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

665 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 665 |  Reviews: 235
Photo of JAHMUR
2/5  rDev -43.5%

Photo of TTAmod
3.41/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch 2 bomber poured into pint glass. The bottle says it's 10%, not 11.5%. Could the ABV have changed since the first batch?

A: Clear light amber with a really thick, sustained eggshell head. I could float a bottle cap on it!

S: Smell is pretty heavy pineapple, mango, and a touch of alcohol.

T: Taste is kind of a mess. Heavy tropical fruits up front, but then it takes a really malty turn. There's an odd, sweet caramel and wood base (damn you, Paul's Caramalt!) in the mid to later stages of this beer. It's sweet near the end and tastes EXACTLY like a pineapple nut bread. Ends with slightly bitter hops and a bit of alcohol. Doesn't taste like 10%, though.

M: Mouth is good, though. Slightly thick. Creamy. Pretty easy to drink, especially considering the high ABV.

O: Like I said, the taste is a bit of a mess. I like the maltier barleywines, but the malt base is strange. The price is good for what you get, though.

It's tough to grade this one. The American Barleywine is a tough category. I think it's about as good as the Old Guardian that I had this year, even though this beer is much different.

 1,114 characters

Photo of waiting4lunch
2.5/5  rDev -29.4%

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.35/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours very clear for a Barley wine with a mild orange hue and a small head of peachy-white colored bubbles that faded back into the beer almost completely after about 20 seconds. There is no head to speak of after a few minutes and the beer is pretty still looking…a little like a peach tea or something.

Aroma: The aroma is amazingly mild for this style of beer. I am getting a little bit of subtle hops as some American citrus, a mild spicy content that I guess is alcohol derived, and that is about it for the cold beer. It is poured pretty close to the top of my stein, so I assume that I will get more aroma as I drink the beer and it warms up some. As the beer warms, you can definitely pick up the hops stronger and they are getting oily in the nose as well…but the aroma stays mild for the style regardless.

Taste: The flavor is pretty decent and a lot hoppier than the aroma suggested. There are some oily American hops to greet you early on in the flavor and they pretty much stick with you the whole time up until the finish and then they get a bit lost in the later part of the sip. Long afterward, there is some defined alcoholic warning going on, on the back of the throat. The carbonation is adequate, and the body overall is a firm medium. There is some spice that comes out in the middle of the sip and stays with you into the finish.

Opinion: This is a decent beer if you want something like a Barley Wine with training wheels. The overall balance is unusually balanced toward the malt in the end, though I think that it ended up balanced toward the hops slightly, this is weird for this style. I do enjoy Barley Wines on occasion, but this one falls short of what I would put in this category. Most good Barley Wines are practically undrinkable when they are fresh (IMO) and need a couple years to soften up. I don’t know where this particular example would go in a couple years. I speculate that it would get pretty funky as there are hops missing to hit this style. Who knows, maybe it would age like an Old Ale, but I am not going to age them and find out. I will stick to more consistent beers to put in my cellar.

 2,158 characters

Photo of marmora
4.12/5  rDev +16.4%
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.

 474 characters

Photo of BeerImmediately
3.24/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22oz into tulip.

Great looking beer - 3F of cream colored head over a fairly still, burnt-orange body. Nice sticky lacing.

Aromas are faint, but there. Some roasted pineapple, oak, and toffee.

Flavors bring more of the barleywine to the table. Reminded me of an imperial Altbier: Lots of malt, very little hop. Lots of oak/vanilla. Some mango and apricot fruit. Chewy and sticky. Falls apart a bit between the flavor and mouthfeel.

Not a bad Barleywine, but could use a kick in the hops.

 494 characters

Photo of RunForYourBeer
4.2/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours golden orange with a medium white head.

S: Grapefruit and pine hops with some caramel sweetness.

T: Starts with grapefruit and pineapple before some sugary sweetness comes out. Finish is toasty oak with a bit of alcohol warming.

M: Medium with medium carbonation.

O: Very good. I like the oak in the finish on this one.

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

I haven’t tasted many Barleywines so I went out and bought this bottle. It poured a half inch head, my nose registered a lot of complex aromas among them: mango, bananas, pineapple and came to the conclusion that is a fruity brew; the palate confirmed my suspicions. It has a somewhat bitter after taste that complement its fruity fore taste. I like it, I will pair this with some mild cheese and drink it after a dinner…and remember folks to support your local brewery DRINK BEER. HOG.

 490 characters

Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.58/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - light brown in color, like a cream soda, a thin off white/tan head fades to a ring and is supplied by a steady carbonation stream

S - tropical fruits as mentioned, nice hop profile but otherwise a mediocre bouquet

T - super sweet up front, dark sugary sweetness, molasses, burnt caramel, a slight appley fruitiness finishes the taste nicely

M&D - the sweetness lends a particular smoothness, but the high ABV may be off putting to some and definitely reduce its sessionability

 483 characters

Photo of TexAggie011
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of NickMunford
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of djrn2
3/5  rDev -15.3%

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

Appearance: Gold, good head.

Smell: Honey, wood, fruit-apple.

Taste: Sweet, pear-apple flavors, wood, toast. Different tasting than about every other barleywine I've had.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Doesn't seem as strong as it is listed. Very reasonably priced, only around $5 here, most other BW's in bombers are $7-$10.

Picked up a bottle since I like barleywines and it was priced decently. Kind of a mixed up mess of flavors in this, with a little too much apple/pear flavor that I normally only taste in malt liquors. Maybe I'll pick up another bottle for cellaring to see if it changes over time.

 603 characters

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.01/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Pours an amber sap. Decent, finger width head.

Smell - Sweet malts. Not much else. No oak on the nose.

Taste - More sweet malts. A fair hop aftertaste. Not getting much oak. Very faint, if any.

Mouthfeel - Thick like your average barelywine. Good amount of carbonation. Goes down fairly easy for the style.

Overall - Oversold. Does not deliver on the oak promise. Not a bad barleywine... about average.

 419 characters

Photo of PrimScrewhead
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of bigorange
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of RichWiegand
3/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of jdhilt
3.97/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a two finger white head that fades quickly to a ring leaving some lace. Crystal clear amber color. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Grapefruit and caramel nose and flavor is a good balance of caramel and grapefruit, not much oak and no spicy hotness. Light grapefruit hops at finish. Decent barleywine. High ABV is hidden. $7.00 for a 22oz bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

 393 characters

Photo of WhitmansNiece
3/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of kiki3drt292
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of zkoehn
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of budgood1
3.23/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

batch #1. pours out of the 22 ounce bottle a brass colour with a gigantic beige head with some serious staying and sticking power leaving plentiful chunky lace. sugar drizzled grapefruit aroma with accents of pale malt, oak, and flower petals. a sweet candy like flavour greets the tastebuds upon first sip, reminiscent of toffee and caramel drenched apples. it has a burnt vodka/grapefruit juice note it...and i like greyhounds. the oaken notes are up front and provide a warning siren to the massive grain alcohol sting to follow. this barleywine is HOT. a spicy sipper for sure. hard to wrap my tastebuds around the more subtle nuances because of the belly warming boozy blast. there is a generous amount of bitterness present, which does provide a modicum of balance when it comes to the residual sweetness. obvious huge body on this BW...with a mouthfeel that is a bit caustic due to the alcohol/bitterness factor. i'd like to know the IBU's here. sippability is interesting...i found as it warmed a bit it became more interesting...but maybe not better.

overall i would say that this is way too hot to be overly enjoyable at this time. and add in the fact that i don't normally tend to view boozy, high ABV brews with simple, base, pale malts (maibocks, blonde doppelbocks, etc. for example)as overly enjoyable. maybe some age would smooth out the obvious rough edges? worth a try, i guess.

 1,397 characters

Photo of jsurfs82
2.5/5  rDev -29.4%

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
1.94/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: Sticking to their adage that beer must be clear, this one pours perfectly clear, even when cold. The color of shiny new pennies. Lacks some of the deeper red tones...but that must be the whole blonde thing happening. Head is bright-white, smooth, and thin.

Smell: Caramel, toffee, oak, and booze. Some toasted notes when cold gradually expand as the beer warms. It's like toasted booze. Lots of booze. Very rough. Touch of biscuit and minerality. Aromas don't really meld, they just assault and then back off making room for the next out of whack aroma. Hits on the English side of things with a big toffee compliment. Also, pears.

Taste: Vanilla, toast and caramel. Toffee and old bread crust. Booze, so much booze and sweetness. Very rough. It's like a shot of oaked vodka with a toasted piece of booze soaked toasted oak thrown in for good measure. Toast your booze son! Toffee struggles to break through. Aggressively full of citrus rind. Tastes like white Life Savers. Is that pineapple and coconut sneaking out?

Mouthfeel: Thin side of medium. Dry on the aftertaste from the harsh ABV. Drinks like bad college vodka.

Overall: This was almost a drainpour. The toasted element sounded nice in theory but what a tragedy it became. No balance and any complexity it may have had was lost when the flavors refused to work together.

 1,347 characters

Griffin's Bow from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
3.54 out of 5 based on 665 ratings.
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