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

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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 665 |  Reviews: 235
Photo of YouSkeete
2.48/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Nice full copper/amber colored body with a thick, foamy off-white head. Grapefruit, pineapple, oak, barley, oats and some hints of caramel and honey on the aroma. Lots of complex smoky flavors as well. Honeysuckle, toasted oats and sugared fruits on the initial sip. Big, boozy, oak flavored kick follows quickly. On the high side of complexity with a mish-mash of flavors embodying the overall organization of the brew. I can find everything from apples, pineapple, grapefruit to things like limes and carrots. Pale malts and malted barley with a smooth, rich bready texture. Flat, pale aftertaste. Coming from someone with a soft-spot for Sam brews, this is not very impressive whatsoever.

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Photo of thecheapies
2.99/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Stylish looking bomber bottle poured into a Southampton pint glass. This one's Batch #2, but I have a Batch #1 in the cellar to hold.

Crystal clear, copper penny color. Immense head that started to overflow a bit. I didn't expect this to have as much carbonation. Slow rising bubbles drift to the surface. The lacing is a whole slew of sticky proteins, caking on in globs. Popped bubbles remain fossilized on the sides of the glass.

Faint aromas detect English ale malts, leafy hops, muddled citrus fruits, some woody notes... this one's not a show-er. There could be some sweetness, more so than I can get from sniffing it.

Holy candy! What is that sweet tacky flavor? The oak is pretty forward and splintery. I get what they're calling honeysuckle on the label. Definitely a floral hop character mixed with a heap of residual sugars. The pineapple is like a Haribo gummi candy pineapple. The grapefruit is another confectionery variation. Like those sour grapefruit candies rolled in sugar. The malts are caramelly and rich, almost honeyed. The alcohol is bleeding into me. Flavor-wise, this beer is big in a lot of ways; and, not all of them are good. The vanilla coming through via the toasted oak is reminiscent of cream soda. In fact, there's a lot of cream soda flavor in this beer.

Very warm going down. Medium-bodied and actually kind of low on carbonation.

This is... interesting. I'll have no problem letting my other bottle sit for awhile. This can only get better, I'd think. So many rough patches to wear away over time. The hop character is, maybe, a C+; so, I won't miss them when they're all but gone. Kind of weird to say, but I think I can imagine preferring a bottle that is 10 years old over this one (bring on the sherry notes!!). I think I can wait that long, too.

Proceed with caution.

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Photo of rdilauro
4.38/5  rDev +24.4%
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.

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Photo of wowbagger
2.31/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Very nice orange color with foamy head that sticks around for a while.

Smells of hop and spring, with some spice and banana.

The taste is... odd at first. Some of the spice I smelled but mostly just caramel. It's not sweet, just has the sticky/burnt flavor of hard caramel or maybe brittle candy. The only positive thing I can say about the flavor is that I didn't notice any alcohol at all, and finishing off the bomber didn't help my perception of it at all.

I have a lot of faith in this brewery, but this is the second of their special lines I have found thoroughly un-enjoyable. Overall, this was like drinking a cream soda with hops, not good.

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Photo of Brianito
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

Photo of DoctorDog
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of thebouch01
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

Photo of goblue3509
3.91/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear burnt orange color with a two finger soapy white head which gives way to skim. Gobs of lace are left on the glass. The aroma is of citrus, caramel, and sugar with a touch of the sauvian hop. The taste has a caramel and sweet backbone, before a touch earthy hop. The sauvian hop along with a candied flavor and a touch of oak finish out the brew. The mouthfeel is low to moderately carbonated. Overall it is a solid beer, there is a lot going on in the taste but it ends up coming together.

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Photo of Pauly2X
3.66/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Very deep gold, almost amber with a one finger head.

S- Alcohol aromas hit first followed imediatly by caramell, grain, and very faint hints of fruit. A citrusy hop aroma is evident as well but is not overpowering. Very melloe toasted notes from the oak.

T- The alcohol is fairly evident throughout. Simple grainy caramelly malt flavors stand out, with the toasty earthy qualities of the oak barely bringing in balance. The hops come through a little in the finish but still stay mostly in the background. The finish itself has a very good balance between the malt sweetness and the alcohol dryness.

M- Full bodied without being sryupy, without too much carbonation.

O- Not bad for a young barleywine, but not fantastic either. I will pick some more of this up as I feel it has good ageing potential.

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Photo of andyschaps
3/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of MrHurmateeowish
3.33/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle purchased at Shaw's in North Hampton. Pours a crystal-clear amber body with a good inch or so of khaki-colored head that leaves some terrific stickage/lacing. Cereal grain and lemon-orange hops waft from this beer. Lemon, lime, grapefruit, grass come at first with caramel and cereal grain straggle in toward the end, albeit ever so lightly. Medium to heavy bodied with moderate to low carbonation. Not bad, but my least favorite of the series so far. Could probably stand to be aged a bit.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.12/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bomber pours a clear, dark gold color with a good-looking tan head. Nice retention and lace.

Nose is surprisingly hoppy, lots of citrus and tropical aromas. Malts are light, honeyed graham crackers come to mind. Pretty clean overall and the oak is pretty faint.

Wow, the pineapple punches you in the face along with some dank herb and tropical alcohol. Interesting! Very nice malt-hop interplay and the hop spectrum is terriffic from flavoring to bittering. The oak takes on a big role as it warms and the initial hop surge fades away. There isnt really anyplace for the big 11.5% ABV to hide, and it shows it...accentuated even by the wood. Mouthfeel is fine, it is perfectly carbonated and is neither too syrupy nor thin. This is an interesting beer, it hits some high notes but is also a bit rough around the edges. On one hand, aging it might smooth out and intigrate the beer...but then you would lose the nice tropical hop flavors. Id probably buy another one of these, not a bad price tag at 6.50 or so.

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Photo of jski
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of daledeee
3.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 22 ozer from SA.

Poured into my glass and was nicely laced with lots of head and bubbling on a dark gold or orange body.

Nose boozy with apricot and maybe butterscotch or vanilla.

Taste at first was pretty strong apricot and malt. Soon after it breathed and became not very strong in flavor at all. Still some malt, still some hops and dried apricot but I did not pick up much oak. Quite a bit of syrup or sugar.

Mouth feel was rather sticky. Not as carbonated as I might think.

Not good but not bad. I have had better barleywine.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
2.52/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Picked this one up at the COOP tonight... shared a bit with inflatablechair... but unfortunately, I am getting the lion's share... screw you Sam.

Poured into my Corsendonk tulip... good head and nice lacing atop an orange brew.

Aromas are sharp fusel alcohol and fruity hops.. tons of oak and some burning nail polish remover.

The flavor shows pale malts and tropical fruit hops... odd antiseptic alcohol.. the oak is overpowering and overbearing.. too much of everything bad.

Body is medium with decent carbonation that is made very slippery with the tons of EtOH... I think my breath may be flammable.

Sam said it was like sucking on an oak dowel soaked in rocket fuel...

Jesus... It has been a long time since I've dumped a beer, but this one is going down the drain... Not good at all. No where close to anything resembling a barleywine... just a huge woody and incredibly boozy mess.


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Photo of fank2788
3.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a couple of pint glasses
A huge foamy head tops a bright gold to amber beer, a bit pale for a barleywine. The head is slow to settle and tends to throw a lot of lace. The smell is a little weak, there is a good deal of oak, a bit of light fruitiness along with pale malt and a note of alcohol. The taste follows the smell with the oak in the forefront followed by a juicy sweet almost syrup like flavor. Hop character is relatively light and is only really prevalent in the finish. The body of this beer is very smooth with low to moderate carbonation. Up front things are very sweet but the finish is slightly bitter and quite dry. The alcohol is restrained at first and masked by the sweetness but it builds with time, it's a big bottle. Overall this is an interesting barleywine. I am put more in mind of a restrained English style barleywine than it's typically more robust American cousin. Maybe with some time the flavors would blend a bit and mellow out some overall it's a good offering and I'm glad to have gotten a chance to sample it.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.03/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle of Batch #2 (10.0% ABV) today at Shaws for $6.99. A little pricey, but wtf...

Using a small tulip, which now has a healthy fill of a clear, deep golden liquid. Carbo is scattered, sparse and slow, with the head being creamy and off-white, but fast-ebbing. Lacing, though, is top shelf, with a lovely web of white foam stuck to the glass. The aroma has a good amount of fruitiness, with pineapple, mango and honey showing up. Interesting... The body was a smidge more than medium, with a pretty smooth, even feel on the tongue.

The taste has an interesting mix of sweet, fruity flavors. There's a light layer of malty toffee initially, but you'll quickly find some honey-like notes hitting the palate, along with pineapple, some rindy grapefruit, a bit of green apple and pear. I can pick up a bit of the oak character (and vanilla?), but only because I know it's there; I would not have noticed had the label not pointed it out. With the finish leaning to the dry side, the pithy citrus aspect is what lingers a bit in the end. Doesn't seem too barleywine-like to me; more of different type of IPA. Still, I am enjoying this, as well as the other new, experimental Sammy offerings. Prosit!!

4.03/5 rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


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Photo of DavoleBomb
2.97/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter. My bottle says "10% AlC/VOL" and not 11.5%. Batch #2.

5.0 A: Clear medium orange color. Nearly three fingers of frothy white head. Retention is insanely good and especially for the ABV. Lots of glass covering lacing is left.

3.0 S: Very, very, very strange. Oak bashes you over the head again and again. After that there is an odd herbal and vegetal combination. Then there is a distinct waft of honeydew. To follow there is a light caramel, rum raisin, melon, a touch of vanilla, big toastiness, avocado, and buttery coconut.

2.5 T: Again I'm beated to death with oak. So much oak, almost like an Odell Woodcut. Less vegetal than the nose, but just about everything else is there, in lesser proportions, hiding under the oak. The most notable contributions are honeydew, toastiness, melon, and rum raisin. Everything else mentioned underneath those. Mango and pineapple join the party. Booziness suggests what it actually is.

3.5 M: Medium to heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Could use a bit more creaminess, but this is otherwise fine.

3.0 D: Interesting beer that grows on you are you drink it. However, I'd say this is only indicated for people who like oak taste in beer as this has tons of it.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.1/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a medium copper orange amber with two finger fine to medium off-white head that dissipated slowly leaving slight lacing. Aroma dominated by oak and sweet malt, light fruit. Flavor starts with caramel, sweet malt, then a confused, somewhat harsh combination of oak, vanilla, buttery phenols, tropical and light fruit, some harsh medicinal components. Bitter finish without specific hop character, boozy. Medium bodied. There is an interesting beer in here trying to get out, but there are some flavor elements that are not really harmonious here and some that are too harsh. Not that good. I'm thinking about cellaring one of these to see what happens since I like the oaking. This will either mellow out or turn hideous.

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Photo of PugsandBeer
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

Photo of GrindFatherBob
2/5  rDev -43.2%

Photo of ChadQuest
2.5/5  rDev -29%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

So i drank this from a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass, i know, its not a proper Barleywine glass, but it was in front of me at my computer so it happened. Same brewery at least.
now, when you pour this you will see why they put blonde in the name, it is a lot lighter in color then you are expecting for an american barleywine, looks about like an IPA, a shade darker. Some lasting head shows up top and gives a good impression.
The aroma really shows some oak notes, it is a clean aroma of oak, there is not a lot of malt or hops getting in the way really, just some clean biscuit notes otherwise.
The flavors and mouthfeel are smooth. Oak once again is in charge, some toasted grains, not really getting a lot of hops for an "american barleywine", there are some damped earthy hops with a citrus tinge but not enough for the American tag, or what i normally expect from them.

I have a 2nd bottle i bought at the same time, ill drink it at some point soon, well see when, not in a rush but i don't think this one will age well for more then a year at all, not enough body to keep it up with time.

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Photo of hefehead12
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

Photo of mrfrancis
4.12/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear, shimmering gold with a thick, pillowy white head.

S: Aromas of pine, spruce, biscuits, honeysuckle, mango, pineapple, vanilla, and toasted coconut assault the nose.

T: A vinous, tart entry reveals notes of oak, lemon zest, vanilla, cream, brown butter, biscuits, caramel, honeysuckle, pine, spruce, grapefruit, bitter orange, pineapple, mango, guava, and Gewurztraminer grapes. The finish is bitter and resinous with pine, spruce, lemon, grapefruit, mango, guava, and oak notes.

M: Full-bodied and initially dry, but turns sticky just before the finish. Carbonation is active, but unobtrusive. Alcohol presence is somewhat restrained.

O: When the first batch of this beer was released, I was determined to avoid it, as most people I trust did not care for it. When I saw that a second batch was in the works, however, I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did because this is an extremely unique barleywine. At first, I didn't think the flavors worked that well together, but as I drank more they really came together nicely. Before you write this one off, I would recommending giving the new batch a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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Photo of Knapp85
2.05/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Highly highly disappointing beer. Wanted to try it since I hadn't seen this one on the shelves in PA yet. The sample was poured at the EBF night session. The beer looked good with a nice head on top and golden colored body. The smell wasn't too bad, it smelled sweet and appealing. The taste was awful to me. I don't understand why or how but it was terrible. I had a friend take a sip also and they agreed with me. I didn't even finish the sample of this one. The mouthfeel was decent but nothing too special. Overall just not thrilled with this beer really. I really don't know what happened here.

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