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): 11.20%

Availability: Fall

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

Added by CortexBomb on 01-30-2007

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Reviews: 1,835 | Ratings: 8,069
Photo of csrbv
4.49/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into a Maredsous Tulip Glass.

Appearance: rich red-brown hue with plenty of haze. Very little frothy tan foam with a bit of an amber cast. Quite good.

Smell: very sweet aroma, to the point of a malt molasses, perhaps. Along with that is a good woody aroma from the barrel, contributing vanilla and almond-like character. Very good, although massively sweet.

Taste: sweet malt, vanilla, alcohol, more sweetness, an oak woodiness, and finally a bit of bitterness at the end. The alcohol lends a bit of dark fruit character, cherry and plum. I like a lot of the flavors here. Good, but doesn't taste quite as good as it smells.

Mouthfeel: huge body, great carbonation, silky smooth creamy wonderful texture. The body on this thing is just massive, as the sweetness ought to indicate. Wonderful.

Overall: I know this is supposed to be a strong beer, but it is so smooth, quite a good beer!

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of Pinknuggets
2.53/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bottle to fiddlehead pint glass

A: light brown color with ruby red accent thin tan head that dissipates quickly

S: reeks of booze smells more like a malt liquor then beer

T:follows the nose tastes like like burning alc liquor wasn't this barrel aged? Maybe it needs some more time there is dense wood like flavor but alc is really just overwhelming here

M: thin and light bit too heavy would be drinkable if it wasn't for the alc

O: well this totally sucked maybe its not my style but just tasted like liquor not beer maybe it needs time to mellow out or the style isn't for me but I hated it

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Photo of JackRWatkins
3.83/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

in a snifter from the bottle at 2 years (bo 10/24/13)

A:1 finger head, creamy, deep red to cola brown, fairly translucent but dark

S: immediate bourbon and malt, subtle vanilla

T: shockingly smooth, sweet malt and strong presence, well balanced, not a trace of bitterness to be found, vanilla, heavy brown sugar notes like a cookie or a graham cracker at times, very drinkable

M: creamy

O: a lovely beer, I will buy this again if I can find it, way better than kbs ever thought about being, relaxing and smooth almost calming, very much worth your time

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Photo of wheelinshirt
1.8/5  rDev -57.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Picked up a bottle of this from Abe's in Bethlehem. I liked the dirty bastard a lot so I figured I would like this. Cost me about $3. 12 oz short brown bottle, twist off lid, poured into a snifter.

Mahogany color with off-white head. Looks pretty nice. The bubbles look somewhat similar to a guinness head forming, at least in the commercials. Good retention (considering the ABV) and lots of lacing. Looks very nice.

The smell reminded me how much I hate whiskey. This is aged in bourbon barrels, but I don't know the difference between bourbon and whiskey and it just smelled like whiskey to me. No malts. No hops. Just whiskey.

The taste is even worse. This beer is so one-sided, at least for me. I can't get over the bourbon taste. It overpowers everything. Where are the kettle-carmelized malts? What happened to the beer parts of this beer? As it sat the bourbon seemed to mellow out a bit but wasn't replaced by anything. Maybe I was just tasting the beer less with time.

Mouthfeel was too thin for the style, but the mistake seems hardly noticeable.

Drinkability is low. This one is almost up there with triple bock, though this at least tastes like something someone (not me) would want to drink. One of the few beers I actually poured out. I was very disappointed in this one, but I probably shouldn't have been so surprised. If you like bourbon, you will probably like this but I still think the dirty bastard is a far superior brew. At least I got a cool bottle out of it (the newer style label).

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Photo of Frosty80
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Color: pours brown. sits dark ruby

Smell: sweet malt aroma with oak and bourbon. light alcohol and hint of sweet bread and vanilla

Taste: sweet, bready malt flavors with woody and bourbon tones. finishes sweet with some whiskey and oak flavor and hints of dark fruit, cocoa, vanilla and warming alcohol

Mouthfeel: heavy-med body. smooth with low carbonation

Notes: delicious fuckin beer! i wait all year for this and i made sure we stocked up big time at the store. one of my favorite beers and probly my favorite seasonal ANYONE puts out! decided to give it a 5 cause i cant imagine a scotch ale getting any better. i can always go back anyway

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Photo of threeviews
4.9/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

12oz bottle (Bottled On Date: 10/14/14) into a 11oz Libbey Snifter glass
A- Pours a gorgeous (and mostly clear) mahogany, bordering on ruby red color. Although it's retention is low (after all, it is 10.2% ABV), the head grows to a strong 1+ finger's worth of a creamy, khaki colored head. (4.75)

S- The complexity imparted by the barrel aging is immediately apparent. Heady aromas of Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Coconut, Bourbon, Chocolate and pinch of Smoke all contribute to the massively complex nose. The balance between beer and barrel is exquisite and there is absolutely no detectable alcohol. (4.75)

T- The complexity in the nose carries through in the flavor. A caramel/toffee/chocolate/bourbon sweetness coats the palate and lingers for a time before a mild, peat smoke and oak tannin comes to the fore. The beer ultimately finishes dry as a from the hops helping to contribute to the calculated, 50 IBUs . (5.0)

M- The body is medium-full with a decent amount of carbonation, yet is able to maintain a creamy mouthfeel. This is unquestionably a sipper, but more due to its complex flavor profile rather than it falling heavy on the palate. As it rises to room temperature, the 10.2% ABV only surfaces in the form of a slight warming in the chest. (4.75)

O- Regardless of style, this is simply one extraordinary BBA beer. The base beer (Dirty Bastard) is excellent in its own right, but after time in a bourbon barrel transforms it into a sublime libation. Founders continues to release very solid, barrel-aged beers with Backwoods Bastard being one that is often overlooked. (5.0)

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Photo of JakeScully
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I have chosen to pour this wee heavy into a mug, instead of another glassware that wouldn't fit. And I don't own any proper Founders glass anyway. Best by 04/06/17...

Backwoods bastard is pretty heavy, as puts the label 'Extra Strong Beer' (11,1%)..Oh, 'bière extra forte' it's even in french. We appreciate it, but I guess this translation is more aimed at the québécois, because we normally don't get this in France.

This has a brownish color, taste bourbon, brown sugar, milk.. this is definitely a very complex brew and I don't have the knowledge or palate to detect every aroma. I've been milking this for an hour now, still do as I write this. You don't chug a beer like that uh?

Overall, an excellent Scotch Ale which is a style I don't remember ever trying, and I have proudly added another major American brewery to my 'bucket list'. Still looking forward to try new ones... Cheers!

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Photo of CaptainHate
4.7/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is almost a perfect beer for me. I was already a fan of Dirty Bastard but the aging in bourbon barrels just puts it over the top. I will be aging this over time to see how this goes as well as purchasing subsequent years offerings. The ratings I give should speak for themselves (btw poured from a 12 oz 10/05/16 bottle into a Dogfish Head tulip glass) but the feel in the mouth was just superb in how filling it was.

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Photo of musicsherlock
4/5  rDev -6.1%

Slightly darker than ruby, almost burgundy...thin rim of cream head with wine like lacing.

Smells medicinal , in a good way. Dark fruits.

Strikingly oaky, malty, bitter. Little to no alcohol sensation at first, hotter as it warms. Subdued hint of bourbon.

Tickling of the tongue, more carbonation than expected yet smooth none the less

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Photo of cetherid
4.22/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a tulip


A nice dark ruby color. about a fingers worth of offwhite head. A little opaque but when held up to the light, not too bad. A very beautiful looking beer.


Sweet caramelly malts with a little bourbon. Maybe a tiny hint of vanilla and oak. A very nice smelling beer.


whiskey with some very sweet flavors. Caramel, vanilla...almost butterscotch like. One of the best barrel aged beers I've had.


medium bodied. pretty good carbonation. a little syrupy mouth feel but goes down smooth and not too terribly sweet.


definitely a sipping beer. Incredible flavor, but I doubt I could have more than 1 at a time because of the alcohol and sweetness. The beer is a bit pricey so I don't know if I'd buy another 4 pack, but would definitely grab it on tap.

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Photo of sevenarts
3.65/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've had this both fresh and about a year old. This review reflects both experiences.

A: Dark red/brown.

S: That heavy alcoholic bourbon aroma hits right away, letting you know that this is going to be a serious drink. Once it ages, the alcohol seriously drops off in favor of a rich, strong caramel sweetness.

T/M: And it sure is serious as a fresh beer. Very heavy alcohol/bourbon taste with just a hint of sweet malts around the edges to soften the blow. The bourbon taste is perhaps a little overwhelming, but it's still good. After some age, it's a much calmer drinking experience, with lots of butter and caramel, very smooth and sweet and tasty. It perhaps loses a little of its distinctiveness but it's still good.

O: An intense and overwhelming beer fresh, and a tasty caramel bomb after a year of aging. I've got 2 more bottles aging and I'm curious how it'll be after sitting for another year or two.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4.22/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz, bottled 09/30/2015. My first time drinking this beer.

Look: Pours a cloudy amber color, but clears when it warms. A small amount of light-caramel-colored head that dissipates rather quickly and leaves behind a thin ring at the edges. No lacing to speak of when swirled.

Aroma: Very nice: fresh, boozy, dark fruit, reminds me of a well done old ale.

Taste: Very sweet (perhaps caramel) and somewhat boozy, with dark fruits, and as others have mentioned, a bit of butterscotch.

Mouth-feel: medium, slick (almost buttery), and very smooth.

Overall: After all the hype, and waiting a few months to drink this beer, I have to say that it lives up to the expectations: it is a quality beer, and I have never had anything quite like it. I Look forward to seeing how this ages.

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Photo of Nachojon
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Bottle to Snifter at Jerry's.

A- Very, very thin almost nonexistent head. A dark wood brown with reddish tones when held to light.

S- Founders beers always have such great aroma. These aromas really add to the experience and are a big part of the reason their beers are so solid. Milk chocolate here, brownie and cafe con leche, toffee, smells like a fudge shop that also roasts and brews their own coffee.

T- Legit. Crisp, dark chocolate and hops. Hints of bourbon and the oak. Alcoholic burn coated in toasted coconut aftertaste.

M- So crisp for being so heavy, really a pleasant mouthfeel and oh so very drinkable.

O- So glad I got to try this. It is such a great step in learning more and more about beer. This beer is pretty legit, great beer.

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Photo of busternuggz
3.83/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 12 oz bottle poured into a Belgian glass.
Nice ruby-brown color with a 1/4" khaki head. The head settles to a thin frothy layer but leaves persistent lacing.
Smells like bourbon & bourbon spiciness, oak, caramel, and an odd sweet note like marzapan. A little subdued.
The taste is rich, leading with bourbon, spice, and oak notes, then caramel and just a little cocoa, with a creamy sweetness on the finish. Alcohol burn comes in on the aftertaste with a little astringency, but this mellows as it warms up.
Very nice texture. Lighter side of full bodied, smooth and creamy, especially as it warms up.
Pretty smooth for a barrel aged 10% beer, but the alcohol heat brings the drinkability down.
Overall pretty rich and tasty, but the flavors are too dominated by the bourbon notes and it has a bit too much heat.

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Photo of fastsrt
4.72/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured 12 ounce bottle in a snifter

A: amber, great head looks very good in the glass.

S: Burbon, malts

T: Burbon, caramel, oak, vanilla

M: full body, mild carbonation, rich thick

D: this is a delight to drink, im not the biggest fan of scotch ales, but this is impressive, I bought 2 bottle to have one now and save the other for later the other bottle didn't last a month well done

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Photo of chaz01
3.15/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle that was in my cellar -- no date found on the bottle -- but I believe this was 1-2 years old. Poured into a Founders snifter/tulip glass.

A: Muddy dark brown, thin head recedes quickly.

S: Big notes of bourbon, alcohol and a little rum. That's pretty much all I smell.

T: Starts with a little alcohol and malty sweetness. Some dark fruity flavors mix in with just a bit of tartness. Beer finishes with a little sourness notes.

M: Medium to full bodied, some carbonation provides a tingly feeling in the mouth.

D: Overall a little disappointed -- not sure if the beer just doesn't age well, but the tart sour notes were a bit unpleasant and I would think unintentional.

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Photo of Bobheed
4.27/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark reddish brown, like a chestnut finish color. Pours with a minimal taupe head that lingers on the edges.

S: Getting tons of sweetness, dark brown sugars, caramel. I also get the bourbon characteristics and a lot of woodiness

T: Very, very sweet. Has more dark sugar and even chocolate characteristics. Really tasted a lot of roastiness to it also. Definitely getting the bourbon flavors again too

M: Nice and think, medium carbonation with a very smooth finish. Alcohol is fairly minimal on the tongue

Overall, I really enjoyed this. One of the better scotch ales I've had, definitely the sweetest. While not a great textbook example of a scotch ale per se, it's still a very good beer

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Photo of RoninTK3
4.77/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A - Nice dark amber color with a bit of lacing on top.

S - Bourbon, vanilla, caramel, oak and alcohol are all present. Smells very sweet but the alcohol is definitely there. Perfect in this category.

T - Bourbon and oak dominate this one. Vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel back up the bourbon with some heavy booziness. This is a delicious beer, but there's no question it's a sipper.

M - Smooth, creamy, and medium bodied with medium level carbonation.

This is a pretty perfect sipper. If you don't like a boozier beer then you can avoid this one, but this is a very balanced, delicious beer.

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Photo of Lolli1315
3.52/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Very dark brown, almost opaque but not quite. Small head that disappears quickly. Not much left to stick to the glass.

S- Large hints of alcohol are thrown out immediately followed with a lacing of wood chips and vanilla. Finishes with a subtle sweetness.

T- A strong taste of wood along with vanilla evident from the aging. Back end of the beer is overshadowed by the taste of alcohol as it becomes somewhat overwhelming.

M- Medium body, lacks on carbonation that could help this finish crisper.

D- This is a sipping beer, but quite easy or someone to drink over dinner or for a relaxing drink after a meal.

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Photo of DrinkThemAll
4.24/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a mahogany and half a fingers off white head.

Smells of bouron and oak. Sweet malts and maybe a tad bit of toffe. Some bread as well. Smells like a Trappist.

Taste of sweet malts, oak and a tad of bourbon and toffe. Very bready and Very smooth for its alcohol content.

Mouth was very nice. Medium bodied with a nice oaky smooth finish.

I would definetly drink this guy again. I think I would prefer a breakfast stout instead, but a solid beer nonetheless

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Photo of kmeves
3.64/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a semi cloudy copper with a very small beige head. Aroma is medium sweet with grapefruit, bourbon, smoky and caramelization. Flavor is grapefruit, orange, caramel and smoky with some alcohol detected. Medium to full body, sticky texture. Finishes somewhat hot, low carbonation.

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Photo of paulozanello
4.05/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at a Founders event at The Big Hunt in DC.
Pours a dark brown color with ruby red hues. Creamy beige head with good lacing.
Smell is mainly of bourbon, vanilla, oak and some dark/chocolate malt.
Taste is very strong and starts with caramel and chocolate but soon gets overpowered by a heavy bourbon and vanilla blast.
Creamy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation and some alcohol notes. Aftertaste is chocolaty and oaky.
Great well balanced scotch ale. Definitely going to buy me some bottles later this week.

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

12oz singleton poured into a snifter.

Picked this little guy up in a trade with Lat, many thanks and welcome to beer trading!

L: Mahogany brown, but transparent. 1 finger fluffy, creamy head.

S: Not nearly as bourbony as I would expect from a bourbon barrel founders. Sweet in the extreme, with a good bourbon balance peaking through in the middle. Tails off into booze-y sweetness.

T: Starts sweet slowly, building into a massive sweetness ... when the bourbon powers through and makes itself known. Tails from there into a good blend of bourbon and malty sweetness. Lingers.

F: Thick and syrupy. Pretty good.

D: Bit of a sipper, but good.

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Photo of bigaltemple
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. Bottled 10/5/12

A - Pours cola brown in color, with lots of dark reds appearing in the glass. Creamy, two-finger head becomes a thin collar. Minimal lacing.

S - Definitely get the barrel notes. Plenty of sweet vanilla and oak. Underlying caramel and solid malt backbone.

T/M - Quite tasty! Like drinking a malted bourbon. Really well balanced. Not overpowering at all. Mild lingering bourbon aftertaste. Full bodied with almost perfect amount of carbonation.

O - Love it! Not much more to say. Drinks extremely well at a great price point. I will gladly grab this anytime it is available.

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Photo of NoYouDidnt
3.78/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Very oaky. Burnt sugar, raisin, dark fruits. Caramel, Strong whiskey flavor. Let this sit a while maybe NYD. Had another 5 months later, already less boozy. Bit more enjoyable.

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
4.26 out of 5 based on 8,069 ratings.
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