1. The BeerAdvocate Store is back! Pre-order your stuff now. Items begin shipping Dec 15. Christmas deadline = Dec 18 @ 5pm EST.
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Founders Backwoods Bastard - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Backwoods BastardFounders Backwoods Bastard

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

6,408 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,408
Reviews: 1,518
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 10.6%
Wants: 765
Gots: 2,078 | FT: 190
Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
Scotch Ale aged in bourbon barrels.

(Beer added by: CortexBomb on 01-30-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Founders Backwoods Bastard Alström Bros
Ratings: 6,408 | Reviews: 1,518 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jsurfs82
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of Reaper16
3.83/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle served into a Chimay goblet

Pours a thick looking reddish-brown that is reminiscent of caramelized sugar. This may not make sense to anyone but me but it looks like it will have toffee flavors (this color in the past for me has accompanied toffee flavors in beer). No head, not even what you could call a cap. There is an infitisimal amout of off-white foam that -- to my surprise -- doesn't lace all that poorly.

Backwoods Bastard is a cacophony of aromas. Tree bark, maraschino cherries, gooey caramel, cinnamon, pine nuts, vanilla bean... its all there simultaneously. Bringing up the back end are traces of alcohol fusels that ground some of the scents in a "bourbon" context (though I must confess that I don't really smell bourbon). Its malty and phenolic and kind of Belgian and pretty nice.

The first things that my tongue picked up on were the familiar iced tea flavors from the Founders Dirty Bastard that serves as the base beer for Backwoods Bastard. Then I get smacked with some relatively strong alcohol flavors. Slight brown spirits flavor, sure, but it mostly subsides and becomes other kinds of tastes. Cherry and pear come to mind, but not the flesh of the fruit, not really. More of a pear skin kind of taste. There is a large woodsy, smoky quality to this beer. The bourbon barrels impart more barrel taste than bourbon taste, for sure.

I like the mouthfeel. Its medium-bodied at first but swish it in your mouth and it thickens up proper. Drinkability can't be scored higher than 'average.' Its 10.2% ABV and tastes like it. The flavors, especially the smoky bark flavors, are too much to warrant opening a second bottle after you finish the first.

Its always cool when breweries barrel-age a style of beer that isn't typically barrel-aged. I can't think of any other notable Scotch Ales that are aged in bourbon barrels, which makes this a nifty beer to try if only for the story of it. Make no mistake -- it's not a gimmick. The barrel flavors -- while perhaps not executed to the degree that they should be -- do improve upon the base beer. This is a fine sipper.

Photo of speedvagen
3.5/5  rDev -19.4%

Photo of sleazo
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A_Pours a reddish dark brown with a small but long lasting cream head. It settles into a nice slick and leaves impressive lacing.

S_Sweet caramel malt mixes well with a strong bourbon woodsy aroma.

T_Sticky sweet with caramel at the start, with a potent kick of bourbon hitting the palette right afterwards. There is a nice hop kick at the end but this definitely leans towards the sweet side. There is a decent twang that can be expected from a wee heavy. Alcohol starts to show up a bit more and burn as it warms.

M_Not too sticky but leaning that way.

D_I am not the biggest fan of bourbon barrel beers but this one is pretty damned good. Avery interesting wee heavy

Photo of LeeEvolved
3.75/5  rDev -13.6%

Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This was bottled on 10/13/11 and reviewed on 12/12/11. Served in a snifter.

Appearance was very, very dark. When held up to the light, the color is identifiable as dark, dark mahogany with significant haze (unfiltered). As with many high abv, barrel-aged beers, carbonation is low and the thin tan head quickly dissipates. The beer has a pronounced bourbon nose. Vanilla, oak, and butterscotch tones predominate. There's a lot going on here in the nose and it takes some patient swirling to dig it out. Your patience is definitely rewarded.

Flavor is wonderful. First, you get sweet malty caramel, toffee, and creme brulee flavors. Then you get vanilla and bourbon with a touch of coffee and a gentle hop kiss. The barrel-aging goes wonderfully with this style. Drinking it reminds me of the taste of Asbach Uralt (those wonderful brandy-filled German dark chocolates). The mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side, but somehow this only seems to add to the (illusion of) drinkability.

This is an amazing beer. It is like a luxury model of one of my all time favorite beers - BBC's Bourbon Barrel Big Brown. I do love barrel-aged stouts, but I wish more brewers would make barrel-aged versions of easy-drinking sweet, malty beers like brown ales and Scottish/Scotch ales. The oaky tones of the bourbon just go perfectly with these beers.

Photo of Hallertau
5/5  rDev +15.2%

Photo of schmidtmattsays
4/5  rDev -7.8%

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

Presentation: Thanks go out to fellow Beer Geek DoctorDog for providing this one; quite some time ago. Label depicts a bearded old man carrying a double headed axe over his shoulder. no clear freshness date, but at 10.2%, I don't think it will be an issue. Poured into a small tulip.

Appearance: Pours with 3/4 finger of medium tan head. This settles to a thin ring around the glass and a few islands of foam here and there. The beer itself is a deep, rich mahogany, dark enough that you can't see through it.

Smell: Sweet, caramel malt upfront with an underlying graininess. Hazelnut and a slight sourness in the finish.

Taste: Slightly sweet caramel malt upfront with a subtle undertone of milk chocolate. Strong overtones of your typical oak flavors; specifically vanilla and cherries. Mild yet lingering bourbon flavor in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Slightly higher than average carbonation; enough to tickle the throat. Body is decent.

Drinkability: Another bourbon beer from the recent barrel aged craze. Good, and complex in flavor. But not a favorite.

Photo of stealth
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of e30todamax
4.75/5  rDev +9.4%

Photo of scotorum
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 10/12/13

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Smith English tulip.

a: Clear dark ruby, half finger thick beige head disspiated to thick surface foam and dense lacing.

s: Bourbon

t: Bourbon with hop bite over heavy malt base. Very tasty, bourbon flavor lingers in the mouth. Alcohol is felt on swallow but not with much burn. As it warms caramel malt comes more to the forefront, but this is still more about the bourbon barrel aging.

m: Medium to heavy, very smooth.

o: A superb combination, although the bourbon flavor tops the malt sweetness, the heft of the malt supports that flavor and both mediate the 50 IBU hops.

UPDATE 12/28/13: Had another and was struck by how much this tastes like a heavier-bodied Innis & Gunn Scottish Porter, which I just had a few nights ago, and which is also aged in liquor barrels. I must admit, much as I love I&G, I liked this better because of the more substantial body and slightly better malt/whiskey flavor balance. I like a hefty mouthfeel, and Backwoods Bastard is hard to beat! Of course it also tops the ABV of Innis & Gunn by about 3%.

Photo of Walkerjgt
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of Westyn
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%

Photo of Blanco
3.93/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

reviewed from notes.

very dark amber color with white head. smell is off sweet cherries and strong bourbon. taste is similar although bourbon is more forward and dark fruit taste is more nondescript than the specific cherry flavor in the smell. also strong malt flavor. medium bodied. I enjoyed this one more than it's brother beer, Dirty Bastard. The bourbon adds a nice complexity I enjoy far more than the straight malt in Dirty Bastard.

Photo of VncentLIFE
4.63/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 batch, review done for cellaring purposes, but still needs to be reviewed. Ill add updates as it ages.

Pours a very deep mahogany blackish-brown with red hues. Carbonation is kind of low, and there is no head whatsoever.

Smells sweet and like alot of dark fruits (raisins and plums). Hints of caramelized sugars. Almost scary sweet, but my hopes will stay up.

I want to say it tastes sweet (and it really does), but it is backed up by the booze. It feels like a spiked raisin wintery christmas ale. I get a kind of nutty feeling that compliments the dark fruits really well. Maybe its more of a spiced cake. As i meandered through this beer, it transforms with more and more spices. The booze is warming, and makes it a nice sipper. I get more of the bourbon as it warmed for about 30 minutes. It became very smooth with notes of vanilla and bourbon.

It has a syrupy sweet feel, probably from all the non-fermentable sugars. Full bodied.

Ive had Wee-Heavies that are more on the smokey end, but this one leans more toward a doppelbock. I rather like it. What a great idea to open this while I was marinated pork chops in GLBC Christmas Ale. Lets see how this puppy ages!

Update at 2 months

Pour is the same, but the smell has lost some dark fruits and gained a barleywine smell. carbonation leaves what looks like a film at the top. It has actually gained more vanilla and beautiful oak barrel notes. I actually like it more now than before.

Photo of wiltznucs
4.25/5  rDev -2.1%

Photo of yamar68
3.78/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Murky burnt copper brown body topped with a finger of boozy looking khaki head that sinks down to a thin collar which laces nicely - alcohol legs are apparent.

Loads of sweet bourbon on the nose... fresh peat, molasses, charred oak, some rye maybe, the nose actually reminds me very much of Brau Bros' Rye Wyne.

Again, this is really all about the bourbon. I was skeptical of its Wee Heavy categorization but I can see how that is the case, and it plays well against the heavy bourbon character. Bitter alcohol burn on the tail end. Not mind-blowing in this respect but still good.

Pretty low drinkability at this point, I anticipate some rounded edges after a year or so.

Photo of ninaturner
3.5/5  rDev -19.4%

Photo of KCBeerNerd
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%

Photo of CloudStrife
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled 9/28/2012.

A: Pours a clear ruby with a one finger off white head. A little bit of floaties in the body, not much visible carbonation. Leaves some specs of lacing on the glass.

S: Right off the bat you can get the bourbon barrel. Oaky with vanilla and toffee overtones, some sweet malts and carmel as well. A bit of mustiness to it as well.

T: As with the aroma at first you get the bourbony taste which then blends with the carmel sweetness of the beer. There is a fermented dark fruit taste in the background. Hints of vanilla, lots of oakiness. Booze is in the forefront.

M: Smooth and velvety mouthfeel with low carbonation. Very warming all the way down. Certainly a sipping beer.

Overall a real good barrel aged brew. Mostly find stouts that are bourbon aged, was a good chance of pace to try a scotch ale. Can't wait another year to see how this ages.

Photo of SawDog505
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Lost Abbey tulip, bottled 10/12/12. Poured slowly down the center and got a beautiful light tan head that leaves, a thick ring of lace. The beer itself is a bright ruby. The smell on this starts with strong vanilla, bourbon, peat, dark fruit, and some biscuit. Taste is similar to smell not as much vanilla as the nose would have you expect, but really complex, pick up different flavors each sip, and really makes you crave the next one. Maybe a little smoke, but very subtle and blends well with all the other flavors from the nose. Body is medium large, perfect amount of carbonation for the style, not really dry almost surprising, and very drinkable for a big brew. Founders and Firestone are so good at brewing barrel aged beers it is scary. Love this and had a Dirty Bastard before to see what a difference the barrels made and it turned a very good beer into an amazing beer.

Photo of JackieTH
4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So as I'm first and foremost a Scotch whisky fan, this brew was just about right up my alley.

I was a little intimidated by the bottle label artwork, it was great as usual. Founder's artwork can be fantastic.

Consumed ice cold straight from the bottle while sitting at a campfire in the middle of the north woods of Wisconsin. Apropos I suppose as this is the Backwoods Bastard.

Immediate impression was, this is one angry beer. There's a lot going on here. Cherry vanilla bourbon on the nose and throughout the palate. Bitterness, coffee, caramel all fighting to come throughout tied together and working well if only by the sheer force of will of the backwoods bastard himself. ABV comes through in a big way along with smoke, even a bit of peat? I don't know at this point as I've been smashed. Oh and the warming finish is fantastic.

It's angry. Challenging. Delicious. I want more.

Photo of nataku00
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle, about a year old, poured into a tulip glass. Beer pours a murky dark brown with some reds at the edges. No head on the pour, and lots of alcohol legs.

Nose is caramel, toffee, red berry, molasses, brown sugar, milk chocolate, vanilla, and a light barrel woodiness.

Taste follows the nose, nice caramel and toffee upfront, then some cherry and red berry as it warms. Barrel and bourbon notes on the swallow, vanilla, oak, light earthiness. More milk chocolate as the beer warms.

Medium full body with mild carbonation, more than I thought a high abv beer would have but doesn't take away from the experience. Alcohol is well hidden, but a bit of warmth after swallowing.

Photo of TheRuss9585
4/5  rDev -7.8%

Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 6,408 ratings.