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 Dirtyrat91740
2/5  rDev -43.5%

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

Pours ambery yellow. Decent head.
Smell is...Dill cream sauce? What? seriously dill cream sauce. Smell it and tell me that's not what you smell
Tastes... weird, but i like it. ... big beer malt and alcohol and only the hint of it's oak aging... but seriously still a lot of dill.
Try it. it's unique.

 303 characters

Photo of bamadog
3.75/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I'm a fan of Sam Adams, not all of their stuff is spot on, but I feel that there's a certain consistency that they've managed to hit with just about everything they do. Glad to see them branching out and mixing things up. Review is from notes taken on 12/7/2011 and poured from the bottle to a pint a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass.

Appearance: Pour is a light golden, coppery color and it starts with a one finger off-white creamy head that fades to a firm cap; body is pretty clear and shows moderately strong carbonation coming up in uneven streams; there are a few scant trails of lacing left behind.

Smell: Very sweet - like raw honey that has been candied; malty sweetness is below the previous level of sweetness mentioned before; there are some buttering hops in there that have a fruity and tropical aspect to them -- perhaps pineapple?

Taste: Interesting array of flavors -- a hint of toasty/biscuity breadiness to it, and it is followed by the (you guessed it), sweet malt that has some honey to it, and the happiness comes in and tries to offer a bit of balance to it all with some tropical fruitiness and perhaps some tart green apples. Some reviews have said that this beer is a bit of a mess and all over the place. I agree to a point, but it's not like it's a full on hot mess, but more of a situation where its still developing. Perhaps with more time, this beer could round to be a little more decent than it already is.

Overall: I can get behind it. It's not bad and it has more potential than may be being offered early on the sites. I feel confident in watching the train roll in and out with this one and see where i goes. The flavors wit the sweetness, touch of booziness fruity aspect brought in from the hops kept it interesting.

 1,757 characters

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

22 ounce bottle - $8.99 at Total Wine & More in Alpharetta, Georgia. Batch 1.

Appearance: Pours a clear, amber-gold body with a tall, craggy, off-white head.

Smell: Juicy fruitiness, and, when picking up the sweet-scented notes, a bit like Juicy Fruit. Pale maltiness, some nimble hints of breadiness there, and a heavy layer of honey and toffee. Notably buttery American oak aroma throughout, also a bold streak of alcohol.

Taste: Scantly toasty, bready pale malts with a full-on, candyish toffee sweetness. Tropical jackfruit fruitiness with an additional hint of grapefruit citrus followed fast by the buttery oak. Moderately bitter, which pairs with the tannins and the booziness of the beer for a relatively astringent back-half. Some sweetness loitering around the finish, though it manages to dry out at the last second with some enduring warmth, bitterness, and crispy tannins.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Smooth, tongue-coating mouthfeel.

Overall: A bit hot, but, at 11.5%, it's really to be expected. By the end of the bottle, you'll be seeing not only griffins, but manticores, chimeras, and the fearsome Jim Koch cyclops. It reminds me a bit of Nemesis (2009), in that there's plenty of good there, but really needs some time to smooth out.

 1,279 characters

Photo of rlee1390
3.32/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-Clear yellow orange with a one finger head.

S-Lots of malt, little oak and some hop citrus notes.

T-Way to malty, not much oak, there is some bitterness in the finish and alcohol is present.

M-Medium bodied, a little flat and once again alcohol is present.

O-Like a malt bomb gone bad with some hops thrown in the "balance" it out. The hops were not balanced, alcohol was a little over the top and not in a good way (WWS comes to mind for a good way). Not sure if aging would help this baby out.

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Photo of datalager
3.62/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I'm reviewing this beer from a blind perspective in this style, as I've never had a barleywine ale before. Therefore my review will end up revealing more subjective elements than I'd prefer. But what the hell, this beer has been sitting on my shelf for about a month now so I'll give it the once over.

Poured from a 22 oz bomber, "The Griffin" glugs it's way into an attractive amber body of mostly transparent goodness, and tops off with a quickly rising two+ finger white head. The fluffy "sea foam" top dissipates with a medium to fast pace and leaves virtually no lace. :-( WTF is it with beers that don't leave lace! Sorry, I digress. It's a fairly good looking brew.

Smells are strong with floral hops, alcohol, and a sweet caramelized fruit. Nice. You already know this is going to be a flavorful and strong beer. I suppose there is a hint of oak in there. I don't pick up oak like I do in other oak aged beers, though. That is a tad disappointing to me, since oak is in the name of this style.

First sip pulls back a reverse order of the smells for me...kind of funny. I don't recall another beer doing that before. Malts and sugars slapped my tongue silly up front. Upon swallow I can readily feel the alcohol, and the hops float into a mild but well balanced aftertaste. Minutes after the swallow you can still pick up a hint of the hops...a good sign of a robust ale, IMO. Ironically, after a solid belch I could taste a ripe fruit...banana?? Bananas Foster??? The write-up says honeysuckle, pineapple, grapefruit, and burnt sugar. I guess that with with all those similar "sweet" flavors my brain says Bananas Foster.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a slight tingle on the lips, and a smooth, mild fizz sliding down the back of your throat.

Overall I like this beer. But with 22oz of 11.5% ABV...just make sure you bring a designated driver...or share with friends. I'm a little buzzed by the end of this review, in fact. I think I'd try it again, but i wouldn't go out of my way to do so.

 2,007 characters

Photo of DividedAvery
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of yemenmocha
3.18/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not the normal beautiful appearance that is the norm for Sam Adams beers - little to no head on this one, at least a few seconds after the pour. Orangey-amber color. Nose is boozy with some wood and expired fruit. Palate offers more wood, some wood, and then more wood, and then some malt and funky fruits. Finish is woody and boozy.

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Photo of jneiswender
2.7/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Had this beer at the release party at the Boston brewery. Served in a sample glass.

Gold body and a decent white head. Nice fruit smell and some alcohol. Taste is fruity and light malt. Kind of heavy carbonation. I am not sure this is a true barleywine. I think of barleywines as being a double hit of hops and malt. I just am not feeling the malt part. Still not a bad offering. Name is kind of lame since it's such a departure from what they usually do.

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


A - lovely copper/red, one finger almost off white head, nice retention and a tad of lacing

S - vanilla, honey, flowers, slight booze, funky nuts, very boozey, dessert wine, butter, tons of malts, spicies, very candied smelling and flowers. There is a scent I can't put my thumb on

T - nutty, almost hoppy like ale, boozey, lots of spices, dessert wine, vanilla, nice bitter, earth, lots and lots of wood, buttery and holiday deserts

M - full bodied, low acidity, not balanced and. crazy complexity and very long finish

D - this is not for everyone, huge beer, weird Flavors and very boozey. This isnt your typical Sam Adams ale so if you are a fan and want to try this, stay away if you only drink the regular Adams

Final thought - $7 a pop and 12% abv and some crazy ass Flavors, it you want an adventure give this a whirl

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Photo of rajendra82
3.59/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The body of the beer was clear, and burnt orange in color, which was a few shades lighter than most beers of the style. Carbonation appeared rapid, and formed a two finger thick head in the tulip glass. The aroma of the beer was extremely disappointing. I was expecting a hop assault like Bigfoot or Old Guardian, but instead this was just a bit of honey smell, and very mild one at that. The taste revealed this beer to be on the sweet side of spectrum. i could detect toffee, caramel, and honey. There just weren't a lot of hops added to contribute to flavor profile. There was peppery bite and some wood notes in the finish. The body appeared a bit runny, and did not have the richness I had hoped for. This was a disappointment for an oak barrel aged Barleywine from a big brewer.

 784 characters

Photo of Yagman3000
3/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served from a 22 oz. bomber into a 16 oz Kopparberg Cider glass. Wanted a tall pour to watch my beloved NY Giants take on the 11-0 Packers.

Appears an apricot orange with no shade of brown in it at all. There's a big fluffy one inch head despite a conservative pour and giving it time to settle.

It smells of apricots and honey. Light and tropical. I do pick up a faint woody tone... Apparently we're oaked here.

There's something strange about the flavor oaks. It has a wang to it that's reminiscent of overcooked asparagus. It's not hop bitterness either. It's coming from the malt. Musty.

Mouthfeel is heavier than I'd anticipate. Not for the genre... More along the lines of from Sam. I wish I liked the flavor of this because its heaviness is spot on.

Overall I'm not happy here. There's no coming back from bad flavor. Wouldn't get this again. Wouldn't want to drink it again.

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Photo of mhaugo
3/5  rDev -15.3%

Photo of zaphodchak
3.6/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Batch 1

Half finger off-white head. Clearish dark golden body.

Smell is full of aromatic hops, but the mellowed, oak-aged kind, sort of fruity.

A bit of vanilla at the forefront, swings into a big old barleywine oaky-aged hop/malt slam, and some grassy hops at the finish. Perhaps a bit of a clash or rush of different elements that cellaring would smooth over.

Mouthfeel is a bit foamy for the style, but not bad.

Probably needs more time. Everything on the label got me really excited, but it doesn't quite succeed, at least not yet. Slightly too bitter as well, but that is also a wound well-healed by time. Maybe batch 2 will improve, too.

If you're still reading, put this one away for a bit and try it in a year.

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Photo of BDeibs
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of Kaydogg
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of abriggs1
3.3/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is certainly an interesting recipe. It sounds like it shouldn't work right off the bat, but it kinda sorta does.

Smells like a barley wine with pineapple.

The first sip is of overpowering sweetness. Very distasteful. But once it warms and opens up a bit it calms down. This is a beer that you cannot drink too cold and hope to enjoy. Lots of fruits such as pineapple, kiwi, and mango. Plenty of creamy vanilla from the oak. This is a fairly boosey brew that has a bit of a sour and astringent aftertaste.

This beer is all over the place. I was struck by the difference between the first sip and the flavor profile after it warmed up a bit. At fridge temp this beer doesn't work, but after some space and time it develops a pretty unique creamy pineapple flavor. I would love to age some of this stuff and see what it does. It's very hard to say where it would go.

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Photo of pavpav12
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of JoeAmerican77
4.26/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Golden blonde ale with a slight white head cover, lots of furious carbonation...
Scents of pineapple and hoppy resin boast a sweet treat. Huge barleywine flavor, sweet, vinous and stone-fruit, lychee, pineapple, beautiful flavor. Mouthfeel is sticky and full, lovely. One of the better beers I've had in awhile

 310 characters

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

A: A clear light copper color with a large off-white head. Good lacing on the glass.

S: Vanilla and oak mixed with caramel and pine/grass hops. A bit buttery in the aroma.

T: The oak and hop are prevalent up front. Vanilla and butterscotch mixed with a grassy hop flavor that fades into a buttery boozy bitterness.

M: medium-heavy feel to it with spicy carbonation and alcohol burn.

O: Not bad, but just above average for the style.

 436 characters

Photo of Ryan1423
4/5  rDev +13%

Photo of Springdogg
5/5  rDev +41.2%

Photo of JamesS
4.18/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a wonderfully deep blonde with copper hints, with wonderful head and great lacing throughout. Great deep malt scent with excellent pineapple hop undertones; deep and dark. Great flavors, with a wonderfully deep malt flavor, nice toffee and raisin tastes, and a great pineapple and citrus-like hop finish; huge oakiness in the finish as well, way more than I typically like, but it does tell me up front to expect that on the label. Goes down very well for such a high abv brew, with with an objectively derived too much oakiness, which slightly hides the other wonderful flavors.

 586 characters

Photo of 2xHops
3.05/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

When I poured this into a snifter glass, I had hope that it would be a good beer that I may enjoy. It looked so appetizing with amber-copper hue.

There's a sweetness to the aroma, and it's good.

My problems with this beer began when I sipped. The sweetness of the barley wine hits you up front, and I couldn't quite tell where I'm supposed to taste the oak coming through. The mouthfeel wasn't much better at all. The alcohol came through too easily and it's too strong for me to truly appreciate the flavors The flavors were easily overpowered by all of the alcohol in this beer.

Overall, I wouldn't buy this again. It was approximately $6 I paid for this, and I feel like there's a lot of better barleywine beers out there than this.

 742 characters

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