Backwoods Bastard
Founders Brewing Company

Backwoods BastardBackwoods Bastard
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Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
Ranked #1
Ranked #423
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.
Reviews: 2,063 | Ratings: 8,847 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Radome:
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Radome from Florida

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

Tasted from a 12 oz bottle in a red wine glass.

L - Dark brown color that shows red highlights and good clarity when held up to the light. Tan head threatened to climb out of the glass on initial pour but settled into a thick, creamy sheet and rock solid sheeting.

S - Chocolate and coffee in the initial whiff, but quickly overtaken by mellow bourbon, vanilla and cherries. No obvious oak or hot, boozy alcohol.

T - Like the aromas. the flavors are more reminiscent of whiskey than stout. There is coffee, chocolate and a bit of toasted wood, but also strong bourbon, vanilla and a hint of coconut. No hops flavors.

F - Medium to thick body that lightly coats the mouth. Creamy but moderate carbonation. Medium to high hops bitterness and moderate alcohol burn, which blend together into an overall warm finish.

O - This is a warm and hearty bourbon-aged scotch ale with a good depth of flavor without being overwhelmed by the whiskey and barrel notes.

Dec 26, 2017
More User Reviews:
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An honor to finally try this beer. I'm a huge fan of Bourbon barrel aged beers. Needless to say I have high expectaitons here after striking gold with everything else that Founders makes.

A sturdy and stead pour brings about deep mohogany and medium brown colors with a significant haze. An initial 1/2" head of dense off-white head falls to half that and remains firm from then on. A nice Belgian lace persists on the sides of the glass as the beer fades.

In Kentucky, we are used to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday Bourbon Balls. This delicate desert is very well exhibited in this beer. The aroma is chocked full of deep bourbony and cocoa aromas. Here, the maltiness doesn't end with the grains, but a malted milk note persists and inhances the intrigue. Just from the nose, this is one inviting beer.

Intense flavors of strong malts, deep chocolates, medium coffees and nuts, and bourbon-soaked fruits make for a great, great taste. Low on hop flavoring, the malts dominate here. Absolute delicious blend of molassas sweetness, bourbon undertones, cocoa, and mild campfire-ish notes make for a very well rounded and complex taste.

The body of the beer, once again, favors the malts but is well balanced with deep alcohols, fruitcake breadiness, and rich creaminess (again, like the malted milk thing- think Whopper candies soaked in bourbon). No phenolics or sharp alcohols, this beer is very well textured.

As far as Scottish Ales are concerned, this one is light on the peat and smokey notes. It emphasized the rich malty flavors and textures without becomming overly sweet. Combine all this with the robust chocolate and bourbon notes and we have a perfect desert beer for a Kentuckian.

Thanks RyanC84!

Jul 29, 2009
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WildRage from New York

2.2/5  rDev -49.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Let me preface this with saying that I love scotch ales - I love Old Chubb, and I typically love beers aged in bourbon barrels - Black Ops comes to mind. That being said, I had a really hard time finishing one bottle of this 4 pack. It was like drinking bourbon - almost no beer taste to be found. If you love bourbon, you will love this beer - but be warned that it is EXTREMELY overpowering. I typically love Founders beers - had the Breakfast Stout and Nemesis on tap last night -- but I can't see myself buying this one again.

Nov 21, 2010
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ApolloXII from Washington

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

As the first Founder's beer I've had,
Lest I say my hopes were high.
And as soon as I heard this one came in,
Obviously it was a beer I had to buy.

First, the nose, huge notes of bourbon,
Butterscotch, caramel, and malt
Earthy, beautiful tones of spice
This beer is without a fault.

And the flavor- oh, the flavor!
So much barrel and balanced still
Sweet fruit, anise, and some heat
I wish my cup was always fill.

I've had a lot of barrel aged beers,
Hundreds of them, at least
This one here is the perfect combo
Of malt and hops and yeast.

Jan 07, 2017
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njcraftguy from New Jersey

4.85/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, this is one fantastic beer. Was good in the years past but to me this years is the best yet. Higher ABV then in years past but you can't taste it. No over the top booze hit here at all. Just a nice warmness. Amazing flavor and depth. Really glad I grabbed 2 - 4 packs when I could as it didn't last long before being sold out and I can surely see why. Another home run from Founders. I rank it right up there with their Stouts which coming from me is a helluva statement. Damn good. Think I'm going to have one tonight. Cheers

Nov 04, 2015
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Octavarium77 from New York

4.99/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Really one of the best BB brews (brews in general really) out there. Pour this one into a tulip after dinner, sit by the fireplace with a good book, sip, and let how lucky you are to be alive sink in.

Apr 11, 2015
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nquigley16 from Massachusetts

4.37/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drinking a fresh 2014 out of a stemless wine glass.

L- Rich mahogany but when held to the light it is an AMAZING ruby/burgundy color and crystal clear. Absolutely gorgeous. Thin tan lacing. Even has thin legs when swirled. Not much of a head.

A- Almond, bourbon, oak, marzipan, brown sugar, milk chocolate, figs. Incredible aroma, I could pick things out of this all day if my olfactory receptors didn't get so saturated.

T- Lightly sweet, oaky, smokey, lightly boozy. Taste isn't as complex as the aroma but it pretty much the perfect level of sweetness and booze. Too many big oak aged beers are overly sweet or overly boozy. Backwoods is the perfect middle ground IMO.

M- A little thinner than I would expected, but that comes with being less sweet, which is nice. Definitely not too thin, nice mouthfeel, nice light carbonation. Sticky.

O- Awesome beer. I can't wait to drink one of these is 6 months too.

Nov 07, 2014
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mgoblue5743 from Florida

1.97/5  rDev -55%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Just opened a fresh 2010 bottle.

Tasted like Bourbon + water; like a mixed drink instead of a beer. This is the first beer from Founders that I didn't really enjoy.

I've heard it gets much better with age, so the rest of the four pack is going into the beer fridge, but I am sorely disappointed as I tried hard to find this four-pack.

Nov 30, 2010
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MIbeer27 from Michigan

4.7/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12 ounce bottle, dated 10/07/2014

The bottle pours a deep brown hue (brownish red when held to the light) with a one finger, off-white head that quickly dissipates. Carbonation bubbles slowly up the side of the glass.

Aroma is complex, perfectly balanced between a vanilla, toffee, caramel and oak sweetness, along with a healthy dose of bourbon. I honestly don't think a beer could smell much better than this.

The taste follows the nose almost identically, slightly less balanced this time with the bourbon taking the lead midpalate, especially as the beer warms. Heat from the alcohol is there, but it lingers in the background.

Mouthfeel is medium-full with medium carbonation. Bitterness is at the perfect level and damn this stuff is drinkable!

Overall, this is easily one of the best beers I have ever had and I can see why it is so sought-after. The vanilla, toffee, caramel, and oak just blend so perfectly with the bourbon to create such an excellent beer. I could deal with a little less bourbon in the taste (I now understand why people cellar this stuff), but that is really its only flaw. Now, excuse me why I go pick up more!

Nov 06, 2014
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grub from Canada (ON)

4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

biegaman was nice enough to share this one. thanks jan!

12oz bottle. sampled feb 17/08 while watching the NBA all-star game.

pours deep ruby red with a touch of haze. a whisp of dense tan head clings to the edges and leaves a few spots of lace.

aroma is great. bourbon and vanilla. light alcohol. dark fruit. caramel. big bready malt. touch of dark chocolate. bit of smoke.

taste is great. bourbon and oak. vanilla. big bready malt. biscuit. caramel. light alcohol. bit of smoke. light toffee. some dark fruit. low bitterness level. love the malt depth in this one.

mouthfeel is excellent. low carbonation level. medium-large body. silky smooth.

drinkability is great. alcohol is dangerously well hidden. i could drink this all night. perfect balance. great malt profile. excellent balance of the barrel character against the base beer too. this is good stuff!

Feb 19, 2008
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Jim_Benz from Minnesota

4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

OMG. Seriously. This is the best barrel-aged beer I've ever tasted. I'd give some details, but bursitis in both shoulders makes even this micro-review/rave difficult. Maybe I'll have another for pain relief? Twist my arm ...

Jan 03, 2017
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UCLABrewN84 from California

4.15/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sending me this one!

Pours a murky dark brown color with a 1 inch light beige head that fades to a thin cap. Rings upon rings upon rings of lace on the drink down. Very nice looking lacing with this beer. Smells of toasted coconut, some wood, alcohol, and malt. Taste has the toasted coconut, slight wood flavors, some vanilla, and malts. I am not really getting any stand out bourbon alcohol smells or tastes from this beer. Low carbonation with a thick and chewy mouthfeel. Slight alcohol burn in the back of the throat after each sip. Overall, this is a pretty taste beer with some nice toasted coconut qualities (I love coconut). I could probably only handle one of these at a time though.

May 28, 2011
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ShogoKawada from Pennsylvania

2.13/5  rDev -51.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

12oz into Newport Storm pint glass. 2010 bottling. Thought the first bottle was off, so I drank another the following night.

A- Dark roasty brown, a bit of a light brown head that fizzes out.

S- Bourbony notes, caramel/molasses. Nothing great, nothing awful.

T- Taste is bourbony, but not very good. Earthy, musty, dull, and oxidised. There is a heavy burbon note but it's dull and unexciting. Where's the vanilla and oak? All I'm getting is burnt sugar and dull earthy notes. Unappologetic booze permiates, but I've had far boozier beers that incorporate it better.

M- Decent enough body and carbonation but there are some off-notes in the flavor and finish that I'm not really enjoying.

D- Low. Thought I was going to enjoy this one as the chatter in the forums is quite abuzz over this beer. Not the case- I'm going to gift out the two remaining bottles as I don't want to drink this. Not a drainpour, but not enjoyable. I love bourbon, straight up, on the rocks, and in my beers, but this one was a misfire IMO.

What kind of barrels are these in? Remind me never to buy that bourbon.

Nov 23, 2010
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CaptFrothy from Maryland

4.31/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

fantastic seasonal favorite, as if Innis and Gunn and Belhaven had a bastard child. Malty with just the right touch of bourbon barrel finish, smooth malty whiskey barrel wonderfullness, malty smooth on the front side, whiskey barrel on the backside, lip smacking goodie.

Oct 25, 2018
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HopHunter19 from Missouri

4.83/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

5 - Perfect. Dark mahogany color yet crystal clear on the edges, Ruby/blood red notes. Nice big tan head that leaves a good lacing
5 - smooth. Vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, bourbon, chocolate/caramel malts. light scotch notes.
T - Vanilla, cream, caramel, chocolate/caramel malts, bourbon, oak, very light coffee, overall a very smooth and good beer. Umami/wholesomeness.
M - medium to heavy. Alc covered (amazingly at 11.6%). Aftertaste is bourbon/chocolate/vanilla.
O - God damn this beer is near perfect. The taste is amazing. The only thing keeping me from giving it a 5 is I know if I had it next to a KBS or FW Parabola it wouldn't be as perfect as them. Maybe that's my fault for not being as crazy about this style as I am about bba imperial stouts, but give me a break - I bought a case of this today, I'm thinking about searching out another case tomorrow so I have plenty to last me throughout the year. Great beer!

Nov 06, 2015
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Hophazzard from California

4.71/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

My first Wee Heavy and WOW they set the bar pretty damn high with this one. Simply put, it's the best bourbon barrel aged beer that I've tried. Perfectly balanced, super smooth, ideal for sipping on a cold winters night. Outstanding!

Nov 03, 2015
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TH28 from Florida

4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vertical comparison of 2014 and 2015 versions. Both in bottle. 2014 bottle date - 10/7/14. 2015 bottle date - 9/26/15. Appearance: Both a deep amber red/ brown, with minimal khaki foam head. 2015 version is almost perfectly clear, while the 2014 is noticeably murky and cloudy. Aroma: 2014: Rich oak and cherry dominate, with smoky tobacco and a touch of vanilla. 2015: A strong woody oak aroma with high vanilla and smoky notes. The cherry and tobacco notes picked up on the aged 2014 not present in the fresh 2015 version. Taste: 2014: Rich maltiness with strong cherrywood flavor, giving way to a distinct coconut and vanilla. Bitterness barely there. 2015: A strong punch of fresh oak wood and vanilla, with those flavors much stronger than the 2014 version. Fresh version has not developed the dark fruit/cherry flavors found in the 2014 version. Mouthfeel: 2014: Medium body with light creaminess and low carbonation and a touch of alcohol warmth. 2015: Medium body with a more syrupy character than 2014. Missing 2014 creaminess. Carbonation low, with a similar alcohol warmth. Finish: 2014: Leaves a malty finish with lingering cherry and coconut. 2015: Very malty on the finish with a lingering vanilla bean flavor. Overall: Can’t go wrong with either, both are amazing, but I prefer the 2014 aged version to the fresh 2015. 2014 has developed a softer melding of all the rich scotch ale and oak barrel flavors, with the development of dark fruit, cherry, coconut, and tobacco notes not found in the 2015. 2015 has a much sharper taste profile with fresh woody and strong vanilla that are present but subdued in the 2014 version. My advice, this is beer that is definitely better with some age on it.

Nov 08, 2015
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wuthrichj15 from Indiana

3.6/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Honestly I am not a huge bourbon fan. I did want to try this because I very much enjoy Founders and all the brews they crank out. Unfortunately, this was the first one that I have come across that I just really couldn't enjoy. I know there are many people out there that love this stuff, I just am not a fan of bourbon beers.
I did pick up some nice vanilla notes and I liked the consistency, but I enjoyed Dirty Bastard far more.

Jan 14, 2016
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jeffdr123 from Florida

4.14/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a bottle at the Reserve in Sarasota. Lots of alcohol in this one. Great for reading a book on philosophy. Complex mix of malt and plumb and syrup. Sip and read. But don't drive.

Oct 27, 2018
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MoreBeer4me from New Jersey

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

Stone The Crows! LOL! This is one badass beer. Absolutely insane flavor explosion! Yes....It's a 5 out of 5 for what it is and the style of beer. Tastes like a creamy Makers Mark with some sweet coconut and vanilla added. Fabulous!

Oct 27, 2018
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Feldpausch from Michigan

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

2016 batch poured into a snifter. Finger size head that dissipates quickly into barely any. Deep dark brown and smells of oak, scotch, and bourbon, almost like your grandpa's cottage somewhere up north in Michigan. Taste is an outstanding deep malty/toffee undertone with a strong bourbon aftertaste. Overall, this is another great, buy-as-much-as-you-can-while-its-around Founder's classic! I will be cellaring a few alongside my KBS for a year and 3 years to see how age makes this incredible beer taste!!

Oct 25, 2016
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aronamerican from Ohio

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

Ahhh, the annual meet and greet with the Bastard. How could I forget the boisterous rambunctiousness that ensues when you egress from your hiding spot?

Looks like cola, tastes like a libation suitable for the gods.

Jan 17, 2017
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Jtee from Canada (ON)

4.71/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

From a 355ml bottle served straight from the fridge at 8 degrees Celsius into a white wine glass. Best before date: 20.07.2018.

Look: The beer pours a clear, very dark brown with 5cm of dense, light brown head that dissipates into a craggy cap in 3+ minutes. Great lacing and good overall retention especially given the 11.1% ABV.

Smell: Medium-strong intensity with sweet balance. Rich and complex. Notes of dark fruit (raisins and prunes), milk chocolate, cooked sugar (caramel/toffee), and oak. Slightly vinous with a touch of minerality. The nose is a harmonious mix of fruit, sugar, and barrel-aging all soaked in alcohol – a dessert in a glass!

Taste: Bam! Strong and sweet – though not cloying. Significant oak presence with additional notes of caramel/toffee, milk chocolate, booze, and dark fruit (raisins and prunes). The finish is long, strong, and sweet with pronounced oak and ethanol. Absolutely delicious.

Feel: Full body with mild carbonation. Creamy, thick, and slightly chewy viscosity with notable alcohol warmth. This one has an impressive presence on the palate.

Overall: I love Founders – I haven't yet had a beer by them that I don't adore. A definite sipper, Backwoods Bastard is not for the faint-hearted; it's a punch in the mouth with plenty of alcohol to take you out fast. The brew is very complex in nature and displays excellent craftsmanship. As far as I'm concerned, this is a must try beverage. A companion to sit down and contemplate life with.

Dec 04, 2017
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ludachris from Canada (ON)

4.54/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Its body is a gorgeous mahogany red that's visible only when held up to the light. It's more of a chestnut brown otherwise. A creamy inch of tan head boasts good retention relative to its ABV.

Big, young bourbon seeps out of the glass. Slow and deep vanilla and oak with heavy caramel. New leather and clean ethanol give it a liveliness. Notes of chocolate pudding and fig newton make it extra dessert-y.

Heaps of gooshy figs and sticky raisins seamlessly meld with creamy oak and vanilla. The bourbon is sanded down, smoothed out and delicate rather than heavy. Creme brulee and round caramel come with a streak of sweet booze. An extra level of ooze comes in the form of molasses and old leather.

There's so much complexity in terms of heavy, deep, rich bourbon and dark fruit flavors yet its body is still able to have a sense of delicacy and neatness. Every component melds together flawlessly. Its chewy and creamy texture is a very enjoyable added bonus. Its 11.2% ABV is found only in its dry finish and lingering warming sensation. It's masterfully hidden in both the aroma and flavor.

Harmony and balance are left in perfect form with its lengthy stay in bourbon barrels. I'm very impressed at how well all of its components come together to make one complex impression with a leveled impression of intensity.

Dec 10, 2017
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Pratik from Michigan

4.16/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Good bourbon flavor, dark, rich and heavy flavor. Need to pair this with a piece of dark chocolate for an after dinner dessert. Must be enjoyed slightly above the room temperature where the beer isn't too cold and will give a soothing feel and flavor to enjoy.
1. Good rich body with three layers 4/5
2. Perfect smell throughout the drink, until the last sip 4.25/5
3. Perfect low crisp that helps you hold the beer flavor and does not overpower the taste 4/5
4. Rich body with a good flavor accompanied with a heat that helps you relax 4.5/5

Oct 27, 2018
Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 8847 ratings