Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Backwoods Bastard

Founders Brewing Co.
Grand Rapids, MI

Style: Scottish Ale
ABV: 10.2%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Lemme tell y’all about an ornery sumbitch goes by the name of the Backwoods Bastard. This feller’s of Scottish descent, soaked in old bourbon barrels, and he haunts the woods in west-central Michigan. He’s a skittish sort, sticks to hisself, doesn’t much like folks. Y’all’ll only see him nigh on once a year, but when you do, it’s best you be careful. This bastard is mean and powerful …

In other words, I got my mitts on another of Founders’ balls-out specialty brews, Backwoods Bastard, a bourbon barrel-aged version of their flagship Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale.

First off, I take my 12-ounce bottle out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a good ten minutes to let it warm up a bit to make sure all those flavors will come out right away—I’m going to get everything this bad boy has to offer. The ensuing pour is a chunky dark amber. The tan head fizzles away quick-like, revealing a beer that is, actually, an ugly brown.

The Bastard’s smell makes up for his shabby looks: strong scents of dark fruit and toffee out front, followed by brown sugar and vanilla notes on the back end. Enticing, to say the least. The body is soft as moss and silky smooth, medium-bodied with low carbonation—the folks at Founders really want the malt and barrel aging to play the lead role. Indeed, the taste starts off with loads of plums and toffee, with a thick vein of vanilla sewn in. The finish starts off early, and goes long with a crescendo of brown sugar and molasses. Like a liquid chocolate chip cookie sans the chocolate … and a healthy dose of bourbon poured in. At the ends of bigger sips hints of the Bastard’s whopping 10.2 percent ABV show up, but overall the sipping is sweet and chewy, but not cloyingly so—those 50 IBUs keep things under control, and even keep the finish at a manageable length.

Backwoods Bastard is a fantastic sipping brew for those who like their beers big and gooey. Tons of malt with a dizzying mix of flavors from the barrel aging make every mouthful an adventure. It isn’t as mind blowingly brilliant as Founders’ other barrel-aged brew—Kentucky Breakfast—but this is a mighty tasty offering nonetheless. If you happen to come across the reclusive Backwoods Bastard, I highly recommend you give it a try.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on November 3, 2008.
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