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Founders Backwoods Bastard - Founders Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Founders Backwoods BastardFounders Backwoods Bastard

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,651 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,651
Hads: 7,344
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 22.59%
Wants: 956
Gots: 2,778 | FT: 260
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: 1,651 | Hads: 7,344
Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brownish-red with a small white head. The aroma is awesome, lots of cherry, vanilla and bourbon. The flavor is just as great, with the same cherry, vanilla and bourbon notes, with the vanilla being the most dominant flavor. There is very little detectable alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium and the carbonation is low.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.6/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from the bottle in to a thistle/tulip bulb glass

In appearance, this bastard resembles a great head of a nutty light brown with tight bubbles. Head foams almost like a guiness quality creeping up slowly but staying compact. Your typical dark midnight brown color if I could call it that.

The bouquet is fantastic. Giant cream smell, HAZELNUT, chocolate, pralines, light brown sugar, milkshake consistency sweetness on the nose, malt is not noticeable, no smoke, it smells like warm creamy hazelnut hot chocolate.

Taste is fabulous, mild carbonation giving way to some malt and this giant cream finish of nutty hazelnut chocolate and pralines coming through a buttery finish with maple syrup. Medium bodied, not syrupy not wet either. Just a flat out joy.

I am a big bourbon fan, and its sometimes hard to find THIS much flavor, bouquets, and tastes just coming from ONE bourbon. Ironically, the beer does not remind me of whiskey, but that's fine with me because it is flat out exceptional. You don't even notice the high ABV content. What the heck is up in the water in GRAND RAPIDS!!!!

Drinkability is stratospheric!

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Photo of rab53
4.19/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a brilliant reddish-brown. Thin white head fades rapidly. Aroma is dominated by bourbon, not so much oak. More bourbon and malt in the taste. Warm alcohol. No hop presence. Very low carbonation, mimicking a liquor. Would definitely buy this again.

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Photo of Billolick
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ the Armsby Abbey in Worcester, MA. In a snifter, this one sits in all its dark dark amber splendor. Dark tan head, fine wispy lacing. Nose of smoke, berries, vanilla. Very tasty, sipper. More smoke, some cola, dark grains, raisins. Perhaps a bit thin mouthfeel wise to match the ABV and the complexity lurking around here. More tasty, high quality and interesting beer from Founders.

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

Appearance: pours a reddish copper color with a 1/2" head that breaks apart immediately.

Smell: malt sweetness, vanilla, and bourbon are very pleasant on the nose.

Taste: big malt profile with vanilla, bourbon, prunes, black plums, hints of molassess, and a noticeable warming alcohol. Bitterness provides a nice counter balance to the sweetness and high alcohol.

Mouthfeel: lightly dry throughout. Long and mellow aftertaste as the flavors seem to linger for quite a while. Medium bodied beer.

Drinkability: despite the high alcohol, this one goes down pretty smoothly. Very tasty brew.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.24/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a big snifter, late 2008 edition, 50 IBU's 10.2%

A- Founders Backwoods Bastard pours a copper to dark brown color which brings up a one finger tan head. A lot of sediment is there but i poured to quick, my bad. As it dissipates there are a few squiggly lines of head in the middle, while a lot of bubbles creep to the edges of the glass with some build up. Quite nice.

S- BB holds a very rich aroma of good bourbon up front with oak from the barrel, pretty much all I smelled for a while. Sweet and toasty malts follow with some caramel in the mix. I get some fruit (berries) and some wood is also there.

T- My first sip was a rush of bourbon and oak attacking the senses while some malts and vanilla smoothed things out. The cherry presence was also quite a nice touch. The sweetness of the caramel flavor with some spices while woody notes are there. The bourbon never leaves the forefront though.

M- Full bodied with some carbonation. The taste goes on forever while this elixir coats the mouth perfectly leaving bourbon and much sweetness along with some alcohol. A very strong feel, this bastard makes itself known.

D- Regular bastard is great and so is this. I could easily have more than a bottle of this high A.B.V brew in a sitting, no problem. This is probably not for everyone though. I want to do a side by side.

This is my first time trying this and i very much enjoyed it, BB is worth the dollars. The barrel aging in this one is spot on. I was expecting mostly bourbon but recieved much more. I drank this to quickly. Worth seeking out, will get again!!

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.06/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a goblet. Bottle dated 10/8/10.

Appearance - Like its baby brother Dirty Bastard, it's got nearly no head and a dark brown body with flecks of ruby. A few bubbles and a ring around the surface show the only signs of life.

Smell - Bourbon and lots of it. When it's cold, it only smells of bourbon and charred oak. As it warms, it smells significantly better. The malt character comes through as caramel and burnt sugar. Good bit of buttery scotch ale back there too.

Taste - Bourbon and oak again in the flavor. Bitterness, too. Maybe from the oak or maybe from the hops, not sure. Again, the malt profile doesn't shine until it warms. When it does, it's exactly as the smell indicates: caramel, burnt sugar, and some butter. Not complex, but good.

Mouthfeel - Hot for sure. You taste all of the 10.2%. Otherwise, it's not such a big beer. It's not as thick as 10.2% would indicate and the carbonation keeps it from being syrupy. Still slow drinking from the booze.

Overall - The base beer, like Dirty Bastard, just isn't that interesting. The bourbon aging makes it quite nice, though.

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

A slightly vigorous pour produces only enough head to cover the beer for a half second, what is there is a amber tinged tan color. The beer is a dark plum / dark amber color that shows a lightly hazy, cranberry red hue when held up to the light. At the first, the aroma is a nice mix between rich malt notes and oak aromatics. Deeper inspection yields much the same with competing aromas of ripe, bright, concentrated berry notes, some spicy bourbon, soft butterscotch, a touch of molasses, deeply caramelized malt, lightly toasted grain and browned biscuits.

Somewhat sweet, though this beer drinks much richer than the sweetness would suggest. The body of this beer is downright chewy, viscous and mouth-coating. Flavors of berries, hugely caramelized grain and a rich malt character slowly yield to spicy, oak and Bourbon influenced flavors that linger on in the finish. The buttery notes from the oak and Bourbon character really shows through in the finish and it adds a nice compliment to the up front malt focus of this beer. Peppery oak and a bit of hot boozy Bourbon notes provides a sharpness, almost harshness as the beer warms up a bit.

I really like that the malt character plays a slightly bigger role in the flavor profile than the bourbon barrel does; this keeps the integrity of the rich, Scotch ale style, but with an offsetting bourbon component that helps to offset / balance the thick malt character of this brew. Having said that, bourbon barrel aged beers seem to be a bit hard for me to get behind; there is something about the Bourbon notes that add a harshness the beers aged in the barrels that just doesn't quite work for me. As the beer warms up from its initial 50°F / 10°C it picks up more of the sharp, hot, Bourbon flavors which pull this away from being balanced. This is not a bad brew, but the Bourbon character is a bit much, especially as the beer warms up a bit.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received in trade from barak316, thanks for the opportunity.
Pours a slightly murky reddish brown with a tiny off white head that never really musters, but never fully dissipates either. Smells of sweet caramel and brown sugar with lots of dark fruit and oak and bourbon. The smell is heavenly really. Taste is as sweet as advertised but have enough bourbon warmth to keep is slightly balanced. Lots of dark sugars and dark fruits round out the flavor nicely. Medium to thick body with a light level of carbonation and a sweet sugary almost syrupy mouthfeel. I enjoyed the heck out of this beer! I only wish it were a little easier to obtain.

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Photo of tempest
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Bowman (not a BA) for sharing a bottle. This is a darned tasty and drinkable beer. I'm taking it as a sipper, but I could certainly down it faster were I in a hurry. The aroma has smooth oak and mild vanilla bourbon while mellow chocolate notes and burnt caramel come out in the back of the flavor. It drinks like a balanced bourbon-beer candy drink. It's not the most complex BB beer, but it's a fine example of what a barrel can do.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle with a new, infinitely more menacing and creepy looking "bastard" (seriously, it's like Gandalf meets Deliverance) on the label. Neck ring says 50 IBU and 10.2 ABV. Poured into a tulip.

A: Dense, still deep brown slightly reddish color. Thin tannish head that quickly dissipates to a broken ring of tiny bubbles. Some streaks and splotches of lacing and tiny bubbles stick to the glass. It just looks thick.
S: Pretty amazing, even for a bourbon aged beer. Rich and complex as expected, but not overwhelming or too boozy like some others. Pleasing balance of bourbon, vanilla, sweet malt, sugars, light scotch, etc.
T: Entirely different flavors than Dirty Bastard. The scotch flavors are pushed pretty far into the background while bourbon and vanilla dominate from the beginning. Sugars, caramel, toffee, more bourbon, etc. Very sweet, not for everyone, but if you like booze, this is very nice, with minimal alcohol burn.
M: Very thick and smooth, minimal carbonation. Silky on the tongue and finish is sweet and slightly dry.
D: Very drinkable for the style, not something I'd necessarily want to drink more than one of or frequently, but great balance of big flavors makes this a great offering.

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Photo of BillRoth
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this at Capone's on draft and really enjoyed. Grabbed a bottle from Matt in his bottle shop for later,
Enjoyed in my Magic Chouffe snifter, and "wow" what pleasure when controlled for temperature and glass.Full flavors of bourbon and wood, vanilla and that soft fullness that comes from excellent aging. The alcohol is only evident in it's creep; nothing that impacts the drink enjoyment. I am a rabib double imperial stout boy, who unabashedly loves Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. But this is a wonderful drinking experience that needs to explored again and again.

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

Backwoods Bastard pours a ruby mahogony with a dense off white head and some lace. Poured into a snifter to maximize aroma.

Nose is of sweet bready malts and a whiff of bourbon like booziness.

Flavor features some complex maltyness. There is a bourbonesque booze and a woody, earthy note from the barrel aging. Chocolate covered cherries. Vanilla. Oak.Faint resinous hops. Then some clean solvent alcohol in the warming finish.

Luxurious and smooth.

A strong, full flavored beer. Complex and a sipper for sure, though I could drink so much more in an ideal setting.

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

Poured on-tap and served in a snifter, the beer is almost completely black, with some deep blood-ruby highlights around the edges. Thin, sparse, frothy, beige head that settles slowly into an uneven covering. Aromas are darkly sweet and earthy, with a heavy dose of caramel, molasses, and cherries blended with a good booze character and some woody smells. Flavors are bold and rich all over the front of the tongue, with a decent alcohol warmth that hits the throat immediately. Taste profiles include a strong bourbon backbone, with rich caramel and molasses sweetness rolling off. Good balance of sweet characteristics, with a roasty feel, and a kick of light cherry sweetness at the end. Super rich and smooth, with a good, full body to carry both the flavor and the ABV. Aftertaste is slightly sharp thanks to the ABV, with oaky and earthy flavors. The finish is slightly cloying, with a slightly astringent feel from the booze. This is a good brew that is fairly easy to drink despite the increased alcohol presence. This is an ass kicker!

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Photo of Kelp
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ok so this brew is probably better than I am giving it. Not to say that it wasn;t a very enjoyable brew. It's just that i had bourbon county earlier today and yes i know stout vs. ale is different, but i did and so be it. The appearance is a nice medium golden hue. Has a nice mellow smell of bourbon with a wee bit of vanilla and toffee. A nice mellow bourbon taste followed by vanilla and spice. Feels a bit heavy for an ale, but still easily drinkable. I enjoyed this brew just not as much as the previous brew i had. I could have a had one or two more but that would be it before the bourbon sweetness got to me. Definitely worth a try though.

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

Pours an amber/brown with a great head and lacing. Smells malty and fruity with fig and cherry. Sweet and smooth aromas that are bold but not cloying. The taste is sweet and somewhat grainy, with more deep flavors of fig, dates, butterscotch and a touch of peat to control all the sweet stuff. Quite creamy and full in the mouth, the flavors explode here. This pushes the edge of too sweet but holds on to enough complexity and pure, clean flavors to be very enjoyable.

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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 Gobzilla
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: poured a dark brown in color with burgundy orangish highlights and a thin head that left a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: very inviting sweet aroma which consisted of caramel, brown sugar, toffee, molasses, burnt sugars but with great bourbon barrel character signs of dark fruit toast sweet malts and a little booze.

T: lots of sweetness like the nose suggested, mostly caramel, brown sugar and molasses but with vanilla burnt sugar accents. It had nice bourbon barrel flavor a touch of dark fruits, a little booze heat, and hints of marshmallow.

M: the brew was medium to full in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a very sweet, bourbon booze, mildly dark fruity and slick finish.

O: I liked this beer a lot considering the sweetness, it was well balanced and very delicious. Glad I got to try it finally.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Awesome extra from Bigdaddywil. Very dark reddish amber, almost brown. A one finger, off-white head lingers for a short minute. The lacing disappears quickly. Immediate slap in the face (nostrils) from the bourbon. Nice. Huge sugary malt notes in the nose with some caramel and brown sugar. Initial taste is sweet and malty bourbon, with some caramel and vanilla as well. Very boozy and delicious. The finish is remarkable. Long bourbon alcohol finish that lingers, imparting a sticky coating to the back of the tongue. Full bodied with good carbonation. Backwoods Bastard leaves my mouth dry and wanting another drink.

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Photo of biegaman
3.6/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Backwoods Bastard, to use the parlance of the South, looks like something the cat dragged in (if not worse). It looks like a mud fence daubed with tadpoles. It's flat, opaque and turbid with no exuberance or highlights what so ever. With my own fingers I've fished out clumps of sediment that looked like hot fudge, they were lumpy and rubbery like phlegm. Then again, I guess I'd look like shit too if I spent all those months in a barrel.

The aroma smells undeniably good but it's boozy enough to make me feel like the underside of a turnip green. This thing perspires bourbon and booze like a hooker sweats in church. It's a potent smell of spiced cherries, coffee, macerated prunes, chocolate, bitter tea leaves, truffles, toffee and burnt wood. That would all be fine if not for the intense concentration of raw bourbon. So far things are comin' up a bad cloud.

And I say that because I was hoping to drink a *beer*, not a bourbon. This has the vanillin, leather, tobacco leaf, charred oak and cinnamon spice flavours - all wonderful and intense and highly sophisticated flavours, but flavours belonging to the bourbon not the beer. All the sticky toffee pudding, nutty, caramelly and peaty malts and leafy hop flavours I love about Founders' Dirty Bastard are buried. It's definitely tasty but it's all a little too heady.

What's not helping is that the carbonation is slower than cream rising' on last years buttermilk. Plus the alcohol; I'm starting to worry I'll be staggering around like a blind horse in a pumpkin patch. It's musky, burnt, leathery mouthfeel leaves a savory, earthy, cigar box kind of aftertaste that is sophisticated but stiff. Because of its sweet flavours and thickness it's started to remind me of (fortified) vanilla and chocolate pudding.

As it warms, this thing get's hotter than a June bride and leaves your mouth dry enough to spin cotton. If there's one thing I hate about barrel aged beers it's having to pick wood splinters out of my teeth and that's exactly what I'm doing here. I can hardly taste the beer beyond all this burnt, tobacco leaf tasting oak. It's not acceptable in wine to show this much of the barrel or alcohol so what makes brewers think it's ok in beer?

Barrel aging is a lot like remixing a song - it leads to different, unique, interesting renditions. Sometimes, however, a song is just better left alone, especially if the remix distorts the original to a point of it being unrecognizable. In my opinion Founders has taken a great song - one of their greatest hits in fact - and gone and ruined it. Maybe (excessive) bourbon barrel aging isn't my thing - but hey, whatever blows your dress up.

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Photo of weeare138
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a dense, murkey dark brown with a small, 2 finger, light tan head that quickly fades out into a mild collar. Scattered streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of rich toffee, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, apple smoked meat...pretty nice aroma on all counts.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with the vanilla, oak, and bourbon coming through with some raisin notes and lip smacking goodness with a hint of cocoa.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth, warming, lightly carbonated, and yummy.

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

Re-review. Originally reviewed back in early 2010.

Side-by-side tasting of the 2009 Vintage (bottled 11/19/09) and the 2011 Vintage (bottled 10/07/11). Both poured in to Founders tulip glasses.

2011 Vintage (reflected in the ratings):

A - Medium murky brown colour with some copper highlights throughout. A thin layer of cream coloured head quickly receded to a few bubbles.

S - A light bourbon aroma up front with toffee, brown sugar and dark caramel. Slightly noticeable alcohol presence cuts through the malt aromas creating a good balance. Not an overly robust nose, but a nice balanced nose.

T - Some noticeable warming alcohol up front and throughout that is present without being overwhelming. Scotch, bourbon and toffee flavours up front that are complimented by lighter notes of oak, vanilla and dark caramel. A very robust flavour profile.

M - Medium body, smooth and creamy. Light to moderate carbonation.


2009 Vintage (not reflected in the ratings):

A - Same as '11.

S - Very sweet. Bourbon, toffee, brown sugar and a hint of maple syrup.

T - Massively sweet, especially in comparison to the '09. Huge toffee, brown sugar and caramel flavours overshadow the barrel aging qualities that completely fade in to the background. The bourbon is there in the background but the oak and vanilla from the '11 aren't present at all.

M - Fairly similar to the '11 with slightly lighter carbonation.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to BrewerB for this brew.

Pours a nice brown color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger creamy tan head, lots of nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, slight bourbon notes, with some toffee. The taste is very nice, malty, slightly sweet, very nice bourbon notes, and some toffee. Medium body. Very drinkable, this is a very tasty brew, thanks for the extra Brian.

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Photo of Duff27
4.08/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a thin off white head on a brown beer. Average hea retention and above average lacing for the style.

Very sweet smelling, slight booze and peat.

Peat, small hint of smokiness. Booziness is kept in check. Very tasty.

Smooth and creamy mouthfeel, slightly thick. Good carbonation.

Another great seasonal from Founders. Been awhile since I've had this one but just as good as I remember. Worth hunting down a bottle or two a year. Thanks kawilliams81!

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Photo of John_M
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Have to say I wasn't all that thrilled with the dirty bastard, but this beer here is a whole nuther kettle of fish.

The beer pours an impressive dark amber red color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is otherworldly. I get a huge complex, sweet malty aroma, with nuances of cherry, vanilla, almond and chocolate. This beer smells incredible and you can tell it's not for the faint of heart. This is clearly a very big beer. On the palate this beer is incredible. It's very sweet and very rich, but there is so much going on it doesn't tire out your palate. There is again lots of cherry and vanilla on the palate, and the beer has almost a fruit cake flavor about it. However, there is enough bitterness from the hops in the finish to keep it from becoming tiring to drink. The abv. is noticeable, but not intrusive, though I agree the high abv., coupled with the richness, certainly make it difficult to have more then one.

This is an exceptional beer. As far as I'm concerned, dump the dirty the bastard and only make this liquid nectar from now on.

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 1,651 ratings.