(Just to make it official.)
Smells like… the same fake scent you get when you sniff gingerbread flavored coffee beans. Not a good omen.
Tastes like… ginger (not a surprise), nutmeg, and a hint of cinnamon, all blended weirdly with a dark malt and a tad of hoppiness, none of which is unpleasant. It’s an interesting mixture. But hiding underneath is a sinister element, one that waits for you like the first real shocker in a B-rated horror movie.
The upwelling aftertaste of cloves.
Freaking heck! No! Samuel Adams, cloves do not belong in beer! Yuck. I freaking hate it when brewers ruin a beer by spiking it with that poisonous tasting taint of cloves. It’s gross, disgusting, and just plain wrong.
Can you tell I do not approve of cloves in beer? Because that is exactly the case.
Not approved. Rejected. FAIL.
Still, I’m not pouring it out, either. Up until the clove bomb, the taste is enjoyable. A while later, after I finish it, my stomach and palate are still unsettled, as if they suspect I’ve done something I shouldn’t have … which is probably the case.
I’d rate this as, well, not awful, but not great either. It does state quite clearly on the label that this beer contained clove, and under normal circumstances I would have avoided it — but this came as part of a 4 pack of limited craft beers, one of which is Griffin’s Bow — the Holy Beer of 2012 — and that is the only way you can get Griffin’s Bow now, in that 4 pack.
A Griffin’s Bow is worth suffering through a clove-tainted “Merry Mischief.”
Both of these brews are oak aged. Both are named after mythical creatures. Both are 10% alcohol by volume.
Both are freaking fantastic.
I’d declared Dragon’s Milk by New Holland Brewery as the Holy Beer of 2011, and I strongly suspect that Griffin’s Bow by Sam Adams is the Holy Beer of 2012 … but I won’t know for sure until I make them go head to head.
The problem is both of these bottles are large and both of them are stronger than wine. I may not be coherent by the time I finish this.
My plan is to cleanse my palate with ice water between sips. I hope that works.
Without further ado, let’s get this head-to-head beer-off going. I pop the top off both of them and sit there sniffing each one. Oh, what a lucky man I am…
First sip is Griffin’s Bow. It’s hoppy, fruity, extraordinarily smooth and delicious.
Next sip (after a palate cleanse) is the Dragon’s Milk: It’s dark, rich, smooth, delicious.
First sip winner: Griffin’s Bow, clearly — It’s complex flavor is so very intriguing. It resists description and seems to morph with every sip, leaving me with a nice woody aftertaste.
Dragon’s Milk has a much darker flavor; sinister, even. It leaves me with a toasty bread aftertaste.
Early savor winner: Griffin’s Bow, barely. But crossing flavors back and forth without cleansing the palate, Dragon’s Milk wins.
Late savor winner: Griffin’s Bow, again just barely. Both of them are so freaking awesome, but Griffin’s Bow is maintaining a slight lead.
Early result: Griffin’s Bow wins. I want to stop taste testing and just freaking enjoy the beers. Will report back with final conclusion after I’m done with both, and … no doubt, quite inebriated.
It’s the complexity that makes Griffin’s Bow a winner. There’s a new, wonderful aspect of the flavor to discover with every sip.
Okay over the space last hour and a half I have finally finished the Griffin’s Bow. And it is most definitely awesome! The Dragon’s Milk had gone back into the ‘fridge as I worked on my novel. I’m going to drink it now and see what I think after I finish it. But at this point I am still thinking that Griffin’s Bow is, in fact, the Holy Beer of 2012.
While the Dragon’s Milk is undoubtedly delicious beyond belief, the Griffin’s Bow wins by a very slim margin. Okay, it’s official…
Samuel Adam’s Griffin’s Bow is the holy beer of 2012.
And guess what, you can still get it in some places … I just found it in a four pack of beers at a big box store! And that box is wrapped and waiting for me under the Christmas tree.