Granville Island Brewery is a unique entity in the BC Craft Beer scene. While the small brewery was purchased by Molson Coors back in 2009 the direction and quality of the beer still remains in the hands of brewmaster Vern Lambourne. Granville Island Brewery’s focus for sales may be on their 6-packs and 12-packs which are brewed off-site at the Vancouver Molson-Coors Brewery but the inspiration of those brews and the continued passion for BC Craft Beer takes place in the 10-hectolitre, Granville Island micro-brewery.
You may be familiar with the Black Notebook series of beers stemming from Lambourne’s long history of recipes and brewing experience. This series of beers is in Granville Islands homage to their success and a constant reminder of why they continue to brew at the forefront of BC Craft Beer. The beer coming from this smaller than average brewery on Granville Island has not only remained at the forefront of BC Craft Beer though the industry’s recent explosion but it is Vern’s passion for craft beer that has developed the recipes for both the small batch beers and larger volume, well known brews such as the Lions Winter Ale, Ginga Ninja, Brocton IPA and other staple, year-round options. It is the small Granville Island located brewery where each of these beers are developed and improved over time under the guidance and direction of Vern Lambourne.
Despite great success at a micro and macro brewing level, Granville Island still faces the struggles of legislation in serving beer the way they please. In the long queue for a lounge license, patrons are consistently turned away in awe that they can not be served more than a single 12oz glass from the ‘lounge’ at the brewery itself. being situated on the immensely popular Granville Island tourist destination the brewery sees great fluctuations in seasonal business. While cruise ships and summer tourism drive a large amount of business in tours, tastings and store sales, during low-season times business can be slow and infrequent. The limitation of a single 12oz serving limits the business to passersby and convenience rather than a social craft beer destination.
The launch of a growler series of brews recently has helped to drive traffic to the brewery with beers which are only available for growler fills direct from the brewery. This strategy helps to avoid double taxation on the beer sold at the tasting room but also gives a reason for craft beer enthusiasts to venture to Granville Island. The Growler on its own will not likely change the need for a lounge license but in the meantime it allows more people to enjoy Granville Island Beer in the comfort of their own homes.
Any connotation between Granville Island and Molson-Coors should not be taken in vain. The relationship between these two parties has actually been a great asset for BC Craft Beer. Molson-Coors has had the foresight to keep their hands out of the process and allow Lambourne to flex his brewing muscle while providing him the resources necessary to spread craft beer to a larger audience than even conceivable prior to acquisition. Granville Island Brewery opened their doors way back in 1984 and much of the original business philosophy remains today. Granville Island beer is often viewed as a gateway to craft beer through well marketed, widely available, consistent, quality craft beer. As you move beyond the gateway an introduction to the Black Notebook Series in 650ml bottles will keep your palate satisfied with creative, unique and high quality BC Craft Beer.
Click on the images below to see more photos from the Granville Island Brewery