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

Griffin's BowGriffin's Bow

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

607 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 607
Reviews: 227
rAvg: 3.52
pDev: 18.47%

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:
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

(Beer added by: sommersb on 10-28-2011)
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Ratings: 607 | Reviews: 227 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of shacawgo24


3.9/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A-Murky golden-brown-orange. Burnt looking. Thick manila head that sticks throughout with good lacing. Held to light looks like a ripe peach in hue.

S-Pineapple. Dates. Honey. Booze, like a honey bourbon-whiskey.

T-Honey drizzled pineapple. Papaya. Dark fruits come to play as well. Prunes. Raisins. Dates. The sip is basically split into two, fruity, then smoked oaky. No mellow fluid transition. Slightest citrus, like a dried sugarcoated orange. Basically tropical trail mix held over a smoked oak pit. Too sweet and sour at times. Then the bitter smoke doesn't improve things. Too schizo.

M-Medium. Becomes very sticky. Slightly syrupy. Leaves palate dried, yet refreshed somehow. Wow too sticky. But maybe that's the point with the barley wine style. I'll rate mouthfeel to style, not preference.

O-Definitely hit or miss in enjoyment. An acquired taste. One will dissect certain traits they like of the beer. There definitely is something in it all can pinpoint and say that they like about Griffin's Bow. It does taste too sweet and woodsy though. But maybe that is the point with a barley wine keep in mind. An adventurous style. Would only drink to get buzzed. A cheap bomber won't hurt your pocket.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2014 01:01:08 | More by shacawgo24
Photo of Thads324


3.79/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Batch 1
Pours a beautiful hazy orange with fizzy off white head. Dissipates quickly to a very thin ring. I really like these bottles.
Aroma is big. It explodes the second you pour it. Booze, caramel, toffee, musty hops and a bit of sandy beach air. From afar (glass on the table, sitting up straight) you get hints of oranges that aren't quite ripe yet and some Belgian candied sugar. As it warns the oak comes out strong with hints of vanilla.

Taste is very watery at first. Sweet toffee syrup and caramel sauce. Corn syrup, table sugar and toasted white bread. Bits of oak and vanilla, smooth vanilla and butterscotch. There is a surprising amount of hop in it, while a bit musty it's still got citrus fruit rind essence. Slight grass bitterness at the end isn't enough to balance the sweetness. Finishes like the taste if a werther's original. There is a nice wood flavor as it warms.

Slick and oily. Low carbonation. Insanely well hidden alcohol.

An ok beer in some places. Really nice in others. Wicked sweet but has lots of depth and complexity. Dangerously drinkable. A really hard beer to grade.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2013 04:04:49 | More by Thads324
Photo of bluejacket74


4.13/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, Batch #1, from what I've read this bottle is about 2 years old now. Served in a snifter, the beer pours an orange/amber color with an inch or so frothy off-white head that stayed around for a while. There's also a lot of lacing. The brew smells like oak, citrusy hops (pineapple, grapefruit, mango), bready and caramel malt, and some floralness. It tastes like caramel, oak, pineapple, mango, coconut, vanilla, toffee, and some earthiness. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and slick with a good amount of carbonation. I liked this brew a lot, it's one that I thought was better and better the longer I drank it. It's definitely worth trying if you come across it. I'd like to try a fresher bottle of this in the future, but it does age well!

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2013 00:50:46 | More by bluejacket74
Photo of Steamer


3.21/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Light, hazy amber, almost golden. Smell: Orange, tangerine, a little alcohol. Taste: The alcohol is a bit overpowering, not much else comes through other than a little pine. Mouth feel: Some alcohol burn, heavy carbonation. Overall: The appearance and smell are the high points; maybe with a little aging it can achieve a little more balance.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2013 00:37:45 | More by Steamer
Photo of lwillitz


3.8/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22-oz bottle into New Belgium globe

Batch #3

A - 3 fingers off-white foam over transparent body of copper; moderate amount of visible carbonation; nice trail of lace

S - honey, pineapple, citrus (grapefruit?), wood, malty

T - tropical fruits, oak, citrus, toffee, toast, honey, buttery, earthy, touch of metallic, tobacco, peppery spice, loads of alcohol warmth

M - smooth medium body, well-carbonated, plenty of alcohol warmth

O - Starts with a fairly inviting and complex bouquet. Taste is good; tons of complexity keeps it interesting sip after sip. Like all the small batch brews from Sam Adams, this one's certainly worth a try if you're in the mood for something different.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2013 00:22:35 | More by lwillitz
Photo of jbertsch


3.91/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle from batch 1, so this is 2 years old.

Appears hazy amber in color. White head dissipates to a ring fairly quickly.

Smells like sweet toffee, and a little citrus and maybe faint touch of green apple.

Taste is comprised of caramel, bittersweet pineapple candy, honey, burnt brown sugar, a little oak. Starts smooth, finishes sweet but not too much, and not nearly as much as other barelywines do. It really benefits from being close to room temperature... Smooths nicely.

Mouthfeel is pretty smooth. Only a touch syrupy.

I dont know why this beer doesnt score better, i think its quite nice. Really nice pineapple flavors blend with honey and toffee nicely. One of my favorite sam adams beers ive had. I think the 2 years of age helped it.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2013 00:29:01 | More by jbertsch
Photo of superspak


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

22 ounce bottle into snifter; batch 1, bottled in Fall 2011. Pours fairly crystal clear orange amber color with a 1 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of caramel, toast, toffee, biscuit, tangerine, mango, orange zest, pineapple, floral, light pine, clove, oak, and floral/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and hop notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, toffee, vanilla, biscuit, tangerine, pineapple, mango, orange zest, floral, light pine, clove, oak, and floral/toasted earthiness. Light pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, toffee, vanilla, biscuit, tangerine, pineapple, mango, orange zest, oak, clove, and floral/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice balance and complexity of citrus/tropical hops notes with malts; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a fairly creamy and lightly sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent barelywine! All around great balance and complexity of hop and malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2013 04:08:00 | More by superspak
Photo of Wasatch


3.83/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz. Bomber
Batch 2
10% ABV

Poured into a chalice a very nice cloudy orange color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice one-finger plus creamy thick off-white head, which leaves some very nice sticky lacing with a huge oil slick in the middle. The nose is mostly malty, with some nice hop notes, fruity, with a slight grapefruit note. The taste is malty, with some hops and fruity. Medium body. Overall a pretty tasty brew, but does not really remind me of a BWSA.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2013 19:54:07 | More by Wasatch
Photo of Cavanaghty


3.23/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2013 22:32:06 | More by Cavanaghty
Photo of Spiderbeerman

New York

4.94/5  rDev +40.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My brother-in-law had a bottle at a party he was hosting. I usually don't go for barley wine and like a product with a little less alcohol content but Griffin's Bow was a pleasant surprise. It was smooth and didn't taste like it was strong. I would certainly buy this myself and will enjoy every drop!.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2013 04:58:38 | More by Spiderbeerman
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2013 16:25:23 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of Bubbalito


4.45/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pour = Hazy syrupy bright copper. It has a viscous appearance when you swirl it around. There was a good 2 finger head that died out almost immediately
Smell = I am getting vanilla, pineapple, mango, burnt sugar; with hints of toffee and caramel in the background. It smells like pineapple maple syrup in all the best ways imaginable.
Taste = Exactly like the nose. I get pineapple soaked in vanilla syrup. Super syrupy but fruity at the same time, you get a little tartness on the back of the mouth. A little bit of alcohol as it goes down the throat. This bad boy is 11% ABV and it is hidden very well, if it wasn’t for the warming feeling as it goes down, you would never know.
Overall = This is the very first batch of this beer, I bought it back in late 2011 and have been sitting on it waiting for all the goodness to marinate. I have to say it was worth the wait. I might have to go out and buy another bottle and drink it in 2015!

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2013 22:21:40 | More by Bubbalito
Photo of GregBlatz


4.14/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A - Golden orange with a very white frothy head. It is very clear. Lacing very nicely as the head settles in.

S - Slight metallic note. Sweet. Maybe some light fruits and earthy hops.

T - Wow, how to describe... Sweet, but not quite cloying sweet. Hops are musty and earthy. Malt is nice and biscuity. The oak is there but restrained. A little vanilla and honey. Finishes with a bitter note that I appreciate.

M - Thin but sweet. A bit of alcohol burn. Med carbonation. A bigger beer than it seems at first.

O - Very nice. I really like this. I was afraid of a big malt bomb but this is balanced really well. Pretty complex, the more I drink it, the more I notice. Nice work for Samuel Adams. They are hit and miss with a lot of their creative beers. At least they are trying and they always have something new to check out. This one is a winner in my book.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2013 00:45:49 | More by GregBlatz
Photo of Fatehunter


3.66/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Into a tulip glass. Three fingers of head on a clear, orange to yellow colored body. Great lacing.
The aroma is lemon, woody and cloves.
the taste is lemon bitterness with caramel and cloves. There’s a woodiness to the whole profile.
The texture is crisp with moderate carbonation and medium body.
The alcohol is well hidden. The flavor is interesting with the “lighter” blond note coupled with the woodiness.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2013 01:37:55 | More by Fatehunter
Photo of WanderingFool


3.58/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Griffin's Bow pours a clear bronze color with a moderate frothy head on top. The foam dissipates quickly leaving behind a few spots and patches of lace on the glass.

The aroma is fruity and sweet with notes of honey, oak and citrus. Somewhat syrupy but definitely in the barelywine family.

Each sip of this medium to full bodied beer is syrupy on the palate with mild carbonation. The flavor is sweet with a taste of honey, oak, vanilla, toffee, caramel, tropical fruit and citrus. It finishes moderately bitter. Once gone the tropical fruit and citrus lingers on the palate.

A lot of flavor in this beer, but it leans towards the sweet side.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2013 00:44:13 | More by WanderingFool
Photo of obywan59


3.38/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Batch 3. 10% ABV

Crystal clear with fine carbonation bubbles and golden orange in color with a 3 finger+ off white head that became lightly chunky as it receded leaving rather thick lacing.

Woah! I've never smelled such a hoppy barleywine before. Redolent of fruity hops with attributes of light honey weighing in for the malts.

Sweet with fruity cherry, but medicinal. Almost like cough syrup early on. Stand apart bitter, tart, and strong alcohol flavors don't seem to really mesh.

Waaay hot at first, but settling down somewhat to a decent light syrupy finish. Very warming!

Overall, it was decent, if perhaps more than a bit on the raw side. With such a high ABV, though, it may well lend itself to further aging.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2013 02:41:24 | More by obywan59
Photo of seand


3.73/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear amber with a fair amount of off-white head. A film retains on the surface, with a fairly thick rim around the edge of the glass, which leaves thick streaks of lacing.

S: Syrup and alcohol, with a background fruit note. There's a fair amount going on here but it's difficult to pick out specific details.

T: Thickly sweet leading into a mildly hoppy finish. The same fruit note hinted at on the nose is also present in the background throughout.

M: Medium to full body, low carbonation.

Overall, a decent barleywine. The hops balance the sweetness in a way that makes it easy to drink more (perhaps this is a downside at 11.5%). It is not stupendously amazing, but neither is it priced as such.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2013 02:02:02 | More by seand
Photo of Aaron_Ramson


3.03/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tried about 7 different barleywines at a tasting last night with Griffins Bow being the 4th bottle opened. Compared to the dark richness of Aleworks Old Numbskull, the agressiveness of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, or the balanced nuances of Avery Brewing Company's Hog Heaven, Samuel Adams barleywine was completely pedestrian and did nothing to impress us or stand above the competition. It wasn't that it was a bad beer, but Griffins Bow lacked any of the characteristics that I enjoy in a barleywine. Interested in trying it again on it's own; maybe i'd enjoy it more if i didn't have exceptional barleywines to compare it to.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2012 21:32:11 | More by Aaron_Ramson
Photo of metter98

New York

3.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear golden yellow/orange and has a light to moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger and a half high dense off white head that took a long time to die down and left lots of lacy rings of bubbles down the sides of the glass.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of gooseberries in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the hops impart flavors of citrus and gooseberries and there are also notes of vanilla from the oak barrel aging. Little to no bitterness is present.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The aging on toasted oak and use of Nelson Sauvin hops definitely make this an interesting and unique barleywine. It definitely tastes like an American Barleyine with all of the hop flavors but there isn't that much associated bitterness or stickiness that you see in other beers in this style. It is very easy to drink because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste.

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2012 03:49:14 | More by metter98
Photo of cjgator3


3.65/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2012 04:14:34 | More by cjgator3
Photo of jzeilinger


3.33/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Pours a medium orange/gold color with a three fingered, sticky white head and mild carbonation.

S - Light candied caramel toffee malt, light tropical fruit, oak.

T - Oak, white raisins, light white toffee malt, boozy, light grapefruit, overall - sweet.

M - Thick, full bodied, slightly frothy and very gentle carbonation pricklies.

O - I tip my hat to Sam Adams for pushing the envelope with a "blonde barley wine", there's nothing else in this genre (that I know of).

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2012 08:32:46 | More by jzeilinger
Photo of jsanford


3.48/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours cloudy dark gold with a dense white head that settles to a thick cap, leaving lots of soapy lacing. Resinous aromas of sweet caramel malt, tangerine, honey, white wine, and a touch of oak. Taste is really nice, more flavors of honey malt, citrus and tropical hops, with a fairly sticky mouthfeel, medium-full body, and lowish carbonation. Pretty tasty Barleywine, a very unusual interpretation of the style but I like it.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2012 05:24:06 | More by jsanford
Photo of WastingFreetime


3.55/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Fresh bottle review from notes.

Typical barleywine amber appearance, light head and mild lacing, medium-heavy body and medium-light carbonation, somewhat clingy and toothsome in texture but not terribly so.

Smells of honey, taffee, toffee, light amounts of toasted oak, and medium levels of tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, wild flowers). The flavor is a lot more woody than the aroma, and also includes a surprise coconut-vanilla cream pie to the face with a sidebar of rye whiskey burn... Pineapple with charred edges pops out around the mid sip and transforms into a typical pine resin / juicy grapefruit combo by the time the finish rolls out an added spectrum of both leafy herbal raw *and* dried tobacco in equal measure.

Nice, but far too hot and wooden for my preferences fresh. The most memorable aspects of this barleywine are the high level of grilled pineapple and French Vanilla in in the flavor relative to other barleywines, but it fights with the rye booze levels as it is. I'm really intrigued by the tobacco elements, though. In my experience, beers that show nuances of tobacco when fresh often tend to develop additional complexity when aged.

I see this one as another great potential cellaring candidate; to see what can be built out of carefully controlled reduction of the hot booze and hopping levels, and to develop that tobacco stub. I'll probably be getting another one or two bombers at the store for further cellar experimentation, and the price point for this barleywine is more than reasonable enough for this to be an affordable adventure... (My 22oz bomber cost $7 in WI)

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2012 00:26:21 | More by WastingFreetime
Photo of DRyan


3.5/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought two bottles in Feb 12. Wasn't using ASTMD back in Feb...

Pours golden-copper with a thick white head that sticks around for a while, and laces nicely. Oak flavor is very noticeable in the forefront, fruity notes in the middle, and alcohol bite on the latter. Good amount of hop flavor to balance what would otherwise be a very sweet, malty beer. Slightly reminiscent of barleywine, but unlike any barleywine I’ve had before.

Poured in a Ranger Creek Tulip glass
A: Golden copper with a very frothy white head of big thick bubbles that recedes slowly and leaves some decent lacing
S: Sweet caramel and malt, some toffee and vanilla
T: Oak is milder now, the alcohol actually seems stronger in the front of the taste now. The hops bitterness still comes in the end, though there is very little of the hops in the aroma anymore. Much less overly sweet. Really doesn’t taste too much like a barleywine though.
M: Smooth and rich, with a little zing in the carbonation.
D: The alcohol is certainly noticeable, and would keep this from being too quick of a drinker. Overall the beer is pretty easy to drink (slowly), but the bite at the end – a mix of hops and alcohol bitterness – keeps it from being too quickly imbibed.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2012 00:32:31 | More by DRyan
Photo of kylehay2004


3.93/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Single finger head with little retention of decent lacing on a hazy amber with orange hues body. Aroma is a bit bland with some caramel and candied fruit, little else. Flavor follows the aroma with some wood, caramel, maple syrup and candied dark fruit notes and is nice and mellow. The body is a little chewy, with medium body and moderate carbonation. The booze however are better hidden than expected. This one is certainly drinkable for the style and ABV with nice fruity notes to be flavorful.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2012 02:57:37 | More by kylehay2004
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Griffin's Bow from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
80 out of 100 based on 607 ratings.