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.
1,796 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: 1,796 | Ratings: 7,915
Photo of AJacob81
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on-tap into a tulip 11.13.12 @ Jak's Tap in da West Loop. From notes.

A - mahogany brown, deep amber highlights w a creamy off white head of 1 finger. great legs, patchy lacing.

S - big oaky bourbon straight away, brown sugar and vanilla in after. peat and a hint of smoke just detectable underneath it all. As usual for Founders, a top-notch bouquet.

T - closely follows the nose w brown sugar and peat more enhanced. alcohol heat picks up as beer warms but smooth port, sherry, rum-soaked raisins and melted butter as well. finish is lingering and caramel sweet but not cloying.

M - medium body, medium carbonation. smooth, dangerously easy drinking.

Worth the hype, but I really wish this was easier to get in bottles.

 729 characters

Photo of TBonez477
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle received in trade. Drinking very smooth.
Drank fresh on tap, increased ratings accordingly.

 181 characters

Photo of WildRoverBrewery
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: This poured a very deep brown with just a hint of red highlights. It had a light mocha colored head that was thin, and not lasting. It also left no lacing on the glass. Very light carbonation activity visible. I've seen more impressive looking beers, but nothing about it is off-putting.

Aroma: The nose was huge with caramel, maple syrup, and bourbon notes. It was incredible. It had a touch of figs/dates and booze as well. Outstanding bouquet on this one.

Taste: The caramel and bourbon carried over into the taste. More malty sweet than maple syrup in the taste than in the aroma. I couldn't detect much booze until the bottom of the glass. The notes of figs and raisins were on the back end of the palate as well. Awesome tasting.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, with low carbonation on the tongue. Very smooth, no alcohol burn, no astringency.

Overall, this is a fantastic beer. Probably the best bourbon-barrel aged beer that I've tried, and much better than it's base beer.

 992 characters

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.

 769 characters

Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Pours a very deep amber-brown. Hazy with a small tan head. Head retention is ok, and lacing is good.

S- Lots of peaty malts like Dirty Bastard, with only subtle hints of bourbon mixed in. Boozy scents follow.

T- Nice mellow mix of bourbon and peated malts all the way through. Drinks like a Dirty Bastard with a little more kick. Bourbon is most present on the finish, lingering on the tongue and providing a slight dryness.

M- Thick and creamy. Heavy in the booze department. Kind of chewy on the finish. Good beer to sit and sip for a while.

Overall, another world class beer from Founders. The things they do with a bourbon barrel astound me. Big thanks for yaknowbrady for sending me this and some others out of the kindness of his heart.

 749 characters

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

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Golden tan, light brown, not much head

Smell - Hops, whiskey, malts, alcohol, spices

Taste - I had no idea what this beer was til the first drink and wow. Nice scotch ale with oak and whiskey flavors. Its like dirty bastard meets kbs but not so strong. Its very smooth for being so strong. Theres a nice vanilla tone to it along with some carmael.

Mouthfeel - Mouth is covered in all the flavors i described. Tounge will numb slightly from the whiskey tones and alcohol.

Drinkabilty - Well, its over 10% so you cant drink it as you like. I split a 12oz bottle with a friend and was happy, so 1 bottle is enough. I can say, this should be a top 100 beer on here, its fantastic and i hope more people get to drink it.

 757 characters

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

2012 vintage bottle poured into a Founders snifter

The first thing I notice when I poured this into the glass is how dark it is, not quite what I was expecting. I held the glass to the light and it almost has a ruby color. Very nice.

The smell on this is just straight up sexy. I get a little bit of the vanilla, but I smell the bourbon. It's not overpowering at all. It's light and beautiful.

The taste is wonderful, but not as good as the smell. I get the vanilla, some oak, and toasted something in the after taste. I don't know what is toasted that I taste, but its good. The bourbon also plays a big role in taste as well.

This is a beer that I can enjoy all winter long. It's a drink that I can sit with by a nice roaring fire while watching hockey or football. I can even see drinking this with some buddies while bullshitting about life.

All in all I wish my bottle shop would have more than a one bottle limit. Guess I'm gonna have to road trip it for some more.

 978 characters

Photo of turbotype
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Not going type a wall of text here, just wanted to say that I think this brew lives up to the hype. Its a unique brew that is as deep, dark and boozy as you heard, and its terrific. Pours thick very little head that rises over time, then slowly recedes. Smells of sweet caramel and bourbon and tastes the same. A hint of bitter vanilla in the finish. Feel a little flat in mouth, as expected from a barrel aged brew. As someone else in the review section said, this blows away any Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy I have ever had.

Updated July 17 2014 to say this...
Age this beer. Trust me. So good.

 589 characters

Photo of brian23456
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Clouded, murky brown/reddish with little to no head

S- Mmmmm, Bourbon, oak and vanilla. Smells good to me!

T- Very malty with a good dose of bourbon. There is also oak, honey, vanilla, caramel and some more bourbon. The more I drink the more complex it becomes. Sweet and very very tasty on a cold Wisconsin night, defintaley a dessert beer.

M- Slightly viscous for a Scotch ale, smooth, low carbonation.

D- Goes down easy considering the ABV, I'm having no trouble getting this down although the flavors make me want to savor this brew.

Great scotch ale, the only big complaint is the lack of carbonation, but that won't keep me from buying a couple 4 packs! A fine dessert beer.

 688 characters

Photo of MNishCT77
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle acquired in the greater Washington D.C. area, 2012 vintage (bottled 10/5/12), poured into my NEBCO Gandhi-Bot snifter, drank 10/3/13 over an hour:

A: 3/3 - dark mahogany-brown coloration, minimal clarity and even , pours thickly into a subtle glass lacing

S: 11/12 - rich, intense bourbon-soaked malt flavor and alcohol

T: 18/20 - on the anterior tongue, it's expected from the aroma...rich malt and bourbon/rum complexity is intense; in the middle of the mouth, the flavors continue to envelope with an intense malt complexity (figs, caramel and toffee) with a huge alcohol profile ; the bourbon barrel just sits on the tongue until taking the next sip

M: 4/5 - high bodied; appropriate carbonation; alcohol just sits on the tongue like a sumo wrestler on opioids

O: 9/10 - I have had this beer before around this time last year, and, while I thought that the flavor profile was intense then, I was hoping that it would settle in and some of the malt complexity would shine though; however, it's still one of the most intense tasting beers ~1 year after bottling; it's an excellent beer but a small sipper that should be the last beer of the evening in a snifter

TOTAL = 45/50

 1,197 characters

Photo of crossovert
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz brown stubby bottle. 2010 vintage.

It pours an extremely deep and dark plum color. Just sitting there it looks black. The head is thick and tightly foamed and has a bit of creaminess. It is off-white and sticks for a nice while before receding with some nice lacing.

The bourbon and oak dominate the smell, though you can smell traces of the scotch ale underneath. It has a subtle fruitiness that provides a bit of freshness to the tried and true bourbon oak scent.

The flavor is very smooth and nice. It has a rich flavor of buttery toffee that meshes very nicely with the bourbon. There are notes of vanilla and milk chocolate caramel as well. The 50 IBUs are nice and keep this one pretty balanced. The bitterness is slightly tannic with a good deal of woodiness, hops, and a slight roasty bitterness. the fruitiness isn't as pronounced in the taste, but there is a nice bit of prune underneath it all that adds an extra layer of depth.

The mouthfeel is rich and full-bodied with an exquisite carbonation. It has an alcohoic punch but it isn't overt.

After having Dirty Bastard I didn't think this one would be this good, but this is exquisite.

 1,158 characters

Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep brown with a hints of red and a thin white head.

S - Lots of vanilla, caramel, oak, and bourbon.

T - Just like the smell. Nice mix of vanilla, bourbon, and oak. Slighty boozy finish.

M - Medium mouthfeel with little to no carbonation. Very easy drinking for the ABV.

O - An awesome beer. This is such a well balanced beer with the flavors blending seemlessly. I will have to save a few of these for the colder months.

 439 characters

Photo of jakecattleco
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Very dark, almost more black than red in color, with 2 fingers of tan head. The nose just screams BIG beer! However, the taste is very well balanced and smooth, almost shockingly so based on the nose. Good carbonation, and the finish seems almost a bit spicy. I will quite happily have this in my fridge for the colder months. Quite impressed, well done Founders!

 402 characters

Photo of scxcrunner
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

appearance: dark amber with an off white tan head that dissipates quickly. Smell is bourbon, sugary dark fruits/candy, and vanilla. Taste: bourbon, vanilla, caramel, and some coconut. mouth feel is smooth slightly syrupy.

 223 characters

Photo of Stevedore
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 10/5/2012, poured into a Bell's snifter and quaffed today, 5/4/2013.

Aroma: I love this. So much going on here- thick toffee, sweet candy, molasses, bourbon, vanilla and oak. I usually compare my BBL scotch ales to the CCB BA Big Sound- the one that got me started on bourbon barrel beers. And this is just as good! Full thick nose that definitely gets my taste buds roaring. (5)

Colour: Pours an opaque dark cola brown, though a bit more reddish than stouts- as you'd expect from a scotch ale. Comes with a <1cm tan head that disappears into a thin collar. There isn't a ton of lacing left. Fairly appetizing, but nothing too special in terms of how it looks. (3.5)

Flavour: Niiice. Lots of sweet molasses, vanilla and oak up front. There's a big toffee presence throughout the entire sip that keeps it sweet and mellow... and follows through at the end with some vanilla and oak complementing it- the molassy sweetness has died off then, but that's replaced by some nice smoky bourbon! Thoroughly enjoyable sweetness that definitely brings the bourbon smoke and flavour. I'd like a little more bourbon, but I'm really just nitpicking here. (4.5)

Mouthfeel: This is also awesome. Thicker medium bodied beer with solid carbonation that delivers a smooth finish that is both drying and refreshing. The body itself is rather resinous and syrupy, coating my palate in the malt sweetness and singing it with the bourbon at the same time. It's simply drinking excellently at 6 months. I'd like a little more carbonationi but then again it is 6 months old and I'm nitpicking. (4.5)

Overall: Excellent. This beer has taken the last 6 months well. Smooth, sweet and brings bourbon heat still. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and will be picking up a lot of the 2013 vintage and aging some more of it. It's almost up there with Cigar City's BA Big Sound- it's not as complex but its certainly mellow despite packing a good bourbon bite. (4)

 1,955 characters

Photo of Digimaika2
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

(4.25) A: Ruby red when held up to light with a thin blanket of head and sparse bubbles forming a ring. Good retention and patchy lacing.

(4.5) S: Caramel-toffee, oak, bourbon, dried dark fruits (dates & raisins), and vanilla. A smooth aroma without a harsh bourbon but rather more oaky-caramel focused. Each aroma can be identified quite easily.

(4.5) T: As per the aroma, with sweet caramel-toffee upfront transitioning into the dry and boozy bourbon-oak qualities. Dark and dried fruits are present including cherries, dates, and raisins. Vanilla and slight nutty elements round this out. Wonderfully put together with all flavours shining both individually and as a whole.

(4.25) M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Syrupy with a clean texture. Perhaps would benefit from a slightly thicker body but drinkability is probably better as is.

(4.5) D: This is delicious and alarmingly drinkable with the oak bourbon barrel qualities well balanced and very complimentary to the other flavours in this. Will certainly be picking up more of this.

 1,058 characters

Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my Secret Santa Raznug for this one!!

A- Body appears to be a dark brown color. Pours with a minimal <1/2 finger head that immediately fades to a very thin collar and no lacing is left behind in the glass. When held up to the light one can see that this is actually.

S- Sweet bourbon with an alcohol burn on the nostrils balances well with the dark malt profile offered by this Scottish ale. Sweet, like molasses and a chocolate presence added with bourbon sweetness and burn. Nice..

T-Upfront is a bit of roasted (but not quite bitter) malt that offsets the sweet caramel and bourbon flavors going on. The finish adds a touch of dark chocolate to what is already going on along with a bourbon alcohol burn. The bitterness is very well hidden the entire way through and the character of this beer is complex, slightly sweet, and very warm.

M- Low to medium carbonation and a body made up mostly of somewhat thick, very smooth, caramel and dark malt. Goes down very easily.

D- The more I acquaint myself to them the more I am loving Scotch Ales. This is a darn good one. The bourbon is a perfect compliment to this beer and I think its great. The alcohol is definitely not hidden...but it is not obnoxious either. Wonderful and definitely my favorite Founder's brew! IMO, it easily Trumps Breakfast Stout and KBS. Wasn't expecting this to be so good!

 1,367 characters

Photo of jbuddle
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

First time with this one, definitely not the last.
A - pours a dark ruby, brownish color with a decent light tan head that sticks around, pretty nice
S - the real winner here, full of deep rich malts, vanilla, bourbon, oak, and sweetness.
T - follows the aroma, very deep and complex. Let it warm up. Vanilla, followed by bourbon, good amount of alcohol, caramel and a bit of burnt sugar. Sweetness is up there.
M - nice, not too syrupy, but coating and and slick. Good carbonation
O - a real winner, definitely need to find as many as I can to hoard. Another awesome brew from Founders.

 589 characters

Photo of Shrews629
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a brownish, dark maroon color. An off white, very light tan head that was relatively small and didn't have much retention. Might be because of the high ABV of this beer. Left some traces of lacing. The beer is predominately cloudy with some burnt orange highlights at the bottom.

Smell - The aroma clearly had the characteristics of bourbon whiskey. A nice "woody" note also. Maybe even a small touch of chocolate. This brew had a very pleasant burnt sugar, toffee, caramel malt smell. It was a little like those candy brown sugar "haystacks." Sorghum even. Very complex and balanced.

Taste - The flavor revealed the bourbon whiskey once again, but it also had a brown sugar taste that gave it some sweetness. I swear it seems like I'm getting a slight touch of an orange slice taste. Small smattering of bitterness. Again, well balanced and complex.

Mouthfeel - Medium/full mouthfeel with a significant alcohol burn and warmth. Leaves a tremendous amount on the palate. Well after the sip the flavor remains. It's smoother than one might think and it is nicely dry all the way through.

Drinkability - This beer is very, very nice. Lots of kick and a wonderful aroma, taste and mouthfeel. Most definitely a beer for sipping. The alcohol is prevelant, but it is surprisingly not distracting. It's noticeable in the mouthfeel, but it's not unbearable. After one of these I would more than likely be done. Not from lack of enjoyment, but lack of alcohol tolerance.

 1,488 characters

Photo of MattyG85
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a snifter glass. 2011 Bottle.

Appearance: Dark and very cloudy amber ruby red with a moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of off white head that quickly fades into a small thin patch. Lacing is fairly light.

Smell: Upfront are some lightly roasted caramel and toffee malts with lots of brown sugar and molasses. Some big hints of bourbon, wood, oak chips, and vanilla. Also has a fruity cherry like sour presence that reminds me of a sour ale. Alcohol is pretty noticeable. Pretty complex.

Taste: Starts out with a big taste of bourbon and wood. Then things get pretty sweet. Lots of caramel and toffee malts with a huge presence of brown sugar and molasses. Some hints of vanilla and oak chips. Also some hints of dark fruits with notes of dark cherries, plums, and figs. Big presence of maple syrup and some butter. Very complex and tasty.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a lower level of carbonation. Very chewy, sticky, and syrupy but still pretty smooth. Definitely a slow sipper. Alcohol heat is somewhat noticeable but masked by the complex mix of flavors.

Overall: Quite a huge and complex brew. The flavors complement each other very well. It will be be interesting to see how this ages.

 1,240 characters

Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark walnut color with a thin lace of off-white bubbles. The bottle doesn't need to tell you this is aged in bourbon barrels -- the nose is like diving headfirst into some of the strong stuff, with hotly burning alcohol and vanilla caramel. In the mouth, it's more bourbon up front, with a nice peaty malt backbone.

But this is all about the bourbon. It burns pleasantly on the way down and leaves you feeling warm.

 425 characters

Photo of Janderson91
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite beers from my favorite brewery. Bottled on date has been rubbed off but it was purchased about two months ago. Enjoyed on 11/30/11.

A - Poured into a tulip. Very dark deep red color, almost purple with a small off-white head. Leaves no lacing.

S - Great aroma. Vanilla, wood, toffee, maybe some leather and some dark fruits as well. Very rich.

T - Similar to the aroma. Everything in the aroma is there, very sweet beer, but the alcohol helps cut it. Also a very slight hoppiness on the back end.

M - Mouthfeel is very nice. Thick and rich to match the flavor of this one.

O - Overall, this is an excellent beer. Just about perfect.

 656 characters

Photo of Beertracker
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Founders Backwoods Bastard pours up with a modest carbonation that creates a low, thin creamy tannish-white colored head that just rings the slightly hazy, deep chestnut brown-dark ruby body. The aroma is quite rich with a sweet caramel character that shows hints of burnt molasses, buttery toffee & treacle candy with underlying notes of biscuits & baker's chocolate. As the beer warms, the bourbon notes (charred wood, cherry, leather, smoke, vanilla, etc...) become more apparent. The flavor starts off rather bold with a solid kettle caramelized sweetness that's offset quickly by a blast of bitterness followed by some roastiness that combines to offer a bittersweet, bourbon laced finish that is quite deceiving. This is a great little, Wee-beasty from those Backwoods Bastards in Grand Rapids!

SLAINTE! Beertracker

*Trader's Note: Many thanks to hoppymeal for this one.

 880 characters

Photo of turfy
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

A - Poured a deep brown with a touch of mahogany. A small half finger tan head soon dissipated into a film with heavier ring.

S - Complex aroma of bourbon, caramel and vanilla.

T - First impression was of smooth bourbon and brown sugar with some alcohol heat. Lots of other traces going on here - caramel, oak, maybe some dried fruit?

M- Very smooth and creamy with perfect carbonation. Not too sticky - just right!

O - I like this a lot! This would be a perfect cold weather sipper. A very high quality complex brew, once again, from Founders.

 576 characters

Photo of nataku00
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle, about a year old, poured into a tulip glass. Beer pours a murky dark brown with some reds at the edges. No head on the pour, and lots of alcohol legs.

Nose is caramel, toffee, red berry, molasses, brown sugar, milk chocolate, vanilla, and a light barrel woodiness.

Taste follows the nose, nice caramel and toffee upfront, then some cherry and red berry as it warms. Barrel and bourbon notes on the swallow, vanilla, oak, light earthiness. More milk chocolate as the beer warms.

Medium full body with mild carbonation, more than I thought a high abv beer would have but doesn't take away from the experience. Alcohol is well hidden, but a bit of warmth after swallowing.

 683 characters

Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
4.26 out of 5 based on 7,915 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 FestĀ® Cometh

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

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!