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

235 Reviews
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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

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Reviews: 235 | Ratings: 664
Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.39/5  rDev -32.5%
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.

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Photo of GregSVT
3.92/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a tulip

A: Pours a clear golden amber with a nice white head that fades to a ring with minimal lacing.

S: The nose is full of vanilla and toasted oak aromas with a good amount of hops. Decent smells coming out of this one which tempt you to take a sip.

T: The taste starts with a nice amount of hops along with the vanilla flavor from the nose and some grainy malt. The oak aging turns what seems to be a mediocre beer into a decent one.

M: The feel is a bit on the thin side for an 11.5% barleywine however the alcohol is nowhere to be seen which is impressive.

O: A decent beer and the oak aging really makes it better rather than overpowering anything.

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Photo of StoneBrewFanatic
4/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours light amber/blonde into my snifter with about two fingers of head, moderate retention and lacing.

S - Very nice oak aroma, caramel malts and biscuit, smells fruity but having a hard time picking it our mixed with the oak, spicy and slightly boozy.

T - Malty biscuit sweetness and oak are very prevalent, candied sugar, toffee, wild berries, lemony citrus, spice and some alcohol.

M - Well balanced, thick body and good carbonation.

O - I really think this is very good, oak and booze may be overbearing to some, but I personally enjoy it, looking forward to aging a few of these to see how it develops.

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Photo of aasher
3.85/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a light to medium bodied, bright copper in color with a two finger very creamy off white head. The aromas are kind of bland. You get some soft malts, cream, caramel malts, slight butter, and a light hop bitterness. The flavors are again soft and malty. You get smooth maltyness, slight butter (again), with cream, and ever so slight hoppy bitterness. It doesn't sound spectacular but it's solid. It's just really, really smooth and has a great mouthfeel. It's strange for a barleywine but I like it. It's better than I thought it would be. Overall this is a solid beer and I'd recommend trying it. It doesn't rate well but you'll enjoy drinking it.

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Photo of bladesgolf
3.1/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I was very excited to find SA producing a BWSA and it was Batch #1. Unfortunately it is disappointing as a Barleywine, but as an overall beer it is not bad. The Oak flavor trends to run through like a roller coaster. Just when you think another earthen flavor or piney sense is about to break through, the oak chips and alcohol come rolling down the track and overpower any tastes or thoughts.

Hopefully this will mellow with time, but if you are a true fan of complex BWSA, then I would steer clear.

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Photo of capeannbass36
3.56/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a clear, orange copper topped with a huge offwhite head that disappates pretty quickly. Medium light lacing throughout.

S- Only faintly resembles a barleywine ale.
Getting tropical fruits...pineapple, etc.

T- Again tropical fruits...think tropical fruit lifesaver candy...more than anything else.
A blind taste test would have me guessing somewhere other than barleywine. Only a slight hint of the typical barleywine style taste. Odd aftertaste that I cannot figure out.

M- Medium light carbonation. Odd sticky coating to mouth. Cannot identify??

O- Being a barleywine addict...this one simply does not cut it( as in "wow" me). May purchase one for storing.

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Photo of jtierney89
1.3/5  rDev -63.3%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a very light amber color, slightly hazy but still very clear with a thin lace of head that diminishes quickly. Smells like a ton of oak, earthy hops, toast, and a pinch of alcohol.

Lots of flavors, all of which taste as though they've been smoked with oak wood: vanilla, butterscotch, caramel, pine, citrus. Moderate in body and carbonation, slight warming sensation from the high abv. Aftertaste is malty and oaky, but it doesnt linger around too long which is nice. Malt presence is big but is balanced well by the hops which unfortunately to me don't play into to the flavor too much.

flavors are all there but really unbalanced and all over the place, almost couldnt finish it.

drinkable if you're really into the wood flavored things. Definitely far too much oak going on here unfortunately. decent attempt but not something I'd buy another of (except for the one extra I'm going to buy to age).

Speaking of which, does anyone think this beer would benefit from some aging? Would that overpowering oak flavor die down?

but as of right now, this beer is good for nothing but it's high alcohol content

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.05/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On the pale side of amber. Nice head and lacing. Nice floral hoppiness in the aroma but a good dose of malty sweetness as well. Sticky caramel flavor with enough hop bite to be a US version-comes off more of a UK in the long run. Strong piney flavor. Lingering harsh bitterness in the finsih. Still has a huge underlying malty flavor. Great mouthfeel-caramel and toffee. Not a trace of the high abv. Very drinkable and enjoyable. Need to get another bottle to age a bit.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.95/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is an intriguing sounding brew from Samuel Adams. Let's see how they execute. Poured into CBS snifter.

A: as the name implies, this brew pours very blond for the style with a great deal of clarity, thin white head forms with some retention and some lacing.

S: nose featues big notes of toasted fresh oak along with citrus Nelson hops. At 11.5%, I am shocked at how mellow this aroma is. No noticeable signs of booziness. Biscuit and caramel malts come through as well as well as dashes of pineapple.

T: taste starts off with huge wave of malty sweetness, notes of candied fruit and maple syrup come through, the hops provide a citrus lemon zest like quality with minimal bitterness. The finish is quite sweet, but again, the ABV is well hidden.

MF: the body has a thick feel in the mouth, low carbonation

O: this is a pretty impressive brew from Sam Adams. I have been underwhelmed at their high gravity offerings in the past, but this one is well executed. It is a bit on the sweet side, but all things considered, this is a very successful brew.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.05/5  rDev +14.4%
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

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Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

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Photo of bernie879
3.95/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a SN glass. Really nice color, clear golden copper. Only complaint is the lack of head.

Aroma: Oak and vanilla are both equally present and about as strong as they could be without being too much, at least according to my preferences. Odd mix of butterscotch and flowery English style hops also comethrough adding to the complexity.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Full bodied, carbonation is just below average. Hops add some bitterness which balance add a slight bite enhancing the carbonation. Adding to the aroma, the vanilla and butterscotch result in a relatively sweet beer.

Overall: I enjoyed this beer. I think it could still use some age to mellow it out, but worth checking it out now and saving another for sometime in the distant future. I also think this would be better classified as an English bareleywine, or an English something, definately has more of an English character than anything American.

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Photo of rmcnealy
3.82/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served chilled in a nonic glass.

Poured a light honey amber that was very translucent, totally filtered. Had an off white lace head that subsided to a small ring around the glass. The initial smells are of an undiscernable citrus sour, slight hop and even slighter malt. It features a hoppy pine bitterness with clear tastes of alcohol. It is not syrupy or overly boozy for a high abv barleywine. Like the others I've tried from this series (Tasman Red, Third Voyage), it's definitely worth a try! Enjoy!

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Photo of Thickfreakness
2.61/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours a crystal clear honey/amber into my DFH glass. Tons of carbonation, nice fluffy white head that fades fairly rapidly and leaves a touch of sticky lacing.

S- HUGE piney, grapefruity Nelson hop punch in the nose! That's pretty much it. It's like a one note guitar solo. All im picking up is the hops... no oak, malted barley, vanilla or anything else. Kinda dissapointed with the smell.

T- Bright, fruity hops right up front. Somewhat bitter before the sweetness starts creeping in. I'm not getting Barleywine at all... malty IIPA, yes indeed. Just way to hop forward for a BW. I wonder if the hops will mellow with some time. It doesnt taste bad, but they shouldn't have called this a BW IMHO.

M- Bitter and citrusy up front. A nice sweetness comes in but gets overpowered by the hops and alcohol. Kinda creamy and oily on the tongue, but then it gets ripped apart by the pine and hops.

O- I was really looking forward to this, but it's really kind of dissapointing as a Barleywine. If they called it a IIPA, I would have scored it much higher. Not a bad beer, but it's so hopped up that nothing else shines thru. Maybe a year or 3 in the cellar will help this one.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.74/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear deep copper color with a huge fluffy white head that shows great retention and a huge amount of lace. 5 stars for appearance! Smell is mostly an earthy piney aroma that I think is Zeus hops, not my favorite hop. Slight hints of candy sugar type malt sweetness as well as some alcohol. Taste is sweet and malty again with that candy sweetness mixed with a sweet fruitiness that reminds me of tropical fruits. The earthy piney hop flavor is in there as well as a touch of ethanol. Medium to full body, moderate level of carbonation with a sweet fruity slightly sticky mouthfeel. I kinda liked this, even better after it warmed a bit. Its well made beer that hardly shows its 11.5% abv, and aside from my dislike of the hop profile I'd love to see how this ages.

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Photo of ryanonline
3.08/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

clear and dark gold yellow with some white head that ain't quite thin and ain't quite thick but leaves some good lacing.

some aromas of oak and alcohol with some odd citrussy scents too. no real hops or malt, lots of wood.

oak, oak and more oak. some very faint malt flavor and some very grassy hops. a sort of butterscotch flavor lingers along with some high alcohol heat.

thin bodied and yet sort of syrupy light carbonation and a very dry finish.

slightly disappointing as most of the characteristics of a barleywine are lost in this beer.

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Photo of Jason
2.96/5  rDev -16.4%
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 TMoney2591
2.58/5  rDev -27.1%
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.

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Photo of fsvan
3.85/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into New Belgium globe.

A- Semi-bright golden. Well carbonated. Two fingers of off white head with minimal lacing.

S- An interesting smell on this guy. The oak is present but not overpowering. A lot sweet maltiness behind that, that is pretty hard to describe. Almost a maple syrup smell to it. Interesting, for sure.

T- Very much in line with the smell. Oak, sweet malts, and that same maple-like smell. A bit bitter on the finish.

M- Very well carbonated. Thick, but still easy drinking.

O- A pretty good beer. Unique and reasonably priced. Doubt I'd pick up another, but glad I got one.

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Photo of champ103
2.78/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Pours more of an amber/ light red color than anything I would call blonde. Good clarity. A two finger, bubbly, white head forms with good retention initially. After a minute the foam recedes and leaves ring of lace behind.
S: Soapy and perfume like hops are billowing out of the glass. Peppery spice. Even a hoppy onion like aroma. A quick flash of burnt toast. Alcohol stings the nose.
T: Big soapy hops like dish detergent. Oily and resinous. Peppery spice. Burnt caramel malt and sugars try to balance things out. Ton of alcohol burn.
M/D: A big body that is thick and syrupy. Very slick and oily. Man, there is way to much alcohol for this to be enjoyable right now.

This is a monster, and a chore to finish. Maybe some age will help, but this is over barring right now. Not something I would recommend.

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Photo of SawDog505
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 13 oz tulip glass. Pours a light amber, with a one inch white head that settles into a light film, patches of lacing. Smell is some oak, garlic, and fruity esters. Taste, wow is this unique. Similar to smell, but way more aggressive. Hints of vanilla and clove, really a perplexing beer. I don't love or hate it. Makes me want to sip again, so I can make sense of everything. Body is fairly light and enough carbonation for the style.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
3.77/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a golden yellow color with a 1/2" head that fades to bubbles fairly quickly

S: Strong caramel malt and oak presence, along with some hops. Very interesting and intriguing

T: Follows the smell, very fruity as well. Pineapple for sure, with oak, caramel, vanilla, malts, alcohol, and some more citrusy and grassy hops at the end for good measure. Extremely complex, with multiple layers

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Not syrupy or cloying by any means

O: A very interesting barleywine, it's on the lighter side yet has enough umph behind it to give it substance. Although it's extremely complex, the taste throws me off a little.... It is more of a hybrid style, though

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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

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Photo of Rschis16
4.12/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber hued beer, great clarity and a nice 2-3 finger head on top that dissapates slowly and leaves lacing as it goes. Reduces down to a sea foam sheet, nice retention. Touch of booze in the nose, which accentuates very nice fruity smells and a big shot of piney hops. There is a nice little spice to it as well, almost saison-esque. The sweetness is fruity and flowery, bringing about a very complex nose, but not incredibly potent.

The taste is fairly different from the nose actually. Big and boozy, but soft in its flowery composition. The floral hops are a little bitter in the back, a bit citrusy, but not very intense, which is ok. There is that oak taste as well that gives it a woody feel, adding a spicy character to the beer. Booze is definitely an essential part of the taste, especially being a barleywine. It fits the style and integrates into the beer pretty well. There is a overreaching fruity taste that is not really sweet at all, but does permeate all aspects of the palate, including the linger. It's a little distracting and makes the finish less dry than it would be without it. Only a little bit of a water-like mouthfeel, but the prickliness of the booze and hops makes up for it.

Overall, pretty good beer from Sam Adams, and a series that I'm excited for. I've always had a soft spot for BBC because they got me into craft beer, and this series has the potential to bring them more respect in the more extreme styles. I'll definitely be trying the others.

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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.

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Griffin's Bow from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.54 out of 5 based on 664 ratings.
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