Samuel Adams Griffin’s Bow

I’m enjoying a much needed lazy weekend. Besides a brief trip to a housewarming party on Saturday night, it’s pretty much been my ass and the couch all weekend. Right now I’m watching the Patriot’s game, praying that their defense stops something this week!

In my glass is this Samuel Adams Griffin’s Bow. This brew is from their new bomber series. You may recall that I reviewed The Vixen (another beer in this series) earlier this week. I found the Vixen to be good, although it frankly ended up being too sweet; post-review I poured the remainder of my glass down the drain.

I have a running theory about how/why Boston beer is putting out so many new beers. If you think about it, Boston Beer was making craft beer a dozen years BEFORE craft beer got incredibly popular. Now that the industry is growing so quickly, Sammy is seeing record sales (see 2010 year-end earnings as an example). With serious cash flow coming in, why not build on the brand by cranking up R&D, releasing a slew of “big” and unique beers? See what sticks, and run with it. Makes perfect sense to me. Bravo Boston Beer…TOP OF THE WORLD!

Getting back to this Griffin’s Bow, it’s a truly unique beer. Oaked, Blonde, Barleywine, and 11.5% ABV…WOW. I honestly don’t even know what a blonde barleywine is!

It’s a tasty brew. Very sweet. Slightly spicy. Reminds me more of a barleywine than a blonde ale. Blonde ales make me think stanky (sweaty), and the Bow has none of that. You can’t pick up any of the booze, as it’s completely hidden by the malty sweetness. Somewhere mixed up in the middle, there is a mild hop flavor which makes an appearance only to be squashed by the aforementioned malt.

The label calls for pinapple, honeysuckle, grapefruit, burnt sugar, toffee, and oak flavors. I can pick up the sugar and toffee – the rest is lost in the mix for me. Not being able to pick up any oak flavors is a real disappointment for me.

If you like sweet barleywines, I recommend you give this one a go.


Author: Joshua Dion

I write about beer in an un-intimidating way, welcoming beer lovers of all experience levels.

4 thoughts on “Samuel Adams Griffin’s Bow”

  1. “The label calls for pineapple, honeysuckle, grapefruit, burnt sugar, toffee, and oak flavors. I can pick up the sugar and toffee – the rest is lost in the mix for me.”

    Just the opposite for me. The pineapple was front and center for me, from the Nelson Sauvin hops, with the toffee more in the background.

    I bought two bottles of it – putting one away and trying it in a year, to see how the flavors change with age.

    1. Ahhhh…the magic of beer. So cool how different pallets pick up different flavors!

      My wife smelled the beer after I finished the review and immediately called out oak…something I didn’t get. Another example of the same concept.


  2. I drank this bottle tonight. Overtly sweet with a ridiculous amount of oak tree in my glass while offering its own 10 step program. Not a winner. The other two new Sammies I’ve had, including the one you dumped, were awesome! Tasman Red IPA was the other. That’s a little different opinion for your palate theory. LOL.

    As for your other theory, I believe Sam Adams is releasing new beers in reaction to competition. Of course they can brew. But Sierra Nevada has been outshining them for several years now. What about that “Beer Camp” mixed pack? Totally awesome. And Sam had the horrible Latitude deconstructed debacle as the answer. ‘Bout time they stepped up their game in the affordable delicious beer category (of course, Griffin’s Bow not included).

    1. Rob:

      Interesting counter-theory Rob. Thinking about it, we’re probably both right. Sammy has to respond to market pressure, but on the other hand, totally has the cash flow to respond!


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