Founders Backwoods Bastard | Founders Brewing Company

1,835 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,835 | Ratings: 8,069
Photo of LanceW
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What a wonderful beer.

A: The brew was thick in appearance but not too malty in the mouth. I drank it a night so the color was dark so that is all I could say.

S: The smell was sweet and faint hint of alcohol was in the back ground along with notes of barrel aged

T: Full of flavor. Very dark and the taste of the barrel age came through on a perfect balance. Some time the taste of what was previously brewed in the barrel can be strong but this was an equal pairing.

M: Thick but not syrupy.

D: Oh yeah.

 513 characters

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.12/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a thistle glass.

L - murky brown with a khaki colored head that thinned to a ring and left a few trails of lacing.

S - bourbon, oak, vanilla bean.

T - heavy bourbon taste upfront with some malty sweetness on the finish.

F - medium bodied with a smooth feel.

O - good example of the style.

 315 characters

Photo of in780
3.95/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a pint. Here we go:

A - Looks like a brown ale, decent head dissipates, and little lacing thanks to the syrupy texture/alcohol.

S - Caramel and bourbon

T - Maple syrup, with caramel, oak, vanilla, some spice, and of course, bourbon, more on the finish.

M - Full-bodied and thick. Little carbonation

D - Could drink something that tastes like this all day, but the syrup is and alcohol are a little over-powering, need to switch to something else after this.

 487 characters

Photo of Gmann
4.02/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a ho-hum murky brown color with a rather small head that settles into a light ring. The aroma is of brown sugar, vanilla, some sour oak and some sweet bourbon. Pretty much all bourbon barrel in the nose, but it does smell quite nice. Very much like the aroma, the taste is dominated by the bourbon barrel. I like to see a sturdy malt and some smoke or wood flavors in a scotch ale but this doesn't seem to have it. It does have a very tasty bourbon flavor with good vanilla and sour oak flavors to go along with the bourbon flavor. The malt bring some brown sugar flavor and perhaps the lightest touch of peat. The feel is light with tingly carbonation; finishes quite sweet and a bit sticky, not cloying for a 12oz bottle. There is some boozy vapors going on. This is a very tasty brew due to the bourbon barrel aging and I scored it as such. However I would like to see more of the malt pop through especially for a 10.5ABV brew. If you are going to make it that boozy, beef up the malt. If you like the taste of bourbon is a light body this is for you. I like this beer don't get me wrong just needs to be a tad thicker.

 1,129 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.6/5  rDev +8%
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!

 1,130 characters

Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.9/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle at 45* into a snifter.

A: This pours a very dark, reddish-brown color with a half-inch of light foam that does not last, yet leaves terrific lacing.

S: I was hoping for some of the peaty aromas of Dirty Bastard but the smell is almost completely that of bourbon (not that it is a bad thing).

T: The taste shows some peat, floral notes, and plenty of delicious bourbon.

M: This has a medium body and somehow shows no "hotness" whatsoever.

D: This has a delicious bourbon taste but it would be better if it incorporated more of the scotch flavors of Dirty Bastard.

 581 characters

Photo of LiquidBread219
2.63/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A= It was dark in color like a brown. No real head.

S= The only thing I smell in this beer is bourbon.

T= The taste is the same as the nose bourbon and that's about it.

M= Right amount of Carbonation for this beer.

D= A lot of people like this beer but I just don't like it at all hard to get through IMO. I have a few bottles left I'll gift them and probably won't try this one again.

 389 characters

Photo of Boitnott
4.08/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was poured from a bottle into a tall tulip class. It had been aged for about a year. The ageing may confound so of the results of this review. I was told that it was stored properly but I have heard that it is never a guarantee. This is my first try with an aged beer so here we go...

A: An opaque red brown color. Literally not light comes through the beer. Not much head on the beer which may be an after effect of the aging. Pretty light lacing as well, once again may be indicative of the aging. Very nice looking beer.

S: Pure scotch whiskey. I can also smell some of the sweet malts used and maybe same distant hop smells as well. Smells so close to scotch that is is hard to smell anything.

T: Wow. There is so much going on with this beer. The nose is reminiscent of the medium hops and sweet malts. There is also a bit of caramel, but only a touch. The finish of the beer is where it really shines. It finishes in three stages: (1) the sweet caramel taste becomes apparent, very sweet for a dark ale; (2) next the slight bitterness of the hops comes to the surface but does not eliminate the sweetness; (3) finally the scotch whiskey barrel aging process becomes the dominant flavor, this flavor lingers for about five seconds after you sip the beer. As opposed to other beers, these tastes do not polarize each other. They integrate very well and create a nice combined flavor on the palate that lingers for longer than any beer that I have tried.

M: The beer is amazing smooth and medium bodied. I expected a "Wee Heavy" to be much thicker (like Dirty Bastard) but this is not the case with this beer. The only issue is the lack of head on the beer. It would have been nice balance the powerful tastes of the beer. Once again this may be due to the aging process. This is not to say that there was no carbonation. The beer even leaves a tingly feeling on your lips as you sip it, which is probably because of the ABV.

D: At 10.2%, the drinkability is astounding. With the smell I assumed the beer's scotch taste would be overpowering but it is actually more subtle than I thought, making the beer much more enjoyable. I could absolutely have a lot of these in one sitting, which is dangerous at 10.2%. I recommend this beer to any fans of the style, or to anyone who simply enjoys good beer.

 2,315 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
4.37/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass

A: Pours a dark brown color with a very small head that dissipates very quickly. Decent lacing down the sides.

S: Lots vanilla and some of the bourbon, which gives a slight alcohol aroma. Also get some oak and a little caramel.

T: The alcohol is very hidden on the taste. Bourbon and caramel upfront. The middle has some darker fruit and a really nice vanilla flavor. Has a warm finish.

M/D: Medium to full bodied. Overall I really like this beer. While very easy to drink considering its abv, I prefer to sip and savor it. Very complex, with a lot of flavor.

 591 characters

Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

God bless Founders brewing. Do these folks make any mistakes? Man! I have thoroughly enjoyed all of their brews that I have tried.

This was my first "scotch ale" - or "wee heavy," as it were.

A: dark, burnished copper

S: bourbon, caramelized sugar

T: sweet, but not in an overpowering way (I was a little concerned that it would be like, too sweet, based on some reviews); notes of caramel are apparent

M: medium body, mild carbonation - very balanced

D: gotta say, very easy to keep on drinking - high abv is not an issue - this (like every Founders beer I've had) just begs for more drinking.

Founders produces high quality beer. Period. This one is for a fan of "old ales," barley wine, and dark ales that are relatively sweet, but not too thick. I don't smoke, but I can't help but imagine that this is a beer that would accompany a good cigar.

P.S.: Can't stop drinking this! A true treat. Enjoy!

 909 characters

Photo of Gfunk720
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle out of my Harpoon LE tulip.

A- Deep reddish brown, very clean. Nice off white head, 1 finger or so. Nice lacing too.

S- Smells sweet and bourbony. Notes of vanilla and molassas. Perhaps a touch of oak.

T- Smooth and full of bourbon. The vanilla notes stand out the most to me. Starts smooth, and then really opens up.

M- Pretty much perfect. Just right with the carbonation, and the beer has just the right body.

D- This is a heavy one, but the initial flavor is just so good. A nice sipper on a cold night, very tasty

 537 characters

Photo of BruceWineworks
4.65/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Tan, brownish hue with a little lacing.

S: The scent of BOURBON. Just in your face, smooth whiskey scent. Very appetizing.

T: This Backwoods Bastard will please any whiskey drinker. Strong sweet vanilla flavors with light notes of chocolate lingering in a heavy bourbon aftertaste. Incredibly smooth, the whiskey taste is not harsh or as overbearing as in some barrel aged beers tend to get.

M: A chewy and refreshing feel leaves your mouth salivating for more. Mmmm.

D: The high abv of this Bastard is the only thing stopping me from drinking the whole four pack at once. Its incredibly tasty and is everything I expect from a bourbon barrel aged ale. I hope you hate this beer so there is more of this limited release for me.

 736 characters

Photo of mgoblue5743
1.97/5  rDev -53.8%
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.

 337 characters

Photo of volklshred
4.37/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

A-Deep dark raisin color. The Same color as the bottle it was poured out of. Little to no head or lacing.

S-Bourbon, raisin, plumb, molasses, grass, and caramel all present in backwoods.

T-Lots of bourbon! There is lots of warming through out. There is surprisingly quite a bit of hop presence.

M- medium to medium/heavy carbonation that fades very slowly and consistently. Carbonation elegantly leaves.

D-Drinkable but you must like bourbon barrel aged beers. I tried to drink this slow but i found it to have a somewhat addictive quality.

 587 characters

Photo of drewba
4.81/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - murky, translucent dark brown/burnt sugar which pours with a half finger head which quickly recedes to a khaki ring and thin top coating just around the glass. I want more bubbles!

S - This may be one of the most pronounced vanilla aromas i've ever smelled. I know this doesn't make sense, but the vanilla just smells sweet, smooth, creamy, silky. To adapt a classic George Costanza line, "I would bathe myself in Backwoods Bastard if it was socially acceptable". The background aroma is riddled with delicious molasses, oak and a hint of dark fruit and alcohol.

T - After that aroma, how could this be bad? The taste does not dissapoint, the flavors are deep and delicious. The bourbon imparts lots of brown sugar, sweet vanilla and a slight dryness from the wood. The malts are bringing out a lot of nuance - hearty bread, pecan, caramel, raisin, plum. The hop profile is not lost, but not pronounced. A very mild citrus and bitter character is present and does a great job of balancing all of the sweet flavor qualities going on in backwoods bastard.

M - Creamy, smooth, low but tingly carbonation. Medium - thick body is just right.

D - I've got to say, I love bourbon, but this is like the bourbon barrel aged beer for the person who doesn't love a heavy dose of bourbon. The bourbon sweetness is highlighted, while keeping the alcohol heat at bay (though there is a bourbon aftertaste). Because of this, this was a beer I began sipping, but couldn't stay away for long.

 1,486 characters

Photo of readbaron
4.15/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark brown with a hint of lacing - no head to speak of.

Oak is very prominent in the nose - has the typical earthy oak aroma. Also hints of boozy sweet caramel and a touch of vanilla.

Wow. Lots of bourbon. Tastes a lot like you'd expect from the smell. Very smooth & malty with some oak notes and a lot of boozy caramel sweetness. Not much fruit or vanilla flavor.

Mouthfeel is perfect - medium body, plenty thick, nicely carbonated.

I had no problem polishing off a bottle - at this abv it's probably best to leave it at one 'though.

 552 characters

Photo of Khazadum
3.25/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Picked up a sole bottle at Lush the other day. Was surprised to see what they had to offer, and realized I had not reviewed this fine brew before. Chilled and killed this evening from my favorite brandy snifter.

A- Tough job on forming a head. What did develop, a minor quarter finger, was a yellowish tinged cream with huge bubbles forming a zig zag through the cap. Barely lasts five minutes to a flaccid skin and limp collar.

Deep, deep brown body. Almost as if we took brown food coloring and nearly saturated a glass. Carbonation is hidden for the most part, not much visualization of it.

S- The oak comes forward more-so than anything else. It has that sweet, earthy aroma. Hints of vanilla characteristic of the style. The bourbon comes forth more so as an antiseptic offering. More alcohol than anything else.

T- An explosion of sweet caramels. Huge malt bomb on the opening. It dies off in a shooting star pattern to reveal the barrel characteristics. Its bourbon sweet without the heat of it melding perfectly with the oak flavors. Woody with vanilla edging. It may have lacked the heat, but as it warms the pure ethanol flavors start to creep from the edges in. It has a extremely dry finish. Very little sweetness to pair it.

M- Highly medicinal. Disgustingly medicinal, actually. It evolves to a bottle of rubbing alcohol, ethyl style. It has the right amount of carbonation, but the flavors you want to linger do not. Thin, mild body. Its such a disappointment here.

D- The alcohol doesn't burn, but it just tastes awful. Truly, truly, gross fora finish. If I could capture the first moments and let them last I'd find this to be a good beer. Unfortunately, that is not the fact. This 10% tastes more like a 20% or worse. I'm forced to drink it further as I hit the middle of the bottle.

 1,811 characters

Photo of davesway10
4.11/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I love this beer, the bourbon, vanilla flavors are awsome. So far, ive been nothing but impressed with what founders has to offer. I will buy whatever these guys have to offer. A bit boozy, but this is what i love from barrel aged beers. Can't wait until next years version of this, i'll age at least one until then maybe more.

 327 characters

Photo of brewerburgundy
3.83/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, shaker pint, bottled 10/8/10.

Beautiful deep auburn with an amazingly persistent head. I finally tracked this woodsy legend down on a beer-centric trip into Missouri. That head is close to the color of old book pages and holds on and laces great despite the abv and bourbon barrel aging.

Dried bananas immediately jumped out at me. That smell breaks down into different, more expected aromas like maple syrup, vanilla, bourbon, very vanilla, oak laden brandy; all very sweet and all barrel with a little raisin fruit.

The flavors are very similar to what I found in the nose, but the alcohol is more present, bitter. Even if Founders doesn't use some maple syrup barrels for this blend, it sure seems like it to me. There is more dried fruit here.

Syrupy, liquor-like mouthfeel that seems appropriate because the beer is dominated by liquor in other aspects.

I'm splitting this bottle with my brother, and we've each nursed a half for nearly an hour. I think this is almost a liquor substitute that isn't very complex this young but still solid and great sipping for bourbon or brandy fans.

 1,113 characters

Photo of caskstrength
3.51/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Should review this one, had it a bunch of times.

Pours dark, dark red. Minial white head, fizzy, goes away pretty quick. The color is inviting, which is something I don't think I've said before.

Smells are sugary bourbon. Cherry coke too. Like a Jack and Coke, actually.

Tastes like a Jack and Coke. Sweet carmel and brown sugar with bourbon swirling around it. Maybe some fruit in the background, but mostly brown sugar and bourbon. Not a lot else going on.

Mouthfeel is thinner than it could be, but it works. Besides, Jack and Coke isn't that thick, so this shouldn't be either. Some booze lingers on the aftertaste.

I want to like this more than I do. It's good, it's a fine bourbon barrel beer, but it's not that exciting and when I'm done I rarely crave another one.

 779 characters

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.

 646 characters

Photo of WanderingFool
3.92/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Backwards Bastard pours a hazy, dark amber with a very small, fizzy tan head on top. What little foam there is lingers on the surface and sticks a few spots of lace on the glass.

The aroma is very oaky with some vanilla and bourbon mixed in.

Each sip of this full bodied beer is very smooth, slick on the tongue with a very mild carbonated fizz. The flavor is like the aroma with lots of oak, vanilla and bourbon. However, there are also notes of dark fruit, sweet caramel malt and toffee. It finishes with a mild alcohol burn and cherry flavor. The finish almost reminds me of cough syrup. Once gone the bourbon and vanilla flavors linger on the palate.

This is a very tasty beer that deserves to be sipped while the glass warms. I think the oak flavor dominates a bit too much. I'd bet with some age the alcohol notes would fade and make this a better balanced brew. I'll have to throw a bottle into the cellar before they are all gone.

 941 characters

Photo of Landfill21
4.3/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into my pint glass and poured into a dark amber/light brown color with a small head that disappears within a few mins.

Has a great oak smell can definitely smell barrels

Has a very good bourbon taste

Has a medium mouthfeel

Has a very nice driniability but at 10% it only takes a couple to feel nice

 315 characters

Photo of Doomcifer
4.81/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a deep mahogany color with decent head that fades away quickly. When held to light, you can see a bunch of "floaties" and haze.

Aroma is very complex. Oak, dark fruits, bourbon, a hint of peat moss, cherries, toffee, alcohol, orange zest....and more. I could smell this stuff forever.

Taste is equally complex. Oak, dark overripe fruits, prunes, peat moss, cherries, caramel/toffee, whiskey, tobacco, heather....the list goes on & on.

Mildly heavy beer, nice carbonation, semi dry finish. Slight boozy finish but not as much as would be expected. Surprisingly smooth yet warming.

I could sip on this all night if it wasn't for the ABV. Phenomenal beer.

 663 characters

Photo of joshuaseresse
3.97/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a pint glass:

A - Dark brown with slight signs of copper around the edges. Hard pour produces really no head, only bubbles around the edges. Slight lacing retention.

S - Caramel, toffee and vanilla. Traces of barrel and bits of peat and bourbon.

T - Sugar, brown sugar and barrel. Earthy and bits of toffee and copper. Maple syrup and black licorice. Gets boozy after it starts to warm.

M - A bit hot from the booze but thicker and dry toward the end. A bit tingly from the barrel.

D - Pretty easy to drink for a 10.2% and nice for a Minnesota winter day/night. I could drink about 2 before I had enough. Its a bit boozy but I'm ok with that. I'm not much for scotch ales but I do enjoy is one, especially barrel aged.

 743 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.