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): 11.20%

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: 1,830 | Ratings: 8,050
Photo of BloodSoakedAleMug
3.3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Pours a muddy brown color with a half finger, beige head.

Rich with lots of sticky toffee, caramel, molasses and mild fudge. Somewhat fruity and candy like with hints of sweet red licorice and candied apples. Has a faint woody character. Alcohol is detectable on the nose.

Very sweet. Upfront you get a smooth and rich albeit slightly alcoholic toffee, butterscotch and molasses flavor.There are spicy notes of cinnamon, cola, smoked oak wood and vanilla beans in the background. Vague notions of licorice and candied apples hiding somewhere. It ends on more boozy notes of really sweet caramel, red fruits, and chocolate.

Very sticky and sugary sweet on the tongue. Borderline slimy. As previously mentioned it's slightly hot and alcoholic. Medium body with low carbonation.

The flavor is good, but it's too sweet for me. A one and done beer in my opinion. Something I really have to be in the right type of mood for in order to enjoy properly.

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Photo of cetherid
4.22/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a tulip


A nice dark ruby color. about a fingers worth of offwhite head. A little opaque but when held up to the light, not too bad. A very beautiful looking beer.


Sweet caramelly malts with a little bourbon. Maybe a tiny hint of vanilla and oak. A very nice smelling beer.


whiskey with some very sweet flavors. Caramel, vanilla...almost butterscotch like. One of the best barrel aged beers I've had.


medium bodied. pretty good carbonation. a little syrupy mouth feel but goes down smooth and not too terribly sweet.


definitely a sipping beer. Incredible flavor, but I doubt I could have more than 1 at a time because of the alcohol and sweetness. The beer is a bit pricey so I don't know if I'd buy another 4 pack, but would definitely grab it on tap.

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Photo of sevenarts
3.65/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've had this both fresh and about a year old. This review reflects both experiences.

A: Dark red/brown.

S: That heavy alcoholic bourbon aroma hits right away, letting you know that this is going to be a serious drink. Once it ages, the alcohol seriously drops off in favor of a rich, strong caramel sweetness.

T/M: And it sure is serious as a fresh beer. Very heavy alcohol/bourbon taste with just a hint of sweet malts around the edges to soften the blow. The bourbon taste is perhaps a little overwhelming, but it's still good. After some age, it's a much calmer drinking experience, with lots of butter and caramel, very smooth and sweet and tasty. It perhaps loses a little of its distinctiveness but it's still good.

O: An intense and overwhelming beer fresh, and a tasty caramel bomb after a year of aging. I've got 2 more bottles aging and I'm curious how it'll be after sitting for another year or two.

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Photo of CaptainHate
4.7/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is almost a perfect beer for me. I was already a fan of Dirty Bastard but the aging in bourbon barrels just puts it over the top. I will be aging this over time to see how this goes as well as purchasing subsequent years offerings. The ratings I give should speak for themselves (btw poured from a 12 oz 10/05/16 bottle into a Dogfish Head tulip glass) but the feel in the mouth was just superb in how filling it was.

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

12 oz. Bottle to Snifter at Jerry's.

A- Very, very thin almost nonexistent head. A dark wood brown with reddish tones when held to light.

S- Founders beers always have such great aroma. These aromas really add to the experience and are a big part of the reason their beers are so solid. Milk chocolate here, brownie and cafe con leche, toffee, smells like a fudge shop that also roasts and brews their own coffee.

T- Legit. Crisp, dark chocolate and hops. Hints of bourbon and the oak. Alcoholic burn coated in toasted coconut aftertaste.

M- So crisp for being so heavy, really a pleasant mouthfeel and oh so very drinkable.

O- So glad I got to try this. It is such a great step in learning more and more about beer. This beer is pretty legit, great beer.

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Photo of busternuggz
3.83/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 12 oz bottle poured into a Belgian glass.
Nice ruby-brown color with a 1/4" khaki head. The head settles to a thin frothy layer but leaves persistent lacing.
Smells like bourbon & bourbon spiciness, oak, caramel, and an odd sweet note like marzapan. A little subdued.
The taste is rich, leading with bourbon, spice, and oak notes, then caramel and just a little cocoa, with a creamy sweetness on the finish. Alcohol burn comes in on the aftertaste with a little astringency, but this mellows as it warms up.
Very nice texture. Lighter side of full bodied, smooth and creamy, especially as it warms up.
Pretty smooth for a barrel aged 10% beer, but the alcohol heat brings the drinkability down.
Overall pretty rich and tasty, but the flavors are too dominated by the bourbon notes and it has a bit too much heat.

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Photo of fastsrt
4.72/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured 12 ounce bottle in a snifter

A: amber, great head looks very good in the glass.

S: Burbon, malts

T: Burbon, caramel, oak, vanilla

M: full body, mild carbonation, rich thick

D: this is a delight to drink, im not the biggest fan of scotch ales, but this is impressive, I bought 2 bottle to have one now and save the other for later the other bottle didn't last a month well done

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Photo of chaz01
3.15/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle that was in my cellar -- no date found on the bottle -- but I believe this was 1-2 years old. Poured into a Founders snifter/tulip glass.

A: Muddy dark brown, thin head recedes quickly.

S: Big notes of bourbon, alcohol and a little rum. That's pretty much all I smell.

T: Starts with a little alcohol and malty sweetness. Some dark fruity flavors mix in with just a bit of tartness. Beer finishes with a little sourness notes.

M: Medium to full bodied, some carbonation provides a tingly feeling in the mouth.

D: Overall a little disappointed -- not sure if the beer just doesn't age well, but the tart sour notes were a bit unpleasant and I would think unintentional.

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Photo of Bobheed
4.27/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark reddish brown, like a chestnut finish color. Pours with a minimal taupe head that lingers on the edges.

S: Getting tons of sweetness, dark brown sugars, caramel. I also get the bourbon characteristics and a lot of woodiness

T: Very, very sweet. Has more dark sugar and even chocolate characteristics. Really tasted a lot of roastiness to it also. Definitely getting the bourbon flavors again too

M: Nice and think, medium carbonation with a very smooth finish. Alcohol is fairly minimal on the tongue

Overall, I really enjoyed this. One of the better scotch ales I've had, definitely the sweetest. While not a great textbook example of a scotch ale per se, it's still a very good beer

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Photo of RoninTK3
4.77/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A - Nice dark amber color with a bit of lacing on top.

S - Bourbon, vanilla, caramel, oak and alcohol are all present. Smells very sweet but the alcohol is definitely there. Perfect in this category.

T - Bourbon and oak dominate this one. Vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel back up the bourbon with some heavy booziness. This is a delicious beer, but there's no question it's a sipper.

M - Smooth, creamy, and medium bodied with medium level carbonation.

This is a pretty perfect sipper. If you don't like a boozier beer then you can avoid this one, but this is a very balanced, delicious beer.

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Photo of Lolli1315
3.52/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Very dark brown, almost opaque but not quite. Small head that disappears quickly. Not much left to stick to the glass.

S- Large hints of alcohol are thrown out immediately followed with a lacing of wood chips and vanilla. Finishes with a subtle sweetness.

T- A strong taste of wood along with vanilla evident from the aging. Back end of the beer is overshadowed by the taste of alcohol as it becomes somewhat overwhelming.

M- Medium body, lacks on carbonation that could help this finish crisper.

D- This is a sipping beer, but quite easy or someone to drink over dinner or for a relaxing drink after a meal.

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Photo of DrinkThemAll
4.24/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a mahogany and half a fingers off white head.

Smells of bouron and oak. Sweet malts and maybe a tad bit of toffe. Some bread as well. Smells like a Trappist.

Taste of sweet malts, oak and a tad of bourbon and toffe. Very bready and Very smooth for its alcohol content.

Mouth was very nice. Medium bodied with a nice oaky smooth finish.

I would definetly drink this guy again. I think I would prefer a breakfast stout instead, but a solid beer nonetheless

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Photo of kmeves
3.64/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a semi cloudy copper with a very small beige head. Aroma is medium sweet with grapefruit, bourbon, smoky and caramelization. Flavor is grapefruit, orange, caramel and smoky with some alcohol detected. Medium to full body, sticky texture. Finishes somewhat hot, low carbonation.

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

Had this on tap at a Founders event at The Big Hunt in DC.
Pours a dark brown color with ruby red hues. Creamy beige head with good lacing.
Smell is mainly of bourbon, vanilla, oak and some dark/chocolate malt.
Taste is very strong and starts with caramel and chocolate but soon gets overpowered by a heavy bourbon and vanilla blast.
Creamy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation and some alcohol notes. Aftertaste is chocolaty and oaky.
Great well balanced scotch ale. Definitely going to buy me some bottles later this week.

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Photo of codewarrior
4.09/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz singleton poured into a snifter.

Picked this little guy up in a trade with Lat, many thanks and welcome to beer trading!

L: Mahogany brown, but transparent. 1 finger fluffy, creamy head.

S: Not nearly as bourbony as I would expect from a bourbon barrel founders. Sweet in the extreme, with a good bourbon balance peaking through in the middle. Tails off into booze-y sweetness.

T: Starts sweet slowly, building into a massive sweetness ... when the bourbon powers through and makes itself known. Tails from there into a good blend of bourbon and malty sweetness. Lingers.

F: Thick and syrupy. Pretty good.

D: Bit of a sipper, but good.

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Photo of DraconusDesanctus666
4.34/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a cigar city snifter.

Deep dark murky brown,with a thin,light khaki head,that dissipates quickly.Dim distorted light coming through the glass.Slow carbonation.

The nose is dark roasted malts,and bourbon.Small hints of vanilla,chocolate,and coffee.

The palate follows the nose.I'm getting alot of roasted dark malt,and bourbon.Also some small hints of chocolate as the beer warms.

The body is medium,with a chalky after taste.Very little carbonation playing in the mouth.

I'm not a huge fan of Scotch Ales,but this is a very good,very complex beer.

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

12oz. Bottled 10/5/12

A - Pours cola brown in color, with lots of dark reds appearing in the glass. Creamy, two-finger head becomes a thin collar. Minimal lacing.

S - Definitely get the barrel notes. Plenty of sweet vanilla and oak. Underlying caramel and solid malt backbone.

T/M - Quite tasty! Like drinking a malted bourbon. Really well balanced. Not overpowering at all. Mild lingering bourbon aftertaste. Full bodied with almost perfect amount of carbonation.

O - Love it! Not much more to say. Drinks extremely well at a great price point. I will gladly grab this anytime it is available.

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Photo of TheodorHerzl
3.57/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a dark rustic hue with a thin tan head. The nose is loaded with vanilla, wood, bourbon, cherry, and a slight hint of peat. The flavor profile is pretty intense with initial flavors of vanilla, oak, and dark cherries. The alcohol burn from the bourbon though really took away from this beer for me. It does not meld with the beer and overtook from most of the flavors that I was tasting. I let the beer warm for about thirty minutes and the flavor profile did sweeten a little bit, but the alcohol burn was still quite harsh I think. I really enjoy dirty bastard (the non-barrel aged version) because of the rich caramel malt base, but I never found that in this beer. The mouthfeel is full bodied with plenty of alcohol on the mouthfeel. The drinkabilility wasn't really there for me. I hope with some age on this beer it will settle down a bit.

I like barrel aged beers, but this one was still quite hot for my liking.

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

Poured into a snifter a thin dark soda color, essentially no head save for a very thin ring.

Nose is bourbon. Some vanilla and toffee, sweet malt.

A sip is like drinking an exceptionally mellow bourbon and cola. That's not a knock. A slight oak presence emerges mid sip followed by a little carbonation. Medium body last through the end and coats an oily bourbon and alcohol heat to the palette.

Glad I chose a snifter. This one warms up nicely to bring out the notes from the nose and it's definitely a one-and-done! Big!

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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 OldSchoolGamer
4.07/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Founders really does know how to make a kickass and unique brew. I don't typically swear in my reviews, but damn, Founders knows their shit. This beer is great.

A: This pours a real murky brown color. Lots of suspended sediment and almost no head at all. This actually reminded me of diarrhea in a glass.

S: Lots of Bourbon on the nose. Oak, sweetness, and alcohol.

T: Alright, the star of the show here. This beer is super complex and awesome. There is bourbon, woody oak, chocolate, alcohol, vanilla, tobacco, and a hint of sweetness. The flavors are blended to perfection.

M: Medium bodied with very low carbonation. The beer coats your mouth with the wonderful flavors. Not cloying at all. There is also hardly any alcohol detection. Super smooth brew.

D: This brew is over 11% ABV, so you can't have too many of these gems. But, this beer is exceptionally smooth and the flavor keeps you coming back for more.

I usually do not care for Scotch Ales as they tend to be overly sweet and cloying. But this brew does not go overboard on the sweetness and I think the barrel aging did wonders for this one. It is seasonal, I believe, but go out of your way to get some when it is available. Great brew.

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Photo of thepenguin
4.34/5  rDev +1.9%
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).

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Photo of musicsherlock
4/5  rDev -6.1%

Slightly darker than ruby, almost burgundy...thin rim of cream head with wine like lacing.

Smells medicinal , in a good way. Dark fruits.

Strikingly oaky, malty, bitter. Little to no alcohol sensation at first, hotter as it warms. Subdued hint of bourbon.

Tickling of the tongue, more carbonation than expected yet smooth none the less

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Photo of psuKinger
2.97/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bottle poured into standard shaker pint glass because I need to save my snifters for New Year's Day football/friends tomorrow. No freshness date readily visible on the bottle, but for a big 10.2% scotch ale like this I don't anticipate age to be an issue.

A: Hazy dark brown color with a nice bubbly 1 finger white head that dissipated quickly.

It did leave a moderate amount of nice lacing on my glass as I worked through it.

S: Huge sweet smell of prunes, licorice, and other dark fruits and candied sugars is detectable even as I pour, before I even try to put my nose to the glass for a test.

When I go to my nose I can pick up a little alcohol as well.

T: Taste follows the nose, dark fruits and candied sugar with an alcohol presence. I can definitely pick up on the bourbon-barrel flavors. This is only my second bourbon-barrel aged brew, but the Goose Island Bouron County Stout that I'd had before this had similar charachteristics, so I think that's a good indication that I'm picking up on the *notes* that I should be.

The taste quickly turns from cool, light, and carbonated to full as the dark fruits and candied sugars move in quickly at the middle of the taste. The beer finishes with the distinct sweetness/pucker of bourbon and a warm booziness on the tongue.

M: This beer is well-carbonated and sticky sweet in the mouth, and finishes with a boozy-warm feeling.

D: I think I just don't much care for bourbon-barrel aged beers. This beer has a lot of interesting things going on, but it's just "not for me". A little boozier than I'd like, but it's really that overwhelming bourbon-sweetness that turns me off here. And at 10.2%, you probably wouldn't want to pound several of these in a given night even if you liked it.

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Photo of fields336
4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

a: same color as dirty bastard, red to mahogany, with a slight amount of tan head that dissipates quickly.

S: some nice oaky, vanilla, bourbon, burnt sugar, caramel, toffee, chocolate, almost stout-esque notes are coming out.

T: big bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, burnt sugar, toffee, rich dark caramel, and smooth woody notes round this out. little to no heat and the chocolate and toffee notes dominate the aftertaste.

M: has that delicious bourbon barrel smoothness, silken, with the perfect amount of carbonation. almost like a nitro tap.

O: wow.. will be buying more of this if I get a chance.

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
4.26 out of 5 based on 8,050 ratings.
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