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

Could there be any better way to spend a day off? Homebrewing while drinking a Founders limited release in the morning, visiting a brewery (Flossmoor) for the first time in the afternoon. Into to Affigem Goblet...

A - A dark, thick looking beer with amber tints. A small amount of head pokes out through this thickness, and leaves a small ring of head.

S - The very expressive bourbon (vanilla, smoke, cherry) qualities mix well with the slight peat smoke from the Bastard, Very enjoyable.

T - The flavor that wins the race to hit my tongue first was the scotch-ale like sweetness, and it blended quickly with the cherry flavors from the bourbon barrels. Smoke mixed in at midpalate, and helps balance this beer out at this point. At the swallow, I was hit with alcohol and peat. The peat lasts well into the finish, where the hops balanced everything out, and left with cherry, peat, hops, and some spice. Focused and tasty, very enjoyable.

M - Full and silky, basically what you would expect from a big beer like this.

D - This was really good, but I would say that the bourbon did overwhelm the scotch ale. I don't know if this would be any better, but I am curious is this beer would have worked better with more balance between the two.

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Photo of crashdavisinoh
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-pours black and has a thick appearance w/ little to no head.

S-Sweet bourbon...vanilla...oak

T-Picked up the alcohol immediately...very creamy taste. The taste of the alcohol progesses nicely...not overpowering but definitely the star. Sweet taste.

M-Little to no carbonation...very pleasant mouth feel...even holding in the mouth...the alcohol was not overpowering and I detected the other flavors...the oak...caramel.

D-I enjoy this beer each time I have it...this years vintage is no exception. I can put down mulitples on this.

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Photo of sbxx
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Apple cider. Light ring of khaki head that settles into a thin ring.

Smell - That sweet spice of Jim Beam with hints of cocoa, brown sugar and caramel.

Taste - Bourbon up front, fades into the classic Dirty Bastard flavor.

Mouthfeel - Thin body, light carb, slick & sticky finish.

Overall - A little too thin and bourbon forward, but still decent. Might rather just have a classic Dirty Bastard. The barrel doesn't seem to do much for this one, unlike KBS, which I think is excellent.

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Photo of Hophazzard
4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

My first Wee Heavy and WOW they set the bar pretty damn high with this one. Simply put, it's the best bourbon barrel aged beer that I've tried. Perfectly balanced, super smooth, ideal for sipping on a cold winters night. Outstanding!

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Photo of Wontonst
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark reddish brown color with a full thick head. Very appealing look. The smokey barrel aging pops out along with vanilla, caramel. Taste is hoppy with notes of toffee, caramel, and malts. Feel is smooth but a bit boozy halfway through, with a malty finish.

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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 SummitVA
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Deep mahogany pour with ample carbonation.

S - Vanilla, bourbon, oak, toffee, wonderful malt complexity, and a little booze.

T - Vanilla and oak foremost, followed by sweet toffee, burnt sugar, and bit of coconut--this lingers along with the vanilla and bourbon. Somewhat boozy. Tannic quality in the finish that lends a dryness.

M - Heavier side of medium. Definitely chewy, but not overpoweringly so.

O - Another fantastic barrel-aged brew from Founders. Wish I would have bought more.

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Photo of Sensaray
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazed deep burnt mahogany with a half inch of tan head that dissipates quickly to a thin head.

Smells like bourbon and toffee, big puffs of alcohol maybe a bit of dark fruit and chocolate.

First sip brings a spice and nice alcoholic burn leading to a straight bourbon taste closing with toffee/caramel sweetness that lingers for awhile. Some hints of chocolate and vanilla in there too.

Very smooth mouthfeel and slightly hot. Good level of carbonation for this beer.

Tastes really really good and potent.

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Photo of quirkzoo
3.42/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice bright mahogany with a thin bright white head. The smell is strongly bourbon with some slight malt/caramel in the background. Taste was way too heavy with bourbon for me, It just tasted like any scotch ale I have ever had except with a shot of bourbon added. It was still good, just a bit one note for my taste and nothing that made me able to distinguish it from anything else. The mouthfeel was good, no burn from the alcohol, but nothing particularly special either. Overall I was a little disappointed. It was still a good beer, I just feel like a lot of people really like this beer and it seemed pretty one note to me. I would definitely like to try this one again with some age to perhaps let the bourbon settle into a more balanced brew.

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Photo of Beers-es
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From a 32 oz growler. The look of this beer is fantastic--a dark ruby/orange with the light behind it. Half-inch tan head didn't linger too long. The smell is bourbon and booze, though after it warmed the sweeter malt came through, and a little later, there was some chocolate and vanilla, and what briefly smelled like coconut. Taste was heavy on bourbon and alcohol, which gave way to a little malt sweetness, finishing with a slight bitter dryness. A little sweet, but not too sweet. Smooth feel that left a kind of alcohol coating on the tongue. I'd love to try this one after a year or so of aging. Seems to have all the elements to be taken to another level.

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Photo of PolarBear3
4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a dark brown colour with slightly off white head that dissipates to a thin film

S - Aromas are sweet toffee apple, candy/cinnamon with bourbon/vanilla. Very intense on the nose all round.

T - Slightly boozy but fairly well balanced with the toffee and vanilla very prominent up front, get some figs, raisins before a mild bitterness and spicy finish.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation but fairly smooth

O - A very good ale, booziness is there and I am not a fan of the slight bitter finish but overall a must to try

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Photo of mdm46410
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle (2008 vintage with the new artwork) and served in a snifter. This beer poured a dark, murky mahogany brown with a thin head that lingered for a bit, leaving behind some decent lacing. The aroma consisted of slightly vinous, boozy dark fruits, burnt caramel, brown sugar, and maybe a hint of maple syrup. The flavor was like a piece of hard caramel candy soaked in bourbon. The flavors work really well together. Rich, malty caramel and brown sugar with a mellow, boozy bourbon note. The mouthfeel was thick, full-bodied and had very mild carbonation. Just a bit sticky. A really tasty sipper!

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Photo of xpimptastikx
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A big thank you to crazynelson for an awesome trade.

Pours a caramel stream with a thin sheet of off white head. Smells mostly of bourbon, oak, vanilla, and alcohol. Tastes like malt, caramel, oak, vanilla, some raisin I think. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, but could be less carbonated still. You can smell the alcohol, but you can't feel it much.

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Photo of thepenguin
4.34/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 Vintage

L: Pours a turbid dark amber with a hint of burgundy and a khaki head.

S: Dried prunes, sweet wheated bourbon, nice oak with an especially pronounced vanilla note. Deep complex maltiness. Slight sherry notes, reminiscent of a sherried malt whisky. Tart dried cherries emerge as the glass warms.

T: Following the nose, flavors of dark fruits and vanilla, with a creeping light bitterness in the otherwise very sweet finish balancing the beer out. Malt controls the flavor with layers of rich caramel, some toastiness and lingering roast. Moderate perceptible booziness shows itself late in the sip with slight tannic notes from the wood.

F: Medium-full bodied, moderate carbonation, and pronounced chewiness and creaminess. Extremely tame for the ABV, even as this beer warms to room temperature; such little heat and a surprisingly light body makes this one a dangerous sipper.

O: A classic in the bourbon barrel aged category, Backwoods Bastard is one release I look forward to every year. Not one I can drink more than a bottle of at a time, and indeed even one bottle can begin to feel like a chore, this is one of those beers it take me an hour and half to finish.
2014 Vintage for comparison

L: About the same, perhaps slightly darker.

S: More bourbon notes and less oak/vanilla. Lots of dark dried fruits, notably dates and prunes, with some cherry. Lots of bread and some toastiness.

T: The vanilla pulls through in the taste, with some oakiness to boot. Has a really nice woody, slightly bitter roasty finish. Still very malt-forward, but seems a bit less cloying.

F: Similar feel to the 2015 vintage.

O: I think I like this better than the fresher 2015 bottle. Not sure if it’s the brew itself or the year of age on it, but the bourbon is a bit more pronounced, it’s less of a booze bomb and it does seem a bit more rounded. That said, it’s very similar to this year’s in most regards and I’ll probably snag at least one four-pack each fall until the day I die (or Backwoods Bastard slays me).

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Photo of youngleo
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured to a caramelish head and about 1 fingered at that. Head hung around and left some good lacing with every swallow. Brew itself was a dark brown in color. Boozy smell was very evident with the opening of this bottle. Also smelled of caramel and hops. When opening, I didnt think I was going to enjoy this brew. But I was wrong. Strong bourbon taste at first. Then you got a nice creamy slightly bitter taste of booze, caramel and dark roasted coffee. Flavors blended pretty good. Felt thicker in the mouth. Carbonation was good. You couldnt make this a session beer. After drinking I sure had a good buzz. But it wood be nice to enjoy every now and then.

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Photo of garbercury
4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter...

A--sticky lacing, beige head, deep, dark amber color...

S--Just a wonderful aroma on this one. Bourbon notes of course, but the oak is complimented with a fruity background along with a nice bit of vanilla...

T--Heavy on the bourbon. Still nice bits of oak in the profile, but a think a little age to mellow this bourbon would do wonders, and make it a near perfect score.

M--Velvety mouthfeel, good carbonation, but not too much.

D--This a boozy brew, and if you are not into bourbon aged beer, dont bother. This is a great beer, a truly exceptional brew by an incredible brewery.

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Photo of jmvecchio1
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: The beer is dark amber/copper in color with some nice lacing around the top. The caramel and roasted malts have left it with a nice color that signaled to me that a there will certainly a taste behind this beer.

Smell: I got a lot of oaky bourbon and scotch aromas off the beer. The beer has a very sweet alcohol smell to it as well. During tasting, the aroma is what really hung around after the sip.

Taste: The beer is lightly carbonated, which is good as it doesn’t detract from the strong flavors going on. The upfront taste I got was of the sweet malts (which even the 50 IBUs couldn’t fully balance out). The finish left a warming alcohol sensation with each sip. The tastes also didn’t obnoxiously linger long after a sip, but – like I mentioned earlier – the aroma did.

Drink: As it’s a 10.2% ABV, it’s a sipper, but it surprised me with how easily drinking it was. This would be a great beer to enjoy during the colder winter months given that warming alcohol taste.

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Photo of adman08
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a deep garnet red with creamy off-white head that settles slowly and leaves a nice layer of foam.
S-Strong bourbon aroma with hints of caramel and vanilla. I also get a hint of smoke and chocolate, very complex and sweet aromas.
T-Strong bourbon flavor but not completely overpowering. The bourbon barrel aging not only leaves bourbon flavor but also smooth, oak and vanilla flavors. Slight smoke flavor and some caramel/malty and chcolate flavor as well.
M-Starts very sweet which is diminished by the high alcohol a bit and finishes slightly dry. Decent carbonation, fairly sticky.
Overall, a very good beer. It's nice to find a bourbon barrel aged beer that isn't all bourbon. This beer balances a very good base beer with the addition of the barrel aging. The scotch ale flavor is complex and the boubon barrel aging only adds to that complexity. This is a very smooth beer, highly recommended.

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Photo of mfavoino
4.16/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Treebs for the share. Enjoyed on 12/30/12.

A: Deep amber appearance with an off white head. Fairly clear and looks nice with the light shining through it.

S: Big bourbon nose, cherry, and rich malt aromas.

T: Follows the nose with the huge bourbon flavor. Dark fruits easy to pick up and a sweet, rich caramel malt backbone. Touch of booze hotness.

M: Medium-bodied, light carbonation, a little hot as it finishes.

O: Huge bourbon flavor, but doesn't mask the other flavors from the base.

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Photo of boomer31
4.19/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Revised review 11/18/10 (original 6/6/10 - 4, 4.5, 4.5, 4, 4.5)

A - Deep rich brown with tan sticky head

S - Sweet bourbon through and through. Maybe a touch of smokiness from the base beer but mostly bourbon here

T - Bourbon up front with some sweet molasses in the back. As it warms up I get some wood and vanilla sweetness after it goes down. This is a good barrel aged beer. Second time around I'm getting more sugary notes especially in the back. Also more smoke and dark fruit.

M - Rich and nice carbonation. I think the mouthfeel hits the wee heavy right on the nose.

D - Lots of bourbon but no alcohol flavor here.

I've had this a couple times and finally got around to review it. Very very nice overall...does Founders do anything wrong when barrel aging?

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Photo of AmishLightning
4.16/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: A dark reddish brown with a little bit of head. I am guessing the high alcohol and aging have a tendency to eliminate any head that may form.

Smell: Lots of bourbon with the more darker caramel malts mixed in. The bourbon has a overpowering trait.

Taste: There is a lot of vanilla and oak in the taste. I don't feel like it is the traditional bourbon aged beer. The malts seem to be better balanced with the bourbon than others that I've had. I would still like to see more of the malts making an appearance other than just adding sweetness to the taste profile.

Mouthfeel: Thick and lightly carbonated, as the norm.

Overall: Not a bad beer, but I feel like the hype kind of ruined the experience for me. I wouldn't say this is a standout in its style, but it is a bit more unique than others because of the emphasis of the vanilla taste.

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Photo of gkatsoris
4.26/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This was the most gorgeous color of red I have ever seen. I know I shouldn't judge the color by holding it up to the light, but when I say beautiful...wow.

S: Very earthy, oakey, and a little nutty and alcoholy.

T: The taste followed suit from the smell; very oakey and earthy. And the bourbon taste is very present as well. Very complex.

M: Very much a bourbon style beer. Very dry, crisp and not too much carbonation.

D: This is a sipper for sure. If you enjoy bourbon style beer's you should enjoy this one.

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Photo of drewba
4.81/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - murky, translucent dark brown/burnt sugar which pours with a half finger head which quickly recedes to a khaki ring and thin top coating just around the glass. I want more bubbles!

S - This may be one of the most pronounced vanilla aromas i've ever smelled. I know this doesn't make sense, but the vanilla just smells sweet, smooth, creamy, silky. To adapt a classic George Costanza line, "I would bathe myself in Backwoods Bastard if it was socially acceptable". The background aroma is riddled with delicious molasses, oak and a hint of dark fruit and alcohol.

T - After that aroma, how could this be bad? The taste does not dissapoint, the flavors are deep and delicious. The bourbon imparts lots of brown sugar, sweet vanilla and a slight dryness from the wood. The malts are bringing out a lot of nuance - hearty bread, pecan, caramel, raisin, plum. The hop profile is not lost, but not pronounced. A very mild citrus and bitter character is present and does a great job of balancing all of the sweet flavor qualities going on in backwoods bastard.

M - Creamy, smooth, low but tingly carbonation. Medium - thick body is just right.

D - I've got to say, I love bourbon, but this is like the bourbon barrel aged beer for the person who doesn't love a heavy dose of bourbon. The bourbon sweetness is highlighted, while keeping the alcohol heat at bay (though there is a bourbon aftertaste). Because of this, this was a beer I began sipping, but couldn't stay away for long.

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Photo of kdb150
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2012 vintage, poured into an oversized Piraat tulip at room temperature, though this is closer to 60 than 70 as my house is pretty cold.

A - Pours a deep amber/brown with a half-finger of ivory head, which quickly subsides to a thin ring. Hints of ruby red shoot through this brew when held up to the light. No lacing to speak of, but nevertheless this is a beautiful pour.

S - Bourbon, oak, and vanilla strong up front, somewhat masking the burnt caramel and slight smoke of the base beer. The combination is reminiscent of scotch. Excellent aroma, though a bit weak for not being poured into a snifter, which I really recommend for this beer.

T - Again bourbon, with the base beer coming through a bit more in the flavor than in the nose. The malt is perfectly balanced with the bourbon to produce a wonderful bourbon/butterscotch flavor that is not too sweet and hits all the right notes. This a ridiculously good beer, though it benefits from a bit of age.

M - Silky smooth, absolutely perfect for the flavor profile. Low carb which dissipates rather quickly, but this coats nicely and has the most exquisite aftertaste. The mouthfeel seems to be one that is fairly unique to bourbon barrel-aged wee heavies, and this is the best of them. This is a real pleasure to drink.

O - This is one of my absolute favorite beers, though from prior experience I'd say it is definitely better after a few months, when the bourbon subsides a bit and the subtle smokiness of the base beer comes through. The flavor takes on more of a scotch note than a bourbon note, and this becomes a truly sublime beer experience. Even fresh, though, this is an absolute treat, worth seeking out and drinking as much as possible.

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Photo of wr3ck00n
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on 10.12.12 (I think... hard to read, smudged a bit.) Contentedly consumed on 11.15.13.

Poured from bottle into DFH signature glass.

Pours a lovely translucent coppery color with a thin eggshell head. Very bourbon forward smell, hits you hard. As one that generally doesn't like bourbon it was a bit off-putting, but not enough to want to put it down. The taste.. Amazing? Bourbon is definitely there, but not even half as strong as it is in the nose. Bit of a twang, but in a good way. Hints of a bitter vanilla/burnt caramel. Silky mouthfeel, warms nicely as it fills and goes down. Overall a great balance and really quite lovely. ..and this is coming from one that thought they didn't even like Scotch Ales. Very nice.

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