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Founders Backwoods Bastard - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Backwoods BastardFounders Backwoods Bastard

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,662 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,662
Hads: 7,373
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 10.82%
Wants: 952
Gots: 2,796 | FT: 263
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: 1,662 | Hads: 7,373
Photo of Reaper16
3.84/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

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Photo of nanertak
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip.

Appearance: Poured 1 1/2 finger amber head with hints of red. Dark red/brown in color, very clear.

Nose: LOT of sweet malt. Oak and honey in the background, a bit of boozy sweetness.

Taste: Sweet malts up front, fades into oak, finishes strong toasted oak and medium malt. Not much hint of the 10% ABV, very well masked. Small amount of heat on the breath. Little sweet for my tastes.

Mouthfeel: Round, somewhat oily. Mild carbonation. Bordering on cloyingly round.

Drinkability: Very slow occasional sipper. Strong flavor, strong ABV.

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.63/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12-oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A = Forms a firm half inch head of small bubbles which exhibits good retention and leaves quite a bit of lacing on the glass as it recedes. Liquid is fairly clear but with some amount of particulates, dark reddish brown, very dense until held up to the light when the red color shows through.

S = Sweet smells of bourbon, vanilla, oak, fresh baked cheese danish, decent smells, but a bit too much alcohol shows through.

T = Chocolate powder, oak chips, almonds and vanilla, light coconut, maple syrup. Very tasty but the oak is perhaps a bit more present up front than I would have preferred.

M = Medium-heavy body, frothy, good mouthcoating.

D = This is good, but perhaps a bit cloying by the end of the glass

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Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - One finger of light brown head on top of a slightly hazy, amber-brown body. The foam settle quickly to a thin layer and leaves moderate lace.

S - Sweet caramel malt that blends with, and becomes indistinguishable from, bourbon barrel aromas of oak, coconut, cherries, and booze. Lots of burnt sugar notes with a little bit of pine sap character.

T - Strong, thick malt up front with toffee, caramel, and brown sugar notes. The bourbon character comes in fast and hard with a lot of spicy alcohol notes and more complex, dark sugars. The finish is spicy and alcoholic with a strong, phenolic smoke note that brings out a lot of the woody, boozy, harshness of the bourbon. Lingering notes of smoke, char, brown sugar, and pine sap stick to the back of the tongue.

M - Moderately thick body, low carbonation, and an only slightly sweet finish with some alcoholic warmth working its way down my throat to settle in the pit of my stomach.

D - I expected something big, round, sweet, and bourbon like, but what I got is something far leaner and meaner than one would expect from a scotch ale. There is a lot of phenolic smoke character in this beer, either from abused yeast or from peat, and it does some strange things when it meets the bourbon. The phenolics seem to bring out a lot of the boozy and astringent qualities of the whiskey that are usually not present in barrel aged beers; combine this with the relative dryness of this brew, and the fact that it is not at all shy about its 10% abv, and you have a weirdly convincing bourbon beer. I'm still not quite sure what I think about this one. It has managed to capture a lot of the harsher qualities of distilled spirits that I prefer not to see in a beer; on the other hand, I have to respect the fact that they have brewed what I can only regard as the liquid equivalent of the grizzled, scotch-irish mountain man that graces the label of the bottle. This is quite a unique beer, and while I won't be rushing out to buy another one, I am certainly grateful for the opportunity to try it.

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Photo of BigMike
3.98/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a dark mohogany color with slight burnt orange highlights. A very hard pour produced a huge fluffy three finger head that leaves tremendous lacing.

Smell has a very strong alcohol presence. Very much vanilla and chocolate liquor. I can smell the oak from the barreling and i can get some of the bourbon notes as well.

Theres a lot of complexities as far as flavor. I can taste, chocolate, figs, dates, molasses, bosc pear, sour apple, banana, oak, and a touch of vanilla. Alcohol is very noticable and not hidden at all. Very much bourbon like.

Mouthfeel is a bit heavy. Lots of alcohol on the tongue and on the swallow.

Drinkability is a good as you're going to get with a face melter such as this.
I would recommend this to someone who enjoys a good bourbon This is definately a sipper.

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Photo of mbudner
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from bottle into a snifter. Side-by-side with Dirty Bastard

A- Pours a murky brown w/ a ruby hue. Very thin, white head.

S- I will start off by saying that I'm a sucker for bourbon barrel-aged beers. This smells like a phenomenal one. Lots of vanilla and woodiness. There's definitely the obvious smell of "bourbon," but I find the vanilla more pronounced than much of the spice and other flavors I often get. It smells sweeter and smoother than many of the BA beers I've had. I also get some chocolate.

T- Most predominant is a sweet, luscious vanilla flavor finishing with a bourbon bite. Some chocolate (sweet, not bitter), great woody, barrel flavor. I get some Coca-cola-like flavors as well.

M- The mouthfeel is really just perfect for me, and quite unique. The sweetness upfront makes you think it might be a bit cloying, but then it dries up instantaneously. This dry finish makes way for a nice bourbon warming in the throat, leaving me wanting more and more.

D- Amazingly drinkable. I find this easier to drink than the Dirty Bastard I'm having with it (less of the cloying maltiness.) The bourbon is obviously there (in the finish, specifically), so that would keep drinkability down for some.

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Photo of brian23456
4.46/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Clouded, murky brown/reddish with little to no head

S- Mmmmm, Bourbon, oak and vanilla. Smells good to me!

T- Very malty with a good dose of bourbon. There is also oak, honey, vanilla, caramel and some more bourbon. The more I drink the more complex it becomes. Sweet and very very tasty on a cold Wisconsin night, defintaley a dessert beer.

M- Slightly viscous for a Scotch ale, smooth, low carbonation.

D- Goes down easy considering the ABV, I'm having no trouble getting this down although the flavors make me want to savor this brew.

Great scotch ale, the only big complaint is the lack of carbonation, but that won't keep me from buying a couple 4 packs! A fine dessert beer.

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Photo of Zorro
3.81/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Chill hazed reddish brown colored beer with no head formation.

Strong scent of whiskey is the first thing I notice. Lots of caramel, vanilla, chocolate, malt and especially Whiskey! Lesser scent is a little cookie dough.

Starts out malty with a strong whiskey flavor. Malt comes on after you get past the whiskey. Next to no bitterness here. Try as I might there is no way around it; this is more whiskey than beer.

Mouthfeel is a little light probably because of the alcohol content.

Personally I like this stuff, but it IS pretty strong in the whiskey department. Easy call if you like whiskey you will love this. If you do not like whiskey this will be a drain pour.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.92/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to tendermorsel for this bottle!

A: Backwoods Bastard pours a cloudy, muddled amber/brown color with pretty much no foam.

S: This certainly smells like a fine liquor. A lot of bourbon and vanilla. There is also a very strong oak aroma.

T: The taste has many of the same characteristics of the nose. A lot of oak, vanilla, bourbon, and maybe a touch of chocolate. There is also a bitterness in there somewhere.

M: Very smooth, creamy, and full bodied. The carbonation is on the low side.

D: I was expecting to be blown away by booze, but it really was quite manageable. That said, you still feel it after enjoying a bottle.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.09/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from Wasatch in a recent trade. I think this may be an older vintage as the ABV is listed at 8.7%.

A: Aggressive pour yields a murky brown beer with a slightly cream colored cap that disappears into a ring of bubbles on the edge of the glass and a small island in the middle.

S: Booze, big bourbon profile, lots of malts, never really a great sign when the first thing I notice in a beer is the booze, but it actually is growing on me. Some notes of wood and vanilla, a little char. Nice.

T: Smooth syrupy malts that lend flavors of vanilla and roasted malt, which leads into a great bourbon profile. Honey, vanilla, oak, caramel, slightly astringent alcohol flavor. Man the vanilla note in this really stands out, I love the lingering aftertaste of the vanilla on this. Wow, chocolate creeps in on the back of the vanilla as well. Very sweet beer, but it serves its purpose well as dessert. Delicious.

M: Fairly thick body, very low carbonation, dry, and incredibly smooth. Just enough warming alcohol to know it's there.

D: A little sweet and strong to be a session, but this is a stellar dessert beer. Excellent. Will definitely try and revisit this beer in any way that I can. Great work from Founders, I have yet to be disappointed.

Thanks John!

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

A- dark amber color to the beer with a off white head the eventually resides to a thin white ring around the pint.
S- smells of a good cognac, very oak, lots of alcohol on the nose
T- oak comes through so well, has a slight sourness, very malty and sweet
M- very creamy, coats the pallet with flavor, nice carbonation level
D- not as drinkable, but i could definitely drink two

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Photo of merlin48
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've been looking forward to this one for a long time. The bottle pours a cloudy dark copper body with a small beige head that vanishes quickly and leaves no lace.

Aroma has caramel, toffee, vanilla, and boozy bourbon.

Thick mouthfeel is medium full bodied and creamy. Subdued low medium carbonation. Some alcohol heat.

Taste is complex. Bourbon, peat, vanilla, toffee, caramel, herbal hops, and some boozy warmth. Creamy vanilla notes intensify as it warms.

Wow! Dangerously drinkable. The bourbon keeps this from being an authentic Scotch ale, but it's supremely tasty.

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

Backwoods Bastard (2009)

Pours a brilliant clear dark ruby with a fine coating of bready cream colored head. Very regal looking beer.

Dominated by bourbon, with a little dark fruit coming through as well. Caramel layers, with a flowery hop scent.

Bourbon, caramel, peat, bourbon, caramel. A constant barrage of these flavours, keeping it interesting. Bourbon is at the forefront (to be expected, as it is very fresh), supported by an intense sweet caramel backbone. An herbal flowery hop flavour is evident throughout, and a little smokiness/peat that peeks through at parts. A pleasant sweet cookie/pancake flavour emerges as it warms. Alcohol is a bit intense in the finish. More caramel and bourbon than dark fruit (which is what I associate with a Wee-Heavy), so this reminds me of a sort of middle-ground between a Scotch Ale and Barleywine.

Great balance between creamy and syrupy--Either of too much can be overwhelming, so this nice balance between the two is refreshing.

Once accustomed to the upfront bourbon flavour, this brew drinks extraordinarily smooth. The alcohol is definitely present, but is impressively intertwined with the bourbon. Give this one a little age, and I think it will be phenomenal.

Edit: Re-review 1/29/10, the bourbon has mellowed the slightest bit, allowing the phenomenal vanilla barrel flavour character to come through, as well as the layered caramel malt. Truly a great beer.

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Photo of indiapaleale
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour - dark ruby in color with some brown and orange highlights. Very clean and clear with some cascading bubbles forming a tight thin head. When held to the light this gives off some beautiful colors.

Aroma - lots of vanilla, cherry, oak, bourbon and sherry in the nose. This has picked up an absolute ton of aroma from the barrels it was aged in, its one of the more vanilla-ey and bourbon-ey smelling beers I've come across. That being said, it really smells warm and inviting and I look forward to that first sip.

Taste - wow is that smooth, its like silk on the tongue. Lots of big, bold vanilla and oak flavors, the tannins come out and dry the tongue but I also notice a bit of hoppiness which I didn't expect but then again those 50 IBUs are coming from somewhere. Nice sweet and tart cherry flavors come out and mesh well with the vanilla. My stomach is warm and I have a smile on my face. I love this beer.

Overall - I am blown away by how drinkable this is at 10.2%. I have found myself trying to slow down! This is extremely smooth and creamy with a ton of flavor and complexity. The best way to sum this up is just by saying its "gorgeous" and multifaceted. You will drain that bottle into your glass more than twice to get every little drop out. One of a kind and not to be missed.

Would I buy more of it? - I bought one bottle to give this one a try and now I am kicking myself for not shelling out the $14 for a 4-pack, I believe its worth every penny. Hopefully I'll find some more before its all gone

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Photo of billab914
4.02/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. Poured a dark copper almost brown color with a small head that disappeared quickly.

Aroma is strong with Bourbon with some sweet vanilla and caramel notes. Taste also has a lot of bourbon flavor along with some sweetness. There is some vanilla and caramel much like the nose but also a hint of coffee or a latte in the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and and light on carbonation. Drinkability is probably as good as it can be for a 10% beer that has a lot of bourbon flavor. I enjoyed one but couldn't drink this on a regular basis or more then one in a sitting. An enjoyable treat though none the less to have on occasion.

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Photo of mirish72
4.49/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Lucky enough to pick this up the other night. Have heard great things so I was psyched to find it and didn't even flinch at the $15 price tag.

Poured into a Chimay goblet. Poured a dark copper, caramel color with a little lacing.

On the first whiff, I noticed was the amazing bourbon aroma. Upon another sniff, the beer had an incredicle mix of burnt, smokey, oakey aromas, really complex but amazing.

It has an equally complex taste, one that was multi-layered and seemed to get better with every sip. It definitely handles the impressive malts, but it also balanced the alcohol well. You can tell this is strong (10.2%), but it really works well.

I am usually not a huge fan of Scotch ales, but this is the cream of the crop. A really amazing beer, I am going to pick some more up to age in the cellar. Also, you gotta love the artwork and the labeling on the packaging. Really a perty brew.

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Photo of MIbeerfan
4.19/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a rich dark brown caramel color with a good two finger head

S: Muted smell of malt

T: At first I get a sweet nutty taste followed by hints of bourbon in the after taste.

M: Velvet smooth over the tongue and suprisingly light and fluffy for a scotch ale.

D: This beer overall sweeter, smoother, and lighter than "Dirty Bastard". The high alcohol content is suprisingly masked. I could definitely go for another!!

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Photo of HopsHops
4.8/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into a white ceramic cup because my last snifter was recently broken...

A - Very nice, dark caramel color with goldish color around the edge under a light...

S - Sweet, sugar, toffee, candy, tangy....Smells great man...

T - Powerful, Chocolate, toffee, some bitterness...well balanced... WOW

M - slightly carbonated just right, creamy, kinda coats the tongue. Excellent..

D - 10.2% abv. I'd be careful it is strong and you probably couldn't tell if youre not paying attention.

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Photo of turamarth
4.17/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tremens glass.

Appearance: Starts off with about a finger of off white creme colored head. Which dissipates rather quickly. Some small bubbles do stick to the side of the glass. The body is a very nice copper, amber color. Opaque in the center, but some nice lightness to the edges.

Smell: Mmmm malty. Starts off with the sweet hint of bourbon and alcohol. Tasty vanilla, caramel and toffee aromas then waft up to my nostrels. This nose here sort of reminds me of Boulevard's BBQ (Barrel aging aside). After another good nose dive, I got the hint of Marshmallows. Interesting. There's even a little edge from the oak.

Taste: More bourbon up front. Same malty toffee, caramel and vanilla flavors. There is even the hint of something like a sweetened latte, or a really sweetened and creamed cup of coffee. To my surprise there is even a pinch of hops, which adds a nice under lying fruitiness.

Mouth: This is a pretty rich beer, so one could think it would be rather thick. But, the carbonation is just right so that it doesn't become to coating of the mouth. It leaves a nice flavor afterwords though.

Drink: The alcohol is hidden rather well I think. You can feel it, but the taste isn't overwhelming. A sipper yes, but its a good drink.

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Photo of drpimento
3.87/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

MMmmmm, baby, baby - can't get enough of your beer babe. Luxuriant. Poured with fine creamy, light tan head and good lace. Color is cured cherry wood. Aroma is vanilla, sweet cherries, malt, caramel, and brandy. Flavor is sweet, a hint of roastiness, Texture is velvety with fine carbonation. Some alcohol in the finish which is fairly long and sweet with a tinge of bitterness at the very end. Not a session beer although an excellent beer.

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

12oz bottle, poured into a standard pint glass.

A: brown/plum color, slightly hazy, slime tan head that dissipates quickly to a coating, pretty good lacing

S: malt and an oaky, bourbon barrel aroma.

T: it initally has a malty, caramel like sweetness, dark fruity character. the oaky, bourbon comes in at the finish with a slight hint of smoked malts. interesting flavors.

MF: medium bodied, moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: i think this beer is well-crafted, but not something i'll be buying again in the near future. i prefer the "urban" bastard.

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Photo of bonk0076
3.83/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep obsidian color with a slight beige head that quickly diminishes. Aroma is of bourbon, roasted malt, vanilla, and molasses. Taste is a good combination of vanilla, mollasses and bourbon. Finishes relatively smooth with an easy combination.

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Photo of rye726
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark mahogany with a silky tan head that displays nice lacing and retention.

Nose has lots of bourbon, oak and vanilla up front followed by dark fruits, chocolate, caramel and roasty malts.

Taste has candy malts, figs, plums, whiskey, cocoa, oak and vanilla.

Medium body is a bit over carbonated, but drinks quite well once it opens up.

Another great ale from Founders, never had a bad beer from these guys.

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Photo of sidetracked
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber with a thin cream head that dissipated quickly. When held to the light it looks like sediment or air bubbles are suspended in the beer.

Smells sweet and intensely alcoholic--reminds me of rum or whiskey.

Overwhelmingly tastes of whiskey with minor roasted malt, sweet caramel, and woodsy notes. A little alcohol burn at the end.

Goes down surprisingly smooth and is easy to drink. Consistency is thick, but not overly chewy.

Overall a good sipping beer, especially if you enjoy bourbon.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

having some good wee heavys lately, not a bad thing.

A - mahogany, with some deep crimson highlights, plenty visible carbonation feed a modest tan head

S - big malty, raisins and molasses dominate the aroma to me, plus the welcome addition of bourbon ive not found in many wee heavys

T - smoky sweet, quite a complex flavor, sweet dark fruit again, raisins and dates and such, a rich distinct woody caramel flavor at the back end, with some vanilla/toffee sweetness

M&D - smooth and supremely complex, the end of the taste makes the beer, the caramel, woodiness, it is easily quaffed, one of the better wee heavys ive had, up there with Wet Willy

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 1,662 ratings.