Griffin's Bow - Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

Not Rated.
Griffin's BowGriffin's Bow

Educational use only; do not reuse.

655 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 655
Reviews: 230
rAvg: 3.52
pDev: 18.18%
Wants: 18
Gots: 65 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: sommersb on 10-28-2011

From the aroma and notes of sweet honeysuckle, pineapple, and grapefruit, to richer hints of burnt sugar, and toffee, this intriguing brew is full of complex flavors. The distinct character of toasted oak adds depth and contrasts the light fruit sweetness. This unique take on a barley wine ale surprises with its smoothness and balance of fruit, hop citrus, and warmth.

Hops: Nelson Sauvin, Zeus
Malts: Two-Row Harrington, Metcalfe, Copeland Pale, Paul’s Caramalt
Aged on toasted oak
View: Beers (111) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 655 | Reviews: 230
Reviews by ThisWangsChung:
Photo of ThisWangsChung
2.04/5  rDev -42%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Poured into a Budweiser pilsener glass (not a word out of any of you)

A: Pours a brilliantly clear golden color with effervescent carbonation. The head is shockingly good, it's a slightly offwhite color with fantastic retention and lacing.

S: There's a distinct scent of pineapple from the Nelson Sauvin hops (possibly?) and some caramel notes, but otherwise it's surprisingly subdued. Not that boozy on the nose.

T: Uh oh. It starts off nicely enough, with some subtle hints of pineapple, caramel, and toffee...until the finish comes, loaded with buttery diacetyl and candy-coated metallic notes. It's a sickeningly sweet, cloying mess on the back end, and it completely ruins what could have been a semi-decent barleywine. I can't give it a 1, though, because of how well the alcohol is hidden. Still, it's pretty bad.

M: Heavy, but not excessively so. This would be pretty drinkable if not for the lousy flavors, honestly. Has a long, lingering finish (bad news given how it tastes) and mild carbonation.

O: I only had a pilsener glass full - and I could only finish half of it before dumping the rest out. There are some nice hints here and there, but this is an otherwise terrible barleywine that's far too experimental for it's own good. Avoid.

More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.99/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #59 (December 2011):

LOOK: Brassy amber and impressive, thick creamy head

SMELL: Wood, toffee, peach skins, wet cardboard, musty

TASTE: Thick, syrupy, sugary sweet, big toffee, toasty, treacle, candied fruit, golden raisins, oak, tobacco, spicy alcohol, wet cardboard

An “Oaked Blonde Barley Wine Ale,” hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Zeus, and aged in toasted oak. Complex would be an understatement. So much going on with this beer—perhaps too much? The oak becomes a bit overbearing, and oxidation permeates the palate with unpleasantries. A sipper that demands to be shared, as it's hard to drink an entire bottle alone.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.88/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks like I'm in the minority here, but I liked this beer.

In a tulip, the beer was a bright cherry amber color. It had medium sized off-white head.

A sweet floral aroma. Citrus. Pineapple.

Taste much more interesting. Oak. Toffe. Pinepple. Grapefruit hops. Warming all the way.

Compelex, probably more than it should be. Smooth, despite the high ABV. Didn't really notice the alcohol.

Would try this again.

Photo of Jason
2.96/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz custom brown bomber with a batch #1 on the back label, suggests to drink now or cellar.

LOOK: Brass hue, thick three fingers of head.

SMELL: Oaky, spicy, alcohol, taffy, star fruit, faint marmalade, buttery, caramel.

TASTE: Pulling oak, bittering hops, fruity alcohol, light bisicuity grain, ripe wild berries, sugar cane, tropical fruit, earthy, tobacco, more warming alcohol, oaky bitter alcoholic finish.

A clear slow sipper here, perhaps some more age would do some good here as the alcohol is pretty forward ... a given for it size but it does spill all over the palate. Somewhat of a mess, I have another bottle to see where it goes.

Photo of tigg924
4/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: gold in color, clear, 1/3 inch head, moderate carbonation

Smell: piney hops and oak

Taste: pine and oak are the dominate it warms a bit of caramel and vanilla pop in--slight citrus

Mouthfeel: very sweet with slight bitterness in the back, moderate carbonation, medium-heavy bodied

Overall: I loved this cause I like the oak and pine combination. This borderline has too much going on, but I would love to get this again and age it some. Very enjoyable and a winner in my book.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a light orange color with an off-white head. The aroma is full of hops, with a lot of pine and orange citrus notes. I also get some caramel malt and a little bit of alcohol. The flavor is more complex. I get some orange and brown sugar notes, as well as something that most resembles Belgian candy sugar. As the beer warms, I get some caramel malt and molasses notes, as well as some oak and vanilla. At a few points, I get some notes that resemble circus peanuts, but they are few and far between. Medium to thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A nice barrel-aged barleywine.

Photo of Cavanaghty
3.26/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams Glass.

Appearance: Dark amber color with a thin white head. Mild lacing left on the glass.

Smell: Hops, Citrus and malts.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Smooth medium bodied. Taste hoppy with hints of citrus, and alcohol.

Overall: Not a big fan of Barleywines, this one was more like an IPA than a Barleywine. Not a bad brew.

Photo of RTEdmunds
3.14/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

clear golden orange-y color with a small head that dissipates quickly.

smells like booze. notes of pear and some woodiness.

the smell put me off a bit, but the flavor is a little less in your face. Some citrus flavors come out that I didn't detect in the aroma, the woodiness still has a strong presence, and there's a sweet aftertaste. with the booziness of course.

fairly smooth for a barleywine. definitely feels watery to me though.

I don't have a whole lot of experience drinking barleywines, but I don't think this is one i'll be dying to revisit anytime soon. I was excited at first because I like Sam Adams... disappointing =/

Photo of jondeelee
3.82/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Griffin's Bow opens with a nose that is equally hoppy and malty, aromas almost visibly spilling out of the bottle in runnels. On the malty side, the brew boasts huge amounts of sugars, with brown and Candi sugars fighting for dominance against a background of toasted bread crusts, molasses, and fig. The hops bring a good grapefruit, pine, and effervescent lemon counter, obviously present in large quantities themselves. The overall effect is not immediately reminiscent of a Barleywine, but it is heady and demands to be tasted.

On the tongue, the beer opens with a split-second rush of massive sugars, which are almost immediately afterward joined by a huge level of hop bitterness that almost threatens to take over the beer. The sugars bring the aforementioned brown and Candi sugar notes to the brew, and the hops add, again, grapefruit and pine notes. A large amount of black pepper infuses the brew, causing the tongue to tingle. There is, however, a slightly off-putting plant-like taste, the oak aging having added a distinct woody character that is slightly too reminiscent of sucking on twig pith, or biting into grape stems. As well, the alcohol--coming in at a huge 11.5% ABV--is not well-hidden by even the large sugars and hops, giving the beer a distinct tequila-like shooter whang. The aftertaste is a continuation of the tequila and wood flavors, as well as a long-lingering grapefruit and pine hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is a syrupy medium-high, and carbonation is medium to medium-high, adding to the burning sensation on the tongue and soft palate.

Overall, while the nose of Griffin's Bow promised an excellent and well-balanced brew, on the tongue the beer didn't live up to the promise, ending up simply too strong in alcohol and wood-aged flavors, and tasted more like an extra-sugary liquor shot than a beer. So strong are these flavors that a full bottle of the beer--1 pt. 6 fl. oz.--is going to be a little overwhelming for this reviewer, who is going to head downstairs immediately and look for a bland snack such as unbuttered popcorn to help cleanse the palate between sips. Giving the beer a little credit, however, I suspect that a good year or two of aging will help temper these wild flavors greatly, and will likely result in a far more palatable beverage.

Photo of GloryToTheHops
3.72/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - I separated the bottle into two separate drinking glasses, one goblet and half into a pint glass. Neither had an impressive head, maybe just one fingers worth and it dissipated rather quickly. Really nice color, but the head and lacing felt weak.

S - So much going on in this glass. You smells notes of the oak right up front and your nose can catch a pineapple fruity smell from the nelson sauvin hops for sure. The whole glass smells sweet almost like honey.

T - I was really surprised how much I enjoyed this beer after reading about it. I didn't think the flavors clashed with one another but rather just made for a drinkable barley wine. I felt the oak and malt did most of the work in this glass and I didn't really catch as much hop flavor as I would've liked. Tastes of oak, sweet honey, slight bready, and a little pineapple. Very dry on the finish.

M - Felt pretty light considering it is a barelywine. I would almost call this a summer barleywine. Only complaint is this thing really gave me cotton mouth. I might have to blame the oak here.

O - Overall I was very happy with beer and have enjoyed nearly all of the Sam Adams small batch collection. I think there is room for improvements here. But I would buy a bottle of this again.

Photo of MattyG85
4.1/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 650 ml bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Batch No. 2.

Appearance: Pours a deep and clear copper amber orange with lots of rising bubbles. Huge five finger off white head with good retention considering the abv. Leaves a good amount of lacing.

Smell: A very citrus forward barleywine aroma. Sweet and bready malts with hints of caramel, toffee, and a little butterscotch. Subtle woody oak chips and vanilla. Big citrus smell with good hints of orange marmalade, pineapple, lemon, and white grapes. Also some pine resin and floral hops. Quite an interesting smell.

Taste: Tastes like a very hop forward American Barleywine, almost more like an IPA. Big citrus taste up front with notes of orange marmalade, pineapple, white grape, lemon, and peach. Bready malts with some caramel and toffee. Oak and vanilla flavors are fairly subtle. Some honey and burnt sugars. Also some floral hops and pine. Pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with a moderate level of carbonation. Creamy, chewy, and slick. Alcohol can be tasted but the heat is fairly low considering the abv.

Overall: A pretty good take on the American Barleywine style. It is very American with lots of citrus, but it balances out well.

Photo of marmora
4.12/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.
Amber honey color, moderate carbonation. One finger head that disappeared pretty quickly.
Smells like honey, pineapple, floral hops and booze.
Tastes of vanilla, oak, cream, toffee right down the middle and more booze.
Not a strong hop bite or overwhelming presense.
Mouthfeel has a little carbonation of the front of the tongue and then was like smooth liquor going down.
A big beer for sure, but not overwhelmingly hot or pummeling on the palate.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)
Batch #2
A- This beer pours a slightly dense woody brown body with a bubbly sticky head of light beige that hung on the glass after each sip. There was a slow motion carbonation pushing to the surface.

S- The green grassy hops have a cream aroma to follow with some fresh raw oak aroma and a slightly sweet malt aroma that grows and grows as it opens.

T- The green grapefruit hops blend with a creamy rich malt flavor that has some buttery character that turns a bit more coconut like as it opens. There is a raw oak finish with some caramel malt sweetness and a sweet flower taste with honey hints. The gentle grassy bitterness of hops lingers cutting the malt flavor very nicely.

M- The medium mouthfeel has a gentle prick of fizz and no real alcohol heat noticed.

O- This beer has lots of nice complexity that is a bit subtle but really grows as does the richness of malt flavor. The green fresh oak blends really nicely with the hops and pale malt flavor. Very good sipper.

Photo of Brenden
3.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep golden? Perhaps not...a bit darker than expected for the bottle description, more like a clear orange-gold. It is a beauty, though, a fluffy pure white head two fingers high standing strongly and leaving thick lacing in rings and some patching.
The aroma does offer hefty doses and balance of both hops and malts with toast and sugar complementing. A mix of tropical and dark fruits also comes out, and oaky wood dryness pulls out. Alcohol is evident, but it's in the flavor (particularly the finish but starting before) where it gets a little too hot and makes an otherwise clean beer a bit messy.
It also mars an otherwise clean feel, especially given a nice, creamy smoothness. Crispness is light, as is the carbonation, but there's enough of each to keep things going.

Photo of rdilauro
4.38/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have never been a big fan of Barleywines. To me, they are a bit too big, too much malt/barley with not enough crispness and hoppiness.

This one was totally different. From the initial pour, it just looked like it was not going to be a huge barleywine. The aroma was perfect. I picked up a lot of common fruit overtones, banana, some nuts, etc.

But what really sold me on this one was the taste! Not only was it a big comfortable mouthful, it was alive, crisp and exciting.

The aftertaste was just as good as the initial taste. I will be drinking this one again. Perhaps, it may change my mind towards barley wine.

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.01/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Pours an amber sap. Decent, finger width head.

Smell - Sweet malts. Not much else. No oak on the nose.

Taste - More sweet malts. A fair hop aftertaste. Not getting much oak. Very faint, if any.

Mouthfeel - Thick like your average barelywine. Good amount of carbonation. Goes down fairly easy for the style.

Overall - Oversold. Does not deliver on the oak promise. Not a bad barleywine... about average.

Photo of asabreed
3.95/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle. Batch #2. 10% ABV (I'm assuming 11.5% was Batch #1?). Poured into a Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

Appearance: A nice lighter peach and orange color, with a nice semi-frothy white head that leaves moderate lacing and a good 1/2" head above the body of the brew.

Smell: Heavy on the sweetness, with a lot of candied citrus, orange marmalade or citrus-type jam, some sweet toffee notes, and some vanilla and wood aromas from the toasted oak.

Taste: More like a Belgian Strong Pale than a barley wine in my opinion, with a lot of sweetness and some interesting nuance of sweet flavors with the citrus side, the wood and vanilla characteristics, and the marmalade and jam notes going on, along with a dose of honey coming through also, and maybe some candi sugar. I would've been pressed to say it's a BSP without knowing the style, but I'm not disappointed because the beer's doing things that I like -- it's just not your average barley wine.

Mouthfeel: A little heavy, and a little cloying. It's evident, but not really unexpected, and it doesn't detract.

Drinkability: Certainly a sipper at 10%, this probably could've been a little less sweet in the end with more hops or something else to balance it out, but for around $6 it's nice to get a Sam Adams beer that's more adventurous and isn't out of a 12-pack. I enjoyed it and will try and grab the other styles to try most likely that are in the non-standard 22 oz. bottles.

Photo of Sammy
3.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pleasant refreshing barleywine. Orange flavour, well malted. Big malty head. Aroma is weedy. Nelson Sauvin hops although well concealed to me, as was the barrel aging. IPA level hoppiness. Depth, booze well hidden. Thanks for sharing, Ken.Good drinkability.

Photo of tdm168
3.58/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pale, transparent orangish amber with a big, thick cap of off white head that has great retention

S - vanilla, oak, caramel, and something faint akin to cherry

T - oak, vanilla, alcohol, caramel, faint herbal hops

M - warm, medium to full bodied, well carbonated

This is a nice concept, but it has it's flaws. There isn't enough malt character to stand up to the alcohol or to the toasted oak chips which means the alcohol and oak dominate. The caramel is sweet and sticky, and the hops are subtle. I would have preferred something a little more malt forward and balanced.

Photo of JoeAmerican77
4.26/5  rDev +21%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Golden blonde ale with a slight white head cover, lots of furious carbonation...
Scents of pineapple and hoppy resin boast a sweet treat. Huge barleywine flavor, sweet, vinous and stone-fruit, lychee, pineapple, beautiful flavor. Mouthfeel is sticky and full, lovely. One of the better beers I've had in awhile

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.81/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Samuel Adams Griffin's Bow
22 oz. bottle. No apparent freshness date but marked "Batch 1"
$6.37 @ State Line Liquor in December of 2011

As there's no date I'm not sure how old this is, but I know it's at least 7 months old. What that aging has done for it flavor-wise, I just don't know. On the one hand I think it could certainly use a little more cellar time to help soften it and round it out, but if you do that you'll lose some of the hops that are there. Moving forward...

It looks great in the glass. It's a crystal-clear deep-golden amber beneath a frothy head of off-white. The head retention is quite good, and it leaves remarkable sheets of lace that cover the entire glass. Kudos there.

The aroma is malty (bready and gently caramelish), fruity (tropical), and hoppy (leafy, gently citrusy) with notes of vanilla and wood. I know that there's Nelson Sauvin in there, and that's what I keep thinking I'm smelling, but I'm not sure if that's just the power of suggestion. On the other hand, I know there's Zeus in there as well and I'm not finding that specifically (there is a tropical fruit character to it, but that might also be coming from the alcohol and esters)...

In the mouth it's full bodied, but leaning more to the lighter side of it. It still remains a bit creamy. The carbonation has a little bit of a zest to it right at the start, but once it warms a touch it becomes much softer and smoother.

The flavor is the big thing here as, number one, it's a golden barleywine, and number two, it's oak aged. Do the malt and the hops and the oak work together? Let's start with the oak. It's pretty solid. No one's going to miss it, and it leaves the beer pretty drying in the finish. That dry woodiness is definitely there and lingering. Of course it's bitter as well, but the wood actually helps to dry your palate (tannins). So, is it overdone? That's hard to say, but I think a little more aging might help to smooth it. Back to the malt. There's a nice dollop of honey to it, a straightforward graininess/breadiness, and some low-level caramel notes. It's pretty nice, and it certainly allows the oak to come through as opposed to what a darker, more heavily caramelized barleywine might do. Additionally, the hops remain bright. I get some orange and grapefruit that must be coming from the Zeus, and they work pretty well with the vanilla note of the wood and the honeyish malt. Beyond that it's leafy, somewhat tea-like, and a touch minty (even slightly pine-like). Some say that Nelson Sauvin hops are "winey", and I find some of that in the finish, but I'm not sure if that's not just due to the alcohol. So where do we stand with the alcohol? Well it's noticeable. It's not overly intrusive, but it's certainly far from hidden. As I've said before, sometimes you need (or want) that alcohol as it becomes an important component within the beer. But do I think it's needed here? No, it's not really one of those times. On the other hand, for a barleywine I don't think it's really overdone.

Overall it's an interesting beer because of the oak aging and the hops chosen, but other than that I don't find it particularly compelling. I'd like to see it smoother and rounder, and perhaps some more aging will help, but as it is, it's rough around the edges.

Photo of zaphodchak
3.6/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Batch 1

Half finger off-white head. Clearish dark golden body.

Smell is full of aromatic hops, but the mellowed, oak-aged kind, sort of fruity.

A bit of vanilla at the forefront, swings into a big old barleywine oaky-aged hop/malt slam, and some grassy hops at the finish. Perhaps a bit of a clash or rush of different elements that cellaring would smooth over.

Mouthfeel is a bit foamy for the style, but not bad.

Probably needs more time. Everything on the label got me really excited, but it doesn't quite succeed, at least not yet. Slightly too bitter as well, but that is also a wound well-healed by time. Maybe batch 2 will improve, too.

If you're still reading, put this one away for a bit and try it in a year.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.81/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

22oz. capped bottle courtesy of EBF 2012. Poured into a Southampton oversize snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a big, white froth head with great retention. Lacing is spotty and sparse with ok cling. Color is clear red-orange. Stunning and really good for the style.

Nose is citrus, pineapple, brown sugar, booze, and tree sap. Aromatic but a bit light and some odd flavor profiles emerge here.

Tropical fruit. Pineapple, citrus, cane sugar, caramel, and booze. Finish is sugary sweet with more sap and cane sugar. Thought this one might be hoppier but I'm glad its not. Surprisingly refreshing and complex.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Crisp and bubbly in the mouth and warm going down. Messy finish with a soft, lingering aftertaste. A bit too carbonated for the style.

Although most of Boston Beer Co.'s offerings have been pretty pedestrian, this one stands out. Great looking beer with a solid nose and flavor, this one's an under-the-radar beer that deserves a shout-out.

Photo of WoodBrew
3.78/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Interesting oaked, blonde barleywine...good combination and enjoyable. It's a clear, brazed-golden color with a moderately stable white head. It's an attractive beer for sure. The aroma is of hot alcohol, pale malt, earth. There is a woody, oak-like character as well, but it sits behind the other flavors. Some hops in the aroma, but they're restrained. The taste is quite good, however...powerful, sweet, woody, bitter, and mouth-numbing. It's not subtle, but is balanced and enjoyable. The alcohol is notable, but not distracting. Bitterness begins in the foretaste, and doesn't really end. Full in body and extraordinarily heavy. This beer is more heavy-handed than it's appearance foretells.

Photo of cjgator3
3.69/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle

A- Pours a golden amber color with an off-white head with decent lacing and retention.

S- The aroma is loaded with citrus, a lot of citrus. The citrusy hops are mostly grapefruit and pineapple with some sweet malt and a honey-like sweetness to go along with some alcohol in the finish.

T- The taste is sweet malt up front with the citrusy hops coming in very quickly and lingering well into the finish. The finish also has a lot of warmth from the high alcohol content.

M- The mouthfeel is between light and medium bodies with a good amount of carbonation.

O- Overall, I enjoyed this beer more than I expected. Samuel Adams did a great job with this beer.

« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Griffin's Bow from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
80 out of 100 based on 655 ratings.