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Founders Backwoods Bastard | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Backwoods BastardFounders Backwoods Bastard

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
"Wee Heavy", cave aged in oak bourbon barrels.

Added by CortexBomb on 01-30-2007

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,739 | Ratings: 7,720
Photo of Arenbeer
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to Beerwolf77 for this great brew!

12oz stub into a snifter glass

A- Pours a dark cloudy reddish brown with a thin off white head that's barely there.

S- Strong bourbon smell hits the nose first, following lingering oak/wood notes. Sweet malts and caramel are also apparent.

T- Creamy caramel malts compliment a strong bourbon and vanilla wood flavor that I really love. For being such a high ABV beer the alcohol is hidden very well! Big fan of that

M- Smooth medium body, with lower carbonation and little bitterness in the finish. A real easy drinker.


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Photo of rhinos00
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

2008 vintage

A- Pours a dark brown color with shades of tan throughout. Produced a fingers width of cream colored head. Reduced to a thin, foamy ring around the glass.

S- Bourbon, oak and sweet malts. Little bit of caramel. The aromas meshed very well together.

T- Upfront notes of bourbon and sweet malts come through. Complexity is added with caramel and oak barrel flavors. Finishes with great cohesion: bourbon, sweet malts attributable to wee heavys, and a bit of caramel.

M- Medium bodied with good carbonation. Could have used more viscosity.

D- Very drinkable. The bourbon was there, but very mellow. No alcohol heat for big beer.

Overall, a very nice beer. Recommended.

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Photo of Beejay
3.92/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Cloudy, very red amber. Nice full tan head on top.

S: Sweet, burnt caramel, raisons, oak, and bourbon.

T: Heavy alcohol at first, then burnt caramel, oak and Bourbon. Very nice once you settle into it. A good bit of bite from the hops at the finish.

M: Feels heavy. But plenty of carbonation.

D: Definitely a sipper of a beer. Nice, tons of carmel in there. Roasty, oaky and really does taste like something out of the backwoods.

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Photo of thecarster1
3.27/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

a- bottle poured into a tasting glass, not much head to be had due to the high alcohol, chesnut brown with a slight haze, really great label, love the artwork.

s- lots of alcohol, walnut, loads of malt, and straight up bourbon.

t- right off the bat this beer shows that it's not playing around, loads of alcohol, bourbon, a slight buttery-ness, carmelized brown sugar, dark fruits, oak. this is one complex bad boy.

m- medium bodied.

d- this is one strong, potent beer. i'm glad i had the chance to try it, but this isn't something i could polish off on my own with much ease. the alchohol and strong flavors in the bastard hinder the drinkability a bit, overall though this is a pretty fine beer.

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Photo of Lolli1315
3.52/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Very dark brown, almost opaque but not quite. Small head that disappears quickly. Not much left to stick to the glass.

S- Large hints of alcohol are thrown out immediately followed with a lacing of wood chips and vanilla. Finishes with a subtle sweetness.

T- A strong taste of wood along with vanilla evident from the aging. Back end of the beer is overshadowed by the taste of alcohol as it becomes somewhat overwhelming.

M- Medium body, lacks on carbonation that could help this finish crisper.

D- This is a sipping beer, but quite easy or someone to drink over dinner or for a relaxing drink after a meal.

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Photo of CHSLBrew
2.73/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A-Poured with a dark tan/khaki head which receded quickly, probably owing to the higher ABV, eventually down to pretty much nothing. Virtually opaque brown beer with slight garnet highlights and an eerie, swampy glow.

S-Vanilla oakiness, slightly woody right away. Dark and sweet, like a rich sugar candy, with a bit of tasty sugar and a hit of spirits.

T-The oakiness stands prominently forefront in this beer. Oaky vanilla character pairs with a large malty-sugary sweetness. Bitterness seems to derive from several aspects, a bit from the oak, a bit from the alcohol, and minimally from the hops. Malty-boozy notes rise later in the flavor finishing residaully oaky and alcohol.

M-Full-bodied beer feels solid, slow-moving, and sticky. Carbonation was predictably low-level.

D-This beer is not very drinkable by the standards of high ABV brews. The alcohol was very prominent, and the barrel aging seemed to give it a bit too much of a harsh spirit-like quality.

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Photo of BigIrishman
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed in a thistle glass

Appearance: Pours dark ruby with zero visibility and almost no head.

Smell: Sweet oak over smooth malty background. Hints of vanilla, licorice, and even some caramel. This is pretty complicated and very good.

Taste: Like candy. Seriously though, this beer is hugely complex. It starts sweet and develops smooth caramel malts before a twinge of plum, raisin, and grapes come through. There is a slight bitter finish that cleans the palate.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and almost oily.

Drinkability: It's going to be tough for a barrel aged wee heavy to be very drinkable but this one definitely pushes that limit.

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Photo of Casey10
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this beer from a trade from Heliosphan thanks again Scott this one is really nice.

Obviously I really liked it nice look great taste had a wonder taste to me of dark cherries. I have had some like this that the smell and taste overpower but not like this beer again well balanced, it is strong, so be carefull here. This is a brew I would love to try again and am greatful to try.

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Photo of koopa
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 bottle consumed 3/24/10.

Appearance: Pours garnet to a fire lit iced tea with a 2 finger beige crown that displays moderate retention and good lace.

Smell: Lots of earthy oak and sweet oak notes with a light hop and a well blended bourbon note. So much delicious barrel!!!!

Taste: Nice bitter herbal hop notes over moderately bourbon soaked wood and lightly sweet malt.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and fairly crisp despite slight undercarbonation.

Drinkability: The abv and prominent hop bitterness hold it back a bit.

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Photo of IPAcraig
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up some of these beers in BG, KY a few weeks back.

A vigorous pour reveals a nice light mocha head against a dense brown body. Murky but very nice.

Sweet vanilla bourbon overflows from the rim of my duvel tulip. The sweetness reminds me of Jim BEam, but in a good way.

This beer envelops my taste buds vicsous and sweet. Powerful malt body balanced by a shot of heat that I like in this particular brew. Dark caramel with a faint hop finish. Pretty spectacular.

A great beer in every category. Definitely a sipper.

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Photo of Pabs311
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- pours a deep brown color with some red highlights throughout. a nice off-white head tops this beer and settles slowly to leave some decent lacing on the glass.

S- rich bourbon notes are the main aromas in this beer. oak, toffee and vanillas are all prominant. no alcohol aroma is present as in some bourbon brl aged beers.

T- similar to the nose, but more prominant oak, vanilla and toffee. no alcohol again. very bourbony.

M/D- full bodied, low carbonation. very smooth and silky mouthfeel makes this beer a treat to drink, especially with the absence of the alcohol.

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Photo of d0ggnate
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Another extra from pwoods. I've had this one before, but am always excited to get good Founders beer out here.

Pours to my glass with a deep amber, near brown color. Thickly laced off-white head lingers and laces my glass. Color appears opaquely red when held to light.

Nose is of smooth bourbon, slight wood aroma and hints of vanilla. Taste is more of the same. Deliciously smooth. Better than I remember.

Mouthfeel is very creamy and dessert-like. This one is truly a treat. I could really go through these regularly if we could get them out here.

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Photo of mfunk9786
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

As someone who was introduced to scotch ales through Magic Hat's Jinx seasonal (which is still oft mourned by me, as there aren't many widely available low-cost scotch ales); this is at about the end of the spectrum in terms of intensity, learning curve, and ultimately - satisfaction.

A: Beautiful. Dark reddish brown, like a fine piece of furniture. Head is off-white with quite a bit of retention and lacing, which is refreshing and appealing for such a high alcohol brew.

S: Whoa. Once you take a whiff of this one, you realize you're in a whole different stratosphere than even other bourbon/scotch/whiskey barrel-aged beers. There is a strong smell of fine liquor, with brown sugar and vanilla bringing up the rear. Even if you don't like brown liquors, this beer BEGS you to take a sip.

T: Over the course of a 4-pack, this one has grown on me significantly. If you take a nice hearty sip and let the beer slide down your throat without just gulping it nervously, you start to sense the depth of character. It's still dominated by bourbon, but there are strong vanilla, molasses, and sweet oak flavors that come out to play. The aftertaste is more bourbon with a unique alcohol burn. Even for a 10%er, the alcohol warmth is far more noticeable than usual for a beer (and I'm guessing that's by design).

M: The mouthfeel is very nice due to the strong carbonation and warm boozy after-effects of each sip. You can sense the hard work that went into this beer when you consider that the extra carbonation goes a long way in reminding you that you're drinking beer - if they'd undercarbonated this one it'd just taste like some sort of bourbon equivalent of a wine cooler.

D: This is the only category that's not perfect, because it takes a long while to down one of these, and it's not for everyone. Even for me, someone who has given this beer aces all the way through this review, it takes quite a bit of effort, however satisfying each sip may be. There's just no way you can give this beer a high drinkability rating, regardless of how delicious it is.

Seek this one out. And get more than one bottle, because you're going to like it more and more with each one. And for the love of God - drink it cold!

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Photo of WesWes
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a ruby red color with a thin tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a warm burnt toffee scent along with a nice oak bourbon aroma. The taste is awesome. It has a wonderful mix of warm burnt toffee with fresh oak and bourbon. The oak contributes an excellent vanilla character. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn good beer. I'm generally a huge fan of Scotch ales anyway, but this one is exceptional. The barrel aging adds an additional layer of complexity. The 10.2% abv. is well hidden.

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Photo of cbutova
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Capone's Friday and reviewed from notes. Pours out a very dark brown with not head and just a ring of off-white froth around the edges of the beer. Leaves light lacing that is spotty but looks pretty good for an aged beer. Smell needs a bit of strength but it is good. Bourbon, wood, vanilla and that signature caramelly/sugary scotch ale scent. No alcohol comes through in the nose. Taste was fantastic. A perfect balance, it is like the bottle but much more balanced and without the alcohol notes. Bourbon, oak, caramel, vanilla, and great tasty malts combine to form a nectar of the gods. The bourbon level here is perfect and more enjoyable than the extremely strong bourbon in KBS. Mouthfeel also improves from the bottle! The body is medium but very, very creamy with moderate carbonation. A tiny warmth makes for the most suitable mouthfeel possible. I could drink this on-tap all night, if the ABV didn't eventually kill me. It is so balanced on tap, it is amazing. The price at Capone's was fantastic and the flavor couldn't get any better for what the beer is.

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Photo of smcolw
3.8/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy brown color. Modest head to begin with--it settles to a single layer of fine bubbles. Touches of shapely but random lace.

For the smell, there is the typical caramel, candy sugar notes (of course). But there's also an unusual sourness.

The taste is chocolately sweet. Strong alcohol presence. It's like a brown ale with a shot of rum. Rich body, like a true wee heavy.

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Photo of tedsox31
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my snifter, the color is a dark brown with off-white head that dissipates relatively quickly. Lots of lacing left behind.

The aroma is delicious. Right up front is a nice bourbon presence that isn't overwhelming. Alongside of that is vanilla, oak, caramel, chocolate, and the slightest hint of fruit.

The taste is boozy, along with all of the other flavors mentioned in the aroma: lots of caramel and chocolate, vanilla and oak are in the middle-ground, and a smooth sweetness at the end.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, surprising for a beer like this, but very smooth and low carbonation. The bourbon lingers on my tongue a bit.

This is a sipper, although I'm tempted to have two in one sitting despite the high alcohol. The flavors are so well-blended they just invite you back for sip after sip after sip. Would be interested to age this one for a year and see how it develops.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired this 2009 bottle in a trade with nflmvp. Thanks Steve! ABV listed at 8.7%.

Poured into a Rémy Martin snifter.

Appearance: Tan, foamy crown quickly dissipates to a hair-thin halo. The body is a deep auburn color that turns crimson when held to light. Yellow-orange near the edges. Clarity is nice, but I spot quite a few floaties inside. When swirled, the beer leaves an oily residue coupled with spotty lacing on the walls of the glass - neither of which have a lot of staying power though. I'm excited. Time to dig in!

Smell: Strong molasses/caramel, sweet bourbon, and loads of grain. Mmmmm... this is bourbon barrel-aging done right! Alcohol is present but totally tolerable. Vanilla and flowery esters complete the aroma.

Taste: Clean grains, caramel, and bourbon. More earthy and alcoholic than the aroma let on, but still damn good. Subtle, flowery hops come through in the finish, mixing with dry bourbon. After reading a couple of the other reviews, I started picking up on raisins, too. Still, I'm not getting a whole lot of complexity from this one, but it is well-balanced and enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Rich in flavor, bu the body is thin and oily with very light carbonation. Finishes dry and prickly, leaving bourbon-y undertones all over the palate. Still, this is working well for me right now - it's only 11:00AM. Still, a thicker body would be nice.

Drinkability: I just bombed a final exam, and Backwoods Bastard is acting as the perfect comfort beer. A little more complexity would be nice, but then again my mind is totally shot right now. Not great, but certainly recommended.

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Photo of mdwalsh
4.39/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let this one sit a few months in my "cellar", it made a difference.

A: Dark amber brown with an intense haze of suspended particles. The head, which isn't particularly long lived, is a yellow-beige, mostly small bubbles. It really needs more dexterity though it leaves an OK lace.

S: Intense sweet caramel honey. A little bit of yeast. There's the aroma of...bacon, maybe a little coco and vanilla as well.

T: More sweetness, but other flavors as well. More vanilla, burnt caramel. A light smokiness. No alcohol or any of the yeast from the nose. A very nice lingering aftertaste.

M: Smooth, not the smoothest but smooth. it leaves a nice texture after it's gone as well.

D: Very much nicer than it was when it was fresh.

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Photo of elgiacomo
4.39/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottled on Nov 16, 2009. Served in a Duvel tulip at cool room temperature. Pours copper brown with a two finger beige head that reduces to a foamy ring and light cap, leaves some nice lacing.

Aroma is wow, big time vanilla and oak, bourbon/whiskey, alcohol, a bit of caramel and chocolate, wood is the centerpiece of the aroma, smells of a woodworking shop.

Flavor is rich caramel, chocolate, cherries, vanilla, oak, bourbon, mild alcohol but pretty smooth considering the bottle's young age. Some sweetness overall.

Mouthfeel is quite rich and smooth, yet occasionally a bit watery, low carbonation.

Damn, this is a treat. I'm already a huge fan of Dirty Bastard and the bourbon barrel aging is blended so well in this one, particularly balanced in the flavor. More, please!

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.07/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Chilled 12oz into a glass. Received as an extra in a trade from RoyMunson (I think). Thanks!


Second bottle, apparently 2009 vintage, received.... hmm, I don't know who gave this to me. I do appreciate it, because I enjoy this beer.

A: Pours a murky reddish amber color with half an inch of off-white head. Retention is not so great, and the final appearance is a light film and thin collar on the brew, with some wisps of lacing down the glass.

S: Wow, this bourbon-barrel aged, all right. Loads of caramelly bourbon, vanilla, nuts, buttery oak. The barrels overwhelm the base beer here, but it's still good.

T: The initial taste is a boozy, burnt bourbon-caramel sweetness with hints of raisin and chocolate. It's hoppy, but not in any distinct fashion; just enough to keep the beer from getting cloying. There is a nutty, buttery vanilla component in the mid-taste that reflects the barrel contribution. The tannins are soft and muted; in a discussion I ventured a guess that French oak had been the source of the wood. The aftertaste is lightly tannic with some lingering hop bitterness (kind of earthy). I'm not pretending for a second that this is a balanced brew; it is very bourbon-forward. Lots of strong flavors here. But they're well-meshed. This would be a pretty excellent cigar beer, I think.

M: Medium-full bodied, with low carbonation that gives it a creamy mouthfeel. The heat is obvious; there is a definite warmth in the finish that takes away from this category.

D: A phenomenal beer. I had this side by side with Dirty Bastard, and I loved the way the barrels change this one. I will seek out more in the future.

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Photo of wheatyweiss
3.87/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into a thistle.

Pours a ruddy brown, murky with a decent head that settles to a ring and leaves a good amount of stick.

Aroma is of earthy malt, oak and booze. Vanilla and liquer like smells come in the middle. Faint whiffs of dark fruit and dark rum.

Flavor is sweet earthy malt that explodes into phenolic alcohol. Sweetness holds a small amount of strange complexity, vanilla, oak, bourbon and dark malty sweetness. Throughout the flavor there is booziness, tot he point where it is almost cloying. Finishes hot and fusel with alcohol being predominant.

Mouthfeel is thick and sticky. Carbonation is good.

Drinkability is decent, considering the ABV. I couldn't get past the fusel alcohol and booziness of this one. I have had +10 ABV beers that were more subtle with the alcohol.

Still a good representation of the style. More smoke would be nice but it was a good drink.

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Photo of GeezLynn
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dull dark brown color with a short-lived tan head. Not exactly stunning, but few of the Scotch Ales I've seen have been either.

Aroma is dominated by a biting bourbon with the caramel malt coming in much softer. Buttery and woody characters become more apparent as things warm up.

Bourbon is large and in charge, but scotch characters are better integrated in the flavor than smell. Sweet caramel and toffee malts along with some vanilla come in after the initial hit of bourbon. Finish follows up slightly bitter with a nice touch of smokyness .

Mouthfeel is about the right consistency for the style, although it could be a little smoother.

Edit: Oct 2010 - have had this beer a couple of times with some age on it and find that it's much better. Bourbon and heat die down and allow more of the Wee Heavy character to become evident. There's even a bit of the smokyness that wasn't there when I had it fresh. Bourbon's still very evident, but enhances the base beer instead of competing with it.

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Photo of Tilley4
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked this up from Kane at Roof Brothers in Paducah today... Enjoyed while watching "The Informant" with Matt Damon...

Pours a super murky dull brown with a very thin wispy head... Very thick and viscous looking...

Huge malty aromas rolling off of this.. Lots of oaky bourbon here as well as hints of even some chocolate-like aspects...very nice and rich smelling...

Big dose of sweet maltiness up front with a kick of barrel-aged bourbon following up right behind it.. There's an earthiness here that's really nice as well...very boozy and rich...

A real sipper here...rich and malty and boozy and a pleasure to sip and enjoy...

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Not the biggest, thickest head, but what's there is light tan and it leaves tons of lace splotches for you to remember it by. And with swirling, those tiny splotches positively wallpaper the glass. The color is a jeweled burnt ruby color. Off to a great start...

A healthy dose of wood hits the nose from the get-go. The bourbon essence is there, but it's the wood itself that calls attention. There's a faintly fruity/musty smell in the background, and something recalling cotton candy, but between the wood/bourbon and generous alcohol presence, anything else has a hard time getting through. But what's in the nose is very nice.

Flavor is incredibly balanced, offering equal flashes of fresh green wood, bourbon, vanilla, toffee, cherry pipe tobacco, leather, pineapple and green peppercorn. For 10.2%, the alcohol presence is measured...although given what Founders are going for here, you'd miss the alcohol if it didn't show through, and it certainly does.

The knockout flavor is aided by a remarkably smooth, silky feel, no real stickiness and a nice buoyancy that works very well with the tastes on the tongue.

A bourbon barrel-aged Scotch Ale seems a no-brainer, but obviously it's the bourbon stouts that are more popular. Backwoods Bastard is so totally smooth, not near as cloying as could be imagined from a beer of this construction. But we should, by now, expect Founders to have a firm handle on anything they choose to do.

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 1,739 ratings.