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 bigbeers84
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of LockeSD
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%

Photo of Ajlvt
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of dananabanana
3.82/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch #1. Split a bomber 3 ways.

A: Dark gold, only slightly clouded. Thin layer of straw-colored foam.

S: Smells pretty alcoholic! Mostly sweet, but there is a little tartness and yeasty smell.

T: Tart and fruity, perhaps apple? Honestly, it reminds me of VeryFine Fruit Punch I drank when I was younger. Hops come through at the end-- not very floral or bitter, just a simple presence.

M: Strongly carbonated and refreshing. The alcohol is definitely present, and really warms it up.

O: Quite pleasant to drink. With such a high ABV, I had to split a bomber.

 566 characters

Photo of harrymel
2.28/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Batch No.1 (Oct, 2011?)

A: Light amber with three fingers of whipped whites which falls slowly to a quilt of the same. Excellent clarity and near cobweb lace.
S: Vanilla, caramel, oak, plastic, nice hints of grapefruit and honeydew melon. Interesting nose.
T: Sweet as fuck. Wow, for such a fresh BW, this is one sugary beast, and the yeast is reminiscent of a dunkelweiss yeast. Sweet and has a ton of cereal (corn pop) flavors for me.
M: Almost too thin and flat for satisfaction. Body like a pils that's been sitting for too long...
O: Not a very good attempt IMO at a fresh BW. Needs some hops for a blonde/american BW.

 624 characters

Photo of 11millsown113
3/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of jondeelee
3.82/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Griffin's Bow opens with a nose that is equally hoppy and malty, aromas almost visibly spilling out of the bottle in runnels. On the malty side, the brew boasts huge amounts of sugars, with brown and Candi sugars fighting for dominance against a background of toasted bread crusts, molasses, and fig. The hops bring a good grapefruit, pine, and effervescent lemon counter, obviously present in large quantities themselves. The overall effect is not immediately reminiscent of a Barleywine, but it is heady and demands to be tasted.

On the tongue, the beer opens with a split-second rush of massive sugars, which are almost immediately afterward joined by a huge level of hop bitterness that almost threatens to take over the beer. The sugars bring the aforementioned brown and Candi sugar notes to the brew, and the hops add, again, grapefruit and pine notes. A large amount of black pepper infuses the brew, causing the tongue to tingle. There is, however, a slightly off-putting plant-like taste, the oak aging having added a distinct woody character that is slightly too reminiscent of sucking on twig pith, or biting into grape stems. As well, the alcohol--coming in at a huge 11.5% ABV--is not well-hidden by even the large sugars and hops, giving the beer a distinct tequila-like shooter whang. The aftertaste is a continuation of the tequila and wood flavors, as well as a long-lingering grapefruit and pine hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is a syrupy medium-high, and carbonation is medium to medium-high, adding to the burning sensation on the tongue and soft palate.

Overall, while the nose of Griffin's Bow promised an excellent and well-balanced brew, on the tongue the beer didn't live up to the promise, ending up simply too strong in alcohol and wood-aged flavors, and tasted more like an extra-sugary liquor shot than a beer. So strong are these flavors that a full bottle of the beer--1 pt. 6 fl. oz.--is going to be a little overwhelming for this reviewer, who is going to head downstairs immediately and look for a bland snack such as unbuttered popcorn to help cleanse the palate between sips. Giving the beer a little credit, however, I suspect that a good year or two of aging will help temper these wild flavors greatly, and will likely result in a far more palatable beverage.

 2,296 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
4.17/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanksgiving beer! The bottle looks English styled, as does the label. 500 ml bottle consumed around 50-55F, on to the beer:

Orange tinted blonde in color with a large head formed on the pour, leaving a few patches of lacing. The retention is merely okay, however. The nose is a medley of little aromas; there's the toasted oak, the Nelson Sauvin hops bringing canteloupe, tangerine, and the malt bringing toasted sugar.

There is some booze, but that is to be expected at its 11.5% ABV. All the little flavors work in collaboration to make Griffin's Bow a winner. It does seem more hop and oak oriented, with the oak adding vanilla and wood to the profile and the hops creating a fruit salad of canteloupe, orange, tangerine, and sweet grapefruit. In fact, it feels more like an oak-aged Double IPA than a barleywine. Its got a full mouthfeel that has some booze, so show this one some respect.

I was surprised to see Sam Adams creating concoctions like these and putting them on sale, and almost as surprised how well this worked out.

 1,040 characters

Photo of JMBSH
3/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of Kbogac
3.21/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a good looking orange/bronze color. Great looking beer. Minimal foam, no lacing, light film with a ring. Smell is fruit & alcohol. Mostly pineapple. Taste is un-barleywine like. Very fruit forward. Sweet, pineapple, malt and some hops. Maybe a little alcohol at the end. Overall unusual. Not my favorite but interesting to try.

 334 characters

Photo of magine
3.37/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a nonic glass.

Pours a clear, gold tinted copper, has an off white fluffy head. Nice patchy lace remains along with a coating of lace for the head. Pretty good looking.

Brew smells very complex. Lots of good notes in here with this one. Honey, grapefruit, bready malts, toffee. Some light roasted characteristics as well. Very good complex nose.

Brew is creamy initially, some moderate carbonation on the middle. Mellow alcohol warming in the end. Dryness coats the tongue in the finish. Very much an oak aged beer here, lots of oaked flavor and feel in that alcohol finish. Damn near a reminder of scotch in the finish. Good oil in the hops, grapefruit and honey flavors are very forward. There is a nice mellow maltiness to this one as well. A bit confusing palate here; too much sweet honey and fruit hops. Maybe even vanilla and a hint of caramel malts in here as well, either way a bit to sweet in malt and hops. The results is an almost overly sweet alcohol flavor. Nice mouthfeel here though. This is an unusual brew, in which I am happy they are experimenting. But in reality this one misses out on me craving another sip.

An ok attempt, but flavors are a bit much, if not even to all over the place. Pretty good to try once, but hard to recommend.

 1,272 characters

Photo of Satchboogie
3/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of barroomhero1977
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of Caterwaul
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of Beejay
4.45/5  rDev +26.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautifully clear, with an orange kissed amber body. The head is full and barely darker than white.

S: Smells like a very nice American Style Barley wine. Rich dense caramel flavors, wrapped around earthy, piney, and citrus hops. There is a nice tropical fruit note as well. The sweetness of the malts blends really well with the oak notes, creating a wonderful sweet, and woody character with vanilla overshadowing.

T: That is a very nice beer. Bitterness in the form of citrus and pine starts out the flavor, this is followed by caramel, and a slight orange peel type of flavor, or perhaps tropical fruits. The finish is oak maple and caramel. There is a bit of booze in the finish, but it mingles well with the oak.

M: Medium heavy in body. There is definitely a bit of a sticky syrupy feel to it. The carbonation is actually a touch high for me.

O: Overall this may be one of my favorite beers from Sam. It has the bitter kick and hop flavor that I like in American barley wines, the caramel sweetness and balance I like in IPA's and topped off with Oak an Oak finish, that is noticeable, but not overboard. This is one fine beer.

 1,144 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
2.39/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Batch # 1.

Pours a clear apple juice color with a 2 inch foamy orange-white head that settles to a small cap. Thin foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Off the bat, the smell is pretty suspect with some weird vegetal and rotten pineapple aromas. There is some malt and brown sugar too but they don't do anything to help out the overall smell. Taste is exactly like the smell along with some vanilla and oak flavors. There is a mild bitterness that lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a higher level of carbonation with a crisp and bubbly mouthfeel. Overall, I really don't care for this barleywine. The veggie aroma and taste pretty much kills this one for me.

 694 characters

Photo of MrTopher
3/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of Exiled
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of OregonHopmonster
3/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of bpfrush
2/5  rDev -43.2%

Photo of GregSVT
3.92/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a tulip

A: Pours a clear golden amber with a nice white head that fades to a ring with minimal lacing.

S: The nose is full of vanilla and toasted oak aromas with a good amount of hops. Decent smells coming out of this one which tempt you to take a sip.

T: The taste starts with a nice amount of hops along with the vanilla flavor from the nose and some grainy malt. The oak aging turns what seems to be a mediocre beer into a decent one.

M: The feel is a bit on the thin side for an 11.5% barleywine however the alcohol is nowhere to be seen which is impressive.

O: A decent beer and the oak aging really makes it better rather than overpowering anything.

 677 characters

Photo of StoneBrewFanatic
4/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours light amber/blonde into my snifter with about two fingers of head, moderate retention and lacing.

S - Very nice oak aroma, caramel malts and biscuit, smells fruity but having a hard time picking it our mixed with the oak, spicy and slightly boozy.

T - Malty biscuit sweetness and oak are very prevalent, candied sugar, toffee, wild berries, lemony citrus, spice and some alcohol.

M - Well balanced, thick body and good carbonation.

O - I really think this is very good, oak and booze may be overbearing to some, but I personally enjoy it, looking forward to aging a few of these to see how it develops.

 616 characters

Photo of aasher
3.85/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a light to medium bodied, bright copper in color with a two finger very creamy off white head. The aromas are kind of bland. You get some soft malts, cream, caramel malts, slight butter, and a light hop bitterness. The flavors are again soft and malty. You get smooth maltyness, slight butter (again), with cream, and ever so slight hoppy bitterness. It doesn't sound spectacular but it's solid. It's just really, really smooth and has a great mouthfeel. It's strange for a barleywine but I like it. It's better than I thought it would be. Overall this is a solid beer and I'd recommend trying it. It doesn't rate well but you'll enjoy drinking it.

 664 characters

Photo of Arvo
4/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of bladesgolf
3.1/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I was very excited to find SA producing a BWSA and it was Batch #1. Unfortunately it is disappointing as a Barleywine, but as an overall beer it is not bad. The Oak flavor trends to run through like a roller coaster. Just when you think another earthen flavor or piney sense is about to break through, the oak chips and alcohol come rolling down the track and overpower any tastes or thoughts.

Hopefully this will mellow with time, but if you are a true fan of complex BWSA, then I would steer clear.

 502 characters

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