Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Founders Backwoods Bastard | Founders Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,750 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): 11.60%

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: 1,750 | Ratings: 7,771
Photo of woodychandler
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I (finally) reviewed Dirty Bastard from a CAN, but I hold out NO hope that they will ever CAN this one. That's okay, since it still helps me to reduce the bottle backlog here at Chez Woody.

From the bottle: "Ale aged in Oak Bourbon Barrels"; "Bottled 10/10/2014".

I Pop!ped the cap and just let it sit for a moment. I went with a light pour, producing a brief finger of tawny head that quickly reduced to wisps. Color was a hazy Brown to Dark Brown (SRM = > 22, < 27). I tried not to rouse the lees, but (un)clearly, I was unsuccessful. 8=( Nose smelled like straight up, straight on bourbon! I am not a huge liquor drinker, although I have an affinity for rye whiskey. Bourbon is not really my thing, but I know it when I smell it. Mouthfeel was medium. The taste was definitely of bourbon, but it was much less than I remember it being a year ago. I may be losing my mind, but man, this was smooooth for 10.2% ABV! It tasted of wood, coconut, caramel,but not at all sweet. It was impressive, really. The finish was smooth, in the twilight zone of semi-sweet and semi-dry. You tell me. Wow! Just ... wow. I just kind of sat back and licked my lips and contemplated how I might possibly follow this one.

 1,206 characters

Photo of Dravin
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 9/30/2015. Poured aggresively into a Duvel tulip.

Look -- One finger of quickly dissipating tan head. I can't fault the quickly disappearing head given the ABV of this brew. The body of the beer is a beautiful deep ruby. Forget rose colored glasses, this is what I want to see the world through.

Smell -- Bourbon is dominate, there is no questioning that this beer is bourbon barrel aged. Hints of malt sweetness peek out at your from behind the bourbon like a bashful cheerleader.

Taste -- Bourbon, lots and lots of bourbon. Hints of caramel mesh with vanilla and a delightful bitterness underlays everything and lingers playfully for the next sip. Hints of smoke.

Feel -- Wonder luscious body from both the gravity of the beer and a lazy but present carbonation.

Overall -- You have the silky rich body of a wee heavy combined with upfront bourbon. The malt is a perfect foundation to enhance and allow the bourbon to shine. Beer and bourbon had a baby and it's beautiful but it quite obviously takes after the bourbon. If I wanted the bourbon to be the supporting character rather than star element I'd probably be disappointed. I'm perfectly content with the bourbon being the star, but it's something for anyone considering picking up this beauty of a beer to keep in mind.

 1,294 characters

Photo of WoodBrew
4.56/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a solid beer. It poured a rich amber with white head that did not leave much head. The scent and taste had a strong bourbon base. The mouthfeel was fuller in body with smooth carbonation. Overall this beer is fantastic and borders a barley wine. Probably one of the best wee heavys ive ever had.

 308 characters

Photo of DASA10
4.24/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Anything put out by Founders deserves recognition. This is not an exception to that statement. This beer caters to those attracted to the style. Unique.

 152 characters

Photo of enrique_m
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this is a really tasty brew, the color is black and when you put it to the light it is an amber color with visible particles all over. i poured into a snifter and it gave me about 3 inches of a cream color head that went away quickly. and once i put it up to my nose i get the aromas of maple syrup, molasses, and dark fruits like fig. the taste of bourbon is noticable and you get a bit of sweetness at the end. i have to slowly consume my last three bottles of this lovely brew.

 482 characters

Photo of gryffilion
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured an amber-brown to full brown, clear, with about a half inch head that dissipated within 20 to 30 seconds.

Aroma-wise, it smells of molasses, burnt caramel, and toffee. Very Christmasy in its own way.

The flavor is intensely malty, with chocolate notes mixing with raisin bread and spice cake like some kind of dessert explosion. However, it's not sweet per se. Somehow it all works beautifully.

The feel is quite nice. Smooth, luxurious, like the leather armchair I want to be sitting in when I enjoy this.

I don't always drink malty beers, but when I do...

 578 characters

Photo of stompilator
4.98/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into that weird, tall Crate & Barrel glass.

A - Pours a deep, glowing garnet brown. Half-finger beige head.

S - Tons of raisins and currants, toffee, dry caramel, vanilla, slight oak tannins.

T - A deep, viscous caramelly malt character blooms out of the front palate. The line between the malt and oak is completely blurred, but it combines with a rich, extreme sweetness. The chewy dark fruit tones characteristic of Dirty Bastard develop, but have a port-wine-esque heft to them in conjunction with the barrel. The sweetness builds a bit, and the flavors all begin to blur and mingle. The bourbon heat rears its head in the late palate, but remains subtle. The finish is rife with dark fruit, and ultimately the booze and caramel win out.

M - Full-bodied, almost cloyingly sweet. Alcohol burn coats the palate with a slight tingle.

O - The numerous flavors here intertwine beautifully and create a huge dimension to this brew. Oh so rich and takes you places. One of the finest beers I've ever had.

 1,033 characters

Photo of JordonHoltzman
4.41/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated 9/25/15, poured into snifter. Light pour, so no read head, but some white bubbles lay on top of a mahogany body that is ruby red when held up to the light.
Aroma of vanilla, bourbon, some smoke, caramel.
Taste is similar, fantastic notes of dark fruit as well, definitely a sipper, also a little higher in carbonation than expected.

 349 characters

Photo of StoutElk_92
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep dark red with a fluffy, creamy, khaki colored head. Smells boastfully of dark fruit, vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Taste is bitter and oaky, with vanilla, toffee, bourbon and dark dried fruit, almost like a dried fig or plum flavor, with a slightly chocolate aftertaste. Feels light bodied, slightly creamy with moderate carbonation. Overall, a great beer. Full flavored, abv covered up well, looks awesome, feels good. If you like these strong intense flavors, then this is a really good beer.

 502 characters

Photo of tekstr1der
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

At first whiff, I was certain the whiskey would dominate and I would not like this. I'm not a fan of whiskey of any kind, so the whole bourbon-barrel-aging craze is something of an anathema to me.

However... having now got into my 3rd 4-pack of this stuff, I keep coming back for more. Pours a dark mahogany with a thin off-white top and some nice lacing. Aroma is dominated by whiskey, but smoothed out by malt and caramel. Flavor is similar in that whiskey dominates, but even more so the malty goodness rounds things out with a nice sweetness. Above all, this is one of the smoothest-sipping beers I've ever had. The creamy mouthfeel, and ease with which this swallows is amazing.

I suspect that were this not put in a bourbon barrel, it could possibly be by far my favorite scotch ale.

 792 characters

Photo of DrSpaceman
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque amber, very thin head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is oak and brown sugar. Taste is bourbon barrel forward, nice rich buttery finish. Body stands up to the alcohol, a brilliantly executed bottle.

 210 characters

Photo of JJKBeerLvr
4.08/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into pint glass in November 2015. I like the bottled date of 9/26/2015 on the bottle, and I drank it about 2 months after bottling.

Appearance: Very deep amber with dark tan head. Beer color is opaque but not cloudy. Head is medium, and leaves a thin film on the glass.

Smell: Aroma filled with mix of roasted malt, caramel, and some chocolate. Nice variety and balance, with a little aroma from the bourbon barrel.

Taste: There is a nice mix of sweetness from the malt and bite from the hops. There is a strong scotch flavor, and also a little chocolate flavors, balanced with a bit of hops. This was done in a nice combination with the other flavors. There is a nice variety of flavors in the aftertaste too, that lasts for a minute. I like how the flavors vary overtime with the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, and very smooth. Strong alcohol, which confirms the 11.6% on the bottle.

This is an extremely smooth full-bodied Scotch Ale. It is an interesting combination of flavors, and I would definitely drink this again. Overall a very good beer, and another winner from Founders

 1,118 characters

Photo of Myotus
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 bottle
Poured from a 12oz bottle (bottled 07Oct15) into a thistle.
LOOK: Pours with a finger and half worth of khaki foam that dissipates into a quarter finger's worth within 2 minutes and 5 seconds. Dark copper in color with an extreme amount of cloudiness. Rising bubbles are extremel scarce and medium in size. Lacing is thin and moderate.
SMELL: Strong aromas of black tea, caramel, and bready malts are backed by mild aromas of vanilla, subtle aromas of oak, and hints of bourbon.
TASTE: Very strong black tea flavors and strong flavors of bready malts and caramel enter initially. Mild vanilla and subtle oak flavors follow right after. Hints of bourbon and spicy hops enter lastly as all previous flavors persist, except for caramel and bready malts, which fade to mild and tea flavors, which grow even stronger.
FEEL: Somewhere between full-bodied and medium-bodied. Carbonation is subtle. Goes down incredibly smooth and creamy. Finishes with a moderate amount of dryness.
NOTE: Tea flavors took the spotlight on this one and left it slightly too bitter in my opinion. The bourbon played the background, which I always love when that happens. I would like to try a fresh one to see how they would compare.

 1,220 characters

Photo of thebeers
3.81/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Reddish brown with a very thin head that's quick to dissipate but leaves a ring. Raisins, cherry, caramel and bourbon on the nose, with a little oak in back. Most carry over to the taste, but less pronounced, with more malt character, a touch of hop bitterness and a slight staleness in the after taste. Thin side of medium bodied with a fair amount of carbonation. Not at all hot.

 385 characters

Photo of MHurley
4.54/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown with think sticky carmel head. Smells of Bourbon feel the nose along with oak and vanilla. Taste os boozy! Love this beer. Nice bourbon and vanilla, very smooth but still a sipper.

 198 characters

Photo of thepenguin
4.34/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 Vintage

L: Pours a turbid dark amber with a hint of burgundy and a khaki head.

S: Dried prunes, sweet wheated bourbon, nice oak with an especially pronounced vanilla note. Deep complex maltiness. Slight sherry notes, reminiscent of a sherried malt whisky. Tart dried cherries emerge as the glass warms.

T: Following the nose, flavors of dark fruits and vanilla, with a creeping light bitterness in the otherwise very sweet finish balancing the beer out. Malt controls the flavor with layers of rich caramel, some toastiness and lingering roast. Moderate perceptible booziness shows itself late in the sip with slight tannic notes from the wood.

F: Medium-full bodied, moderate carbonation, and pronounced chewiness and creaminess. Extremely tame for the ABV, even as this beer warms to room temperature; such little heat and a surprisingly light body makes this one a dangerous sipper.

O: A classic in the bourbon barrel aged category, Backwoods Bastard is one release I look forward to every year. Not one I can drink more than a bottle of at a time, and indeed even one bottle can begin to feel like a chore, this is one of those beers it take me an hour and half to finish.
2014 Vintage for comparison

L: About the same, perhaps slightly darker.

S: More bourbon notes and less oak/vanilla. Lots of dark dried fruits, notably dates and prunes, with some cherry. Lots of bread and some toastiness.

T: The vanilla pulls through in the taste, with some oakiness to boot. Has a really nice woody, slightly bitter roasty finish. Still very malt-forward, but seems a bit less cloying.

F: Similar feel to the 2015 vintage.

O: I think I like this better than the fresher 2015 bottle. Not sure if it’s the brew itself or the year of age on it, but the bourbon is a bit more pronounced, it’s less of a booze bomb and it does seem a bit more rounded. That said, it’s very similar to this year’s in most regards and I’ll probably snag at least one four-pack each fall until the day I die (or Backwoods Bastard slays me).

 2,041 characters

Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a mahogany reddish-brown hue with a slight head retention that dissipates quickly. The aroma is nutty and sweet.

Flavor is of bourbon, molasses, caramel, and hints of dark fruit. Very soft on the palate, and easy-drinking, yet highly flavorful barrel aged beer. The high alcohol was mildly noticed in warmth.

It's a very nice brew. I've had this several different times now over the years, and I must say this 2015 version may be the best yet.

 458 characters

Photo of OmahaKF
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 version. Smell is of bourbon, caramel, oak and vanilla.

Taste is complex with notes of dark fruit, bourbon, vanilla (which comes out more prominently as the beer warms), and the burnt top of creme brulee. There's just a slight alcoholic burn at the finish, but it melds well with the rich flavors of the beer. This year's version seems better than last year.

 367 characters

Photo of mothmanscott
4.54/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew was a gift from outdoor7or24. Pours a clear brown, that is garnet colored when held to the light, producing 2 fingers of frothy, mocha, lasting head that dissipates to a thick collar ring & surface cap of foam leaving a webby coating of clumpy lace. Aroma is dark malts, brown sugar, chocolate & dark fruit all awash in boozy bourbon & woody vanilla. Taste is dark chocolate/fudge syrup, brown sugar & dark fruits blended with bourbon, woody vanilla & alcohol.  Almost like liquid fudge cake & vanilla ice cream drizzled with bourbon. Rapidly diminishing chocolate, bourbon & wood aftertaste leaving a light bitterness. Bordering on sweet but not cloyingly so, the alcohol is detectable but minor for the ABV. There is little if any hop presence. Mouthfeel is near heavy bodied with low carbonation, smooth & creamy bordering on syrupy, chewy, with a little, but lengthy, peppery bite throughout the sip. This is quite possibly the best barrel aged brew I have tasted to date.

 987 characters

Photo of SR_619
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

This is as close to perfect as I've had - cracked open a 1 year old bottle (2014 issue) recently and am having a hard time going back to lesser beers!

 150 characters

Photo of SFC21
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage, bottled on 10/6/15, poured into teku. Cola colored body that pours with very little head. For how little carbonation appears to be in this beer a quick swish provides a light, creamy, bubbly mouthfeel. Caramel and light bourbon hints on the nose, although the aroma doesn't jump out of the glass. The taste is caramel candy, lightly smoky malts and a big bourbon finish. Great beer that gets better as it warms.

 425 characters

Photo of dleigh
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Beautiful dark amber color with a little red tinge. Lots of caramel and oak in the nose. A rich, malty, sweet scotch ale taste with a big caramel aftertaste. The feel is pretty smooth but maybe not as velvety as some of the big imperial stouts. Perfect for a cold winter or fall night. Easy to find for the quality. A great beer to purchase wherever you see.

 358 characters

Photo of Tele
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Serving Type: Bottle (10.7.15)
Consumed: 11.20.15

A: 4.5 Pours a mostly clear red-brown with a small, khaki head.

S: 4.5 Smells great. Lots of bourbon and vanilla up front, but moves quickly into honey, raisins, apple cider, toffee, and blackberry. Almost has a quad-type quality – pretty interesting.

T: 4.25 Like the nose, the flavors are really nice if a bit unexpected. There hot bourbon while the beer is cold, but as soon as it gets up to about 55 or 60 degrees, more interesting flavors come out. It’s mildly sweet with plenty of bourbon and some barleywine flavors too. There’s caramel, toffee, cinnamon, with roasted malt, bit of coffee, and mild bitterness on the finish.

M: 4.25 Body and carbonation are really nice. The bitterness makes the finish a bit too dry.

O: 4.25 Really nice beer with good flavors and nice barrel notes. It seems like a mix of different styles, which is nice and interesting, but also a bit disorganized. I feel like some time in the cellar will help things come together.

 1,020 characters

Photo of BranfordBound
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2015 keg on tap at MiKro in Hamden, pours a dark ruby color, near brown, with a thin tannish head that leaves little lacing. Smell is boozy, lots of fruit, some barrel notes. Taste is similar, it's a big, sweet, boozy beer. However, there is no alcohol present. Malts kick in first, and there is a lot of obvious barrel undertones. Tastes very similar to scotch at the end. Overall a really cool beer and they did an excellent job capturing all the flavors here.

 462 characters

Photo of wdberkley
4.73/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Founders, again, nailed it. Pours beautifully into a deep dark brown, almost like soda, with a solid 1" light tan head. Nose is bourbon, then more bourbon, and a hint of oak. The taste is fantastic - scotch, malt, caramel. It's boozy, but not too overpowering. Just an absolutely fantastic sipping beer.

 307 characters

Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
4.25 out of 5 based on 7,771 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!