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Founders Backwoods Bastard | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Backwoods BastardFounders Backwoods Bastard

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
"Wee Heavy", cave aged in oak bourbon barrels.

Added by CortexBomb on 01-30-2007

For Trade:
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Reviews: 1,790 | Ratings: 7,903
Photo of darklordlager
4.43/5  rDev +4%
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 kdb150
4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2012 vintage, poured into an oversized Piraat tulip at room temperature, though this is closer to 60 than 70 as my house is pretty cold.

A - Pours a deep amber/brown with a half-finger of ivory head, which quickly subsides to a thin ring. Hints of ruby red shoot through this brew when held up to the light. No lacing to speak of, but nevertheless this is a beautiful pour.

S - Bourbon, oak, and vanilla strong up front, somewhat masking the burnt caramel and slight smoke of the base beer. The combination is reminiscent of scotch. Excellent aroma, though a bit weak for not being poured into a snifter, which I really recommend for this beer.

T - Again bourbon, with the base beer coming through a bit more in the flavor than in the nose. The malt is perfectly balanced with the bourbon to produce a wonderful bourbon/butterscotch flavor that is not too sweet and hits all the right notes. This a ridiculously good beer, though it benefits from a bit of age.

M - Silky smooth, absolutely perfect for the flavor profile. Low carb which dissipates rather quickly, but this coats nicely and has the most exquisite aftertaste. The mouthfeel seems to be one that is fairly unique to bourbon barrel-aged wee heavies, and this is the best of them. This is a real pleasure to drink.

O - This is one of my absolute favorite beers, though from prior experience I'd say it is definitely better after a few months, when the bourbon subsides a bit and the subtle smokiness of the base beer comes through. The flavor takes on more of a scotch note than a bourbon note, and this becomes a truly sublime beer experience. Even fresh, though, this is an absolute treat, worth seeking out and drinking as much as possible.

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Photo of CTbrew32
4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Deep mahogany/red/brown color and opaque for the most part. About a half finger of head produced that subsides very quickly.

Aroma- Tons of sweet, bourbon, caramel, toffee, vanilla, and oak aromas in this one.

Taste- Lots of toffee sweetness upfront followed by a finish that showcases the bourbon nicely with vanilla and toasty oak flavors showing up. Very little alcohol heat if anything at all.

Feel- Full bodied, almost chewy, low carbonation, and very little residual malt in the finish.

Overall- Just from the nose I could tell this would be great and it was. Rich toffee flavors and a mellow bourbon influence makes this incredibly smooth and easy to drink. A sipper that sips very easily and isn't cloying in the least bit. Given the price and quality of this beer this will be a seasonal must have.

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

Appearance: Slightly hazy red-amber appearance, thick slightly off-white head that stick around for a bit, amazing considering the alcohol.

Smell: Malty, hugely alcoholic, slightly sweet. Bready.

Taste: Rich with caramel malt, hugely alcoholic, very astringent. Sweeter than expected, with a nice roasted dry aftertaste. The wood is nicely understated here. If I could give this a rating between 4.5 and 5, I would.

Mouthfeel: Thick, rolls around the tongue amazingly. No real carbonation or hops.

Drinkability: All right, here I'll give it a 5. Delicious, with the 10.2% ABV amazingly hidden. I'm not always a fan of bourbon-barrel aged beers, but this is truly top-notch and incredibly easy to drink.

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Photo of fields336
4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a: same color as dirty bastard, red to mahogany, with a slight amount of tan head that dissipates quickly.

S: some nice oaky, vanilla, bourbon, burnt sugar, caramel, toffee, chocolate, almost stout-esque notes are coming out.

T: big bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, burnt sugar, toffee, rich dark caramel, and smooth woody notes round this out. little to no heat and the chocolate and toffee notes dominate the aftertaste.

M: has that delicious bourbon barrel smoothness, silken, with the perfect amount of carbonation. almost like a nitro tap.

O: wow.. will be buying more of this if I get a chance.

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Photo of jmacpher
4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Wow! This is a great beer! So great that I bought 11 packs when it released in late fall.

It pours a deep copper red with very little head that disappears quickly. It has an incredible smell to it, vanilla and bourbon are the dominant aromas here.

The taste is even better, very deep vanilla and bourbon taste with a bit of bready, yeasty taste. The finish is dry with a lingering vanilla aftertaste. The warming sensation of the alcohol sticks with you, although it's extremely well hidden for a 10 percenter.

This is an all-time favorite! I just wish it wasn't a once-a-year release!

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Photo of pwoods
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. stubby brown bottle, poured into a snifter. Got in a trade so long ago that I forget who it was from. Thank you for the trade!

A: Pours a dark, woody brown that's nearly opaque. Just under a finger of head int he snifter that holds for a bit before falling to a skim. A bit of lacing.

S: Deep, dark, earthy and woody aromas. Plenty of alcohol to go around, reminding me of the warmth you get from a good sipping bourbon.

T/M: More of the same. Woody and earthy malts, nicely sweetened. Some wisps of smoke here and there. The alcohol is present again but not overpowering or stinging, just that great warmth in the belly. Body is nearly full with a pleasant smoothness.

D: Tasty brew that would probably be better suited for a chilly Indian summer night.. but was just fine tonight, too.

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Photo of johntangus
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Delivered from a keg into my Piggly Wiggly growler and then into my Duvel tulip glass. Pouring a dark ruby hue with a very thin dissapating head.

Nice bourbony smell.

While the bourbon is definitely front and center, there are some nice raisiny dark fruit tastes/smells going on.

Not too sweet, the bourbon-oak cuts the malty flavor making a very rich drinking experience. But it's also not too thick or cloying.

This is a pretty drinkable beer for the ABV. The booziness is nicely hidden - while there is a nice bourbon taste, the associated burn isn't present. The light carbonation accentuates the layers of flavors. Letting this beer warm up a bit awakes even more tastes.

I have enjoyed this beer immensely as my Thanksgiving holiday beer.

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Photo of obrike
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This one is a beauty.

I love Dirty Bastard and was pretty stoked to finally try this one.

Poured a dark, ruby-brown with a small head that left a tan ring throughout. Some lace, but not a ton.

Nice smelling brew. Bourbon over sweet malt. Some vanilla, maybe toffee thrown in there too.

Can certainly taste the bourbon notes on the first sip. Not over powering though. Just a great mesh of bourbon and sweet malt. A lot going on here, perhaps vanilla and cinnamon too? Goes down like butttttaaaa! One smooth mo-fo. A wonderful slow sipper on a cold night.

Founders knocked this one outta the park. Just a fantastic, well crafted beer for those who appreciate a beer a bit out of the norm.

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Photo of JackieTH
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

So as I'm first and foremost a Scotch whisky fan, this brew was just about right up my alley.

I was a little intimidated by the bottle label artwork, it was great as usual. Founder's artwork can be fantastic.

Consumed ice cold straight from the bottle while sitting at a campfire in the middle of the north woods of Wisconsin. Apropos I suppose as this is the Backwoods Bastard.

Immediate impression was, this is one angry beer. There's a lot going on here. Cherry vanilla bourbon on the nose and throughout the palate. Bitterness, coffee, caramel all fighting to come throughout tied together and working well if only by the sheer force of will of the backwoods bastard himself. ABV comes through in a big way along with smoke, even a bit of peat? I don't know at this point as I've been smashed. Oh and the warming finish is fantastic.

It's angry. Challenging. Delicious. I want more.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

(poured into a fat tulip Delirium Tremens glass)

A: large, creme-colored foam stand on pour, translucent mist left above, some spotty lace... murky, deep-rust hued liquid, perhaps a little too dark, though reg. Bastard is dark and the barrel may account for this... looks about right... solid and standard

S: vanilla, crème brûlée, charred animal fat, soured bourbon (if that makes sense) but merely a highlight - something that peaks up through the center.... mildly grain alcoholic aroma

T: ooh wow!... obvious bourbon, bold but in superb balance with a touch of syrupy crystal and huge vanilla flavor.... coffee-cake-ish malt... sweetish, raisin-y, vaguely liqueur-like booze in the finish.... sweetish throughout, really, but not cloying, indicative of high end crystal (120? special B?).... not at all reminiscent of a Scotch Ale in the traditional sense.... moderate-high sense of herbal bitterness (and a flavor I can only describe as like licking a marble counter-top) long after.... all flavors are in excellent balance and proper intensities

M: fantastic, medium-light, compact malty body.... elegantly dry.... definite silkiness from start to a little past midway, yet drops off rapidly and wonderfully

O: several cuts above the Dirty Bastard and easily one of the top 5 bourbon barrel aged beers I've had

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Photo of tipnsip
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's like Founders crafted the Backwoods Bastard just for me! I'm a bourbon guy and when I got my first whiff of it I knew it'd be one of my faves.

The tall glass was all dark reddish-brown with a tan head. The aroma is fantastic! It's like hovering over a Maker's mark manhattan with foam on the top. Taste-wise, it's like a "soft" shot & a hearty beer all in one. It's not a boilermaker - it's a well balanced combination of the two. It's on the sweet side but not overbearing, has a strong oak under-flavor, is medium bodied and I found it very drinkable.

Granted, if you're not a fan of bourbon - you will most likely not care for this brew. But if you are a fan ... Merry Christmas!

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a St Bernardus goblet. Bottled 22 September 2016.
A: Pours surprisingly clear nut brown, but turns deep mahogany red in the glass. No head.
S: Smells sweet and syrupy. Maple syrup, not cough syrup. Hella malt like a good scotch ale should.
T/M: Taste is astoundingly rich and deep. Huge caramel sugars roll and roll, forcing the tongue to slog through the sheer volume of flavor. The flavors come in a narrow band, akin to one another -- maple, whiskey, caramel, butterscotch, brown sugar, dense bread. Even if the notes are close together, their intensity makes up for a lack of variety. Thick without ever quite being sticky. Mild carbonation. A sipper and a chewer.
O: A heavy-hitting beer that knows exactly what it wants to do and smashes into that goal with considerable force. If you don't like dark, autumnal flavors (maple, bourbon, rich Demerara) look elsewhere than this malt bomb.

Bottle tasting notes (mostly including for use of 'scintilla'):
"Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt sctoch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts. A bot of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit. It's a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate."

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Photo of travisd13
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

A- Pours a dark brown / black that shows dark red color around the edges when held to the light. Head is about 1/4" and light tan in color...dissapates very quickly.

S- Vanilla/oak, carmel, and well bourbon! A little alcohol.

T- Bourbon front with a strong alcohol presents. Nice and malty with a hint of caramel. The bitter hop finish hides the alcohol better than expected...well done!

M- Smooth and silky due to the low carbonation. By silky I don't mean thick...if anything I'd call it a little thin for the style.

D- If it wasn't for the 10.2% I could drink this all night. However...I think two is my limit. I still call it drinkable!

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Photo of argock
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. No clear freshness date, but there is some code on the bottle neck. Single purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $3.60.

A: Piercing rusty-amber with short, small bubbled tan head with tangerine tint. Thin streamers of lace round the glass.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, wood, cherry and toffee are the upfront aromas

T: Bourbon is the first component but it is overtaken by vanilla, oak, and a soft warming cherry alcohol note. Malt is present but a little wanting but caramel and toffee are both there. Not much to say about hops.

M: Also not a full as expected, but the bourbon and alcohol are caressing. Carbonation is active which props this department. Aftertaste is strong on vanilla oakiness.

D: Surprisingly drinkable for 10.2% ABV, but the maltiness and dirtiness of Dirty Bastard are diminished. I think I like DB a little better. The evenness of the bourbon component makes me glad I drank this fresh. I'm not sure that cellaring this brew is a great idea because of the marginal nature of the maltload.

UPDATE: Definitely don't cellar more than a month or two. There is little to no heat. Buy as much of this as you can -- delicious top tier BBA ale. Stellar aroma and flavor. I have not had Dirty Bastard for a while and will have to revisit to see the connect as I have drank a case of Backwoods Bastard since my last DB.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

love the label, love that founders is in va. after having drank one from the bottle, i didn't realize how light in color this would be. it is, after all, a scottish, but silly me, here i thought i had a stout in my belly. somewhere around carnelian in color and reaking of bourbon, vanilla, caramel, oak, and alcohol. caramel and vanilla up front then washed back with bourbon. a little sweet. much better in a glass. i could drink eleven of these if it were prudent.

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Photo of jjanega08
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A= Pours a hazy brown color leading onto black but still sticking with a definite brown that is a hazy and an amber color when you hold it up to the light. The head is a little disappointing being just half a finger high and falling to a thin sheet on the beer. This this sheet leads to some solid lacing and actually has some pretty average retention.

S= Vanilla! A total vanilla bomb in my opinion. Smells very very similar to some sort of vanilla ice cream or a pudding. There is a little bourbon smell to it but nothing compared to the solid vanilla that comes from the barrels. There are also some typical Wee heavy characteristics in it however they are all blended into the delicious vanilla smell. I almost get some coconut in the nose as well. Really tasty smelling.

T= Here the bourbon comes through a little more however the vanilla coconut taste is intense. This is a total vanilla bomb. The heavy sweeter malts are there as typical from Wee Heavy's. In my opinion this is the perfect beer to put in a bourbon barrel. The vanilla flavor is the ultimate complement to the sweet malts in the Wee Heavy. Mellowed out perfectly. As it warms up the bourbon taste mellows more and the awesome sweetness follows through more. I really notice a ton of woody oak flavor as well. Really one of the best barrel aged beers I've ever had.

M= Totally smooth and mellow. My only problem with this is that i wish it would have a little less carbonation. Awesome otherwise. You can't have everything I suppose

D= Great beer. One of the best beers I've ever had. A total Vanilla bomb and everything you could want from a barrel aged beer. This has all the great woody oak flavors you can ask for without having over powering bourbon flavors and just enough of everything to make this a great beer.

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Photo of BeerLover99
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - clayish brown, little amount of head, nice lacing.

S - powerful barrel, bourbon, smoked peat, mild sweet, alcohol.

T - bourbon, vanilla up front, boozy, with smoky smooth bitter finish.

M - med. body, with low-med carbonation almost feels like beer in scotch form.

D - This powerful beast is a SERIOUS sipper and not for everyone. I would like to have another and perhaps age it.
This is still a must try, come on now, it's Founders!

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Photo of CaptCleveland
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

120z bottle dated 10/13/2011 poured into GL snifter.
Ruby red elixir, thin tan head dissipates; minimal lacing.
Wow, nice amalgamation of oak, malt, spice, caramel and subtle but pervasive booze.
Complex mixture of sugar cane, bourbon, malty biscuit with velvet mouthfeel and low carbonation.
This is a special brew and one that can convert the uninitiated.

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Photo of garuda
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a thick, murky mahogany with a small tan head that has little retention, but surprisingly good lacing down the glass.

S - Big oak notes with bourbon as soon as I popped the cap. Has a good underlying sweet aromas of raisin and caramel malts, vanilla, and some apple cider.

T - Not as complex as I had hoped for, but still good. Starts off with bourbon vanilla flavors with some caramel malt sweetness mid palate, then big oak flavors with a bit of spice through the long finish. Only a little bit of heat from the booze.

M - Full, viscous body with perfectly low carbonation, but there is some residual sugary buildup coating the palate by the end of the glass.

D - Founders calls it a sipper, and I agree. I wouldn't hesitate to buy this one again, and am looking forward to getting more of this heading into the colder months.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

**NOTE: I don't believe this beer is very good fresh; however, I think it blossoms with some age. I am reviewing an aged bottle**

Bottled 10/7/14; drank 11/16/15 @ the Yarchives.

Poured from the bottle into a glass.

Opaque orange/brown appearance.

A rough pour yielded a small khaki head which quickly dissipated; strong lace.

Caramel, cream soda & faint oak notes in the nose.

Thick, creamy mouthfeel.

Oak, cream soda & molasses flavors up front; dark caramel notes on the finish. Almost no booze heat. A year made a big, positive difference on this beer; it has aged into a rich dessert treat.

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Photo of Jamesthebrit
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an oversized founders snifter... gotta represent.

A: Little head remains whispy. A darkish reddish brown. The color is really perfect: being dark enough to see through but still looks very impressive.

S: Alcohol, molasses, a sweetness, rather overpowered by alcohol.

T: A nice sweetness both from the alcohol and a more sugary sweetness. Vanilla, molasses, woody, oak. The finish is seriously the best part with a kick of alcohol that is smooth and doesn't burn then fades into a heavy woody bourbon note.

M: Carbonation hits a little much as with the alcohol but the balance is very nice. Goes down smooth.

Overall for being such a heavy powerful beer the balance is great. I had another wee heavy ale during a tasting the other day and I couldn't handle it with the alcohol being too powerful. This founders brew was expertly balanced and dangerously easy to drink. A must try.

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

Revize after drinking this year's offering, this is a great/epic tske on the style, period!

Cheers to Bitterbill ( I think) for this one! Mine is 8.7% abv

Pours caramel/chestnut with 1 finger of tan colored head. Good head retention & outstanding lacing

S: Bourbon sweetness, some oaky notes

T: Toffee, oakyness, & whisky/bourbon up front. Vanilla follows as this warms, dryness, plus a touch of leafy hops, more toffee, raisins & a bit of booze. Finishes dry with whisky notes, & some leafy & herbal hops. Good flavor, but the oakyness is just bit much for me, almost seems artificial

MF: Medium bodied, slightly overgassed, skews a bit too sweet & oaky for me

Drinks good for the abv, & style. This is a bit off style to me, but tasty enough

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

went to the founders happy hour at slows bbq, had this on tap into a goblet, it was of the 2009 vintage and i it is 2011, low liight room so appearance might not be perfect

appearance - mahogany, with a thin light brown head that quickly left, low carbonation, mild lacing

smell - sweet malts and mellow bourbon up front, there are caramel and toffee hints to this one, and a bit of vanilla

taste - taste follows nose, up front there is a nice sweetness from the malts and a burnt caramel toffee flavor, this fades into a very mellow vanilla bourbon flavor, finished with a a bit of a lingering bitterness but not much

mouthfeel - thick, almost syrupy but also light, hard to describe but very fitting

overall - great beer, i think i liked it more than fresh after everything melded together, have 4 2010's left so ill see how they are doing soon

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Photo of Cmun01
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Incredible beer, I agree with other reviews for the alcohol level this was very smooth. Hard to find beer, could only buy 2 four packs in my town in PA. Nice subtle taste and smell of chocolate, carmel and bourbon.

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
4.26 out of 5 based on 7,903 ratings.
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