Griffin's Bow
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

Griffin's BowGriffin's Bow
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American Barleywine
Ranked #358
Ranked #43,567
3.56 | pDev: 17.7%
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Massachusetts, United States
Griffin's BowGriffin's Bow
Notes: 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
Reviews: 235 | Ratings: 665 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of craigbelly
3.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

To sweet, to syrupy, just to much going on hear. That all boils down to a beer that's just hard to finish. SA just doesn't seem to grasp the style or thought the hops would take it somewhere new.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.32/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

An auburn and brown kind of color scheme, small 1/3" head, off white on the top. Average retention. Aroma of burnt sugar, alcohol, plums, a little more dark fruit bitterness than I would expect. Hops are definitely there too. Its like damn, where were these for the first 20 years you were making beers.

Taste, more alcohol, dark fruit bitterness, the hopping is nice here. More caramel, burnt dark sugar, toffee. Some dankness in the mouthfeel, citrus, this is pretty layered. Mild oak presence. Lotta malt, a little thick, boozy and syrupy at times. Its decent, but at its format and price I doubt I will return or age any of these.

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Photo of barczar
3.54/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Batch 1, five years old, so rating set to current average.

Aroma is honey like, with notes of cardboard oxidation and a touch of dates and figs.

Flavor is sweet initially, with toffee notes becoming bready, oxidized, and moderately bitter in the finish. Still significant alcohol heat. Fairly banal.

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Photo of WickedBeer
4.2/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The second of the re-releases by Samuel Adams during American Craft Beer Week, Griffin's Bow did not disappoint! This second brewing was a little bit lower in ABV, ringing in at 10% as opposed to 11.5%. Poured after aging about 4 months; small dissipating creamy head with very little lacing. Upon first opening I was a little disappointed at the smell coming straight from the bottle, as it was very similar to a slightly more potent Boston Lager. However, upon pouring into a 12oz snifter, all the fantastic aromas came out. Sharp notes of citrus and wine with underlying notes of burnt oak were clear, and I was surprised at how light-bodied this take on a barley wine was. Beautiful orange-amber color, seltzer-like carbonation. Extremely tasty beer, again with a slight but sharp citrus hop focus that sits on a toasted caramel aftertaste that lasts. Overall a very good beer, an interesting take on a barley wine. Samuel Adams was also spot on with pinpointing the experience, I was easily able to pinpoint all elements of this beer. 4 / 5!

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a fresh bottle and one aged a year. L: Pours brilliant amber under a 1” sudsy white foam collar that provides good lace.
S: alcohol, vanilla, oak, malt.
T: Malt loaf and toasty sugars – caramel to toffee, citrusy hops, some apricot. Malt driven with ample help from the hops.
F: Very creamy full bodied, medium low carbonation some warming
O: This is a good barley wine that gets even better after a year.

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Photo of CHickman
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%

Batch No. 2, aged at least a year: pours hazy copper color with a 1 finger creamy tan head that faded slowly and very good foamy rings as it went down.

Smells of red wine, caramel, toffee, oak barrels that held a red wine like a merlot or pinot, grains, yeast and rotting fruit like a pear or apple that's brown and mushy. The 10% ABV comes through, but mixes well with the sweetness and oaky notes that are earthy and almost seem smoky.

Flavor is similar to the nose with a rich sweetness consisting of dark fruits, toffee, caramel, brown sugar, syrup, red wine, toasted grains, lemon, metallic funk/yeast, vanilla, floral hops, honey, and following the aroma the taste of oak barrels that held a red wine and that rotting fruit sweetness like a mushy pear or apple that's very sugary. Alcohol peeks through, but the sweetness gets close to cloyingly sweet when the oaky notes kick back in with some peat moss, earthy and smoky accents that right the ship. The aftertaste changes over to pineapple and sherry and is oddly different than the start of the bomber. A very different beer that is a little different with every sip. I didn't love the flavor, but I found it intriguing and it kept my interest so much that I polished off the whole bottle on a Tuesday night; why the fuck not, right?!?

Mouthfeel was heavy and thick, with a weighty feel and a slickness that went down smooth; there was hardly any carbonation, and the aftertaste was sweet and malty with very low bitterness and a light alcohol fade. It got more complicated and interesting as it sat in the glass, so I'm glad I let this develop for a while since it was pretty tasty. A different kind of barleywine, but good overall.

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Photo of CaptJackHarkness
3.54/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

From Batch #3, limited edition brews.

Aroma like honeysuckle and grapefruit. Pours a clear orange amber body with thick creamy whit head. Luxurious lacing on glass. Taste is very complex, boozy and fruited at same time. Odd , slightly unpleasant aftertaste.

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Photo of shacawgo24
3.93/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of Thads324
3.79/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.12/5  rDev +15.7%
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!

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Photo of Steamer
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

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Photo of lwillitz
3.81/5  rDev +7%
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.

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Photo of jbertsch
3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
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.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.84/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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Photo of larryarms847
3.63/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy amber.

Toffee, molasses, oak, citrus.

Syrupy/molasses sweetness, citrus, light tropical notes.

Heavy-bodied, low carbonation, thick, syrupy.

Overall, while aroma and flavor are nice the sweet syrupy body is cloying and gets to be too much.

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Photo of Cavanaghty
3.26/5  rDev -8.4%
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.

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Photo of Spiderbeerman
4.93/5  rDev +38.5%
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!.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%
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.

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Photo of Bubbalito
4.45/5  rDev +25%
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!

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Photo of GregBlatz
4.09/5  rDev +14.9%
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.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.66/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.59/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of obywan59
3.46/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

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Photo of seand
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Griffin's Bow from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Beer rating: 81 out of 100 with 665 ratings