Backwoods Bastard
Founders Brewing Company

Backwoods BastardBackwoods Bastard
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Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
Ranked #1
Ranked #395
4.38 | pDev: 10.05%
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Backwoods BastardBackwoods Bastard
Notes: Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.
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Reviews: 1,992 | Ratings: 8,681
Photo of I_am_durk
4.13/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This is like scotch in beer form- flavor profile is notable for wood, a little smoke, a little malty. Easy to drink despite the ABV. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light as well. Pretty solid overall.

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Photo of Peach63
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours dark copper with a 1 inch thick, creamy tan head. Heavy lacing, which lasted to the end. Heavy carbonation.

Aroma of toast, oak, coffee, bourbon, roast malts.

Taste is sweet and malty. Molasses, roasted malts, coffee, oak, bourbon. Moderate bitterness.

Full bodied. Think and creamy. Semi-dry finish.

As expected, Founders hit the bull's-eye with this one. Outstanding!

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Photo of andypeters1971
4.13/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Terrible name, excellent beer. Fairly strong wood barrel taste (though not enough for my liking) combined with Founders' consistent excellence makes this a beverage I would quaff repeatedly

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Photo of officerbill
3.48/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not nearly as good as Dirty Bastard. The base ale is overpowered by vanilla and bourbon.
I'll drink Dirty Bastard all day long, but I'll pass on his Backwoods cousin.

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Photo of Spikester
4.33/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear brown with four fingers of tan head. Massive lacings as the head slowly drops.
Smell is dark malts with some herbal hops.
Taste is molasses dark malts with a bit of herbal hops.
Mouthfeel is full with good carbonation. The finish is dry but balanced.
Overall a big beer that masks the alcohol well.

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Photo of DokiDokiLitFam
4.48/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours out dark amber. Finger and a half of head. Strong, resilient lacing.

Nose is bourbon, nuts, caramel/butterscotch, mild scotch, fruit.

Taste is smooth caramel with mild bourbon and wood afterwards. And much like the nose the scotch has some presence but not enough to take center stage. Getting some mild prune or raisin as well. Somewhere in the mix. Very little alcohol burn.

A little thin and moderate carbonation.

This is just Founders being amazing. Again.

Never change, Founders.

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Photo of mgundy32
4.24/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2019 bottle. Poured from the bottle into a stemmed snifter. Leaves a stout carmel colored head that dissipates slowly. Raisins, plums and other dried fruits as well as caramel and oak on the nose. Sweet. Deep reddish brown color. Boozy with a full smooth mouthfeel. Tastes of more dried fruit and oak. A little coppery on the end. Also a little hot. Solid but I've had better versions of this beer in prior years.

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Photo of stratotele
4.69/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Having grown into the Traditional Bastard, my first try of this Bourbon barrel Scotch Ale was a little iffy. The hints of whisky and the ale were not the perfect marriage to my nose or tastes buds. But like many beers and ales, it took my taste buds a couple full ones to acquire an appreciation for this oddity. Now it is a a guilty pleasure for me, as the price of a 4 pack really doesn't allow me to stockpile this tasty revolution. So I typically have one or two as a complementary beer to whatever else I may be drinking that evening.

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Photo of nick_perry
3.45/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown color with a thin tan head. Oak aroma and flavor. The oak flavor is slightly overpowering. I don’t get the caramel, dark fruit, spice, or Scotch notes that are advertised. Strong malt presence. Very boozy. Faint vanilla notes. Smooth, creamy texture, almost like a wine.

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Photo of Ahypercube
4.56/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dirty Bastard has long been an old favorite. I've seen this on shelves a few times, but the regular version is such a good deal and so tasty, I've never made the price jump to try Backwoods. This was 13.50 for the 4-pack, bottled on Feb 9, 2019, and they had it in the fridge. I figured it was time to give it a shot.

L: Pours a super dark cola brown body. Transparent, but with wavy slivers of sediment floating around. Head is a gold-gray tinged beige. Just a slim line of lacing frames the glass.

S: I get tons of bourbon barrel and dark fruit in this one. Molasses, maple, pecan, toffee, walnut, oak, milk, chocolate, vanilla, prunes, dried cherries, raisins, dates, and bourbon. Smells super yummy and woodsy.

T: Definitely a sipper, but it's even yummier than it smells. The milk, chocolate, and toffee stand out. Molasses is present, but not overpowering. The dark fruit comes in as a splash of jam, then milk takes over again for a creamy (and slightly roasty) malt barley finish.

F: A wee bit heavy on the feel laddie. Thick, but not syrupy. Very creamy.

O: Amazing beer. Better than Dirty Bastard for sure. Worth the difference in price? Hard to say.

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Photo of wmscottsimpsonjr
4.28/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap in Grand rapids. Brown with fluffy off white head. Nose is mostly the sweet warm malt of dirty bastard. The bourbon shows through in the flavor, a boozy complement to the sweet malt. There's a good deal of caramel, with a hint of smoke and peat.

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Photo of LarryV
4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Outstanding beer. Gets even better as it warms up a bit. The bourbon is noticeable, but relatively subtle. Great mouthfeel and a lot of complexity to this beer. I actually think I prefer this over KBS and it's substantially cheaper. Gotta go slow with it though or it will kick your ass. Nothing here not to like.

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Photo of untitledeuphoria
4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the last of my 2014 twelve ounce bottles. Dated 09.29.2014.

Bourbon taste has certainly faded versus fresh and subsequent years, but there is still a touch of heat to go along with the heavy malt, earthy, birch beer notes. Smell is nice and balanced with the bourbon having been taken down a few notches, but still much more prevalent on the smell than the taste.

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Photo of rjwerth
5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I absolutely love this beer. It is dark and malty with a very complex taste and smell. One would expect this to have a strong roasted flavor, but it doesn't-which is a plus for me. I don't enjoy beers with a toasted, roasted, or coffee flavor and this beer is none of that. It also doesn't come across as syrupy either. Chocolate, malt, and of course, a bit of bourbon. Enjoy this on a cold wet or snowy day at home because you aren't going to want to drive after having one of these! Now that it is available all year round, what's not to love?

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Photo of win007
4.16/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful dark color, and great smell of caramel, yeast and dried oak barrel. Just tasted a little watered down after smelling it. Very similar to the Kentucky Ale Bourbon Barrel, but not as "thick" as the Goose Island Bourbon Barrel. Excellent beer - would definitely get again.

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Photo of mike22ne
4.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle, 2019 batch.

Prominent bourbon character with lots of oak, vanilla, caramel in smell and taste. Nice and mellow warmth and malt body. A very nice barrel-aged ale!

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Photo of 5toutman75
4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I’m drinking a 2017 release but there’s no bottling date that I can find, so it has aged for at least a year. It pours a nice dark brown color that you cannot see through but it lighter than a porter or stout. The lacing sticks around for awhile and I’m excited to try the beer just from the look of it. I have had it many times, but never reviewed it, so I know wha to expect. The smell is nice and bourbony with hints of vanilla. The taste has the bourbon front and center but not overly so for me. I do love the bourbon forward barrel aged beers more than the subtle ones, hence I prefer BCS over KBS. This is certainly my favorite Scotch Ale followed closely by Skull Splitter although they’re so different due to the barrel aging. I can’t say how the aging has treated the bottle as it’s been too long since I have had a fresh one, but I would recommend this to anyone who isn’t afraid of the barrel aging.

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Photo of Cdriver0414
4.58/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look- dark and roasty with a one inch head . Almost like a stout but not quite
Smell- it may just be me but this does not have a lot of smell
Taste- exquisite taste! Heavy malt with deep chocolate flavor almost like a dark roast coffee with dark chocolate and an after bite of bourbon
Feel- very heavy drinking beer. Great taste but, for me, this is a drink one beer
Overall- It May not be a go to if your looking to drink multiple beers but definitely worth buying .

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Photo of RockHop
4.24/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nice brown caramel color with tan head. Little retention. Little carbonation and a slightly oily mouthfeel with a thin vapor finish that accentuates the high ABV. Walnut liqueur nose that come through in the flavor (edit: 2nd bottle, much sweeter nose, werther’s butterscoth candy). Tasty, with some sherry, caramel, and toast. But the alcohol is too pronounced and the feel is a bit tannic and astringent. (2nd bottle, better balance of buttery and sweet notes; still more thin and vapory though). A few days capped and in the fridge doesn’t harm this beer much. It holds up.

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Photo of VoxRationis
4.32/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Decanted from a 12 oz (355 ml) bottle into a custom taster pint; bottled on 08/01/18. Later had it on tap at the Founder's Brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
A: Pours a largely clear, dark copper color with a two and a half finger, foamy, cappuccino brown head, strong retention and solid, if spidery, lacing.
S: Bourbon aroma predominates with milk chocolate, cookie/biscuit, honey, and molasses.
T: Sweet. Palate largely follows the nose, with a birch beer/root beer/sarsaparilla and orange notes. Boozy. Bitterness is in a complex interaction with sweetness and booziness.
M: Full bodied with moderate to strong carbonation.
O: Very drinkable and complex. The barrel aging definitely added to the character. Clearly better on tap.

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.25/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16oz bottle, with a bottling date of '10/15/2014. Purchased a couple of years ago at the "Cellar" event at Elevated BW&S, south Minneapolis.
Brown colored body with light tan head, which fades away to a scattered island and thin ring. No lacing.
Aroma of roasted malts, molasses, dark fruit (prunes and raisins), and bourbon barrel with vanilla.
Taste of dark fruits, molasses, bourbon barrel with vanilla. The end is peaty, with a little smoke and char.
Medium mouth feel, with a touch of syrup. Good carbonation.
This might be showing a little oxidation age, but the beer has held up well, with a visible head upon pouring and a full taste profile. The flavors go from sweet to slightly bitter with the peaty smoke and char.

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Photo of good_to_sea
3.84/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Look: Rocky cream-colored foam, tiny bubbles. Very dark brown, opaque.
Smell: Bourbon, dark chocolate, smoke, hint of fruit. Smells boozy, very aromatic.
Taste: Booze and dark chocolate up front. A bit like chocolate-covered raisins. Sweet, buttery, toffee/caramel finish. Deep flavor. A bit heavy on the caramel, a bit too sweet and cloying.
Feel: Oily, smooth, chewable.
Overall: When I'm in the mood for this type of beer, it's a complex, enjoyable beer that's very nice for a cold winter evening. When I'm not in the mood for it, it's just too sweet, cloying, and harsh-tasting for me. It's possible this style just isn't for me, but I think it's definitely worth a try.

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Photo of TooManyGlasses
4.24/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 version - pours a dark ruby brown colour with 1/2 finger tannish head.
Aroma slightly spicy bourbon, toffee, touch of booziness; hints of peat and smoke.
Taste starts malty and sweet with caramel, dark fruits, molasses, and bourbon/scotch, but the a touch more of the oak, peaty flavour with accumulation of bitterness.
The peaty bitterness carries to a rich smooth and malty slightly boozy finish.
Thick rich mouthfeel with slight astringent effec, but pleasantly so. Really tasty.

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Photo of Amendm
4.35/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A strong pour from a 12-oz. bottle was needed to reach a half finger of creamy dark beige froth, very short retention and a few streaks of lace. Semi-opaque deep dark chestnut brown, highlights at bottom of the mug are deep red-amber.
Bourbon, sweet caramel malt and faint smoke and alcohol greet the nose.
The taste is neutral and moderately bitter at first with chocolate and faint smooth scotch. The middle is semi-sweet as caramel and roasted malt blend together. The finish is very smooth and malty-rich and semi-sweet with just a hint of alcohol, this leads to a surprisingly short and mild aftertaste.
Full bodied, plenty of carbonation in reserve. Alcohol is covered up during the taste by the malty-rich smoothness. The bourbon is big at times yet never overpowering. Scotch flavor and spice are faint. A must try for fans of big beers.

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Photo of SierraNevallagash
4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very deep deep brown, black in the right lighting, but with a very faint reddish glow from beneath. A finger of light tan foam rests atop an obviously viscous body. Sticky.

Nose: On the nose, first and foremost is a rich sticky caramel malt sweetness. There are wisps of notes one might expect from a Highland whisky dram, like apple, orange peel, dried cherry, fig, raisin, plum, and the oak. Unfortunately, I pick up no smoke or peat notes. Something I was particularly excited for. The caramel, vanilla, oak, and even slight molasses aromas register more as bourbon to me. Still, smell is rich and dense, and sweet. Quite similar to Curmudgeon's Better Half, and it should make sense that it smells like bourbon. It's not aged in Scotch barrels, it's aged in bourbon barrels.

Palate: Opens up sweet and malty with thick caramel, toffee, vanilla, cherry, prune, a touch of chocolate, hint of molasses - and then shifts to drier, woody notes, oak, leather, and then shifts slightly bitter into lots of barrel char and, yes, a nice little wisp of smoke in the finish. The bourbon, barrel char, and smoke become more prominent the more you drink, and start to linger longer, balancing out the sweetness a little bit, and becoming almost tannic. You begin to think it's actually the sweetness that's balancing out the ever-growing bitterness. It's not too much, but it's right on the line.

Mouthfeel: This ale is just amazing thick, sticky, viscous, and slick, while both leaving a coating in your mouth, and a drying finish with the charry notes. It's awesome. That feeling when you imagine that perfectly thick, chewy, gooey dessert beer, and you're NOT let down. Nectar.

Overall: This is a good (not so) wee heavy ale. No, it's a fantastic one. There's a lot going on, and it's bold and impressive, and makes a name for itself. I wish the bitter charry finish was a little toned down, letting some more of the smoke and nuance come through, as it becomes a bit aggressive after a while, but then again, maybe it would be too sweet without the bitter balcony point? Who knows. I'd have preferred to see this aged in Islay (or at least some kind of) Scotch barrels, opposed to bourbon, but hey. What can you do? This isn't perfect, but compared to its stylistic counterparts, it stands steadfast and true. A must try.

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Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 8681 ratings