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

Not Rated.
Griffin's BowGriffin's Bow

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BA SCORE
80
good

655 Ratings
THE BROS
69
poor

(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
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Ratings: 655 | Reviews: 230
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 UCLABrewN84
2.39/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Batch # 1.

Pours a clear apple juice color with a 2 inch foamy orange-white head that settles to a small cap. Thin foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Off the bat, the smell is pretty suspect with some weird vegetal and rotten pineapple aromas. There is some malt and brown sugar too but they don't do anything to help out the overall smell. Taste is exactly like the smell along with some vanilla and oak flavors. There is a mild bitterness that lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a higher level of carbonation with a crisp and bubbly mouthfeel. Overall, I really don't care for this barleywine. The veggie aroma and taste pretty much kills this one for me.

Photo of kylehay2004
3.9/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

Photo of metter98
3.65/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Photo of Thorpe429
2.57/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of bmanning. Served in a small pint.

Pours a mostly clear light golden color with a good, frothy white head that persists for a good time and leaves a bit of lacing behind. The nose brings forward very light oak and just a touch of grain. Very, very tame without really anything going on. The flavor is just a tad bit better with a smidge more oak and a faint hop presence. Light bitterness in the finish is refreshing; no noticeable alcohol, which was impressive. Just blah overall.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.97/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can it be? Can Barleywines be subtle? Soft? Even elegant? But with supurb lightly kilned malts and a balance of citrusy American hops this mother-of-all-beers carries an elegant demeanor through and through.

The barleywine pours with a bright and deep golden color with brilliant clarity that builds a creamy white head of good, not great staiying power and little lace. Impressive how a beer of this style can be so clear and light to the eye.

Aromas of honey and light caramel lead the way, but with at trigger of citrusy orange zest and tea-like herbs that give life to the moderate notion and finess of malt. Only the alcoholic note of acetone offers any distraction to the fruity, citrusy, floral, and somewhat perfumy nose.

Flavors follow the same trend. The honeyish sweetness seems to give rise to the thin caramel taste that never approaches toffee or molasses. Nor do the hops contribute the deep resiny bitter taste that is expected of American Barleywines. Instead the softer and more floral/honey suckle taste govern the flavor spread. But with the bitter alcohols playing a part, the mouth is constantly reminded of the alcohol content despite the deceptively soft taste.

Medium-full only in mouthfeel, these larger-than-life beers are expected to be very full, even robust. But the softer and more elegant attitude of the beer reminds me a lot of Maibocks, but with heightened strength of flavor, alcohol, caramel, and citrusy American hops. Warming and slightly prickling to the mouth, the finish of heat and spice creates a semi-dry feel that suits the beer quite well.

As far as Barleywines go, this one suggests more elegance and finess as any I've encountered. It reminds me of some earlier Behemoth Blond Barleywines from Three Floyds.

Photo of Knapp85
2.05/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Highly highly disappointing beer. Wanted to try it since I hadn't seen this one on the shelves in PA yet. The sample was poured at the EBF night session. The beer looked good with a nice head on top and golden colored body. The smell wasn't too bad, it smelled sweet and appealing. The taste was awful to me. I don't understand why or how but it was terrible. I had a friend take a sip also and they agreed with me. I didn't even finish the sample of this one. The mouthfeel was decent but nothing too special. Overall just not thrilled with this beer really. I really don't know what happened here.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.05/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

amber color coming through very clearly on this one. Nice head of white foam reached about an inch before settling down into a thin veil that covered the rest of the glass.

Very nice sugary sweet, candy malt type aroma, your classic nicely aged barleywine. Nice notes of a caramel and a dulled hoppy flare to it still. Light bready malts are coming through nicely now as well. The flavor was very rich. Almost a syrup like feel to it as it rolled across the tonque. Thick with a nice coating feeling to it. The flavor was very sweet, lots of candy flaored malts and a nice and thick pine resin like flavor that was still nicely displayed here. Very mellow with almost no alcohol at all present here. Smooth and again very mellow finis

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

22 ounce bottle - $8.99 at Total Wine & More in Alpharetta, Georgia. Batch 1.

Appearance: Pours a clear, amber-gold body with a tall, craggy, off-white head.

Smell: Juicy fruitiness, and, when picking up the sweet-scented notes, a bit like Juicy Fruit. Pale maltiness, some nimble hints of breadiness there, and a heavy layer of honey and toffee. Notably buttery American oak aroma throughout, also a bold streak of alcohol.

Taste: Scantly toasty, bready pale malts with a full-on, candyish toffee sweetness. Tropical jackfruit fruitiness with an additional hint of grapefruit citrus followed fast by the buttery oak. Moderately bitter, which pairs with the tannins and the booziness of the beer for a relatively astringent back-half. Some sweetness loitering around the finish, though it manages to dry out at the last second with some enduring warmth, bitterness, and crispy tannins.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Smooth, tongue-coating mouthfeel.

Overall: A bit hot, but, at 11.5%, it's really to be expected. By the end of the bottle, you'll be seeing not only griffins, but manticores, chimeras, and the fearsome Jim Koch cyclops. It reminds me a bit of Nemesis (2009), in that there's plenty of good there, but really needs some time to smooth out.

Photo of TMoney2591
2.58/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Served in a Walter Payton shaker pint glass.

Would love to know the story behind this name... Anyway, it pours a mostly clear golden straw topped by a very lightly off-white foam. The nose comprises fake banana (think Runts all the way here, folks), sweet flowers, powdered sugar, sweet caramel, light oak, vanilla bean, and light sweetgrass. Things are overtly sweet here. The taste holds notes of sweet flowers, light caramel, strong vanilla bean, moldy oak, and a bit of toasted white bread. Man, the toast and the dank wood really hang around for a while... The body is a straight medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fluffy feel. Overall, this beer just didn't do it for me. The oak seems to be primary culprit, I think, sending everything else to hell with it. Yuck.

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

A - Pours with one finger of white foam on top of a clear, dark golden body. The head settles slowly and leaves excellent lace on the glass.

S - Vanilla, honey, clove, and assorted other spicy notes.

T - Sugary malt up front with a bit of honey and cloves. Some spicy pepper notes in th middle with a finish of honey, red apple, and clove.

M - Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a balanced finish.

D - Reasonably well balanced with lots of honey and spices. I feel like it could use some age to really come to together, but there is potential for what is a good beer to become something better here.

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

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, alcohol, fruit and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a hearty malt character and sweet flavors of caramel and fruit. Then a strong hops bitterness comes in along with a bit of an alcohol sting. There’s a decent balance and a background essence of oak aging. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, it’s a decent beer but there are others in the style that I would choose first.

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

Big fizzy bubbly head of 2+ fingers, fades semi slowly with nice lacing, over a clear golden amber orange color.

Nose had a lot of fresh hops, light floral fruity almost citrus and tropical fruit even, very fresh hops, but of grapefruit and a bit of white grape, actually the grape starts to get more dominant as it warms, some light malts and caramel.

Taste brings a lot of flavors, lots of buttery oak come right out front, bit of vanilla, creamy malts with a bit of caramel but mostly light malt flavors but quite malty. Then fruit and hops again, light floral hops, light citrus and a bit of tropical fruit, light white grape skin I wonder if there is nelson sauvin in this... A decent bitterness but not much. touch of booze but barely, drinks well with a bit of sweetness. Finishes still sweet, lots of buttery oak and vanilla, some light sweet malts, and more fruity hops.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied, decent carb, hint of booze.

Overall pretty impressed, nice malts, lots of nice hop flavors, tons of buttery oak add an interesting touch. Very complex and drinkable

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

Lovely aroma from the start. Hot popcorn, familiar sweet flowers like gardenias, coconut. Sweet caramel flavors with biscuits. A whiff of smoke and lots of the oaky vanilla. Hints at booze without the usual bourbon barrel taste. This blonde style of Barley Wine is quite interesting. It's like a Tripel met up with a Scotch Ale.

Bright, brassy blonde in the tulip glass with a fair head. Rich and tingly sensation on the tongue. Sweet but not syrupy. Caramel corn with butter keeps coming to mind. But nicely bittered with the hops, which provide a pleasant long tangy hop flavor. Highly sippable and adds a new twist to the Barley Wine style.

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 russpowell
3.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Batch#2 pours an effervescent honey color with 3 fingers of cream colored head. Great head retention & lacing

S: Faint butterscotch, breadyness, oakyness

T: Follows the nose, some booze heat, some honey notes up front, along with some grapefruittyness. Dryness, some piney notes, slight oakyness & whisky notes as this warms, more grapefruit as well. Finishes dry, grapefruitty, & boozey & a little too oaky, some toffee sweetness

MF: Chewy, slightly over carbonated, okay balance

A rough hewn American Barley Wine. This perhaps one of Sammy's weaker offerings, but not horrible by any means

Photo of smcolw
4.08/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Starts with a large, upwardly cascading head. Slow to dissipate. Leaves plentiful, chunky lace. The liquid is amber and clear.

Nice smell of warming alcohol and pale malts. A touch of honey in the background. Some grapefruit (hop) notes in the background.

Rich and nearly cloyingly sweet. There is enough bittering hop to bring balance to the taste. The alcohol is ever present. The swallow is an interesting blend of spicy hop and sweet unfermented malt. The aftertaste lasts a long time. I don't taste any buttery flavors from the oak.

I think this is one of the better Barley Wines.

Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this one up at Rick's 2 weeks ago. $5.99 for a bomber. Batch 1, poured from a 22 oz. bottle into my Duvel tulip.

a - Pours a hayz dark orange color with high carbonation evident and one finger of white head. Some spotty lacing on the glass and one inch of retention throughout drinking it. Looks pretty nice.

s - Smells of pineapples, tropical fruits, citrus hops, oak, and toasted malts. Very fruity; was very surprised how much the torpical fruit comes out in the nose. Pretty nice.

t - Tastes of pineapples, tropical fruits, bready malts, caramel malts, toasted malts, oak, citrus hops, and alcohol. Nice. though the alcohol is definitely there. Not quite as fruity as the nose, and a tiny step down in my opinion.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation, very smooth and creamy. Again, another new Sam Adams beer with low carbonation, though here I thought it helped a bit.

o - Overall a nice, interesting beer I enjoyed quite a bit, though it didn't remind me of a barleywine. I found it very fruity and hoppy, and there was a ton of tropical fruit here. Worth checking out, would have it again.

Photo of drabmuh
3.65/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a snifter, beer is yellow and clear, almost amber with a steady carbonation, white head, nice retention, looks good.

Aroma is malty and sweet with a lot of oak in the nose, mild vanilla.

Beer is mildly solventy, a little thinner than expected, strong tannic and vanillic flavors on the back end, a little dry on the finish, not horrible but probably not a repeat for me. It was fine just not my thing, too oaky, too much vanilla.

Photo of jwc215
4.03/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass:

Pours orange-tinted amber wih a white head that has great retention for the abv and style. Wispy strands of lacing stick.

The smell if of toasted oak, citrus (grapefruit and pineapple) with some toffee and brown sugar. It has a very pleasant aroma.

The taste is of juicy, citrusy hops with marmalade sweetness. As it progresses pineapple and grapefruit dipped in brown sugar comes to mind. A soft toasted damp oak supports it. Warm but not boozy, it has a semi-dry finish.

It is crisp. It could be fuller, but it is far from thin.

It is sweet-ish and oaky with a nice blend of hop support. Alcohol warmth grows as it is sipped. An enjoyable sipper!

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.

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 mothman
3.92/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a white head. Color is a clear bronze gold.

Aroma: Grapefruit, bananas, and cloves. Toasted oak, honey, and toffee.Very sweet, but very pleasant. Kind of herbal.

Taste: Mimics the nose, but it shows bready malts and caramel. Some vanilla as well. Coconut flavors.

Mouthfeel: Dry, smooth, and creamy. Medium to full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry.

Overall, a very unique brew. Definitely enjoyable. A lot of toasted oak. Good price point here. I'd have this again.

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.

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Griffin's Bow from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
80 out of 100 based on 655 ratings.