Backwoods Bastard | Founders Brewing Company

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Backwoods BastardBackwoods Bastard
8,552 Ratings
Backwoods BastardBackwoods Bastard

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.20%

Availability: Year-round

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

Added by CortexBomb on 01-30-2007

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 8,552 |  Reviews: 1,957
Photo of soupyman10
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep maroon color with a small head and a touch of lacing. Nose is huge bourbon - delicious, if fairly straightforward. Flavor is similar, huge bourbon and malt. A complex taste - dried fruits, a hint of alcohol spiciness, and then bourbon all over the place again. Absolutely delicious. Body is nice and full, somewhere between syrupy and full bodied. Overall, a delicious one - glad I got to try it. Another winner from Founders.

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Photo of jbphoto88
4.07/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A deep leathery brown beer with loads of red when held up to the light. A simple head the color of buttermilk rises and falls without much show. The beer is slightly hazed but you can see through it, just barely.

The smell starts out with a distinct bourbon whisky character. Caramelized grains, vanilla and a healthy dose of oaky goodness. Absolutely delightful (did I forget to mention that I love bourbon.)

The taste doesn't disappoint either with the characters of the nose following through. Again vanilla and oak dominate the scene and add a nice earthy depth to the malt backbone. Caramel covers up a boozy note that at times can be harsh as well as enjoyable.

The mouthfeel slips a little for me. Such a big beer with heavy flavors has a surprisingly thin mouthfeel. Firm carbonation sizzles my tongue and distracts from my overall enjoyment. I like this brew but think a little more malt flavor and less oak could balance things out better. A tasty sipping beer.

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Photo of SeanRedd
4.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had to review this beer...Burnt cranberry color, thick and oily, light bubbles, sappy center. Light and firm head...nose of dark berries, tons of seeds. Fig newtons, to dried strawberries, to chocolate dipped grain. A biscuity body drizzled in fruity, burnt, boozey, caramel spread, finishing dark, bitter chocolate. A touch of robitussen enters as it warms; thats fine, its the best tasting robitussen I ever drank. Excellent ale...don't need really more than 120z a sitting either.

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Photo of JRed
3.73/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark amber/cloudy red sea, dirty penny topped by off white bubbly head. Aroma is frightening: whiskey anyone? Shot of bourbon, wood, spice, some sweet malt. Begins dull sweetness, toffee, woody, molasses, and then wild nights at the bar kick in with JD shots laced with a little sugar that leads into the aftertaste. A dull blade of taste, mild yet heavy. Thick in body with no carb. My face twitches a bit, I'll be honest. Gandalf is chilling in the woods with Leatherface and I got an invitation for dinner.

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Photo of Maxwell106
4.82/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first beer review so here we go.

12 oz bottle poured into a straight side pint glass

A: dark brown with a bit of red, not quite opaque. very little head (probably due to my pour).

S: Incredible! Great earthy aroma with a lot of vanilla, chocolate, and caramel notes coming through. the oak comes through a little bit towards the end, with some sweetness.

T: Vanilla is the first thing that hits me, followed by a rich blend of chocolate, oak, and caramel. The end is sweet with a touch of bitterness.

M: Very thick, but smooth at the same time. Towards the end my mouth started to feel a little coated.

D: For a beer that has a 10.2% ABV this is extremely smooth. Goes down very easy with very little bite from the the high alcohol content.

This is the first beer that I have drank and felt like I just had a dessert. The richness, flavors and aromas of this beer are incredible. In my opinion, I would enjoy it without the accompaniment of food, but that is me. Sadly, this one is only around in November so stock up while you can.

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Photo of AleWatcher
4.67/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: deep dark mohagany red with a tan head that retains surprisingly well for a barrel aged beer. After a few sips I'll add
that the lacing is thick and clinging hard to the sides
of my tulip glass.

S: malts. Oaky and fruity notes. Some dark fruits and a light hint of citrus? Smells kinda sweet too. Maybe like molases or thick unrefined sugar. Also a bit of alcohol on the nose.

T: wow. Very very tastey. Really has a lot going on with this one. It follows the nose but minus any citrus notes. Certainly getting some roasted malts and some alcohol on the finish. I am picking some sweetness either from brewers sugar or from plum cherry or fig flavors. Those dark fruits seem to be part of the lingering aftertaste along with the oaky wood flavor.

M: rather thick. Almost like cough syrup thick. Nice amount of
carbonation for the barrel aging... usually I find that the process makes them more flat, but not in this case!!!

D: this is one heck of a little sipper. Very enjoyable and complex beer that I would say could find a permanent spot on cold weather rotation (if I can find it for sale).

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Photo of dukedevil0
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a 4-pack from Binny's Lakeview in Chicago, IL. Bottled on 11/05/09.

A: Pours a dark brown color with slight reddish tint and two fingers of khaki colored very thick root beer float-like head that laces as it settles to a centimeter of froth.

S: caramel, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, oak, bourbon, dark fruits, raisins

T: just like the smell, a sublime combination - caramel, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, oak, bourbon, dark fruits, and raisins - it's a little more difficult to pick up the individual flavors and complexity, but it's there...a slight alcohol flavor in the finish

M: very full bodied and well carbonated that makes it feel somewhat creamy for a scottish ale - nothing really mindblowing here though

D: the flavor is really good and it makes me want to keep sipping and sipping, however the alcohol taste make this one hard to drink a lot of

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle with an upside down label into a goblet/tulip glass.

This beer pours a dark ruby amber color with a finger of off white and tan head.

The nose is rich caramel malts, vanilla, bourbon, oak, dark cherries, alcohol, brown spice, cocoa powder. It smells great!

The first sip delivers waves of lush malts, vanilla, bourbon, bitter wood notes, stone fruits. The alcohol makes itself known, but it isn't hot. This beer finishes sticky and dry.

Mouthfeel is full and slick with a low level of carbonation.

This beer is perfect for a cold November night, but one glass is all I can do in a sitting. I still wish I bought more bottles though.

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Photo of Frosty80
5/5  rDev +14.9%
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 dpnelson1978
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into Duvel tulip.

$13.99 / 6 pk.


S: Ripe red fruit, raisins, and bourbon. Boozy but pleasant.

A: Clear dark red-brown body. Small loose tan head that leaves only a trace of lacing and a sparse creamy cover.

T: Sweet red fruit up front, followed closely by hot bourbon that somehow manages to be intense and smooth simultaneously. Label says 50 IBU but I can't detect more than a trace.

M: Medium body with medium carbonation and little in the way of bitter bite. I find myself craving a heavier body.

D: This beer is fantastic, but at 10.2% abv. needs to be enjoyed in moderation. Would be amazing with a well prepared steak. Drink slowly and enjoy.

O: Amazing beer that overtakes Dirty Bastard as my favorite offering from Founders. This beer will age well, no doubt about that.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into The Bruery tulip; a re-rate from an earlier review of what I now believe to be a bad bottle. Have had this bottle sitting in the cellar since May, so it's definitely older than that.

Pours hazy dark red brown, very little head, only really a smattering of light-khaki bubbles on top, with a collar of large bubbles around the edge.

Nose an appealing mix of rich caramel malt and brown sugar notes and beautiful spicy bourbon, so smooth. Good, but lacks the complexity and subtlety of the flavor.

Taste follows the nose, only perfected - reminiscent of a bourbon-soaked slice of dark, rich spice cake covered in caramel. Notes of oak and bourbon are there, with a beautifully light, earthy bitterness towards the finish. The bourbon balances the rich caramel notes perfectly while still adding unbelievable richness to this - stunningly good.

Mouthfeel is beautiful, light but full, crisp but delicate - exactly as it should be.

Drinkability is unbelievable. I was practically swallowing this whole. I may be unable to resist going down for a second bottle.

So glad I gave this one a second shot - am now convinced the first try was a mishandled bottle. Fantastic beer, far better than it's non-barreled counterpart.

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Photo of KingMoomie
2.68/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

For me, this is a classic example of how a beer can change year by year.

When I heard that Backwoods Bastard was coming in this week, I was very excited. Founders is one of my favorite breweries, and I have loved this beer since the first year it was released.

I grabbed a bottle to drink at the bar, and everything started out good. The appearance was fine, just as I remembered, with a slightly dark color and a great bourbon nose.

I was talking to someone when I took my first sip, but I immediately realized that something was different.

Keep in mind that I do love bourbon aged beers, this was different. From the first sip you get an extreme booziness that dominates the beer. I tried to think back if I had ever thought it was this way in previous years, and decided I had not.

After passing it around for others to try and coming to the same conclusion, I finished it myself, but not in the way I envisioned.

The mouthfeel was fine, but as far as drinkability, it comes up far short.

As much as it pains to do, I have to review this beer poorly, and will be waiting until next year's batch to try it again.

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Photo of maximum12
3.98/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to my lovely wife for picking up a four-pack of this at the local Eagan Cellar's. She snorted a snifter of this during our Founders visit & I only had a sip of hers at the time, so was happy to find out this one had arrived in MN via the bottle.

Ruby, don't take your love to town...with virtually no carbonation or head to sully the view. Smell is malts & bourbon all naked & intertwined.

Backwoods Bastard looks more like a dwarf on the label to me. But anyways, this is good stuff. The bourbon is on top of this brew, but not over it. Molasses is the secondary taste, & then one could get all tied up in everything else below the surface. Wood lends a dry quality. Vanilla. Malts, of course, with the sweetness offsetting some of the bourbon chop. Far in the distance a dash of spiced fruits. Flat, heavy, more dangerous that a BA RIS, & less common. Heaviness detracts just a touch from the beer.

Another excellent beer from Founders. I've said it before & I'll probably repeat myself again, but these clowns could give lessons on barrel aging to anyone & everyone in the industry.

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Photo of PrinceDarren
4.56/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank this for dessert tonight after Chinese dinner.

Poured into a Duvel tulip. It is certainly not very attractive in appearance. Rusty in color with no head. Resembles bloody urine.

Smells like toasted oak, vanilla and honey-suckle. With a little bourbon cutting through on the nose (but not too much).

Tastes like cream soda with leather. Not overly sweet, not overly alcoholic. This would be the perfect companion for a good cigar! It has nice vanilla tones that don't overwhelm.

This lived up to my high expectations. I look forward to trying it again soon with a Havana stogie. If it pairs up as well as I hope, I am going to need to load up on a case of this stuff!

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Photo of danielharper
4.43/5  rDev +1.8%
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 BigAl723
4.31/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Ashley's in Ann Arbor. Served in a 10oz tulip.

A: It pours a very dark brown/red. Like a dark rusty color. Very nice tan head about an inch and a half thick.

S: Dark Fruit, caramel, bourbon, molasses, light oak...I had to taste this to get more out of the smell. It was a little hard to pick up for some reason.

T: Here we go. Kind of hoppy and heavy. Very complex...a lot going on. The taste and smell came out real nice once I tasted it. Bourbon dominates along with sweet notes of chocolate, caramel, and molasses. The taste of this beer grew on me while I drank it. I had to get two of them because they were so good.

M: Fairly heavy in the mouth with moderate carbonation. Perfect really.

D: For being over 10% ABV, it has great drinkability. The more I drank, the more I wanted. I had to stop myself after two.

Overall, I've only tried this once before and it was last year around this time. It was good but this year's batch is outstanding. I really enjoyed this and will be seeking out a four pack soon. Founders +1!

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Photo of Brenden
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours thick, a dark bronzed brown that can't be seen through. I'm assuming the lightness of the head and lacing is due to the high ABV, but I get a somewhat dense one finger ot so and, when it dissipates, a decently thick foam that manages to leave some thin patching with lots of webbing.
There's plenty of enticing elements in a rich, complex aroma: some caramelized sugars, a boozy note (bourbon? I suppose it would make sense), something nutty, something woody, perhaps even earthy, a strong malt, a light spiciness, dark fruits, a sweetness alongside the initial (vanilla, perhaps), even something leafy. This MUST be inhaled quite a few time to get it all. It's pretty intense.
It's all in the flavor. I didn't know what to expect out of the whole "oak-aged, bourbon barrel" thing, or even if it would make a difference in there. But it's there. I have to wonder if the rich oak notes I'm detecting would be there otherwise, and I can certainly doubt that it would have the tasty scotch / bourbon flavor otherwise as well. There's a gentle alcohol burn in the finish; otherwise, a very high ABV was well masked. Just as a side note, I was told I needed to grab one of these without knowing anything about it first, so I did a "blind" test. I had no idea beforehand what it was.
Just looking through the reviews beforehand, I came upon one that claimed this was too thin. My only response was to laugh to myself. Either there's no chance a bottle that seemed thin could possibly have been good or someone drinks way too much motor oil. This stuff came out as thick as I've ever seen a liquid pour from a bottle. It was thick on my tongue and in my mouth, huge, rich and creamy. This is massively full-bodied. Not only that, but there was even just the right crispness to it in a low carbonation that allowed it all to work together.
The only reason I wouldn't drink a barrel of this in a sitting would be to remain conscious and for the slight alcohol burn.

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Photo of MPLS
3.55/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked this one up from a fine selection of single bottles the worlds oak aged and bourbon really stuck out like.

A: Dark copper body with a amber bottom. Cascading head with a soapy head that appears to have gotten just a slight tan. Faint and mild-mannered lacing.

S: Dirty caramel infused bourbon, butterscotch, almond, alcohol.

T: Very sweet and malty, the butterscotch/caramel dominates the beer. Small linger hop profile. I might have had bigger expectations of this beer, maybe it's the style that doesn't work well with the oak-aged bourbon barrels. maybe I'm spoiled with bourbon-aged stouts?

M: Medium bodied would be generous, a bit thin for a "big beer"

D: Hmmm...the bourbon element entices me to want it, but the thin mouthfeel and not to my liking sweetness of this beer make would make me grab for it if it were in the back of the fridge.

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Photo of endincolorado
4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice, deep reddish-brown with some haze, and very little light coming through. Tasty looking, creamy tan head settles slowly with bubbles of various size. Nice sheets of lace stick around on the sides of the glass.

Delicious notes of oak and bourbon right up front, accompanied by a malty sweetness in the background and some grain that reminds me of single malt scotch. Faint alcohol. I cannot wait to sip.

Damn, i wish this was more readily available. A perfect medley of vanilla, bourbon, oak, malty sweetness, and toasty caramel that is carried by a rich, creamy texture with just the right amount of carbonation. Some alcohol is noticeable and helps complement the brew. This beer takes me back to September tours in Bardstown, KY inside the Maker's Mark distillery, with all of the smells of the sour mash and wood.

I could drink this all night (and with breakfast in the morning) but that probably wouldn't be wise). As a bourbon lover, (and lover of scotch ale, and Founders Brewing Company) I might be a little biased, but I strongly urge any fan of barrel-aged beer to give this one a shot.

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Photo of claminat420
3.73/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- poured a dark burgandy brown color. off white one finger head.

S- sweet malt with a sweet caramel blend. woody with a slight cherry or some other fruit hidden deep down inside.

T- the caramel malts and the woodiness of the oak barrels deliver in the front. alil spice from the alcohol and a weird fruit hidden delivers in the backend.

M- medium to heavy bodied. awesome on the carbonation.

D- for 10.2 abv i was expecting more. the four pack isn't to rough to handle.

Overall- this is definitely worthy to pick up.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter glass.

Appearance is a dark reddish brown with a small off white head that unfortunately dissipated quickly.

Smell is has a nice caramel sweetness to it with vanilla as well. The bourbon is there for sure in strength, to me making it a quite inviting aroma.

Taste is what the smell would make me expect, a pretty heavy bourbon flavor. And although its strong, its certainly doesn't seam overpowering and makes for a nice rich and sweet flavor with a bit of bitterness towards the end.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth. Seams pretty slick on tongue and is quite pleasant.

Drinkability is great! I think it goes down quite easy for the amount of alcohol. I don't think I would say its a session beer though as it might sneak up on you. This is something I would have one in a night. Something to savor every now and then.

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Photo of stoutfiend27
4.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into snifter

a-dark burgundy fading one finger off white head...lacing and legs forever

s-sweet vanilla...bourbon and oak...tannins and tobacco...malty sweetness faint hops

t-sweet malt up front..bourbon lingers in the back..vanilla...oak and roast..slight hops to hold it together...

m-creamy and oh so smooth...oily and sticky...wonderful

d-you would never know this brew is 10.2% at all....slightest warmth makes it feel more like a 6% brew...if not for the abv i would drink this all night

a nice surprise as im not a wee heavy fan at all...this is one easy drinkin brew...i cannot get over it..damn

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Photo of KeefD
4.22/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber brown, small head that's gone in a flash, no lacing. Aroma is of caramel and apples, chocolate, bourbon and oak. Taste pretty much follows the smell. Lots of caramel and light fruitiness reminiscent of apples, light chocolate, some roastiness, and plenty of warming bourbon. Alcohol is a tad hot, but not bad. Good stuff.

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

poured into a quasi tulip,looks very nice.deep brown with great lacing. rich bourbon and vanilla notes in the nose,bit of caramelized sugar.bit of dark fruit.

rich caramelized sugar sweetness,vanilla and oak flavors. bit bourbon burn in the finish.moderate clean bitterness. overall pretty nice,real into the strong bourbon flavors.

mouthfeel is medium bodied,doesn't take away much from the beer itself. the beer is a nice sipper,the abv is high which takes away from the drinkability imo. still kinda hot as well,but i like this rough version.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2009 12 oz bottle.

A: Pours a brownish red with a surprising amount of clarity. Light shines through. Thin white head forms and leaves loads of lacing.

S: Onslaught of oak and bourbon. The bourbon lends a nice vanilla aroma which meld nicely with notes of toffee and caramel. The nose is predominantly bourbon and smells very nice.

T: The bourbon is very strong in the flavor, but its not hot on the booziness like I expected from all the bourbon on the nose. This beer has a very nice bourbon character that never is overpowering. I am surprised at how tame the alcohol presence is with this beer.

MF: A nice viscous thick body. I served this one without letting it chill too much which seems to really work for this beer. It is thick and velvety in the mouth and never feels sticky.

D: This is TOO drinkable for a 10% bourbon barrel aged brew. The flavor is complex and delicious which keeps me going back for another sip. I really enjoy this one, even if I am having trouble detecting what I am used to in a wee heavy.

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Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.35 out of 5 with 8,552 ratings