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Founders Backwoods Bastard | Founders Brewing Company

1,742 Reviews
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Founders Backwoods BastardFounders Backwoods Bastard

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,742 | Ratings: 7,740
Photo of gkatsoris
4.26/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This was the most gorgeous color of red I have ever seen. I know I shouldn't judge the color by holding it up to the light, but when I say beautiful...wow.

S: Very earthy, oakey, and a little nutty and alcoholy.

T: The taste followed suit from the smell; very oakey and earthy. And the bourbon taste is very present as well. Very complex.

M: Very much a bourbon style beer. Very dry, crisp and not too much carbonation.

D: This is a sipper for sure. If you enjoy bourbon style beer's you should enjoy this one.

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Photo of drewba
4.81/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - murky, translucent dark brown/burnt sugar which pours with a half finger head which quickly recedes to a khaki ring and thin top coating just around the glass. I want more bubbles!

S - This may be one of the most pronounced vanilla aromas i've ever smelled. I know this doesn't make sense, but the vanilla just smells sweet, smooth, creamy, silky. To adapt a classic George Costanza line, "I would bathe myself in Backwoods Bastard if it was socially acceptable". The background aroma is riddled with delicious molasses, oak and a hint of dark fruit and alcohol.

T - After that aroma, how could this be bad? The taste does not dissapoint, the flavors are deep and delicious. The bourbon imparts lots of brown sugar, sweet vanilla and a slight dryness from the wood. The malts are bringing out a lot of nuance - hearty bread, pecan, caramel, raisin, plum. The hop profile is not lost, but not pronounced. A very mild citrus and bitter character is present and does a great job of balancing all of the sweet flavor qualities going on in backwoods bastard.

M - Creamy, smooth, low but tingly carbonation. Medium - thick body is just right.

D - I've got to say, I love bourbon, but this is like the bourbon barrel aged beer for the person who doesn't love a heavy dose of bourbon. The bourbon sweetness is highlighted, while keeping the alcohol heat at bay (though there is a bourbon aftertaste). Because of this, this was a beer I began sipping, but couldn't stay away for long.

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Photo of kdb150
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2012 vintage, poured into an oversized Piraat tulip at room temperature, though this is closer to 60 than 70 as my house is pretty cold.

A - Pours a deep amber/brown with a half-finger of ivory head, which quickly subsides to a thin ring. Hints of ruby red shoot through this brew when held up to the light. No lacing to speak of, but nevertheless this is a beautiful pour.

S - Bourbon, oak, and vanilla strong up front, somewhat masking the burnt caramel and slight smoke of the base beer. The combination is reminiscent of scotch. Excellent aroma, though a bit weak for not being poured into a snifter, which I really recommend for this beer.

T - Again bourbon, with the base beer coming through a bit more in the flavor than in the nose. The malt is perfectly balanced with the bourbon to produce a wonderful bourbon/butterscotch flavor that is not too sweet and hits all the right notes. This a ridiculously good beer, though it benefits from a bit of age.

M - Silky smooth, absolutely perfect for the flavor profile. Low carb which dissipates rather quickly, but this coats nicely and has the most exquisite aftertaste. The mouthfeel seems to be one that is fairly unique to bourbon barrel-aged wee heavies, and this is the best of them. This is a real pleasure to drink.

O - This is one of my absolute favorite beers, though from prior experience I'd say it is definitely better after a few months, when the bourbon subsides a bit and the subtle smokiness of the base beer comes through. The flavor takes on more of a scotch note than a bourbon note, and this becomes a truly sublime beer experience. Even fresh, though, this is an absolute treat, worth seeking out and drinking as much as possible.

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Photo of wr3ck00n
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on 10.12.12 (I think... hard to read, smudged a bit.) Contentedly consumed on 11.15.13.

Poured from bottle into DFH signature glass.

Pours a lovely translucent coppery color with a thin eggshell head. Very bourbon forward smell, hits you hard. As one that generally doesn't like bourbon it was a bit off-putting, but not enough to want to put it down. The taste.. Amazing? Bourbon is definitely there, but not even half as strong as it is in the nose. Bit of a twang, but in a good way. Hints of a bitter vanilla/burnt caramel. Silky mouthfeel, warms nicely as it fills and goes down. Overall a great balance and really quite lovely. ..and this is coming from one that thought they didn't even like Scotch Ales. Very nice.

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Photo of DrewZ926
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- deep brown with some golden highlights, minimal head that fades fast, no lacing

S- a wallop of savory bourbon, maple, caramel, molasses, sweet malt

T- really complex and balanced surprisingly, big bourbon flavors, not overly sweet though, lots of intense malt and caramel, toffee, a bit of mint and cocoa too

M- full bodied and fairly viscous

O- a great barrel aged offering from founders. Very bourbon-centric though, which to some may be off-putting. That being said I think the base beer melded great with the aging and preserved its integrity while taking on an even more complex flavor profile

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Photo of cps98
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a Backwoods Bastard from a friend, so I figured I’d give it a try tonight. Beer was chilled to ~45deg and poured into a snifter.

A – Beautiful mahogany color, with a nice toffee colored 2 finger head. Great head retention, stuck around for pretty much the entire drink.

S – I could smell a nice light burnt oak, with a warm alcohol aroma.

T – The first thing I tasted was malty sweetness. It was followed by light bourbon undertones. And finally a nice light oak with mild hop bitterness.

M – A really nice smooth beer that blended the alcohol well with the sweetness from the malt and hop bitterness. The carbonation was perfect. When I finished the beer there was a ton of lacing left in the glass.

O – Overall I really enjoyed this beer. I thought the flavors all complimented each other well. I would recommend this beer to anyone who likes bourbon barrel aged beers.

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Photo of spacebear09
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a very interesting and unique ale, never had anything quite like it before. The scent hints at massive bourbon flavor, but the taste is surprisingly mild. Very smooth and easy drinking. Flavors are primarily toffee, caramel, creme brulee, bourbon, and a hint of chocolate. Very refreshing and doesn't have the bite associated with most bourbon aged beers.

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Photo of mfunk9786
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

As someone who was introduced to scotch ales through Magic Hat's Jinx seasonal (which is still oft mourned by me, as there aren't many widely available low-cost scotch ales); this is at about the end of the spectrum in terms of intensity, learning curve, and ultimately - satisfaction.

A: Beautiful. Dark reddish brown, like a fine piece of furniture. Head is off-white with quite a bit of retention and lacing, which is refreshing and appealing for such a high alcohol brew.

S: Whoa. Once you take a whiff of this one, you realize you're in a whole different stratosphere than even other bourbon/scotch/whiskey barrel-aged beers. There is a strong smell of fine liquor, with brown sugar and vanilla bringing up the rear. Even if you don't like brown liquors, this beer BEGS you to take a sip.

T: Over the course of a 4-pack, this one has grown on me significantly. If you take a nice hearty sip and let the beer slide down your throat without just gulping it nervously, you start to sense the depth of character. It's still dominated by bourbon, but there are strong vanilla, molasses, and sweet oak flavors that come out to play. The aftertaste is more bourbon with a unique alcohol burn. Even for a 10%er, the alcohol warmth is far more noticeable than usual for a beer (and I'm guessing that's by design).

M: The mouthfeel is very nice due to the strong carbonation and warm boozy after-effects of each sip. You can sense the hard work that went into this beer when you consider that the extra carbonation goes a long way in reminding you that you're drinking beer - if they'd undercarbonated this one it'd just taste like some sort of bourbon equivalent of a wine cooler.

D: This is the only category that's not perfect, because it takes a long while to down one of these, and it's not for everyone. Even for me, someone who has given this beer aces all the way through this review, it takes quite a bit of effort, however satisfying each sip may be. There's just no way you can give this beer a high drinkability rating, regardless of how delicious it is.

Seek this one out. And get more than one bottle, because you're going to like it more and more with each one. And for the love of God - drink it cold!

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Photo of fropones
3.82/5  rDev -10.1%
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 jtingue
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage. Poured into a snifter.

Appearance. Clear reddish brown in color. Pours with almost no head to speak of. An extremely thin lace of microscopic bubbles form a thin swirls on top of the beer. A tipping of the glass leaves a permanent lacing of clusters of tiny bubbles.

Smell. A huge burst of what I can only describe as buttered bagel hits the nose immediately. As you let the scent permeate your nostrils, though, it becomes more reminiscent of whiskey with a slightly oakiness. A definite sweetness becomes the other defining scent.

Taste. Much like the scent, there is a very sweet buttery flavor right up front on this one. Also like the scent this transitions into an oak tinted bourbon flavor that is accompanied by a slight alcohol burn. Some flavors of hard candy come in, but only for an instant. They transition to dark fruit flavors with bourbon undertones. The finish is sweet and bourbon tinted.

Mouthfeel. Thick creamy body with a low amount of carbonation.

Still trying to decide how I feel about the buttery flavor...

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Photo of greybeardloon
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

bottled 9/28/2012

A: Not much head, poor lacing. Clear, reddish brown.

S: Dates, molasses, vanilla, booze

T: Caramel, vanilla roundness, anise, dried fruit. Booze is fairly well hidden, all things considered. The alcohol does cut the sweetness nicely.

M: Viscous and smooth.

O: An amusing novelty.

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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

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Photo of bbtkd
4.06/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Founders Backwoods Bastard, 11.6% ABV, 50 IBU. Pours thin to medium, walnut brown, nice four finger head that dissipates quickly, decent lacing. Nose is bourbon, some caramel, some sweetness. Taste is light bourbon, oak, caramel, lightly bitter. Some carbonation burn. Decent mouthfeel for the style. Overall an incredible beer. I'll have to stock up when it's in season again.

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Photo of gdfan47
3.53/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

first off.. im very irish.. and i cant /don't like whiskey

but i figured I would try this beer anyway

it poured a dark copper color without alot of head

the smell is of whiskey and alcohol.. straight up

it tastes like it smells, you can really taste the alcohol too

its pretty smooth but the non whiskey drinking part of me makes it hard to like this beer

i would try it again, maybe I will develop a better taste for whiskey..

there is nothing wrong with this beer, im just not acclimated to whiskey

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Photo of beatenbyjacks
4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - dark caramel colors with very little head and lacing, but what can you expect from a BA ale

Smell - I got lots of syrupy oak flavors at first. Once it warmed up I got a bunch of bourbon smells

Taste - hides the 10.2% quite well. Very smooth and easy to drink with a backbone of bourbon

Mouthfeel - leaves your mouth really easy and hides the booze very well

Overall - quite a tasty BA beer for sure. Wish they made it in bomber form to share.

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

Pours a dirty brown with a thin off white head that dissipates pretty quickley.
Smells of sweet vanilla and oak with a tiny bit of bourbon. I do pick up some of the caramel.
Very earthy taste but with a sweet malt backbone, gram crackers. A little boozy on the end. This beer is big and flavorful.
Mouth feel is thick and with everything going on in this beer it is a sipper.

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Photo of generalnotsew
4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Barely any head on this one. Gone in the blink of an eye. Coloring is very coca-cola like. Could all fit the style though.

S: Nice bourbon smell with a lot of oak notes. I had to check to see if it was barrel aged. Did not see anything because it sure smells that way. Hints of caramel. It is like a GOOD bourbon. A bit like the Buffalo Trace I had awhile back.

T: If I had to compare this to anything I would go with a bourbon and coke mixture. I honestly can't describe it any better. Damn warm on the throat too. This is honestly a good alternative to Jack and Coke. I think you could almost fool someone with this.

M: Quite chewy actually. Very thick and warm on the tongue. Carbonation is quite good. And do I mention this stuff warms your tongue and throat?

D: Hmmm. Where do I go with this? It is high if you are a sipper. However I don't see being able to hammer these down but I have to give it a middle score since it is easier to drink than whiskey.

I don't think my score will really reflect how much I am enjoying this. It is my first Wee Heavy. Appearance I gave average but I honestly don't know what these are supposed to look like. Drinkability took a hit but this is a really awesome smelling and tasting beer. Bourbon lovers should really check this out. Get a few for your bourbon loving non craft beer drinking friends. I think this will make then see craft beer in a different light.

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Photo of don1481
4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap here at Stubbys in MKE. Got the very last one - keg blew right as this finished pouring onto a globe.

Appearance: Pours a caramelish color with a nice head that retains for a couple minutes.

Smell: chocolate. Little bit of booze. Luxurious. Yeah, that's a good word for this.

Taste: slightly boozy, definitely not obnoxiously so. Chocolatey, caramel, melts in your mouth taste.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth. Oh, so smooth. Right up there with the Skull Splitter in this department.

Overall: very nice. Wish they didn't run out here, but happy I got to review it!!

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Photo of Ungertaker
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage poured into a New Belgium globe.

A- Deep burgundy with a khaki head that faxes to 1/8" and leaves a sticky lacing on the glass.

S- Bourbon, oak, cherries, molasses

T- It starts with bourbon, then gains a dried fruit character. All the while, a subtle sweetness lingers. The bourbon comes back heavier in the end and is joined by a faint boozy burn.

M- Thick and viscous at cellar temp. The carbonation is at a level similar to that of other barrel-aged beers, low.

O- Phenominal; This is my favorite Founder's beer. I love the complexity that the barrel-aging brings to it. I am disappointed that it will not be as abundant this year as it was last.

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Photo of itsscience
4.76/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Served in a snifter

Pours a very dark mahogany color that looks ruby red around the edges, producing a half finger of off-white head that fades quickly and leaves little lacing. The nose is not that of a beer but a bourbon. It has a huge bourbon characteristic along with oak, vanilla, butterscotch candy, and roasted malts. As the nose has promised, so the beer delivers: I get a lot of vanilla and oak char up front blending into a sweet butterscotch/toffee sort of taste with a hint of raisin and dark fruit. The mouthfeel on this beer is absolutely perfect: creamy and full-bodied with just the right carbonation. It's quite boozy in the aftertaste and I'm getting a warming in my chest as I work my way through the glass, so it's definitely a sipper.

Founders just rolled into Florida last month and I've been blown away by one beer after another from them. Breakfast Stout, Red's Rye, and their porter have all been great, but this is my favorite Founders brew out of the ones that I've tried, and it's not close. It's just a phenomenal, massive beer with a ridiculous flavor profile and great balance. One of the best beers I have ever had.

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Photo of Justin_Neff
4.58/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled: 10/05/12 - poured into a CCB Snifter

A: Aggressively pours a dark, dark copper color with 2-finger light beige colored head that sticks around for a few minutes. Leaves a beautiful thin layer of foam around the top of the beer, and a nice, thick lacing on the glass.

S: Initial woft is overwhelming bourbon. Followed up by oakiness and some dark fruit scents. Definite sweet smells on the finish.

T: At the onset, there is malty, caramel, sweet tastes that smell would lead you to expect. There is definite bourbon taste, but the oak, caramel, and surprising vanilla tastes balance it amazingly. This is incredible.

M: A little thinner than you would expect from vision and smell. A low level of carbonation, but decent creaminess. Actually surprising how drinkable it is.

O: Absolutely worth the price tag. Hard to track down, but definitely worth the hunt. Probably my favorite Founders brew to date. Wee Heavy is one of my favorite styles, and this one is at the top of the style for me. It's amazing how the vanilla and caramel notes balance the bourbon and oak. VERY GOOD.

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Photo of mjwellman
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I think this may be my favorite beer now. Dark brown in color but somewhat clear. Sweet nutty aroma with bourbon. The tast is carmel and bourbon with a lite sweet taste. No bitterness. This is one of the quintessential beers. I could drink this everyday.

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Photo of gabeerfan
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass with a hazy caramel brown with a nice light tan/off white head.
Aromas are pretty much all bourbon. Lots of vanilla, caramel, and candied orange peel. Very boozy, but more subdued than just straight bourbon. Almost no "traditional" beer aromas make it through.
Taste is about the same. Lots of bourbon flavors: vanilla, caramel, candied orange peel. Lots of alcohol flavors. Again, almost no traditional beer flavors in this.
Full-bodied, but pretty smooth mouthfeel. A little syrupy, but not cloying.
Drinkable in the flavor dept., but at 10.2%, it is a definite sipper or night cap.
Great beer. Not sure I could have more than one in a night, but this is a great alternative to regular bourbon.

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Photo of BigIrishman
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed in a thistle glass

Appearance: Pours dark ruby with zero visibility and almost no head.

Smell: Sweet oak over smooth malty background. Hints of vanilla, licorice, and even some caramel. This is pretty complicated and very good.

Taste: Like candy. Seriously though, this beer is hugely complex. It starts sweet and develops smooth caramel malts before a twinge of plum, raisin, and grapes come through. There is a slight bitter finish that cleans the palate.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and almost oily.

Drinkability: It's going to be tough for a barrel aged wee heavy to be very drinkable but this one definitely pushes that limit.

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Photo of Yagman3000
4.07/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 12 oz. bottle into a Dogfish Head goblet.

Appears a rich dark brown, deep in color, with a small foam layer refusing to subside.

Smells of bourbon with a nice fig and prune background.

Taste is strong of the bourbon with some vanilla and burnt sugar at the forefront. Mouthfeel affects experience.

This beer needs to be thicker and heavier. While the barrel aging has given it a certain warm appeal, I wish it had more on the tongue.

Unfortunately I've had different experiences with Founders. I want to really like their beers but I find them sometimes falling a bit short.

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Founders Backwoods Bastard from Founders Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 1,742 ratings.
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