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

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Griffin's BowGriffin's Bow
665 Ratings
Griffin's BowGriffin's Bow

Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

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

Added by sommersb on 10-28-2011

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 665 |  Reviews: 235
Reviews by Aaron_Ramson:
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.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of npala86
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

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.

 665 characters

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.

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Photo of 40451
3/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of generallee
4/5  rDev +13.6%

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.

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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.

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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.

 594 characters

Photo of NoetheMatt
2/5  rDev -43.2%

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.

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Photo of deebo
3.75/5  rDev +6.5%

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 =/

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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.

 2,296 characters

Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

 417 characters

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.

 1,253 characters

Photo of bpfrush
2/5  rDev -43.2%

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.

 1,232 characters

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.

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Photo of mrosenfeld32
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

Photo of schoon
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

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.

 1,007 characters

Photo of Zachb4au
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of Perryhere
4.88/5  rDev +38.6%

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.

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Griffin's Bow from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Beer rating: 3.52 out of 5 with 665 ratings