ale, this is a nicely rounded, dry hopped pale ale that can pair with almost anything on the food side.

2. German-Style Pilsner

The GIB crew labels this one as “sessionable”, and they hit the mark spot on. It’s a very easy-drinking brew that pairs extremely well with pizza. What else could you possibly want?

1. West Coast IPA

To say we weren’t fans of the Infamous IPA, GIB’s former entry into the category, is putting it quite lightly.

But this new addition to the GIB family clearly represents where the brewery is trying to go. It’s a fruity, hoppy, delicious IPA with massive notes of grapefruit and melon. At 6.5 percent and a shocking 65 IBU (which measures bitterness), it’s the brewery’s crowning achievement in what should prove to be a successful rebrand.

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