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Founders Backwoods Bastard | Founders Brewing Company

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Founders Backwoods BastardFounders Backwoods Bastard

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Fall

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

Added by CortexBomb on 01-30-2007

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Reviews: 1,797 | Ratings: 7,926
Photo of drabmuh
4.55/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beer is poured from a dateless bottle (start dating your shit Founders) into a Bruery tulip. Beer is brown and mostly clear. Forms a good one finger head of offwhite bubbles, tiny bubbles, that leaves a ton of lacing on the glass. Carbonation is low but steady. Looks really good.

Aroma is strong caramel and bourbon, nicely boozy.

Beer is medium body, minimal carbonation on the palate. Pretty sweet, mildly dry, creamy mouthfeel, easy drinking. This is a very very good beer. Probably my favorite Scotch to date. Amazingly smooth and completely enjoyable start to finish. Thanks Dustin.

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Photo of biegaman
3.6/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Backwoods Bastard, to use the parlance of the South, looks like something the cat dragged in (if not worse). It looks like a mud fence daubed with tadpoles. It's flat, opaque and turbid with no exuberance or highlights what so ever. With my own fingers I've fished out clumps of sediment that looked like hot fudge, they were lumpy and rubbery like phlegm. Then again, I guess I'd look like shit too if I spent all those months in a barrel.

The aroma smells undeniably good but it's boozy enough to make me feel like the underside of a turnip green. This thing perspires bourbon and booze like a hooker sweats in church. It's a potent smell of spiced cherries, coffee, macerated prunes, chocolate, bitter tea leaves, truffles, toffee and burnt wood. That would all be fine if not for the intense concentration of raw bourbon. So far things are comin' up a bad cloud.

And I say that because I was hoping to drink a *beer*, not a bourbon. This has the vanillin, leather, tobacco leaf, charred oak and cinnamon spice flavours - all wonderful and intense and highly sophisticated flavours, but flavours belonging to the bourbon not the beer. All the sticky toffee pudding, nutty, caramelly and peaty malts and leafy hop flavours I love about Founders' Dirty Bastard are buried. It's definitely tasty but it's all a little too heady.

What's not helping is that the carbonation is slower than cream rising' on last years buttermilk. Plus the alcohol; I'm starting to worry I'll be staggering around like a blind horse in a pumpkin patch. It's musky, burnt, leathery mouthfeel leaves a savory, earthy, cigar box kind of aftertaste that is sophisticated but stiff. Because of its sweet flavours and thickness it's started to remind me of (fortified) vanilla and chocolate pudding.

As it warms, this thing get's hotter than a June bride and leaves your mouth dry enough to spin cotton. If there's one thing I hate about barrel aged beers it's having to pick wood splinters out of my teeth and that's exactly what I'm doing here. I can hardly taste the beer beyond all this burnt, tobacco leaf tasting oak. It's not acceptable in wine to show this much of the barrel or alcohol so what makes brewers think it's ok in beer?

Barrel aging is a lot like remixing a song - it leads to different, unique, interesting renditions. Sometimes, however, a song is just better left alone, especially if the remix distorts the original to a point of it being unrecognizable. In my opinion Founders has taken a great song - one of their greatest hits in fact - and gone and ruined it. Maybe (excessive) bourbon barrel aging isn't my thing - but hey, whatever blows your dress up.

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Photo of zoso1967
4.64/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to TCgoalie for this beer.

Pours woody deep brown amber with a diminutive light tan head. What little head there is fades fast, but leaves nice, although spotty lacing on the sides of the snifter. I discover as I hold this beer up to the light, that it is completely impenetrable. The aroma is quite alluring with plenty of bourbon and sweet toffee and brown sugar malt deliciousness. I also detect earthy hints from the wood as well as sweet vanilla. Bourbon and sweet malt are definitely the most prominent of the aromas, but all in all it has a well integrated nose. The flavor is not too in your face and very enjoyable. Wonderful bourbon notes mix with a heavenly malt backbone that is bursting with flavors of brown sugar, toffee and caramel. The barrel aging shines through much more in this beer than a lot of other examples, and I can taste the wonderful woody and earthy notes, as well as a surprising amount of vanilla. The mouthfeel is oh so smooth and on the fuller side of medium, with very low carbonation. The alcohol is fairly well hidden in this brew, and it goes down much easier that one would think. If it was not so delicious, I think I would be tempted to drink it too fast. Once again, Founders for the win.

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Photo of herman77
4.33/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark amber, dark chestnut color. Hardly any light gets through it, crazy for being this color! Small light brown head that dies off to collar quickly. Lots of small bubble lacing coating.

S: Malty and bourbon. Smells kind of like a highland single malt scotch, its got the sweet, floral, honey like scents. Tons of toffee malt and bourbon.

T: Tons of toffee malt with raisins, dates and vanilla. You can pick up the woody notes from the oak aging and obviously the bourbon is present. The bourbon influence is spot on, not to much, not too little. Drier, single malt like finish. Awesome.

M: Medium to fuller body with lower carbonation makes it feel very soft and slick.

D: Awesome drinkability considering its just over 10%+abv. Next to no sign of alcohol really. You can taste the bourbon, but its not "hot" at all. Goes down smooth for a big barrel aged scotch ale.
Another awesome beer Founders knocked out of the park!
I would like to try a a fresh bottle to compare. Bottled 11/16/09

Having a fresh one today (11-16-10) that was bottled on 10/8/10 and I can say that I like this one better with some age on it.

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Photo of Kendo
3.87/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured into a Duvel tulip. Body is brown, turning nearly cranberry-red when backlit. Interesting. No real head to speak of - a small khaki-colored film is about it, and it's gone quickly. Plenty of chunky sediment.

S: Whoa - boozy, big time. Scotch whiskey is definitely up front. Some vanilla too, but a waft of alcohol is there every time I stick my nose in the glass.

T: First impression: booze. Caramelized brown sugar and dark fruits, with oaky, bourbony vanilla noted as well. I'm not usually a big fan of this type of profile, but despite the in-your-face alcohol here, the overall dynamic works, as there is some balance between the booze, the sweetness and a drying finish. Alcohol heat is noted in the chest right away. Vanilla and sweetness all-around become more noted as it warms, but with every sip you get that boozy heat down the gulley.

M: Medium+ in heft, good, fine carbonation tickles the tongue nicely. Bigger bubbles would've made this a more harsh experience.

D: Not bad for what it is - a sipper more akin in many ways to a mild whiskey than a beer.

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

Thanks to Adam for sharing this brew.

A: The beer has a brown transparent appearance, with tinges of crimson. There is a small head and a touch of lacing.

S: Scents include sweet malts, toffee, oak, and bourbon.

T: The beer packs some flavor. The initial taste brings oak and bourbon flavors, followed by a malty sweetness and peat from the scotch ale lurking beneath the wood and booze.

M: The feel is moderately thin, with a slight alcohol burn in the finish.

D: Drinkability is somewhat limited, as the strength and sweetness make this a slow sipper.

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Photo of dieBierStube
4.63/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've had my share of bourbon barrel conditioned beers, but none of them exactly lived up to my expectations. In light of this, tasting this beer was practically an epiphany. I really can't imagine how this beer could be improved. The balance, the mouth feel, the pour, all for me at the absolute peak of perfection. I only wish I had another!

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Photo of billshmeinke
4.08/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a Bruery tulip. Served at approximately 50 degrees. Sick extra from Kelly88.

Heavy handed pour produces a finger of off white head with mostly tiny bubbles tight concentration and bigger bubbles on the top. Dark ruby color bordering on brown. Can't see through this one, no light getting through. Initial head dies down to a bubbly layer of foam around the edge and a slim layer of foam on the surface. Some oily legs, but not oily enough to pull spots of lacing back into the beer.

Smells is of oaky vanilla, boozy bourbon, raisins, figs, and sweet caramel malts. Nutty/fruity bourbon notes reveal themselves with some agitation as the brew warms. Comparisons to a bourbon barrel aged old ale would make sense based on the nose. Very enticing.

Taste is comprised of boozy bourbon up front that melts into oaky vanilla which quickly transforms into toasted caramel malts that end on a boozy nutty bourbon note with a resin/leafy hop bitterness. Bitter nutty flavor lingers on the palate.

High end of medium bodied, flavors aren't super rich which is one of my only complaints with this beer. Low carbonation. A bit coating, but not to syrupy/thick. Slightly hot on the way down.

I could definitely knock back a few of these without being overwhelmed or getting sick of it.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.91/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I reviewed the wrong beer here the first time (go see Dirty Bastard for that review). However, did get the proper beer here today after positive reviews on NBS. so here goes.
After an initial malty whiff a strong vanilla comes forth. Not boozy or woody at all. Kinda' sweet.
Nice dense head. Dripping lacing. Body is pretty dark with brown more than red.
Flavor is more complex, but still with the strong vanilla. Very drying too on a very long finish (man this is lasting forever). After it warms and opens there is more balance and a better balance, however, it's still towards vanilla and less bourbon. Slightly woody. Gets more boozy as it warms.
A tad on the thin side for style. Moderate carbonation - I'd like it a little flatter (that's just me).
I like it but not much beyond that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark ruby/amber color...kinda like red hardwood floors with a nice white head with a hint of rusty coloring. Once putting my nose up to the glass I get struck in the face with bourbon and vanilla flavors. Very strong alcohol scent with some sweet malts. Love that bourbon smell!!! Wow, this taste is like nothing I've ever had before. On first sip I immediately taste a sweet marshmallow taste, followed by sweet bourbon whiskey and oak flavors. Sooo tasty! Man, this beer is so sweet, but not too sweet at all. The bourbon blends perfectly with the sweet malts and vanilla (also a bit of maple) to make a deliciously perfect beer for a dessert. The mouthfeel is very nice, but maybe a bit syrupy. Still good though. Drinkability is scary-good for how hight the abv is. Outstanding beer!

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

12oz. bottle into a snifter. bottled on 11/05/09.

looks like an unpolished jewel in the glass with just a bit of light catching the nearly opaque, deep chestnut color. head is thin and dissipates quickly, but i'll forgive that a little considering the high alcohol content.

smells of oak, bourbon, maple syrup and booze.

taste is far more mellow than i was expecting. lots of carmel malt, with notes of oak and vanilla. a nice balance of hop character comes in and fades to a slight alcohol spiciness. i'm kind of surprised at how well the flavors blend together here.

body is lighter than i expected and exceptionally smooth.

this is one superbly crafted beer. dangerously drinkable and perfect for a cool michigan night. 9 month old bottle and doing just fine.

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Photo of boomer31
4.19/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Revised review 11/18/10 (original 6/6/10 - 4, 4.5, 4.5, 4, 4.5)

A - Deep rich brown with tan sticky head

S - Sweet bourbon through and through. Maybe a touch of smokiness from the base beer but mostly bourbon here

T - Bourbon up front with some sweet molasses in the back. As it warms up I get some wood and vanilla sweetness after it goes down. This is a good barrel aged beer. Second time around I'm getting more sugary notes especially in the back. Also more smoke and dark fruit.

M - Rich and nice carbonation. I think the mouthfeel hits the wee heavy right on the nose.

D - Lots of bourbon but no alcohol flavor here.

I've had this a couple times and finally got around to review it. Very very nice overall...does Founders do anything wrong when barrel aging?

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Photo of jhoban19
4.02/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

A: deep reddish-brown, hazy with light brown head. Foam settles rather quickly but leaves a strong amount of lacing that holds strong all around the glass.

S: Backwoods Bastard has initial aromas of molasses. As it warms strong aromas of caramel, vanilla and bourbon come forward. Further warming reveals some dark fruit, cherries I think, and some very subtle roasted and chocolate malt.

T: Flavors are heavy on the caramel, bourbon and cherries. Subtle hints of vanilla and molasses linger in the aftertaste. As I approach the bottom of the glass, a mild bitterness from the roasted malts swirl around the back of the tongue.

M: Medium bodied and syrupy with a long, lingering finish that has just the right amount of sweetness and carbonation. That sweet finish is followed up with a snap of boozy dryness and a gentle tingle / numbness that I associate with a good scotch.

D: I've done this a little bit backwards- I haven't yet had Dirty Bastard to compare with its barrel-aged brother. On its own I'm really enjoying this brew. The combination of flavors and finish are just right. The 10.2% is definitely noticeable but not overly hot. I think it would be even better with some grilled pork in a rich mushroom sauce- perhaps next time.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.91/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to htomsirveaux for sending me a few of these. I crushed them immediately!

A - Pours a beautiful ruby-mahogany hue, some small spotty lacing, a recurring patchy cap of tan froth.

S - Great barrel aroma, lots of well-placed vanilla notes, a wee bit of chocolate, rich toffee-malt; beyond superlative.

T - I am not even a malt-bomb or Wee-Heavy fan, but this stuff is amazing. Founders is ridiculous. Great and huge flavors of barrel, toffee, vanilla, booze and a small bit of smokiness to round it out. Again, mere words do not suffice...

M - Great creamy mouthfeel, nice soft effervescence; totally complementary.

D - Understatement of the year: "Founders is amazing!" JFC. Off the hook. This might be my favorite of all the Founders brews (though Nemesis is totally insane, so...)

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

Pours a murky brown color with a finger of head. Not much lacing, but the head rises up again with a swirt.

The aroma is thick with caramel malts, oak, sweet raisin, vanilla, and toffee. Mesmerizing, really.

The flavor is very oak forward. Lots of raisin and malty sweetness. A bit of boozy heat in the finish. Vanilla flavor is also quite evident. The flavors here are amazing, but there is a bit of a plastic element that prevents me from giving higher than a 4 for the taste.

The body is on the full side of medium. Not quite as big as I would like a wee heavy to be, but quite nice still.

Overall this is simply a fantastic beer and one that I will seek out every year when it is released. I have had a sample before this bottle that I thought was mind blowing, so I'm not sure if the plastic is just due to having an off-bottle or what. Perhaps I just didn't detect it before. Either way, it still tastes great.

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Photo of fropones
3.82/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice reddish brown with too much yeast suspended in it. Minimal head.

S - Bourbon. Lots of bourbon. Caramel and vanilla.

T - Sweet, bourbon notes, a bit of heat in the back. Caramel, vanilla and oak. A bit simple.

M - Medium bodied, low carb.

D - Fairly drinkable. Alcohol is fairly apparent. I had one of these a while ago when I first bought the fourpack and this was not as good as I remember, unfortunately.

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

12oz bottle poured into a tulip 06/06/10. Been looking forward to this one for awhile. Allowed to warm slightly before pouring and a little more before tasting.

Forms a large and fairly well retained light tan head. Dense dark brown body shows some garnet and surprisingly high amount of suspended sediment throughout.

Strong notes of vanilla, oak, and toffee. Slightly sweeter and a lot more dessert-like than I usually get in the style but still very nice.

Oak and vanilla Bourbon flavors remain a big part of the show but are very well integrated with the rest of the beer. More toffee and a subtle hop bitterness in the aftertaste.

There's a very slight heat here which is enough to remind one this is a big beer but overall it's still pretty easy drinking. The suspended sediment didn't cause any problems on the mouthfeel although I wish this was just a little more viscous.

A very nice beer but as good as it was it's still probably not among my favorites from this brewer. Founders continues to climb the ranks of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of beveritt
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Thanks go out to fellow Beer Geek DoctorDog for providing this one; quite some time ago. Label depicts a bearded old man carrying a double headed axe over his shoulder. no clear freshness date, but at 10.2%, I don't think it will be an issue. Poured into a small tulip.

Appearance: Pours with 3/4 finger of medium tan head. This settles to a thin ring around the glass and a few islands of foam here and there. The beer itself is a deep, rich mahogany, dark enough that you can't see through it.

Smell: Sweet, caramel malt upfront with an underlying graininess. Hazelnut and a slight sourness in the finish.

Taste: Slightly sweet caramel malt upfront with a subtle undertone of milk chocolate. Strong overtones of your typical oak flavors; specifically vanilla and cherries. Mild yet lingering bourbon flavor in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Slightly higher than average carbonation; enough to tickle the throat. Body is decent.

Drinkability: Another bourbon beer from the recent barrel aged craze. Good, and complex in flavor. But not a favorite.

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

Pours garnet with a nice tan head.

Lots of bourbon in the sose, followed by vanilla, figs, some chocolate, and... Twizzlers.

The taste is a tad more gentle on the bourbon with the cherry Twizzler-like taste soothing the fire, but the vanilla leads the show with the bourbon catching up in the end.

This is nice and chewy in the mouth with some burn in the finish.

I really like the complexity of this beer. Too bad I didn't pick up more when I was able. I wouls have liked to age a few.

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Photo of beeragent
4.36/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter from a 12oz bottle.

A - Poured a dark copper, forming a very thin tan head with light spots of lace.

S - Strong malty aroma with noticeable notes of oak and alcohol throughout.

T - The sweet malts coat the palate first, followed by the oak flavor coming through after the swallow. There is a slight alcohol burn in the finish. Awesome full flavor!

M - Heavy bodied with low carbonation. Taste lingers on the palate and very smooth.

D - Great flavor, aroma, and body! Whats not to like about this beer? The oak flavor from the barrel comes through nicely on this one, and is not too overpowering. The only drawback, which really isnt one, is the higher abv prevents this from being a sessionable ale.

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

the pour is dark brown like a wee heavy should be with a little head and a tan ring with minimal lacing..the smell is caramel and burnt toffee with a big bourbon boozy smell vanilla bean and cream smell..whoa !! the taste is boozy bourbon first so much so i dont taste the toffee and biscuit and caramel of a wee heavy..this is just a bourbon hit first with a whiskey/alcohol taste..just not my thing..the mouth fell is booze first with some caramel and toffee ..i dont know this brew is just not 4 me..so low score on drink ability..is this beer brewed well for the style ..oh yeah because as it warms it does mellow out... i just cant give it high grades for me IMO i will not buy it again. i just feel like im drinking booze instead of a fine craft brew IMO.. but will recommend it to scotch ale lovers with high bourbon notes if thats your likes

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Photo of kirkpjr
4.05/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes - 5/6/10.

Poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a very dark brown that light up with red when held to light. Two fingers of light beige head. Lacing develops immediately.

S: Maple syrup, light bourbon, and cream. This is one of the more unique beers I've smelled. Biscuits and breadiness here, with some very sweet malts - smells almost like pancakes with some type of bourbon butter.

T: Oak, vanilla, sweet malt, and bourbon. Pretty much tastes just like it smells. Very warming and filling.

M: Creamy with lightly above average body. Moderate carbonation. Nice lingering, warming bourbon finish.

D: Quite boozy. Couldn't have more than 1 or 2. Nice filling after dinner beer though.

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Photo of BetterDarker
4.66/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into snifter

A: Deep reddish brown, very thin off white head which quickly dissipated.

S: Right up front, the aroma is inviting. Clearly bourbon, but not overpowering at all. Hints of vanilla, some hops. So far so great, looks and smells fantastic!

T: I was surprised in my initial taste. I immediately thought of Nemesis, which is odd as BB is classified as a Scotch Ale aged in bourbon and Nemesis is a wheatwine. Not surprisingly, I think BB is a great tasting brew. Vanilla, bourbon, oak with no alcohol taste. Very tasty and quite smooth.

M: Smooth and creamy, on the thick side.

D: Dangerous. While the complex flavors and aroma beg to be savored, it's so damn tasty and smooth it goes down rather quickly. Could drink a four pack of this easily, except I can't afford that, both in the wallet and gut.

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

An attractive brown apperance, much like a dark tea. Small sediment swims around glass from a complete pour. Thin head fades quickly to a scabby head.
Nice mellow burbon aroma with trails of toasted oak barrel. Great buttery burbon aroma, not too overpowering.
Smooth mellow burbon flavors. Great to see time in barrels was not overdone. Sweet toasted maltiness blends with buttry notes from the burbon. Very mild hop bitterness adds to the complexity of brew. Burbon flavor hangs around throughout drink with a touch of liquor at finish.
Big thick mouthfeel that is very plesant as it rolls around mouth. Oak dryness lingers in mouth after drink.
Although flavors from barrel aging are the dominate charecter, Founders did a grat job on blending a quality ale foundation. One of the best barrel aged offerings available.

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
4.26 out of 5 based on 7,926 ratings.
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