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Founders Backwoods Bastard - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Backwoods BastardFounders Backwoods Bastard

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,651 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,651
Hads: 7,344
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 22.59%
Wants: 956
Gots: 2,779 | FT: 260
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,651 | Hads: 7,344
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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Photo of yannimou
2.89/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Be warned; there is A LOT of bourbon in this beer. It's sweet and malty, but bourbon is the dominate flavor in this beer. The alcohol is NOT masked at all. Imagine drinking a viscous, carbonated bourbon with 1/4 the alcohol content. That's backwoods. Sorry, but I'm not a fan. I like BBA stouts and even barely or wheat wines. This is not for me.

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Photo of HardTarget
2.95/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance: Hazy dark brown glass holds a trace of head that gives some lacing to the glass.

Smell: Boozy bourbon. Oak is heavy and a bit raw. As some of that off gasses, some raisin sweetness is noted.

Taste: Bourbon is hot and forward and overwhelms most of the other flavors except the oak, which lingers well after the swallow. Hard to get any beer flavor here, every sip is a shot of bourbon.

Mouthfeel: Medium heavy body, firm but not fizzy carbonation, oily slick finish.

Overall: Gratuitous oaking, 15 yard penalty, repeat the down. A little disappointed, expected a better beer from Founders. This might mellow out in a cellar for a while, but I don't think that much wood is going away. I also think they left half the bourbon in the barrel, it drowns out anything else that might have contributed to the taste. Not being a real Bourbon fan, this kills the review.
Thanks to Illudium for the bottle.

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Photo of psuKinger
2.97/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bottle poured into standard shaker pint glass because I need to save my snifters for New Year's Day football/friends tomorrow. No freshness date readily visible on the bottle, but for a big 10.2% scotch ale like this I don't anticipate age to be an issue.

A: Hazy dark brown color with a nice bubbly 1 finger white head that dissipated quickly.

It did leave a moderate amount of nice lacing on my glass as I worked through it.

S: Huge sweet smell of prunes, licorice, and other dark fruits and candied sugars is detectable even as I pour, before I even try to put my nose to the glass for a test.

When I go to my nose I can pick up a little alcohol as well.

T: Taste follows the nose, dark fruits and candied sugar with an alcohol presence. I can definitely pick up on the bourbon-barrel flavors. This is only my second bourbon-barrel aged brew, but the Goose Island Bouron County Stout that I'd had before this had similar charachteristics, so I think that's a good indication that I'm picking up on the *notes* that I should be.

The taste quickly turns from cool, light, and carbonated to full as the dark fruits and candied sugars move in quickly at the middle of the taste. The beer finishes with the distinct sweetness/pucker of bourbon and a warm booziness on the tongue.

M: This beer is well-carbonated and sticky sweet in the mouth, and finishes with a boozy-warm feeling.

D: I think I just don't much care for bourbon-barrel aged beers. This beer has a lot of interesting things going on, but it's just "not for me". A little boozier than I'd like, but it's really that overwhelming bourbon-sweetness that turns me off here. And at 10.2%, you probably wouldn't want to pound several of these in a given night even if you liked it.

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Photo of BeerInReview
2.99/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: A dark amber in color with a nice thick white head. Nice lacing all the way through as well.
S: Hello alcohol! Bourbon, bourbon, and more bourbon. It's hard to distinguish other aromas when the bourbon is so strong, though I can faintly smell vanilla.
T: A strong bourbon and heavy alcohol punch up front. Harsh! As the fire subsides oak and vanilla flavors are present.
M: Thin...
D: Let me put it this way, I won't be seeking this beer out again.

However...I think the bottle I had was way too young. The alcohol has not settled and melded. It seems to have some good underlying characteristics that may present themselves better in a years time once the alcohol settles down.

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Photo of colt45n
3/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours a copper red w/ very little head

S: Lots of sweet bourbon smell mixes in with caramel malt

T: similar to nose oak/bourbon flavors, Nice sweet caramel finish. Not very hot in taste. Smooth but complex and put together.

M: Very smooth with small carbonation. Surprisingly smooth without a syrupy feel.

Not to bad considering this is not really a style that Ive ever much enjoyed.

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Photo of Jasonclick
3/5  rDev -29.4%

This is my first time having this beer (2014) and I love Bourbon Barrel Aged beers but this one is way too much bourbon. It's pretty much like bourbon that was aged in a beer barrel. No head. Low carb. Served in my Oskar Blues Rocks Glass which looks like a glass you'd drink whiskey from... very fitting. Founders- calm down the bourbon. It takes away from the beer.

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Photo of Minkybut
3/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this average brew into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was a strong tea colored affair. The head was non-existent with only a slight tan few bubbles on top. The beer had a slight sour smell but was very carbonated feeling in the mouth. I will not buy this one again.

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Photo of ibbjamin
3.02/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Paid $5.99 for a 12oz bottle from Perry's Liquor in Livermore, CA. Poured into a Bruery tulip to review.

Half inch tan head consistent of relatively large sized carbonation bubbles. No retention. Dark raisin brown in color. Minimal lacing.

Aroma is (in order) molasses, caramel malts, brown sugar, bourbon, oak and toffee.

Oak and caramel malt hold up the dominating bourbon flavor. Quite boozy.

Mouth is better carbonated than I was expecting. Alive and even some crispness. Medium body, medium finish of oak and bourbon. Proper drinkability.

With this beer rated quite well, I am beginning to think I should take a break altogether from purchasing bourbon barrel aged beers. This is another example of one that is just too boozy. I guess I like to separate my bourbon and beer drinking habits.

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Photo of deebo
3.03/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Keg from 2009.

A-Tan head that sticks. Cloudy brown and dirty looking.

S-Oaky wood aroma is strong. Not much else comes through.

T-Smoked malts predominant, wood/oak, and a definite bourbon taste.

M-Alcohol vapors are very noticeable. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

D-Too much bourbon flavor to make this one more than a sipper for me. Bourbon whiskey lovers will like this one.

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Photo of youradhere
3.03/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a ruddy amber with iridescent orange hues; no real head to speak of, some descent but oily looking lacing. I can smell the bourbon bomb from an arms length, so this should be interesting. Upon closer inspection with my nose I detect vanilla and cola, slight oak, and thats about it. Taste is upfront bourbon. Wow. Ok, this is too much for me, but I'll try to judge it fairly based on merit. Vanilla, cola, bourbon, some slight char somewhere in there, but damn, this is like a bourbon cut with a lager, there ain't much else than that. I know others love that sort of thing, but there is no balance there for me. Carbonation is medium and the mouthfeel is thin; body is dry, like a bourbon heavy mixer with coke. I'm giving this an average score, as nothing really stands out in this for me aside from the bourbon.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.04/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a tawny deep maroon. Very thick and cloudy (yeast?). No light comes through this beer at all. Smells of caramel, chocolate, oak, licorice, molasses. This is a full nose for sure. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, almost chewable. Yet there was a slight crispness to it. Flavor is of syrup, booze, some woodsy notes, and big bourbon smack. This wasn't what I expected at all. Way too boozy and thick for my liking. Interesting beer.

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Photo of PEBKAC
3.09/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle courtesy of the ugly duckling a year or so back. Been settling in my fridge for most of that time. Still managed to deposit all sorts of nasty in my glass though.

Spritzy pour, though not much residual head after the first few seconds. Beer is brown with a cherry tone to it. Slightly hazy, even after everything dropped out of suspension.

Nose is very penetrating. Rich malt, more scotch then bourbon. Anise, rawhide, & a sharp, slightly charred base ale.

Leather & a twiggy bitterness are the most upfront flavors. Licorice, oak, ink, scotch.

Feel is heavy, with decent carbonation, but oh so boozy.

Beer is too overloaded to be enjoyed as more then a novelty.

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Photo of mentor
3.1/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Label on my bottle is not the same as that in the picture here. Aged in bourbon barrels, my bottle declares. Pours a finger of light brown head over a hazed and particulated brown/red liquid. Smells mild overall. Oak vanilla, old caramel, clean alcohol,

Tastes nicely tannicked oak with supporting sweet and clean alcohol burn. Not much malt flavor and esters are mild. A bit of fig and some caramel bordering on toffee. Vanilla is tame and some dreid cherry. Acid is a bot stronger than I'd like and a soured character is also distracting. Nice creamy md-thick mouthfeel and too much carbonation for the style.

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Photo of KarlHungus
3.13/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a nearly opaque dark brown color. The head is one inch in height, and recedes quickly into a ring of lacing. The aroma is of strong candy sugar, caramel, bourbon, and wood. It is a very strong aroma, but all the candy sugar makes it seem to lack any sort of complexity. The taste is very malt, as a Scotch Ale should be. It has the same simple candy thing going on as the aroma, and although it is still strong it isn't as dominant as it is in the aroma. Still it makes the taste come across as simple. The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with a velvety texture, and moderate carbonation. Overall, this beer is not doing it for me. I'm not sure if extra sugar was added to boost fermentation, and subsequently ABV, but is sure seems like it. And the result is a beer that taste/smells like candy aged in bourbon barrels, instead of Scotch Ale aged in bourbon barrels. I am certain I will not drink this again, and am wondering what I should do with the other three bottles I have. Maybe some of that sugar will mellow out with time.

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Photo of fscottkey
3.13/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A: [4.00] Deep red to brown beer. The pour produced a 2 finger tan head. The head is tight and dense with uniform bubbles. The bottle lists the brewed date (10/01/2014), the ABV (10.2%) and the IBU (50). Other brewers please take a note from Founders.

S: [3.50] Caramel and bourbon are the scents that I am picking up.

T: [2.75] There is alcohol upfront then smooth bourbon in the middle. The finish is mildly sweet with some breadiness.

M: [3.00] Smooth on the tongue but a fairly heavy alcohol bite.

O: [3.25] This is very alcohol forward in my opinion. The booze and bourbon mute a lot of other flavors. I let it warm before drinking. Perhaps a colder beer would have suppressed the alcohol. I had really high hopes for this - but I think it is just not my thing.

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Photo of NODAK
3.14/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

AromaIs extremely sweet. There's an immediate caramel presence there, and a definite dark fruit not as well, most notably cherries. This could pass for candy.

Pours blood red in the glass with a small head.

Taste is extremely malty as would be expected. Very rich caramel and dark fruit is present in abundance along with some serious sugar. This isn't for diabetics. The problem I have is how boozy this is right from the start. It hits right away, like a shot of bourbon is in this beer. And on the finish, it only gathers steam. The ABV is high, but drinks even higher.

So the verdict is that this isn't a favorite beer from Founders for me. Not a big deal, they make plenty other good ones.

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Photo of gatornation
3.15/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

the pour is dark brown like a wee heavy should be with a little head and a tan ring with minimal lacing..the smell is caramel and burnt toffee with a big bourbon boozy smell vanilla bean and cream smell..whoa !! the taste is boozy bourbon first so much so i dont taste the toffee and biscuit and caramel of a wee heavy..this is just a bourbon hit first with a whiskey/alcohol taste..just not my thing..the mouth fell is booze first with some caramel and toffee ..i dont know this brew is just not 4 me..so low score on drink ability..is this beer brewed well for the style ..oh yeah because as it warms it does mellow out... i just cant give it high grades for me IMO i will not buy it again. i just feel like im drinking booze instead of a fine craft brew IMO.. but will recommend it to scotch ale lovers with high bourbon notes if thats your likes

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Photo of chaz01
3.15/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle that was in my cellar -- no date found on the bottle -- but I believe this was 1-2 years old. Poured into a Founders snifter/tulip glass.

A: Muddy dark brown, thin head recedes quickly.

S: Big notes of bourbon, alcohol and a little rum. That's pretty much all I smell.

T: Starts with a little alcohol and malty sweetness. Some dark fruity flavors mix in with just a bit of tartness. Beer finishes with a little sourness notes.

M: Medium to full bodied, some carbonation provides a tingly feeling in the mouth.

D: Overall a little disappointed -- not sure if the beer just doesn't age well, but the tart sour notes were a bit unpleasant and I would think unintentional.

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Photo of wedge
3.18/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a foggy mahogany color with a small, but heavily creamy tan head. Smells like sweet bourbon whiskey...oak and vanilla frosting. Some leather and dark brown sugar too. Super heavy flavor...dark caramel, lots of bourbon, vanilla woodiness, and sugary sweetness. Creamy smooth, heavy, and warming.

Super sweet, lots of whiskey...not as complex as it should be since the bourbon flavors pretty much mask most of the malt. Too sweet to drink more than one.

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Photo of DrewV
3.18/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark reddish-amber with a thin 1-finger tan head.

S: Malt up front with some minor vanilla/oaky notes peeking through. Nothing aggressive, but nothing impressive, either.

T: First sip hits you with a blast of sharp bourbony alcoholic bite. Not much "beer" flavor here, just mostly alcohol and sharpness. As the beer warms, the flavors come through a bit more, particularly in the aftertaste, but nothing very fulfilling. Just sweetness, bite, and hints of other flavors mixed in.

M: Adequate carbonation, but lacking in fullness. Mostly just bite.

O: I'm not sure what to do with this brew, quite honestly. I love my beers aggressive, but this one just didn't cut it for me. There just wasn't much beyond the bourbon bite. Not much flavor overall, just "hints" of various other flavors. Perhaps some aging would do wonders for this beer, but I'm not so sure I'm willing to give it another shot quite yet. Above average brew, but nothing more.

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 1,651 ratings.