1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  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.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

6,088 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,088
Reviews: 1,491
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 10.6%
Wants: 733
Gots: 1,932 | FT: 180
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:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Founders Backwoods Bastard Alström Bros
Ratings: 6,088 | Reviews: 1,491 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of KingMoomie
2.6/5  rDev -40.1%
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.

KingMoomie, Nov 19, 2009
Photo of LiquidBread219
2.6/5  rDev -40.1%
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.

LiquidBread219, Dec 02, 2010
Photo of robbyc1
2.63/5  rDev -39.4%
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.

robbyc1, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of CHSLBrew
2.7/5  rDev -37.8%
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.

CHSLBrew, Apr 07, 2010
Photo of VeganUndead
2.75/5  rDev -36.6%

VeganUndead, Apr 26, 2013
Photo of dmsohyea
2.75/5  rDev -36.6%

dmsohyea, Sep 20, 2014
Photo of ms11781
2.75/5  rDev -36.6%
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.

ms11781, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of leftoverburrito
2.75/5  rDev -36.6%

leftoverburrito, Oct 11, 2013
Photo of Pipelovejoy
2.75/5  rDev -36.6%

Pipelovejoy, May 03, 2014
Photo of DaveMiller
2.75/5  rDev -36.6%

DaveMiller, Nov 30, 2013
Photo of rderedin
2.75/5  rDev -36.6%

rderedin, Nov 10, 2012
Photo of GFD400
2.75/5  rDev -36.6%

GFD400, Jan 09, 2014
Photo of Kguilmartin
2.8/5  rDev -35.5%

Kguilmartin, Nov 15, 2014
Photo of falloutsnow
2.83/5  rDev -34.8%
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.

falloutsnow, Jan 10, 2014
Photo of jeffthecheff
2.85/5  rDev -34.3%
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.

jeffthecheff, Feb 21, 2010
Photo of psuKinger
2.88/5  rDev -33.6%
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.

psuKinger, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of Lance0040
2.9/5  rDev -33.2%

Lance0040, Nov 15, 2014
Photo of HardTarget
2.93/5  rDev -32.5%
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.

HardTarget, Nov 09, 2011
Photo of ibbjamin
2.98/5  rDev -31.3%
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.

ibbjamin, Feb 27, 2010
Photo of BeerInReview
2.98/5  rDev -31.3%
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.

BeerInReview, Jan 29, 2010
Photo of RebeccaMB
3/5  rDev -30.9%

RebeccaMB, Apr 24, 2014
Photo of JGrummell
3/5  rDev -30.9%

JGrummell, Jan 09, 2014
Photo of reyolb
3/5  rDev -30.9%

reyolb, May 06, 2012
Photo of 4Socialanxiety
3/5  rDev -30.9%

4Socialanxiety, Nov 13, 2013
Photo of CBrown3763
3/5  rDev -30.9%

CBrown3763, Dec 15, 2012
Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 6,088 ratings.