Backwoods Bastard | Founders Brewing Company

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Backwoods BastardBackwoods Bastard
8,396 Ratings
Backwoods BastardBackwoods 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8,396 |  Reviews: 1,913
Photo of Gyle41386
4.28/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip.

Pours a darkish murky amber. Very little head that quickly comes and goes.

Aroma is of bourbon and oak. Sweet malts, and hints of vanilla from the oak.

Taste pretty much follows the nose, but with more bourbon. Big warming sensation in this one. Pretty sweet. Even more bourbon in the finish. Very smooth, creamy feel. Dangerously drinkable. Didn't really like this after my first couple of sips, but then it grew on me in a huge way.

Founders can't miss with me. Bring on Kentucky Breakfast Stout!

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Photo of ToddT
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Bright mahogany color with a small off white head. A few dark colored bits floating in the beer and sprinkled over the head. Head falls fast and leaves minimal lacing on the glass.

S- Bourbon and oak dominate the smell. A few notes of roasted malt, vanilla, and toffee as well.

T- Nice bourbon taste carries throughout, prominent but not dominating. Caramel, vanilla, molasses, and oak notes swirl through the backbone of the bourbon. Finish is sweet and dry with a second hit of the oak notes. The sweetness feels slightly out of place next to the bourbon and the oak.

M- Very smooth drinks more like a mixed drink with a carbonated mixer than a beer.

D- Very drinkable for a 10.2% ABV (2008 bottling). Again it feels more like a mixed drink than a beer to me, but a very drinkable mixed drink. Well done.

An interesting well done beer, complex in character and drinkable to boot. Slightly sweet at the finish and high in ABV but otherwise flawless.

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Photo of oracle
3.94/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

another gravity head find 10 oz draft pour

Beer arrived with almost no head at all, just a few bubbles clinging to the glass. No lacing left to mark the passage this most unusual beer.

Color was a deep dark copper brown, without a hint of cloudiness.

Aroma was quite mild, mostly sweet maltiness, without a hint of the suprises to come.

OK, maybe it was a surprise only to me. The chalkboard indicated it was a scotch ale, not a whiskey barrel aged scotch ale.

Normall I don't care for whiskey/bourbon barrel aged ales, but I did like this one. The whiskey flavor was not quite overpowering and the smokiness of the scotch ale shone through nicely.

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Photo of drgonzo3705
4.8/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice dark brown with slight ruby hues and a decent head that recedes to a thin film but leaves very nice lacing in the glass.

S: Nice soft bourbon smell fills the nose with the candied malts hiding in the back.

T: A sweet caramel taste with the bourbon riding along. The bourbon is pretty well balanced here.

M: Smooth, thick, and creamy makes this beer oh so good.

D: The only place where this loses points is the ABV. The 10.2% it clocks in at this year (2008) is pretty well hidden but a few could easily catch up to you. I love this beer though and plan on stocking up on the next release!

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Photo of grayburn
4.66/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a muddy black into the glass with minimal head to speak of. Laces like velcro.
The smell is whisky. Very good, very strong, put the kids to bed, whisky. A little oak to mellow it down, maybe some molasses.
The taste is the same, slap you in the face whisky, some oaky vanilla, a little bitterness, whisky. Delicious.
The body is huge, thick, viscous, excellent. Carbonation is light but present.
I could put back a few of these, delicious. Another impressive offering from founders.

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Photo of marvin213
4.1/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Seriously--dude with long gray beard and no irises just staring at me from the bottle begins this unique experience. Oh yeah--dude's holding an ax. Does anybody (consciously, anyway) consider bottle label when judging appearance? The beer itself is much better looking, and certainly less creepy. It's like a thick lookin' syrup as I gently pour this one into a pint glass and, unlike most beers, the head forms more as the brew just settles into its holder.

The smell is friggin' awesome. Now--full disclosure--I enjoy a good bourbon now and again, but as I ease into adulthood in part by transitioning into relatively tame beer, I'm enthralled by the return of this aroma. It smells like my old fraternity house...but without the cig smoke. Less beer, more bourbon. Like a baby's smile, it's oh so sweet!

This bottled beer looks and smells so cool that I knew it'd be difficult for the taste to meet the bar, and I'm afraid it doesn't. Don't get me wrong--this is a good beer, but it's so like bourbon that it's as if it's not quite grown. Back to my baby theme, I feel like I robbed the cradle by opening and drinking a bourbon before it was fully grown! I actually love this's just kinda wierd for a beer. I've had the Allagash like this, and I think this one is better. Where in the Allagash the bourbon (as I recall) is over the top, this is simply a good, well-blended, bourbon-influenced ale.

The mouthfeel is okay with a sweetness. Sweetness makes it a wee bit better than average in my book. Carbonation is good. As the liquid sits in my mouth and I can no longer smell it, it begins to lose that bourbon touch. It returns a tad in the aftertaste.

Now, this is a genuinely bourbon-influenced beverage. I've noticed it's different than the wee-heavy in the descriptor above, if for nothing else than the ABV on this joker is 10.2%. As such, I don't recommend you funnel this one. Tell ya what, though--this beer is unique and tasty enough to include in any tasting. I think it demonstrates a little about how versatile a beer can be. That being said, I probably won't ever drink two back-to-back. I will, however, strive to always keep one on hand.

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Photo of GatorBeerNerd
4.64/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz single purchased for me by a friend from Jungle Jim's in Ohio. Poured into a standard pint glass.

A: Pours a nice mahogany brown with red highlights. An aggressive pour delivered just a very slight head that disappeared quickly into a light haze. The aggressive pour also caused a lot of floaties. I didn't realize it was bottle conditioned. The scarce bubbles do leave more lacing than you would expect.

S: The aroma is a beautiful mix of bourbon and scotch. Multiple other aromas seem to come along for the ride. I do not know if I trust my nose, but I am picking up oak, brown sugar, and caramel. It is one of the most complex beer aromas I ever recall. Truly outstanding.

T: The taste seems to follow the nose pretty well. Caramel, brown sugar, and quite a bit of bourbon flavor. There is a bit of an oak woodiness as well. What a complex and tasty brew this is. It is by far the best tasting example of the style I have had.

M: It is nice and creamy in the mouth. However, as complex and bold as it is, it seems a bit thinner than I would expect.

D: The ABV is well hidden in this one. It smells and tastes of bourbon, but there is no alcohol burn for a 9.2% beer at all. It is a bit of a sipper, but that's because you want to enjoy each sip.

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Photo of jwc215
4.19/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BrewerB for this one!

Poured into snifter:

Pours hazed brown with a thin tan head that immediately becomes wispy. Some slowly vanishing lace sticks.

The smell is of raisins, toffee, bourbon (don't know which - but it's a nice one!), and vanilla/oak.

The taste is of raisins, toffee - towards chocolate with some peat. A nice bourbon character comes through strongly, but not overwhelmingly. As it progresses, some cherry and more vanilla come through. Sweet turning to a dry whiskey-like finish. Seems as though the bourbon were added directly to the beer.

The body is medium, but on the fuller side. I would have expected a but more fullness, but this works well enough to (barely) get the given score. Pretty smooth, though with a kick.

This is a nice sipper, to say the least. A tasty maltiness combined with bourbon. I'm a happy man to have tried this one!

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Photo of gmcfarre
3.97/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into St. Bernardus chalice
Cap seems a bit oxidized, which is strange since I bought this in November.

A - Pours a chocolate brown color with ruby highlights. Head is minimal, as is the lacing (even when tipped).

S - Strong caramel and molasses scents make this a sweet dark malty bomb. A woody alcohol flavor creeps in, especially once this beer warms.

T - Starts with some dark caramel sweetness that is quickly adjoined by a woody & earthy peat flavor. The peat adds a great deal to the complexity. Some alcoholic spice and warmth becomes evident as it warms. Lots of residual sweetness at the finish with some slight bitterness.

M - Smooth with a heavy, viscous body. Some alcoholic bite and slight bitterness near the finish, but overall its very smooth and full.

D - Good flavor and drinkability, but nothing amazing in this one. Still, its worth trying especially if you are into barrel aged ales and/or scotch ales.

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Photo of everetends
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle thanks to IBUnit63. This beer probably has the coolest artwork I have seen on a brew. Served up in a pint glass.

A: This beer pours a really nice milky, murky brown color. This beer doesn't allow much of anything through and you can't see through it. Held to the light, more red comes out in this beer and really lets you see the milkiness that moves around in there. The beer poured a finger of head but it didn't have any retention though. Fades almost completely away, and doesn't get you any lacing. Ah well, the stellar part of this beer is the color and murkiness going on.

S: Smell is a really nice bourbon and scotch aroma just spilling out of the glass. The booze smell is just amazing and you can really smell that bourbon presence. There is a nice brown sugar and caramel working in there. Rounds off with a bit of some nice oaky goodness. Smells boozy but still light enough so that it doesn't seem to be too much, just enough. Very nice.

T: Taste is about the same as the nose, just better. The bourbon really comes out with a nice creamy richness. The booze is just perfect, doesn't overpower at all. Then that booze is controlled by some nice caramel and brown sugar. Toffee comes out as well. The wood in here really comes up and controls all these flavors nicely. Damned good.

M: This is a medium brew on the full side. This beer is nice a creamy, with a slick syrup like feel. ABV is felt with a touch of heat on the throat but the aroma and flavors seem like it would be a bit hotter on the palate and on the way down. Carbonation is really nice and medium, making this one drop easily down the throat. Aftertaste is mostly some booze and oaky goodness.

D: Oh my. I had to keep myself in check and stop myself from killing this in a few gulps. For such a big beer with such big flavors, it is damned easy drinking. Goes down so easy and sits very nice. I just think that Founders did a great job of keeping these boozy bourbon flavors in check and from getting out of control. So damned good. Thanks, Larry. Love this beer.

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Photo of ATPete
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

Pours a solid brown color that glows a bright orange in the light from underneath my Dogfish snifter. A small head forms and quickly disappears leaving only a ring, oblong in thickness. I could sit and smell this beer all day long. Complex notes of vanilla, sweet malt, butter scotch, root beer barrel candy, coconut, subtle wet wood, cream soda, caramel and a tame whiff of lightly astringent alcohol. Amazing. The beer tastes just as good as it smells, a lot of the same combinations and layers of its aroma come through in flavor. Although this is definitely a sipper the alcohol is very well hidden behind the deep flavor profile. Full bodied with very light carbonation that barely pricks the tongue. Backwoods Bastard drinks like poetry and receives one of my highest recommendations.

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Photo of dondeez21
4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass @ about 50-55'F.
A: Deep Red/ Brown with a thin head that disappeared pretty fast.
S: Smells of bourbon with hints of oak/vanilla.
T:Definate bourbon/oak/vanilla. Not much of a taste of alcohol despite being over 10%.
M: Medium mouthfeel. Not too thin or too thick. The beer definatly sticks to your tounge for a few seconds.
D: This beer is tasty. I am a huge fan of bourbon barrel beers and this falls into that catagory easily.

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Photo of UA8
3.91/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a nearly opaque Dark fudge brown, with a tall and dense tan head.

S- Smells like a pina colada, with notes of pineapple, coconut, and sweet toffee malts.

T- Pineapple, coconut, slight alcohol release, and a sweet bourbon backing.

M- Silky and smooth nice light carbonation.

D- Not wild about the heavy pina colada scent and taste. However that aside a solid beer well worth trying.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.78/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Backwoods Bastard has a dark brown body with a creamy off-white head that boasts some pretty good retention. Leaves loads of lacing in rings and sheets on my glass.

Good aroma, lots of oak and bourbon notes followed by some malty chocolate and caramel sweetness.

This is pretty sweet in both a malty and sugary way, but also noticeably boozy from both the alcohol and the bourbon. The sweet wee-heavy notes probably take a back seat to the barrel characteristics. Bourbon, vanilla and wood are the stars here. In the background lurks the wee-heavy maltiness and in the finish is some alcohol warming. Personally, I would like the wee-heavy characteristics to shine through a little more, even though I do like bourbon.

After reading over the reviews I'm not the only one who found this mouthfeel off-putting. Generally I would say mouthfeel doesn't mean much to me, but this one was just think and watery when I wanted it to be rich and thick. This also probably added to the beer being overly boozy. The mouthfeel here definitely takes away from the beer overall.

Drinkability is ok despite the mouthfeel problems. Decent beer despite some problems.

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Photo of Shumista
4.23/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hmm, Founder's Dirty Bastard is one of my favorite beers and I love whiskey, I think this beer should be pretty agreeable.

A- Backwoods Bastard pours a dark brown with a small tan head. Good lacing.
S- Whiskey/bourbon with some oak. Dark roasted malts.
T- Lots of whiskey and oak but not overpowering like some oak aged beers I've had. This seems to me like a cross between their curmudgeon old ale and the regular Dirty Bastard.
M- Thick and creamy. Very nice feel to it. In some sips the alcohol does get a little bit hot.
D- Not great, but one is thoroughly enjoyable.

If your a Dirty Bastard fan, this is definitely a must try.

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Photo of wedge
3.18/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Pours a foggy mahogany color with a small, but heavily creamy tan head. Smells like sweet bourbon whiskey...oak and vanilla frosting. Some leather and dark brown sugar too. Super heavy flavor...dark caramel, lots of bourbon, vanilla woodiness, and sugary sweetness. Creamy smooth, heavy, and warming.

Super sweet, lots of whiskey...not as complex as it should be since the bourbon flavors pretty much mask most of the malt. Too sweet to drink more than one.

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Photo of Cresant
2.48/5  rDev -43%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a Sam Adams glass. No date. The body was cloudy and the color of brown leather. The modest head faded to a filmy ring.

Smell was bourbon. Only bourbon.

Taste was a bourbon smack in the face. There was a lingering sweet aftertaste.

Mouthfeel was medium to full in body. I have to say I "don't get" this one. Seem one dimensional to me. Too much up front bourbon flavor. I prefer muted bourbon notes, not feeling like I'm drinking a mixed drink.

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.22/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draft at 2007 Michigan BGWF.

Poured dark brown color with a moderate light brown head that diminished slowly with good lacing. Good caramel toasted malt aroma. Medium to full body with a smooth texture. Good well balanced bourbon and tart fruit malty flavor with a moderate smooth balanced finish of moderate duration.

Good brew.

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Photo of BirdFlu
4.12/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One would hope that this beer would be enjoyed after one has becom acquainted with dirty bastard, as there are obvioisly many more similarities than differences. Unless one is recently-familiar with DB, the differences may go unnoticed altogether. Basically, you don't really need to write a full review on this, but rather add some comments onto a DB review.. The bourbon presence is definitely noticeable and a nice touch. The flavor (and aroma) are both a bit more complex with whiskey and bourbon notes, as well as hints of vanilla and sweetened chocolate. Overall, in many ways it is very similar to DB and the other prominent Wee Heavys (skullsplitter, etc), except the brown liquor presence adds extra boozey warmth while at the same time slightly decreasing the drinkability as the sweetness and liquor-like qualities could get tiring after your second or even first bottle. It certanly puts the "scotch" in scotch ale, though for all it's deliciousness and highlights (which, like DB there certainly are many) it seems as though it's not quite perfect and falls just short of a solid A.

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Photo of sacullen
3.23/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I love Founders beers! This is the second of only two bottles I have found in the Chicago area. I had the first a couple months ago but did not review it. 12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A: Pours a dark brown that appears a lighter brown when held to the light. About a half inch of head that fades quickly with light/minimal lacing.

S: Smells like whiskey/bourbon. I can smell a bit of vanilla underneath.

T: I taste whiskey/bourbon. I like that part of the taste, but I'm having a hard time tasting any beer behind it. I can *almost* taste something in the finish, but the bourbon remains to extinguish anything else I can identify.

M: Medium mouthfeel with little carbonation. The aftertaste lingers for a few seconds.

D: I think drinkability is very low on this one. I'd rather drink some whiskey or bourbon because that is pretty much all I taste.

As I began, I love Founders brews but this one doesn't do it for me. I find this one interesting because I really love fresh GI BCS. However, the big difference for me is I can taste the beer in BCS but I can't with this one. Maybe it needs more time on it?

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.9/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Well, I'm finally getting around to reviewing this one after enjoying it quite a few times. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into my nonic pint glass a rich dark brown color with a good two fingers of foam. Smells and tastes of oak, vanilla, bourbon and caramel malts. Very rich in body with medium carbonation. What a great sipping beer on a cool night. Looking forward to my next one.

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Photo of JasonA
3.98/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark carmel, very carmelized looking. Single finger of head, quickly disapating into islands of head with ample lacing.

Roasted medium deep malt. COuld be burbon in there, tough to tell as smells a lot like malt. Sweet port.

Slight vanilla, some bittering/hops almost belgian yeasty flavor also. Bourbon present, not overpowering. Not quite full bodied, could use some depth.

A bit hot, could probably use a bit of time to smooth out. Feels a tad off, not smooth quite enough. ABV present.

Good brew. I want a couple more so they can have some time in the cellar. I would say at least a year.

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Photo of WakeandBake
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Founders,served in a snifter. A ruby/purple color with a thin white cap that fades quickly and leaves some nice lacing. Aroma is vanilla, oak,alcohol(Burbon)and maybe even some dry barly grain. Flavor is very earthy peaty,lots of burbon notes oak,vanilla,alcohol,rye bread,brown sugar,very complex.Full mouthfeel,medium carbonation,dry boozy finish. Very good brew if you like burbon but not something that I would drink more than one of at a sitting.

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Photo of beer2day
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark with a strong reddish tint. 1/2 finger head does not stay around for long.

Nose is insane. Heavy, heady aroma from the bourbon casks. Woody flavors along with vanilla come through. Like opening a bottle of your favorite whiskey.

Unexpectedly creamy in the mouth. You taste and feel the alcohol from start to fire-breathing finish. A little caramel sweetness in the finish as well.

Not for the timid, but very, very good.

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Photo of Yetiman420
4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Second go around with Backwoods Bastard. The first time it totally blew me away and I sought out another 12 pack worth (not that easy given it was well past it's original distribution date).

Scotch ale is a style I could do without. Founders has an outstanding body of work and I can appreciate Dirty Bastard, just not enjoy it.

Aging it in bourbon barrels is a whole other story. The second go around I'm equally impressed and amazed with the bourbon balance. The aroma seems a bit heavy and lends the strongest bourbon element to the experience.

The actual flavor is a bit more balanced. The strong malt profile of the scotch ale is very much balanced out by the bourbon.

I look forward to seeing how these age over months and years.

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Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.35 out of 5 with 8,396 ratings