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: 1,735 | Ratings: 7,704
Photo of seitzka
4.97/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Okay, this is my first review. Let me start by saying, first, thanks for reading. Second, you need to go find this beer. There's a reason I haven't reviewed a beer yet. I haven't discovered one so unique to bother. Seriously though, I'm not sophisticated enough to differentiate the subtle nuances between the many different styles and many different brewers. I've been a cheap beer drinker all my life until the past few months. You'll never witness me ripping on a 30pack of Red Dog, but recently, my tastes have become a bit more refined. I hesitate say but now it's more about the quality than the quantity. I bought six random (local/Michigan) beers tonight. There were porters and trippels but I saved this particular bottle 'til last. I always pick one that I believe will stand out as my final beer. This was it. However, I had to take a trip BACK to the beer store for more of this TONIGHT.

I didn't note the pour, color, bouquet or head. What I did note was the terrific initial taste and the pleasureably sweet subsequent aftertaste. Aftertaste is usually a bad word, but with this beer it is the dessert. Reviews compare this beer to Founder's Dirty Bastard but I taste no similarities. For a heavy HEAVY (10.2%) beer, this is a delightfully pleasant and refreshing brew that far surpasses all expectations.

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Photo of Louisville-Beer-Reviews
4.97/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Slight haze. Very dark ruby/reddish brown, with a thick head and thick lacing.

Aroma: Many smells common to a bourbon barrel aged beer including vanilla, caramel, oak, bourbon, and molasses. Very pleasant, interesting, and engaging aroma.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Very smooth, thick mouthfeel! Immediately noticeable flavors of sweet bourbon and buttery caramel on the tongue, with the buttery flavor existing as much as a smooth, full texture as it does as a flavor. The finish sees the profile move towards dark chocolate and charred oak flavors, with the dark, roasted malt flavor being balanced out by a marshmallow sweetness. At 10.2% ABV, there isn’t any strong alcohol flavor or burn to speak of at all, which makes this a surprisingly drinkable beer given its strength, fullness, and complexity.

Final Word: Highly recommended! Everything about this beer is complex and engaging, while being simultaneously approachable and easy to drink. There are many flavors and aromas to enjoy, so practically any beer drinker will find something to their liking. Other beers contain these same flavors, but this beer presents them fully, completely, and in such good balance that it is worth seeking out above other barrel aged beers.

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Photo of Sycodrummer
4.97/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from the stubby brown bottle into a thistle glass the beer was a chestnut brown color with a tan head rising about 1 finger above the beer. The head is creamy consistancy and holds well throughout the sample. The rest of the beer is still; no streaming carbonation of stray bubbles.

The nose on the beer is incredible. The smell forshadows the taste very well. Big malty mollasses coming through. Caramel, brown sugar, alcohol, and dried fruit all come through.

Taste hits the palate and is nice a sweet upfront. This is what I expected from the style. A robust beer with a huge malt backbone and hints of its strength with just moments of alcoholic heat. Caramel and toffee shine through and sweetness is accented with hints of brown sugar, bread, and mollasses.

The mouthfeel is right on for the style. Big, robust, almost a little creamy, and certainly chewy. Warming slightly and filling.

I thought the beer was spot on for its style in terms of taste and mouthfeel. Some scotch ales come out of the bottle a little thin, but I though this one nailed it. A very enjoyable beer and perfect for a cold night.

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Photo of timobkg
4.97/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Chimay glass.

Appearance is a very dark red, like a dark mahogany table at night, with a thin but appropriate head.

Aroma is a unique mix of bourbon and coconut rum, warm and inviting.

The taste is rich, sweet, and smooth, with flavors of mellow bourbon, caramel, and coconut rum. The alcohol is very well hidden, so it tastes smooth and not at all boozy.

Overall, it is an amazing bourbon beer, rich and luxurious. I like my bourbon beers heavy on the bourbon flavor, and this delivers in spades. It's great with BBQ, as an after dinner drink, or really anytime. It's one of the best beers I've had.

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Photo of warrenout330
4.97/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Mad props to Wendy at VE for my reserve on this 4pk!

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my delirium snifter

A- poured a deep reddish brown color.. Ruby highlights to the curves of the glass.... resembles a liquid Ruby in my glass to the light. Off white head, quickly dissovles to nothing minimal lacing

S- big whiff reveals a smack of Bourbon, vanilla and white oak undertones. Dark fruit highlights in the back.

T- like the nose but some more pronounced. Big Bourbon flavors, smooth vanilla, light earthy undertones of oak. Dark cherry twist for sweetness..ting of booze lingering.Huge flavors going on but the balance is the biggest thing going on here

M- smooth, creamy, oily body... light carbonation, kind of prickly on the tongue maybe from the booze?

O- my first experience with this brew, very happy I have the pleasure sipping this right now. Very well done, huge flavors with huge balance.. now I see what all the hype is about...def putting my other 2 way for a couple of years....

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Photo of Ikeithbot
4.96/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Looks brick reddish brown, no head typical of her style

Smells amazing! Heavy oak and bourbon action!

Taste is other worldly. I love wee heavies and this brings it to another level.

Mouthfeel. Baa. Whatever.

Overall. The more I drink it the more I want to rock a kilt. Such a treasure and kudos to founders for making an exceptional brew. It can't be easy and I guess that's why it's only available once a year.

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Photo of cccupps3
4.95/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

i had this beer a few times at Blue Dogg in Warminster P.A. Everytime i see it on a list i will get it because it is one of the best beers that Founders makes. It has an incredible balance of hops and barley. The smokey hint tops it off at the aftertaste. The head is always full and rich with overwhelming aromas that make you want more. Great beer!

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Photo of BarrelAgedForrest
4.95/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

WOW! Not sure what else to say here. I got to enjoy one bottle of this and was sadly hooked with no where to get a fix! (We got 1 case of it in our entire town) Then next thing you know we go to Round table to get a salad and low and behold founders is doing a tap take over there (WTF?) To say the least I was the only guy to ask for it properly served in a tulip glass (They had some) Also I was told I drank most of the keg lmao.

Pours a nice caramel brown from the tap and bottle. The tap had more Head Retention then the bottle. On the nose you are left diving into the depths with bourbon and sweet oakey vanilla up front, followed by caramel and some chocolate. ( at least i was) The mouth feel is very warm and creamy, emphasis on the boozy warmth. Great for a cold evening! get hints of smokeyness as well. Taste wise, i got the same as on the nose but with a bit more maltiness then what I picked up on the nose. Absolutely wonderful and a great pleasure to get to enjoy it while it was here!

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Photo of howard12
4.95/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

10.3.11 bottle poured into founders snifter

A -- dark reddish amber, floating bourbon particles, appears smooth yet syrupy at the same time.

S -- sweet & toasty bourbon vanilla caramel malt

T -- bourbon booze, but not too overpowering; vanilla certainly present along with malts, hint of wood seeping through

M -- surprisingly smooth, no bite until aftertaste as well as carbonation...that is when it tends to seem a bit spicy. mouthfeel is slightly boozy in a polished sort of way.

O -- love every second of this. i stumbled upon a case late last year and have 5 bottles left; will enjoy every last one of them. i thoroughly enjoy this beer, and appreciate more my chance to PLAN for having one at the end of a night, when deemed appropriate.

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Photo of gangstafaceclay
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I finally got my hands on this brew that I've been dying to try at a local bar/restaurant and I was my disappointed.

Smell- oak, coco, Carmel, bourbon

Taste- wow..I was blown away, like the nose oak, Carmel, coco, some vanilla, smokiness, scotch. One of the best tasting brews I've had, hands down.

Mouthfeel- full bodied and smooth with some creaminess. So good.

Overall- this was exceeded my complex and tasty..I didn't want to stop drinking it. Definitely one of my favorites.

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Photo of kapalacc
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

We weren't going to buy this after trying a 2012 at a local pub which left a tinny "ok" taste- but who knows how it spent it's last year ie storage, temperature, etc. I'm glad we gave 2013 a try because it's really a treat in a glass! Curmudgeon meets Dirty Bastard plus steroids. Poured into a snifter glass it has a really really dark amber color with very little froth line around the top. The smell is boozy but delicious. It's a beautiful blend of malty vanilla with a soft bourbon base. I don't make a lot of room on my top shelf which is crowded with stouts, but this one is near Anderson Valley's Bourbon Aged Stout, Parabola, and KBS.

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Photo of sweet-maltman_1
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

It is rare that I find a beer that just makes me want to have more than one at a sitting. Backwoods Bastard is just that. It is a very complex brew, similar to a good Scotch Ale but with a lot of subtle complexities. Obviously that comes from the aging process in Bourbon Casks. The taste is dark fruit, peat, chocolate and bourbon. It has a little more hops on the finish than I generally like, but this is a world class brew. Watch out however if you do engage and have more than a couple at a sitting because it is a 10.2% brew and they do sneak up on you. Cheers.

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Photo of XicanoBeerRun
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

El Nopalero picked this up in Michigan over Christmas. I could not make out the date on the bottle but it was definitely bottled in 2011, perhaps in October.

Poured into a snifter.

Beautiful dark reddish brown color.

Looked flat, but was surprisingly carbonated when I tasted it.

Smelled like someone put scotch in a humidifier. It was hard to pull my nose away from the glass, but I had to taste it.

Scotch barrel, yellow cake batter, vanilla, cherry coke, cocoa. Perhaps this does not make any sense, but it was phenomenal.

I’ll have another.

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Photo of angelogarcia3
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this on-tap at Sapsucker's Hop & Grubs in Huntington, NY. The deep reddish color and nice tannish head are very pleasing to the eye. On the nose the distinctive aroma of bourbon and strong alcohol lets you know that this beer has been cask-aged. The first sip confirms the bourbon barrel aging. The syrrupy quality of the beer allows it to linger after first sip and leaves a lasting bourbon, vanilla, and caramel notes on the tongue. A fantastic beer definitely one of my favorites.

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Photo of CrookedStill
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled 9/30/11 - Poured into tulip glass.

Pours a deep mahogany, a beautiful ruby when held to light, with a 1-2 finger tan head that slowly falls. Lots of lacing.

Right up front there's a lot vanilla, very oaky. Smells like a good bourbon with hints of warm caramel sweetness. One of the best smelling beers I've tried.

This is defiantly a bourbon drinkers beer. Just going to go ahead and say it here, if you don't like bourbon I seriously doubt you'll enjoy this. That being said, bourbon enthusiast, this is one for you. Right away there's that wonderful oaky vanilla sweetness that was so prominent in the nose. Behind that that there's a subtle smokiness (becoming more prominent as it warms) that really compliments the vanilla and oak. Hints of molasses and roasted malts. Alcohol is present (it is, after all, 10.2%) and lends a bit of warmth but it isn't overpowering or distracting. Finishes dry with a lingering sweetness.

Full bodied with very little carbonation. Really coats the palate.

This is the first offering I've tried from Founders and I'm an instant fan. Anyone that can make a beer like this knows what they're doing. Plain & Simple. With all that's great about this beer there are two things about it that make me sad; 1) It's only released once a year and 2) I don't have a fireplace to sit in front of (in a rocking chair of course) while sipping this wonderful drink. And at 10.2%, sipping may be the way to enjoy it.

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Photo of sweetmaltman
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Now that I can no longer get McEwan's Scotch Ale in the US, this is my favorite beer. It is too bad that it only comes out once a year and is in such a limited distribution. Thankfully, I am a regular at the super distributor here in Eastern PA.

Where do I start?

It is dark with the pour. Just a few hints of red on the edges. Not much head which is just fine by me.

The smell is heavenly. Bourbon but with a complex mixture of sweet tones (vanilla, figs, raisins, chocolate, caramel and others. They are all there. I think I could live on the aroma alone, but the great thing is then you get to drink it.

The taste, ah the taste, it is fairly strong and complex, so much that you hesitate to swallon the first sip. It keeps growing and resonating and bringing out all the different characters there. The second sip is less bourbon and you start to really identify all the specialties. Vanilla comes at you, then caramel and chocolate. The third sip starts to bring out the fruits, figs, cheeries and raisins.

Mouthfeel, I guess on the heavier side but with so much goodness you wish it would never quit.

Overall: I do not think the brewers at Founders or anyone else could do a better job of making a true scotch ale with as much complexity and character as this. It is a true pleasure to drink. The only things I will say against it are 1) It only comes out 1X/year and in limited distribultion and with the high alcohol content, if you drink more than one you really feel it. However I will gladly put up with the buzz and slowly sip it.

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Photo of mattboyer182
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A - Pours a deep mahogany/brown. Thin to no head. Yeast up a storm in this bad boy.

S - smells of pure sweet malt, dark fruits and a strong alcohol scent.

T - tastes is very sweet. Lots of wood in this. Intense alcohol bringing up the rear.

M - heavy body and light carbonation.

O - such a great style. So old and perfect for a chilly night.

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Photo of stix86
4.91/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This beer is simply amazing. The color is a dark brown with some reddish hues. I poured it into a pint glass it has a very nice 3/8 inch head which brought out the smell. The smell is of sweet bourbon with an Oakey hint. Tastes was very similar to the smell with a bark roasted bourbon flavor. The mothfeel was very smooth even with the higher abv. Overall this beer is great.

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Photo of DonovanD
4.91/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Found 2 4 packs in Nebraska in late December of all places. I'm assuming this beer is even better closer to the source. What can I say... One of the best winter beers money can buy.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.91/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to htomsirveaux for sending me a few of these. I crushed them immediately!

A - Pours a beautiful ruby-mahogany hue, some small spotty lacing, a recurring patchy cap of tan froth.

S - Great barrel aroma, lots of well-placed vanilla notes, a wee bit of chocolate, rich toffee-malt; beyond superlative.

T - I am not even a malt-bomb or Wee-Heavy fan, but this stuff is amazing. Founders is ridiculous. Great and huge flavors of barrel, toffee, vanilla, booze and a small bit of smokiness to round it out. Again, mere words do not suffice...

M - Great creamy mouthfeel, nice soft effervescence; totally complementary.

D - Understatement of the year: "Founders is amazing!" JFC. Off the hook. This might be my favorite of all the Founders brews (though Nemesis is totally insane, so...)

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Photo of pjkelley82
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I had the chance to have the 2011 version on tap at a founders event by me. On 6/12/13

Was poured in a 8oz short shot looking glass...

Appearance was dark brown with pretty much no head, slight lacing but nearly none.

Smell was phenomenal. Definitely smelled the barrel age in there but everything blended well together.. you can smell the alcohol but nothing off putting.

Taste was phenomenal as well... very smooth with minimal carbonation but definitely a sipper. Not like any wee heavy I've tried... all the characteristics are there but with that aged Bourbon kinda feel.

Overall.... I cannot judge this on the current or year of backwoods bastard because I had one that was 2 old. I would say the one I had was absolutely phenomenal and if your into Scotch ale's/wee heavys than definitely seek out an aged one, specifically founders, and you will love it as well...I am gonna buy a 4 pack and age them as well... see how they turn out in a few years.

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Photo of threeviews
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

12oz bottle (Bottled On Date: 10/14/14) into a 11oz Libbey Snifter glass
A- Pours a gorgeous (and mostly clear) mahogany, bordering on ruby red color. Although it's retention is low (after all, it is 10.2% ABV), the head grows to a strong 1+ finger's worth of a creamy, khaki colored head. (4.75)

S- The complexity imparted by the barrel aging is immediately apparent. Heady aromas of Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Coconut, Bourbon, Chocolate and pinch of Smoke all contribute to the massively complex nose. The balance between beer and barrel is exquisite and there is absolutely no detectable alcohol. (4.75)

T- The complexity in the nose carries through in the flavor. A caramel/toffee/chocolate/bourbon sweetness coats the palate and lingers for a time before a mild, peat smoke and oak tannin comes to the fore. The beer ultimately finishes dry as a from the hops helping to contribute to the calculated, 50 IBUs . (5.0)

M- The body is medium-full with a decent amount of carbonation, yet is able to maintain a creamy mouthfeel. This is unquestionably a sipper, but more due to its complex flavor profile rather than it falling heavy on the palate. As it rises to room temperature, the 10.2% ABV only surfaces in the form of a slight warming in the chest. (4.75)

O- Regardless of style, this is simply one extraordinary BBA beer. The base beer (Dirty Bastard) is excellent in its own right, but after time in a bourbon barrel transforms it into a sublime libation. Founders continues to release very solid, barrel-aged beers with Backwoods Bastard being one that is often overlooked. (5.0)

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Photo of jmich24
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled 10/13/11

A:Very dark murky brown with red edges. One finger head that dissipates quickly.
S: Bourbon, oak ,vanilla, dark fruits, touch of chocolate.
T: Big bourbon flavor, oak, vanilla, lots of sweet dark fruits, bittersweet chocolate. Long bourbon like alcohol tastes I enjoy very much. Very light bitterness to balance everything out.
M: Medium mouthfeel, Touch of bitterness to counter all of the sweet malts. Nice bourbon alcohol finish. Dangerously drinkable.
O: This is a world class wee heavy. The bourbon notes are just outstanding. One of the seasonal I look forward to every year.

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Photo of BlushingMonk
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours malty brown with small white head. Delightful nose smells of bourbon, toffee, and vanilla. Moderately thin mouthfeel tastes just plan delicious. Alcohol is present, but you'd never guess 11.6% from the taste. Sweet, but not too sweet, carmel, bourbon, and malty cereal. No bitterness to speak of. This is a great beer! Robust and warming. I'll be stocking up to drink now and cellar some too.

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Photo of craftbeersweden
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Wow! This is truly a masterpiece!
Clear dark amber-red with a beige, fluffy head.

Nose: Honey, vanilla, single malt whisky, oak, dried fruit, toffee, caramel malt, bourbon and licorice. Oh! It's so complex! I love it!

Taste: Butter, fudge, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, alcohol, nuts and brown sugar.

A full body with a great complex texture. Little carbonation.

As a lover of great single malt whisky and a good bourbon I naturally fall as a rock for this. It's heaven on earth...

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 1,735 ratings.