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

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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 cdwil
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

Photo of fatmusic14
3.9/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Having read some of the reviews about it being so sweet it was undrinkable, I was a little nervous. Unwarranted. Tremendous beverage.

Poured from a bottle into a Goblet.

Appearance - Beautiful golden brown color, nice creamy head. Decent lacing.

Smell - semi-sweet and hops, with a finish of fruit.

Taste - fantastic. Bursts of fruit flavor, but not overpowering or sweet. Hint of raisins and pineapple. Tastes like a barley wine, with no aftertaste kick.

Mouthfeel - leaves a little to be desired.

Overall - Highly recommend. An 11.5% can be intimidating, but don't let it fool you. This is a delicious treat, and was perfect for a Christmas Eve.

 658 characters

Photo of ZenAgnostic
4.1/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 pint 6 oz bottle with no date poured into a Duvel snifter.

Appearance - Big barely offwhite head with low stick and great retention. Clear, deep amber body.

Smell - Candy sweetness. Vanilla custard baby food. Banana. Some wet grassy hop.

Taste - Banana kick to the face, followed quickly by stale cardboard and hoppy grassy metal. Does that make sense? It will.

Mouthfeel - Astringent and solvent. Head offers some amount of creaminess, frothy, and texture.

Overall Drinkability- Very enjoyable. Can be a bit too solvent at times, but this is a barelywine after all.

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Photo of TempeBeerMan
3.98/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a mug. Batch #1.

A – Deep reddish gold. Just a bit of haziness. Nice eggshell colored two finger head, which faded after a moderate amount of time leaving a very fine sudsy lacing. Looking back now, the look of this beer nowhere NEAR matches the taste.

S – Fruit, yeast, and oak. I would describe the aroma as “faint” overall, with only the fruit aromas being at all prevalent. It didn’t leave me thinking much was coming. I was wrong….

T – Holy crap, I think my mouth just exploded! Pineapple, grapefruit, raisins, oak, maple syrup, date, toffee, caramel, honey, vanilla, sweet breads, cocoa, fig, and carrot cake. I just looked up the ingredients for carrot cake and pineapple and raisins were listed. Go figure. Boozy aftertaste. The 11.5% abv is definitely not hidden in this bad boy. In fact, it slaps you in the face and calls you it’s bitch!! When it warms it can be a bit strong, but if you enjoy boozy beers this shouldn’t be a problem.

M – Prickly carbonation helps the beer almost literally dance all over the tongue. Works well with the plethora of flavors that are going on here. Slightly syrupy finish.

O – A completely unique brew. How SA packed this level of complexity in a golden-yellow package with minimal aroma can only be described as “wizardry”. Taste-wise, this one is ALL OVER the place. Which begs the question: Is it any good? I would say a resounding “yes”. I would gladly take a “messy”, unruly, uber complex beer over a one or two note boring one any day. I can tell you right now that this beer is not going to be for everyone. In fact, it probably won’t be for nearly anyone, but it is for me and I’ll be snatching up every bottle I find. And I encourage beer lovers everywhere to sample one for themselves for a something truly different.

 1,843 characters

Photo of allengarvin
2.71/5  rDev -23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Poured into a Val Dieu chalice, this is an aged-brandy colored beer with a creamy half-inch head, and bubbles streaming up from the bottom. The nose... well, an initial hit of hops was promising, but then it was overwhelmed with harsh fusel alcohols--not too promising. The flavor offers incredibly cloying toffeeish sweetness, a lot of oakiness, more alcohol... actually it is so sweet I'm not sure I can bear a second taste.

Ok, I tried a second mouthful. Ugh. Undrinkable. A very unpleasant tasting beer.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.06/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pristinely clear dark amber color with a large eggshell head. Good lace and retention. While SA 3rd Voyage had a nice explanation to the beer's name Griffin's Bow keeps my wonderin'.

Aroma is a mix of golden and tropical fruit hard candy. A little perfumey, SA says "honeysuckle."

Tastes sweet but dull at the same time like the volume has been turned down on all the flavors. Toffee is muted in a bread flavored syrup and presents itself on as a dull (second time I've used that word) in the aftertaste. Fruit like sliced pears that have been sitting out for awhile (oxidation?).

Very mellow, perhaps too mellow.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.15/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a golden/orange with 2 fingers of tight laced head. Excellent clarity, thin lacing and low carbonation.

N: Pineapple, peach, mango, papaya, caramel, toffee and light notes of oak and vanilla. Smells great!

T: Upfront there's papaya, mango, pineapple, peach and caramel. Toffee comes in mid-palette with a little booziness along with some oak and vanilla. Finishes with a lot of peach, papaya and oak with hints of peppercorn.

M: Medium bodied, sticky, bitter, dry and warming.

O: A very hoppy American Barleywine. Huge tropical fruit notes all around including papaya, peach, pineapple and mango. Big caramel/toffee notes still keep a pretty decent balance. Light notes of oak and vanilla round out the complexity nicely. An excellent offering from SA and definitely needs to be tried.

 822 characters

Photo of Durge
3.46/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A light yellow amber colored brew with a decent head of frothy white with a blanketing lacing. The aroma brings light vanilla biscuit with some skunk cabbage alcohol. Not crazy about it and definitely not your typical barleywine. The flavor says thick vanilla biscuit cabbage with wheat and cereal grain goodness over fermenting dark fruits and whiskey. This takes a few tastes to get used to, but once you adjust a little to the booziness, you can enjoy this medium-heavy bodied brew with its lively but fine carbonation. It’s a a little bit higher in alcohol than I typically like but it does settle into a slightly buttery oak deal that satisfies.

 652 characters

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.88/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks like I'm in the minority here, but I liked this beer.

In a tulip, the beer was a bright cherry amber color. It had medium sized off-white head.

A sweet floral aroma. Citrus. Pineapple.

Taste much more interesting. Oak. Toffe. Pinepple. Grapefruit hops. Warming all the way.

Compelex, probably more than it should be. Smooth, despite the high ABV. Didn't really notice the alcohol.

Would try this again.

 413 characters

Photo of BigPlay1824
2.86/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Enjoyed in a tulip glass

A: pours a medium golden color that is entirely clear with minimal carbonation bubbles and two fingers of off white head that is creamy in character with large bubbles, lingers a bit, leaves a thin amount of lacing
S: vanilla, alcohol, some sort of syrup and an unfortunate smell like insect repellant
T: interesting, kind of odd, not bad i don't think just odd, some flavors i cant place, definitely recommend letting it warm up to release some better flavor notes or at least more discernible ones, the first flavor i find is vanilla in the middle with a bit of the oak in the end, beginning is sweet and slightly smooth aside from the alcohol burn
M: burns on the lips, mouth, and throat from the alcohol, to be expected but not enjoyable
O: eh, drinkable but bordering on the line of being a beer i would dispise, scent and mouthfeel are off putting, taste its decent as is the appearance, nothing to write home about, tempted to do some aging but i just not sure it even deserves a spot in my tiny little cellar, idk

 1,048 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.28/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Clear amber colored beer with a tall off white colored head.

Smell is sweet and oak with some caramel and vanilla. Little bit of toffee and butter.

Starts off sweet and strongly of oak. Noticeable alcohol burn. Oak and vanilla with a bit of caramel and toffee. Essentially it tastes like it smells. Verdict on the taste is it's OK but nothing you just have to try.

Mouthfeel is full and creamy, easily its best attribute.

Overall, this is OK. Was expecting more flavor than this has. It's OK but not going to buy again.

 523 characters

Photo of Ratman197
4.32/5  rDev +22.7%
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 Pahn
2.4/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

22oz bottle into Duvel tulip. Figured it was time to try this before it's gone from stores, especially since I've been on a bit of a barrel aged barleywine kick as of late.

Special note: this beer's name is hilarious. "Griffin's Bow"? What the fuck? The youtube video with Jim Koch explains that they were impressed with the power of the old timey mythical animal, the griffin... but what about the bow??

Appearance: Free pour yields a one inch head that dissipates slowly, leaving thick but ultimately not lasting lacing. Pours a clear orange and leaves a few small spots of lacing.

Smell: From the bottle: yup, Nelson Sauvin hops as advertised. Smells a lot like Anchor Humming Ale, a similarly Nelson Sauvin-forward beer (and an excellent one). In the glass: Same thing. Pungent peach and pineapple. All hops.

Taste: Lots of alcohol, some fruit flavors, and lots of sickly sweetness. Amazingly too hot, too bitter, and too sweet at the same time. Don't find that every day.

Each sip starts with a lot of tropical fruity hop flavor, moving to a blast of bitterness, then ending with unrelenting, overwhelming sweetness (and a building, chest-consuming alcohol heat). The oak is not very present in the flavor, though it eventually comes out to impart some sponge cake character onto the disgusting sweetness (it fails to save the day though).

This beer reminds me that Nelson Sauvin can impart a sort of musty / funky flavor like the smell of molding fruit. Somehow the alcohol and mild oak influence are accentuating this aspect, which is unfortunate.

There's a fair amount of flavor underneath the dialed up bitterness, heat, and awful sweetness... but it's not worth suffering through the shit. Summary: like eating overly sugared dried pineapple dipped in honey, but bitter.

Mouthfeel: Full side of medium bodied. Moderate carbonation. Creamy, sugary, hot. Wish they pulled some Utopias magic and fermented off a lot more of this sugar.

Overall: I love a good barleywine, English or American. I'm considering pouring the rest of this beer into the toilet.

 2,073 characters

Photo of ejw127
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of KidRagnarok
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of sparx1100
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of pirmannt1
3/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of FrankyLikesIt
3/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of JustinQ
5/5  rDev +42%

Photo of luv2luvbeer
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of THECPJ
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.23/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clean orange-ish to yellow color with a white head. In the aroma, mellow bourbon smells. In the taste, dry fruitiness, bourbon notes, and a alcohol note. A small alcohol bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry oaky and small fruitiness in the aftertaste. OK, nice bourbon and fruitiness, decent.

 316 characters

Photo of bum732
3.95/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

S: Bright non-hoppy citrus, very floral, some sourdough like malt, slight oak.

L: Crystal clear burnt orange, carbonated that dissipates.

T: An almost saison like pineapple with a honey and light caramel malt backbone. Medium low herbal bitterness with an almost marijuana like finish. some oak notes, but fairly muted.

M: Medium low mouthfeel, medium carbonation. Alcohol fairly well hidden.

Very unique. Almost an English barleywine malt backbone with both American and English hops. I kind of liked it.

 509 characters

Photo of winklebrau
5/5  rDev +42%

Photo of kaelingirl
4/5  rDev +13.6%

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