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

665 Ratings
Read the review
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 235 | Ratings: 665
Photo of Spiderbeerman
4.93/5  rDev +39.3%
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!.

 302 characters

Photo of SGplayer84
4.8/5  rDev +35.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

AT teh local warehouse liquor store and what do I see? a $7 Barleywine from Sam Adams? I'll bite, 2 that is!

A--It is Golden indeed. Clear, not cloudy at all and very not looking like my normal barleywine reminds me of the clear belgian golden ales.

S-Whoa. Hops, Pineneedles, Citrus, New Zealand Hop heaven. This must have like 1K IBUs or something.

T- Hops up front, Oak to the back! Warming like crazy, which is what a barleywine should be for. The Oak replaces the malt bill in this, as in, the oak overpowers the malt bill, but thats not a bad thing. This is one of the craziest things I've had in a while as It's fruity aroma, than changes to smooooth vanilla toasty oak.

M-Lighter than a normal barleywine, the Warming factor + hops take over and dominate the mouthfeel. I don't mind this as I was looking for something different.

O-Many people will overlook this brew as it has a Sam Adam's Logo on it. Do not let that stop you. This is an exceptional brew and deserves a great grade. It could defiantly use some cellar time as I find the hops can be overpowering a little, but perhaps after 6-9 months, (maybe 3 as I am impatient) I feel this can mellow out and shape into an amazing brew. Good thing it's only $7 (Chiciago) as I will purchase more before they're gone. Cheers!

 1,293 characters

Photo of FlemingVSKing
4.7/5  rDev +32.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This brew was extremely satisfying and while it is a barley wine and Sam Adams other product, the Imperial White, is witbier, I have the same basic opinion of both.

They are each strong brews with bold fruity notes accented by floral hops that finish clean and refreshing.

Griffin's Bow does pour with a much richer and very satisfying head and it's substantial alchohol content is not as prominent.

While it does have bold flavor it likely would appeal most to fans of wheat beers and hoff weizens. And if you're looking to move toward darker varieties a brew this rich might be a good way to experiment with big bold flavors that are still within your range.

 666 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +27.1%
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 joefuzz
4.5/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Impule buy at a local bevy.

Pours a light copper with a pretty large head.

Smells like an iipa huge grapefruit like hop presence.

Taste is pretty dam good big hops upfront give way to a malty fruity aftertaste, slight alcohol burn.

Mouthfeel and carbonation is right on par with a good barleywine.

Overall amazing for a sam adams offering after the mile high longshot I'm very pleased with this one

 403 characters

Photo of yamar68
4.47/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one of the more underrated beers I've had...

Poured from 22oz bottle to tulip:

Tall, loose white head on top of a pear amber body, minimal beading. The smell is like big dank hops and Stewart’s Orange Cream Soda. A few darker malts to keep things interesting. Really tasty stuff. Very light for the style and ABV... sweet creamy citrus on top of a little bit of wood. The booze it nearly undetectable. Extremely easy to drink. I am loving this right now... bravo!

 475 characters

Photo of Beejay
4.45/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautifully clear, with an orange kissed amber body. The head is full and barely darker than white.

S: Smells like a very nice American Style Barley wine. Rich dense caramel flavors, wrapped around earthy, piney, and citrus hops. There is a nice tropical fruit note as well. The sweetness of the malts blends really well with the oak notes, creating a wonderful sweet, and woody character with vanilla overshadowing.

T: That is a very nice beer. Bitterness in the form of citrus and pine starts out the flavor, this is followed by caramel, and a slight orange peel type of flavor, or perhaps tropical fruits. The finish is oak maple and caramel. There is a bit of booze in the finish, but it mingles well with the oak.

M: Medium heavy in body. There is definitely a bit of a sticky syrupy feel to it. The carbonation is actually a touch high for me.

O: Overall this may be one of my favorite beers from Sam. It has the bitter kick and hop flavor that I like in American barley wines, the caramel sweetness and balance I like in IPA's and topped off with Oak an Oak finish, that is noticeable, but not overboard. This is one fine beer.

 1,144 characters

Photo of Bubbalito
4.45/5  rDev +25.7%
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!

 941 characters

Photo of Krakistophales
4.42/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours copper colored with a white head that disappears rather quickly

S: Pineapple, apricot, some kind of melony sweetness wit hints of toffee and a slightly woody aroma as well. Very nice.

T: Lots of the similar fruits up front, mixing into a caramel/toffee sweetness in the middle, and finishing with a hint of hops and some smokiness.

O: Quite lovely, I'm very surprised that sam adams makes something like this. I mean, boston lager and the seasonals are decent ales in their own right, but this is really nice. I'm surprised.

 536 characters

Photo of cpolking
4.39/5  rDev +24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a deep amber, burnt orange and copper in color. There is a half-inch of thick, creamy and foamy head, that is off-white to very light brown in color.

The aroma is intensely fruity, mandarin oranges, tangerines, citrus peels, lots of fresh sawn wood, a bit of pine, a touch of melon and tropical fruit.

The taste is amazing, richly fruity, lots of citrus, tropical fruits, melon, apricot and kiwi. This is like a combination of a very fruit forward New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a very buttery and oaky California chardonnay. There is some sweetness, but it is offset by the tartness of the fruit and the oaky wood.

The mouthfeel is rich and creamy, with just enough carbonation to know that this is a barelywine beer and not a rich white wine.

I did not find the alcohol to be too forward in this at all, it was consistent with the style and not obtrusive. This does not have as much malt depth as most barleywines, but it is amazing, unique and delicious in its own right.

 998 characters

Photo of rdilauro
4.38/5  rDev +23.7%
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.

 618 characters

Photo of Suds
4.38/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

 706 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.38/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice looking deep golden body. Thin head with moderate amounts of lace left behind. Aroma is rich with malt and toasted qualities. Some tropical fruits as well. Flavor is quite smooth and very easy going for an 11.5 beer. Rich malts lay the foundation with heavy toasted oak notes throught. Fruitiness is evident as well with pineapple and tangerine coming to mind. Moderately carbonated and easy to drink. Flavorful. Reminded me of Behemoth to an extent but with a good dose of toasted oak added to the mix.

 508 characters

Photo of Midland
4.35/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

LOOK: Medium pretty amber that cleared quickly. A decent white to off-white head that quickly dissipates with no lacing.

SMELL: Honey and Pineapple with hints of burnt sugar. Lots of citrus notes.

TASTE: Grapefruit and hints of caramel with decent dryness from the oak aging. Oak profile was a component but not too oppressive, a nice compliment to the hoppy citrus notes. Alcohol is present and gives a warming sensation, but is not hot.

FEEL: Smooth, medium carbonation with a slight prickly mouth feel.

OVERALL: I've been sitting on this beer for a little while and decided today was the day. It's not your typical Barleywine, full of raisins and plums. This one is more of a statement to American craft brewing where the brewers are in charge, not the style guides.

I do like this beer as a hybrid style. I had no trouble finishing this bottle and wished I had a second.

 881 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.32/5  rDev +22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a Batch #1 bottle that has been stored in my cellar since last fall. Sampled on May 4, 2012. It pours an attractive looking copper-amber with a long-lasting, foamy beige head and good clarity. The aroma is mellow for a Barleywine and balanced with malts, grapefruit, pineapple, sugar, and oak wood. On the palate I get a fuller body. The taste is delightfully sweet and malted with a powerful hopped bitterness creeping up behind and leaving a reminder long after. Alcohol is very well integrated. This is easy to drink and enjoy.

 535 characters

Photo of CraftBeerTastic
4.32/5  rDev +22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ba Review #153
Served On: 04/13/2012
Glassware: Duvel Glass
Labeled ABV: 10.0%
Date/ Code: 2012 Release (Batch No. 2)

I stumbled across this bottle at 3-Star Liquors in Frederick, MD.

Look: Poured a huge frothy beige head - was not expecting it for 10% ABV. The brew had a semi-cloudy orange color with tinges of yellow around the edges. Carbonation bubbles were minimal.

Smell: Sweet notes of malt mixed with a bold fruit resin, like peach or grapefruit. Also some caramelized brown sugar.

Taste: First was a bright hoppy character with fruit notes of ripened mango and grapefruit. The oak was noticeable as the palate smoothed out towards the middle with some vanilla and honey coming through. Finish was a lingering citrus and more of the residual sweetness from the ripened fruit notes earlier.

This is a phenomenal Barleywine. The higher alcohol was perfectly hidden. The bold malt and fruity character was nicely combined with balanced earthy notes to make a very enjoyable brew. It did not need overpowering like other Barleywines I’ve had.

 1,057 characters

Photo of Ratman197
4.32/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber from Total Beverage poured a clear golden amber with a lasting ivory head. Aromas of oak, honeysuckle, vanilla, grapefruit, light pineapple and light toffee. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and smooth. Flavors of oak, vanilla, honeysuckle, toffee and fruittiness with a smooth lingering oak finish.

 301 characters

Photo of MoreThanWine
4.32/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 2 1/2" custard yellow head which lasted well but seemed to exhaust the carbonation of the rest of the beer.

Clear amber body looks nice but viscous.

Smell is complex with barley malt, caramel, toffee, citrus, and zesty hops.

Taste repeats all that's in the smell and includes a nice butterscotch richness.

Body is medium rich as you'd expect from a barleywine. High alcohol level is felt over time but doesn't stand out or detract from the tasting.

I'm thoroughly enjoying this, and I'd have to say it's the lightest looking barleywine I've ever seen.

 565 characters

Photo of FDNYemt
4.32/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found this beer to be amazing. From the fruity smell upon sniffing the freshly opened bottle to the orgy of flavors upon taking my first sip, it was truly a unique flavor and a beautiful experience. Sam adams brewery has quite a few of these fusion beers and i found this one to be one of my favorites. A must try.

 316 characters

Photo of pschul4
4.3/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is my first "non-traditional" review (aka not ASTMO)

I don't understand where all the hate that originally surrounded this beer came from. I see that the reviews are getting better so maybe this improved over the past few months but originally everybody and their mom hated this.
It starts lighter than usual but it's a BLOND barleywine so it's expected. The smell is fine as well but the flavor was so rich and sweet that I was blown away. This is probably in the top 10 barleywines I've ever had. Not a ton of barrel characteristics but it's a big winner for me. Hopefully everyone who tries this from now on tastes what I tasted and loves it


 660 characters

Photo of ngeunit1
4.3/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a clear amber-orange color with a finger of frothy white head. The head fades down fairly quickly leaving behind some light lace.

S - Aroma is a full of citrus and tropical hops with caramel and biscuity malts, light fruity esters, pine hops, oak, and some booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet caramel malts with lots of pineapple, grapefruit, and other citrus hops with some bitterness and some light fruity esters. Through the middle, some pine and lightly spicy hops come through with some more bitterness and some biscuit malts, oak, and vanilla. The finish is a mix of tropical and spicy hops with some bitterness, oak, vanilla, fruity esters, and some booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a warming and dry finish.

D - Very drinkable. Really nice blonde barleywine. I like the hop forward flavor and the malt profile throughout.

 891 characters

Photo of DrinkThis
4.3/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First time trying this beer and it is amazing. Similar in tatse and color to Innis & Gunn Original, another favorite of ours. A sweet smell goes against the deep rich flavors of this beer. Extremely well rounded with hints of vanilla, oak, caramel, and slight orange. Should pair well with savory food or as a dessert beer.

 323 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.27/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
11.5% ABV, "Enjoy now or age it to further develop rich and unique flavors." Batch #1

A - Golden amber in color, this blonde barleywine pours with a pillowy ivory head that's well-retained and decorates the snifter in spotty lacing.

S - Griffin's Bow exudes bold complexity right off the bat. There's exemplary underlying malt sweetness of toasted bread and toffee slivers with bitter, resiny hops laying on top. Great depth and character, but what I keep coming back to is the awkward burnt rubber aroma that lingers throughout the beer. Toasted oak spirals and phenolic alcohol continue the depth nicely; bits of white grape skin finish out.

T - Toasted oak spirals really spring forward throughout this beer! They add great depth to the caramelized sugar and deep malty base. Hops develop low but persistent citrus characteristics that resemble lemon zest and grapefruit emerge. Complexity, thy name is Griffin's Bow.

M - Full, rich-bodied, and very smooth, with a well-carbonated bubble base gives Griffin's Bow a well-balanced finish of lightly dry, citrusy hop bitterness and lingering, warming alcohol.

O - Besides the odd but rubber component to the aroma, this is a very complex, unique Barleywine with great repeat drinkability despite the thin, mildly solvent, phenolic alcohol characteristics of the 11.5%. At a measly $6, it's easily worth grabbing a few of these bottles, one for now, a few for aging. I know I will be!

 1,474 characters

Photo of JoeAmerican77
4.26/5  rDev +20.3%
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

 310 characters

Photo of WickedBeer
4.2/5  rDev +18.6%
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 taste 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!

 1,048 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Griffin's Bow from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.54 out of 5 based on 665 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.