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Founders Backwoods Bastard - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Backwoods BastardFounders Backwoods Bastard

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,658 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,658
Hads: 7,363
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 22.59%
Wants: 954
Gots: 2,788 | FT: 262
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  11.60% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: CortexBomb on 01-30-2007

"Wee Heavy", cave aged in oak bourbon barrels.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,658 | Hads: 7,363
Photo of geneb
1.3/5  rDev -69.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Appearance: The best part of this beer. The color is a lovely brown with hints of copper around the edges.

Smell: Like sticking your head in a bourbon barrel. I couldn't detect any malt at all.

Taste: Like being drowned in a bourbon barrel. It overpowers everything. I could not taste any malt, peat or caramel.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is thin and watery, adding to the feeling of drinking a big glass of watered down bourbon.

Overall: The bourbon is overpowering. I suspect that if you have bottles and age it for a year or two it'll taste great but it is not good fresh. I love Founder's beers and was excited to finally get to try something other than the breakfast stout. I am, however, very much disappointed. Beer should taste like beer. If I wanted a glass of bourbon, I would have purchased a glass of bourbon.

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Photo of Plower
1.72/5  rDev -59.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I tried this beer and thought I was going to hurl after I finished 3/4 of it. Being the man that I am, I gave it another try and got to 1/2. Yeah, I got half this down then I puked up the two bags of BBQ corn nuts I had just eaten.

So after that happened and me being the man I am I went back to the other 1/2 and finished it.

Was it the BBQ corn nuts? I don't know, but I'm calling it like I see it. This had a water whiskey flavor and a fierce alcohol burn. Who drinks this? It doesn't make you a man. This is for bastards...literally.

Yeah, my review was harsh but so was this beer.

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Photo of wheelinshirt
1.8/5  rDev -57.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Picked up a bottle of this from Abe's in Bethlehem. I liked the dirty bastard a lot so I figured I would like this. Cost me about $3. 12 oz short brown bottle, twist off lid, poured into a snifter.

Mahogany color with off-white head. Looks pretty nice. The bubbles look somewhat similar to a guinness head forming, at least in the commercials. Good retention (considering the ABV) and lots of lacing. Looks very nice.

The smell reminded me how much I hate whiskey. This is aged in bourbon barrels, but I don't know the difference between bourbon and whiskey and it just smelled like whiskey to me. No malts. No hops. Just whiskey.

The taste is even worse. This beer is so one-sided, at least for me. I can't get over the bourbon taste. It overpowers everything. Where are the kettle-carmelized malts? What happened to the beer parts of this beer? As it sat the bourbon seemed to mellow out a bit but wasn't replaced by anything. Maybe I was just tasting the beer less with time.

Mouthfeel was too thin for the style, but the mistake seems hardly noticeable.

Drinkability is low. This one is almost up there with triple bock, though this at least tastes like something someone (not me) would want to drink. One of the few beers I actually poured out. I was very disappointed in this one, but I probably shouldn't have been so surprised. If you like bourbon, you will probably like this but I still think the dirty bastard is a far superior brew. At least I got a cool bottle out of it (the newer style label).

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Photo of mgoblue5743
1.97/5  rDev -53.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Just opened a fresh 2010 bottle.

Tasted like Bourbon + water; like a mixed drink instead of a beer. This is the first beer from Founders that I didn't really enjoy.

I've heard it gets much better with age, so the rest of the four pack is going into the beer fridge, but I am sorely disappointed as I tried hard to find this four-pack.

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Photo of leantom
2.05/5  rDev -51.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

After trying (and loving) Founder's Dirty Bastard, I decided to give this beer a try, given that it's basically a Dirty Bastard aged in bourbon barrels. I bought this beer wanting to like it, but I wound up disliking it. Here's why:

A: The appearance is the best thing about this beer. It appears opaque, but upon holding it up to a light one can make out a faint, light, ruby-colored hue on the edges. The center is still dark, however.

S: The vanilla and molasses are overpowering (emphasis on overpowering). I don't mind hints of vanilla in my beer (or molasses, for that matter), but I certainly don't want it to wreak of vanilla beans. And, rather than compliment the vanilla, the molasses winds up producing a sickly-smelling sweetness that can only be equated to old cough syrup.

T: Yes, bourbon is clearly present. Therefore, it's reasonable that the beer should taste of oak and vanilla. However, the flavors are not balanced well, and, rather than compliment the Scottish ale, the vanilla and oak (i.e., the bourbon) wind up totally masking the presence of good beer. The alcohol content - which is quite heavy - also takes away from the ale's original flavor. I like Dirty Bastard far more than this beer.

M: The mouthfeel is OK. The excess sugars give the beer a syrupy composition that lies heavily on the tongue, but the taste was so bad that I just wanted to gulp the beer down and be done with it.

O: I would avoid it, but a lot of people like this beer. I would just recommend getting bourbon, since the bourbon in this beer is so overpowering that it hinders much of the ale-taste found in Dirty Bastard.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
2.13/5  rDev -49.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

12oz into Newport Storm pint glass. 2010 bottling. Thought the first bottle was off, so I drank another the following night.

A- Dark roasty brown, a bit of a light brown head that fizzes out.

S- Bourbony notes, caramel/molasses. Nothing great, nothing awful.

T- Taste is bourbony, but not very good. Earthy, musty, dull, and oxidised. There is a heavy burbon note but it's dull and unexciting. Where's the vanilla and oak? All I'm getting is burnt sugar and dull earthy notes. Unappologetic booze permiates, but I've had far boozier beers that incorporate it better.

M- Decent enough body and carbonation but there are some off-notes in the flavor and finish that I'm not really enjoying.

D- Low. Thought I was going to enjoy this one as the chatter in the forums is quite abuzz over this beer. Not the case- I'm going to gift out the two remaining bottles as I don't want to drink this. Not a drainpour, but not enjoyable. I love bourbon, straight up, on the rocks, and in my beers, but this one was a misfire IMO.

What kind of barrels are these in? Remind me never to buy that bourbon.

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Photo of WildRage
2.2/5  rDev -48.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Let me preface this with saying that I love scotch ales - I love Old Chubb, and I typically love beers aged in bourbon barrels - Black Ops comes to mind. That being said, I had a really hard time finishing one bottle of this 4 pack. It was like drinking bourbon - almost no beer taste to be found. If you love bourbon, you will love this beer - but be warned that it is EXTREMELY overpowering. I typically love Founders beers - had the Breakfast Stout and Nemesis on tap last night -- but I can't see myself buying this one again.

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Photo of Rifugium
2.24/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's beer garden, Media, PA

Definitely the "least good" of any Founders brews I've had. Poured a reddish-mahogany color, muddy, with a spotty white head that receded to a layer of patchy bubbles. Booze-heavy aroma, almost straight bourbon, big and woody (there's a B&B joke in there somewhere). Let's be honest: this tasted like a cheap boilermaker, big on the booze, eliminating almost all complexity that might exist. Tones of oak-aged vanilla come through, but the bourbon just kills the palate almost completely. Tasted way higher in alcohol content than it actually was. Thinner than most Scottish ales I've had, but certainly not as good as some. The texture is more what I'd like to have in that it wasn't too syrupy, and certainly not as peaty, but it just didn't work with the intensity of the booze flavor. Not very good, not very drinkable, and I'll be happy never having it again. Sorry, Founders.

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Photo of gibgink
2.25/5  rDev -47.1%

Very disappointed with this one. Should have been labeled Bourbon Bastard, because that is what DOMINATED this beer. The smell reminds you of...bourbon, and the taste profile is that of a watery bourbon.

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Photo of mlhyatt
2.25/5  rDev -47.1%

This beer was a hot mess. The bourbon was hot, the scotch aspect was hot, it tastes like super sugary caramel covered in bourbon. I wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't paid for it. Founders disappoints again.

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Photo of Avantyawn
2.26/5  rDev -46.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Deep brown red, barely any head

S: Nutty, smoky, malty, bourbon, molasses

T: Tastes a bit like a watery bourbon cocktail. Tastes sloppy. The bourbon flavor is overwhelming. Why do I only taste the bourbon and not any of the awesome base beer here? Doesn't work.

M: Mouthfeel is too thin , a bit too dry, not melded together well. Tastes like a mixed drink gone flat.

O: Overall, I really did not enjoy this beer, a rarity as I always enjoy Founders beers. I don't get the melding of flavors, they don't seem to work in my opinion. I love Dirty Bastard, but do not dig this.

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Photo of charlesw
2.29/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Deep brown amber. Small head even with great lengths taken.

Smells of mineral spirits.

Kind of weird in the mouth. Sweet and thick, chocolate milk, hot alcohol. Not what I expected at all. Some bourbon especially in the aftertaste (back and sides of the mouth) along with a lingering bitterness.

I have absolutely no idea why this is classified, here, today, as a Scotch Ale.

Too sweet and thick, not enough flavor, misplaced bourbon (to try to hide the hot alcohol?).


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Photo of Murchmac
2.43/5  rDev -42.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Well Younger35, you can't win them all.

The picture of Gandalf the Grey as a hillbilly farmer on the label should give it away. Pours a brownish brackish like the marsh lands frodo crossed with Sean Astin.

Smells cloying and sweet? Redundant, Gollum Gollum.

Tastes sticky icky sweet and alcoholy, like a pint from the green dragon and the bartendress that samwise gange eventually marries.

Aftertaste of stinginess, the beer turns blue when orcs are near.

I can see how some people like this beer, for me, it's like Mordor where the very air you breathe is poison.

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Photo of Jacurdy60
2.43/5  rDev -42.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

A-Deep ruby read with a bubbly head. Poor retention and little to no lacing at all.

S-Srong, potent scotch whisky and vanilla

T-Followed the nose, mostly. Some banana was in there as well

MF-Too carbonated and crisp, I was expecting something smoother

O-I did not enjoy this beer at all. It might be because I dislike liquor and it strongly resembled a scotch whisky. I guess this kind of beer is not my style, and now I definitely know so.

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Photo of Cresant
2.48/5  rDev -41.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a Sam Adams glass. No date. The body was cloudy and the color of brown leather. The modest head faded to a filmy ring.

Smell was bourbon. Only bourbon.

Taste was a bourbon smack in the face. There was a lingering sweet aftertaste.

Mouthfeel was medium to full in body. I have to say I "don't get" this one. Seem one dimensional to me. Too much up front bourbon flavor. I prefer muted bourbon notes, not feeling like I'm drinking a mixed drink.

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Photo of RobPete
2.52/5  rDev -40.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This is an ok beer. I didn't expect the strong bourbon presence. It was evident from the time I popped the top until the time the final remnants finished rolling off my tongue. To me, this was too overbearing. It was as though Founders took some ale and mixed it 50/50 with Beam. Beautiful deep red color and felt great on the tongue. Just couldn't get over thinking that I was drinking a cocktail.

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Photo of Pinknuggets
2.53/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bottle to fiddlehead pint glass

A: light brown color with ruby red accent thin tan head that dissipates quickly

S: reeks of booze smells more like a malt liquor then beer

T:follows the nose tastes like like burning alc liquor wasn't this barrel aged? Maybe it needs some more time there is dense wood like flavor but alc is really just overwhelming here

M: thin and light bit too heavy would be drinkable if it wasn't for the alc

O: well this totally sucked maybe its not my style but just tasted like liquor not beer maybe it needs time to mellow out or the style isn't for me but I hated it

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Photo of LiquidBread219
2.63/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A= It was dark in color like a brown. No real head.

S= The only thing I smell in this beer is bourbon.

T= The taste is the same as the nose bourbon and that's about it.

M= Right amount of Carbonation for this beer.

D= A lot of people like this beer but I just don't like it at all hard to get through IMO. I have a few bottles left I'll gift them and probably won't try this one again.

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Photo of danh53
2.65/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Dark amber pour with one finger head that dissipates quickly and leaves some lacing. Aroma is brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon soaked raisins and figs. It smells sweet and the alcohol is present, but on the taste, the alcohol really comes through in a bad way. I get rubbing alcohol from start to finish and that pretty much overpowers the other flavors. There is a slight dryness from the oak, but I really don't taste much barrel character or bourbon for that matter, just alcohol. I got the same thing when I tried it fresh last fall and the age has done nothing to change it. I'm going to save my last bottle for 2016 to see if the alcohol smooths out, but safe to say I'll be avoiding the 2015 batch when it hits shelves.

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Photo of robbyc1
2.67/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Clear amber, decent lace. Nothing special.

Nose has an intriguing oak waft, like fresh oak, with a slight bit of bourbon. Not sure where the actual beer is.

The Oak hits hard up front, with the bourbon to follow, but they linger because the actual beer does not hold up - the storage tastes dominate, and leave this taste very unbalanced, some hops noticiable at the end with slight malt, but malt looses the battle here.

Mouthfeel is good with heaviness, but the drinkability suffers greatly from the lack of balance, you would have to be eating a wood grilled fish to enjoy this, couldn't finish the bottle.

The un-oaked version of this is much better.

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Photo of KingMoomie
2.68/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

For me, this is a classic example of how a beer can change year by year.

When I heard that Backwoods Bastard was coming in this week, I was very excited. Founders is one of my favorite breweries, and I have loved this beer since the first year it was released.

I grabbed a bottle to drink at the bar, and everything started out good. The appearance was fine, just as I remembered, with a slightly dark color and a great bourbon nose.

I was talking to someone when I took my first sip, but I immediately realized that something was different.

Keep in mind that I do love bourbon aged beers, this was different. From the first sip you get an extreme booziness that dominates the beer. I tried to think back if I had ever thought it was this way in previous years, and decided I had not.

After passing it around for others to try and coming to the same conclusion, I finished it myself, but not in the way I envisioned.

The mouthfeel was fine, but as far as drinkability, it comes up far short.

As much as it pains to do, I have to review this beer poorly, and will be waiting until next year's batch to try it again.

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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 ms11781
2.78/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottled on 10/02/2010. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a very cloudy, very dark brown color with a small tan head that doesn't last very long. No real lacing to speak of.

Nose is a lot of bourbon up front. Not really overpowering as the scent isn't strong at all. But it is all bourbon. Slight oak and maybe a hint of sweet malt but not much at all.

Taste is some bourbon up front but it fades quickly to reveal a very sweet malt that is almost candy like. Slight warming from the alcohol as each sip finishes. Not really the malt flavor I expect from a scotch ale. Not even close actually.

Feels medium to thick in the mouth. Low carbonation that doesn't seem out of the ordinary for a beer of this ABV and style.

Drinkability is ok. Goes down smooth enough and, while the alcohol is high, it's not really a problem. Definitely a one and done due to the ABV though.

This is a difficult beer to rate for me because I do like some things about it but it doesn't have any characteristics of a scotch ale. Tastes like a decent bourbon barrel "something", just not a decent bourbon barrel aged scotch ale.

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Photo of falloutsnow
2.82/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

From: Binny's, Champaign, IL
Date: 2013-08-09
Glass: Tulip

I've had this fresh and aged, on tap and in bottles, and I'd say this is one that shouldn't be aged and is comparable on tap and in bottles.

As far as bourbon barrel aged beers go, Backwoods Bastard is a "balanced" attempt at the style, the bourbon not being excessively present, though it is still the dominant aroma and flavor here, aside from the ethanol. While not ridiculously one-dimensional as other bourbon barrel aged beers, this is still a fairly boring base of flavors, mostly of bourbon, ethanol, and behind-the-scenes caramel-like Maillard reaction sweetness. For me, nothing essential.

Pours a 1cm tall head of medium and large-sized bubbles, yielding an appearance something like cola foam, but somewhat longer lived. Retention is below average at under one minute, the head fading to a thin ring around the perimeter of the glass and a small island of thin foam atop the body of the beer. Body is a very dark amber brown color, with light bringing out slightly brighter amber brown hues. Carbonation not visible through the nearly opaque (90% opacity) body.

Aroma of bourbon that has been "smoothed out" substantially by what was initially a malt-forward beer, with very faint hints of dark caramel-like sweetness, brown sugar, and cocoa. Not unpleasant, but the bourbon far outweighs any other element here, and thus this exhibits the same problems as many other one-dimensional bourbon beers.

Taste is predominantly of bourbon and ethanol, with the underlying heavy caramel malts smoothing this out and providing a semblance of sweetness. Front of palate of bourbon-soaked heavy caramel malt, ethanol, and slight vanilla. Mid-palate of substantial bourbon, heavy and spicy ethanol, and notably heavy caramel malts to sweeten and smooth out these other two large flavors, though failing somewhat. Back of palate detects heavy ethanol and bourbon, with little traces of vanilla and heavy maillard reaction products. Aftertaste of bourbon, ethanol, and caramel-like maillard reaction byproducts.

Beer is medium bodied, with carbonation of medium-low intensity, resulting in a somewhat foamy (1/2) and smooth (1/2) mouthfeel that's a bit light and even slightly watery for the style. Ethanol easily felt in the nostrils as heat and as burning on the throat and tongue, Closes dryly, with heavy stickiness clinging to the lips and palate.

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Photo of jeffthecheff
2.87/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to Joe for the bottle. Your just helping me beat you in the race to 200, dude. Poured into a tulip glass on a snowy day while watching the winter Olympics. It has a dark red/brown color with just a wisp of a tan head. There are some small, flaky particles floating throughout.

The nose contains some toasted, oaky wood and alcohol. Vanilla is a bit strong and reminds me of vanilla extract. I would like more subtlety here. I'm not generally in to bourbon aged beers, so I appreciated that this didn't smell like it had a straight shot of whiskey in it, but the aromas of the beer itself were a bit underwhelming.

Flavor is rich caramel up front with some oak wood on the finish. Vanilla in the middle, and a bit too strong again. Slight dark fruits on the back. I'm glad this doesn't taste like whiskey, but there is a slight burn on the tongue and throat. The mouthfeel is unimpressive, and is the low light of this beer. It has a thin impact for its size. A bit thin, which carries a slightly syrupy liquor flavor in the finish. I would prefer heavier malt in the flavor mouthfeel.

This beer took me way to long to drink. It had some decent attributes, and some nice, subtle barrel character, but the base beer didn't impress me. It feels a bit lifeless in the mouthfeel, and the flavors just weren't my bag.

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 1,658 ratings.