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

233 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: 233 | Ratings: 661
Photo of cjgator3
3.69/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle

A- Pours a golden amber color with an off-white head with decent lacing and retention.

S- The aroma is loaded with citrus, a lot of citrus. The citrusy hops are mostly grapefruit and pineapple with some sweet malt and a honey-like sweetness to go along with some alcohol in the finish.

T- The taste is sweet malt up front with the citrusy hops coming in very quickly and lingering well into the finish. The finish also has a lot of warmth from the high alcohol content.

M- The mouthfeel is between light and medium bodies with a good amount of carbonation.

O- Overall, I enjoyed this beer more than I expected. Samuel Adams did a great job with this beer.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.3/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Pours a medium orange/gold color with a three fingered, sticky white head and mild carbonation.

S - Light candied caramel toffee malt, light tropical fruit, oak.

T - Oak, white raisins, light white toffee malt, boozy, light grapefruit, overall - sweet.

M - Thick, full bodied, slightly frothy and very gentle carbonation pricklies.

O - I tip my hat to Sam Adams for pushing the envelope with a "blonde barley wine", there's nothing else in this genre (that I know of).

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Photo of jsanford
3.47/5  rDev -2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours cloudy dark gold with a dense white head that settles to a thick cap, leaving lots of soapy lacing. Resinous aromas of sweet caramel malt, tangerine, honey, white wine, and a touch of oak. Taste is really nice, more flavors of honey malt, citrus and tropical hops, with a fairly sticky mouthfeel, medium-full body, and lowish carbonation. Pretty tasty Barleywine, a very unusual interpretation of the style but I like it.

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.57/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Fresh bottle review from notes.

Typical barleywine amber appearance, light head and mild lacing, medium-heavy body and medium-light carbonation, somewhat clingy and toothsome in texture but not terribly so.

Smells of honey, taffee, toffee, light amounts of toasted oak, and medium levels of tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, wild flowers). The flavor is a lot more woody than the aroma, and also includes a surprise coconut-vanilla cream pie to the face with a sidebar of rye whiskey burn... Pineapple with charred edges pops out around the mid sip and transforms into a typical pine resin / juicy grapefruit combo by the time the finish rolls out an added spectrum of both leafy herbal raw *and* dried tobacco in equal measure.

Nice, but far too hot and wooden for my preferences fresh. The most memorable aspects of this barleywine are the high level of grilled pineapple and French Vanilla in in the flavor relative to other barleywines, but it fights with the rye booze levels as it is. I'm really intrigued by the tobacco elements, though. In my experience, beers that show nuances of tobacco when fresh often tend to develop additional complexity when aged.

I see this one as another great potential cellaring candidate; to see what can be built out of carefully controlled reduction of the hot booze and hopping levels, and to develop that tobacco stub. I'll probably be getting another one or two bombers at the store for further cellar experimentation, and the price point for this barleywine is more than reasonable enough for this to be an affordable adventure... (My 22oz bomber cost $7 in WI)

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Photo of DRyan
3.57/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought two bottles in Feb 12. Wasn't using ASTMD back in Feb...

Pours golden-copper with a thick white head that sticks around for a while, and laces nicely. Oak flavor is very noticeable in the forefront, fruity notes in the middle, and alcohol bite on the latter. Good amount of hop flavor to balance what would otherwise be a very sweet, malty beer. Slightly reminiscent of barleywine, but unlike any barleywine I’ve had before.

Poured in a Ranger Creek Tulip glass
A: Golden copper with a very frothy white head of big thick bubbles that recedes slowly and leaves some decent lacing
S: Sweet caramel and malt, some toffee and vanilla
T: Oak is milder now, the alcohol actually seems stronger in the front of the taste now. The hops bitterness still comes in the end, though there is very little of the hops in the aroma anymore. Much less overly sweet. Really doesn’t taste too much like a barleywine though.
M: Smooth and rich, with a little zing in the carbonation.
D: The alcohol is certainly noticeable, and would keep this from being too quick of a drinker. Overall the beer is pretty easy to drink (slowly), but the bite at the end – a mix of hops and alcohol bitterness – keeps it from being too quickly imbibed.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.9/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

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Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev +13%
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.

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Photo of DIM
3.53/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: Blonde, as advertised. It poured with medium sized, moderately sticky head.

s: Sweet honey, caramel, and some spicy oak.

t: Starts off with sugary caramel that has hints of floral honey. Finish adds a pleasant oaky alcohol bite with some lemon bitterness.

m: Kind of chewy.

o: Nice, sweet b-wine, but kind of one dimensional. The oak doesn't really show itself.

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Photo of RickS95
3.53/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 2 in a medium-sized snifter.

The appearance is very attractive. Pours a bit thinner than I expected, but it's a clear burnt orange with a bright white head. The head is a finger thick and very foamy looking. Decent retention and a good lacing follows.

For the most part, the smell is pleasant with all the citrus notes, but then the alchol comes through with a vengeance. All things mentioned on the bottled are distinct in the nose...the honeysuckle, pineapple, and the grapefruit. All the while, there's a piney smell in the background. Again though, that alcohol is lurking.

While not awful, the alcohol taste is aggressive. It does allow the grapefruit and oak flavors to make an appearance, but it's a cameo at best because the alcohol takes top billing. If the bottle didn't say 10%, I'd guessed this to be in the 15-18% range. A bit of orange peel in the finish.

Slight acid from the citric fruits, but it's mostly heat from the alcohol. There's so much alcohol that I can't pick up any hoppy bitterness, so on the one hand, it's less bitter than you'd expect form a barleywine. However, on the other hand, the alcohol has an attitude problem and doesn't play nicely with others.

It's not a bad beer, it's actually pretty good. Problem is it's extremely manly and more or less alcohol-forward. It's not an easy beer to drink, clearly a sipper and not entirely out of the question to share it with someone.

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Photo of jwc215
4.03/5  rDev +13.8%
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!

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Photo of raznug
3.91/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: This beer pours a dark golden color and is topped with and solid 1” of white head that tends to linger. Belgian lacing lines the glass all the way to the bottom.
Smell: This is quite the bouquet of smells I can smell citrus, malty aromas, something sweet maybe pineapple according to label.
Taste: Oak aging is the first flavor that I taste followed by a malt sweetness that caught my attention. The blend of the oak dryness and sweetness is a tasty touch that makes my like this beer. Toffee and vanilla flavors fill into the background as the beer warms which makes me like this beer even more. There is no alcohol burn to it at all which in a 10% beer doesn’t happen to often.
Mouthfeel: Griffins Bow is a medium bodied beer that is rather easy drinking for a 10% barleywine (this could get a person in trouble if one doesn’t watch out.)

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.58/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of n2185
3.88/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a clear honey with two fingers of off-white head that fades into a thin layer with a little lacing. Lighter than most barleywines, but pretty.

S: sweet caramel and vanilla with candied citrus aromas up front followed by oak and butter notes.

T: sticky caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla at first before strong woody tanin flavors bring up the finish with a light alcohol burn and slight bitterness.

M: medium-thick body with low carbonation, this beer avoids being too sticky sweet or watery.

O: a surprisingly enjoyable beer. Not terribly complex, but tasty with nice woody notes.

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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.

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

The color when poured into a pint glass was of a reddish alburn color, with a minimum amount of foam. but a fair amount of lace. The smell of hops and spices was evident, with a hint of sweetness. The flavor was of hops, caramel, I think a hint of corriander and other spices. A nicely balance of sweetness/bitterness on the aftertaste. The taste of alcohol was evident, but, not over powering. An other plus for Boston Beer Company.

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Photo of tdm168
3.58/5  rDev +1.1%
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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Photo of BucannonXC5
3.06/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Draft into a pint glass at Todd English PUB in Las Vegas, Nev., on July 23, 2012. One finger of head when I got it. Caramel color. Thick white lacing. Good retention all around the glass.

Smelled a sharp alcohol bite, corn, skunk, wine, bourbon or some other kind of liquor.

Tasted heavy alcohol right away. Wine and honey. Just too much of a sharp, overwhelming alcohol bite.

Medium body. Oily texture. Below average carbonation. Long liquory finish.

Very disappointed with this beer, considering I’ve liked almost every other Sam Adams beer I’ve tried. Just too much alcohol with no flavor to match it.

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Photo of Vierenner
4.16/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Summertime Barleywine.

Has some qualities of a Radler ... but I wouldn't recommend it to quench your thirst ... it'll take you out of commission!

The head is beautifully formed ... doesn't get much better imo.

Alcohol is remarkably well hidden.

Flavors are quite interesting to me. Achieving such complexity without adding all sorts of crazy ingredients is quite a feat.

Major bang for the buck. A bunch of these are going in my cellar.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.99/5  rDev -15.5%
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.

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Photo of mjpolzin
3.45/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The ABV on the bottle said 10% whereas on this website it says 11.5%...

I will say up front that this was not my favorite barleywine but it did have some interesting characteristics that made it still good to drink.

I read someone's review on this site that said this was a barleywine for the summer. With a slight citrus taste and the blonde color, I would have to agree with that. There was also an aftertaste with each sip. It took me most of my glass to figure out what that other taste was that I was getting and I decided that it was a mix of bread and oak. The oak obviously makes sense with it being aged in oak.

At only $5 or $6 a bottle, I may buy this again but like it said, it wasn't my favorite.

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Photo of GloryToTheHops
3.72/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of Immortale25
2.93/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a Dogfish signature snifter. No freshness date.

A- Pours a medium copper color with a 3/4 inch off white head that retains quite well before becoming an 1/8 inch head. Solid ring of trickly lacing.

S- Strong aroma of pineapple and other tropical fruits. Sharp without much malt sweetness.

T- Unorganized clash of flavors brings a wince to the face. Stinging alcohol, unattractive bitterness and very little malt to bring balance. A boozy mess indeed. Barely any trace of the somewhat nice tropical fruit in the aroma. Acerbic.

M- As said before, stinging that isn't helped much by the medium-high carbonation.

O- As one could expect from a brewery that's way past its prime, not a good barleywine. I wouldn't have even reviewed/drank it if it wasn't given to me for free.

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.88/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pleasing US barley wine, a bit monochord but the overall flow is nice.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped custom bottle. Yellow label with the image of a badly drawn griffin holding a bow. Shows notes of ingredient, main characteristics, and intent.
Notes batch #2, and 10 Alc. by Vol. Poured into a snifter.

A - Clear amber pour, nice 1/2" creamy head, medium retention, fair surface memory and lacing.

S - Nose is fruity, with a dash of caramel, sweet hint of vanilla…

T - Softly fruity and malty with a light vanilla/oak touch, bitter dash of hops with some resin, zesty touches over an assertive yet pleasing boozy sense.

M - Medium to medium-full body with medium carbonation, and a nice sticky smoothness in the finish.

O - It flows rather nicely with a pleasing sense.

Notes: I was expecting less so this was a nice surprise. Not half as bad as I had heard. While not remarkable, the fruity sense with the fresh boozy edge felt nice. Maybe it would benefit from aging but this is pretty drinkable in this incarnation.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.81/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.48/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

APoured a honey color with good carbonation and a nice frothy white cap, lots of bubbles and plenty of lacing

S: Bit toasted oak,vanilla with a whiff of butterscotch

T: Holy oak! Wow. Woody with huge vanilla notes, green apples and pears, pretty nice at first and then it becomes rather cloying and abrasive, bit syrupy and too sweet. The finish is warm lingering booze and oak.

M: Medium bodied, well carbonated.

O: Not to bad but room for some improvement

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Griffin's Bow from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.54 out of 5 based on 661 ratings.
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