Samuel Adams Griffin’s Bow

Boston Beer Co.

Boston, MA

Griffin’s Bow Oaked Blonde Barleywine Ale

10.0% ABV

While they’ve grown to be the juggernaut of the craft beer world, Samuel Adams mainly sticks to the middle of the road when it comes to new releases. Nothing they make is bad, per se, but it’s not all that astounding either, in my opinion.

But recently, the Boston-based brewery has started putting out a series of small batch beers that have been a hit for me. The Third Voyage DIPA, Tasman Red Red Ale and Vixin Chocolate Chili Bock were all really good, solid beers that were not hard to come by. South Carolina recently got the fourth entry in the first run of that series, Griffin’s Bow, a lighter barleywine brewed with New Zealand hops and aged on toasted oak. After trying it, I have to say it’s easily my favorite of the series so far.

Its pours a crystal clear brighter orange color with a good two fingers worth of a tight off-white head. I’m accustomed to barleywines being that deep plum-colored or brownish red color, so this was a surprise.

There’s a really sweet note on the nose, expected with a barleywine, with hints of toffee, burnt sugar, malt and that really nice oak scent. There’s also a dull fruit characteristic to it as well, with peach and pineapple being prominent.

The hop characteristics really shine on the front. There’s that peach and mango taste with a little hint of bitterness. From there the malt characteristics take over. Big bread and toasted notes fill your mouth. The sweeter characteristics and oak flavors really shine on the back. There’s that toffee, bread and oaky taste blending together into a really mellow 

I love a good barleywine, and this was probably one of the more interesting ones I’ve had. Not super complex, but the New Zealand hops and oak flavors really gave it a nice touch. Apparently the first run of it clocked in at 11.5% ABV and this one was knocked down to 10% – this was the second batch – so I’m not sure if much has changed. Regardless, this is definitely one to check out.

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