Backwoods Bastard

Craft Beer Spotlight: Founders Backwoods Bastard

Backwoods Bastard By Founders Brewing

Founders BrewingEvery fall, Founders Brewing releases an oak bourbon barrel-aged scotch ale that they call Backwoods Bastard.

This great craft beer starts out as a style that many overlook, scotch ale. I’m a huge scotch ale fan so I love that they take this style and give it the barrel-aged treatment.

Let’s dive in and learn more about this one.

The Backstory

A great place to start is with the base beer that Backwoods Bastard is made from.

Dirty Bastard, a scotch ale, is the beer that is placed into bourbon barrels that becomes Backwoods Bastard.

This base beer is significant because it is the beer that saved Founders and is why they are still around to this day.

More or less, Founders was close to closing just a few short years after opening. They were making good beer that they thought others would like. But it wasn’t selling.

In an attempt to save the company, they brewed a beer that they wanted. This was Dirty Bastard. It was a bold, unapologetic beer that was “Brewed For Us”.

It was a huge hit and the rest is history. They took this great beer to the next level by aging it in bourbon barrels.

Read more about it here and watch the video below to learn even more.

My Review Of Backwoods Bastard

Founders Backwoods BastardNow that you know the history of the base beer, let’s learn more about what this beer has to offer.

As previously noted, Backwoods Bastard is a scotch ale that’s been aged for about a year in oak bourbon barrels.

It has an ABV of 11.2% and 50 IBUs. So based on that you can expect a strong craft beer with just enough hop presence to balance it out.

You can find this beer in November every year. In 2017, you could get it on draft, 4-packs of 12oz bottle or 750ml bottles.

In my experience, this beer sell relatively fast so make sure you grab it when you get the chance.

Update: Announced in December 2017: Founders is making Backwoods Bastard available year round starting in early 2018. That’s great news for me and anyone else that loves this beer.

Here is how Founders Brewing describes their brew:

Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.

Initial Thoughts

Backwoods Bastard pours a dark, reddish-brown. Then appears to be black in the glass until it catches light and the edges of the glass show the color it has.

The aroma is sweet, almost candy-like, bourbon. This aligns well with the high ABV.

And while canned craft beer has become the norm, I really appreciate that this beer is still in bottles. There’s something about a big barrel-aged beer in a bottle that just feels right.

Tasting Notes

This beer doesn’t hide anything. It’s shows its flavor and depth right away. The first sip is strong as you get huge notes of scotch and bourbon.

After you palate gets past that initial punch of flavor, you’ll find that the sweetness starts to come on strong. Some of this reminds me of the sweetness you find in a bourbon but it goes beyond that. It is nearly sugary sweet like syrup.

Considering the high ABV and strong liquor notes, this beer doesn’t have the “hot” burn of many other beers in the same category. Instead, it is very smooth and finishes easy.

Final Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of this style and specifically this beer. It’s got a ton going on but it all plays very well and provides a great drinking experience.

I will note that this beer gets better as it warms up. My normal process is to pour cold, drink slow and notice how the beer changes. After doing that, I would recommend drinking this at near room temperature.

In the future, I may store this outside the refrigerator as any level of cold prevents it from showing all of what it has to offer.

But either way, drink this one slow. Sipping on it is the only way to appreciate it.

Related Post: Are You Drinking Your Craft Beer Too Cold?


Founders Backwoods BastardI’m really happy to know that Founders Brewing found a way to survive the rough first couple of years of brewing.

And I am thrilled that they decided to take the beer that saved them and let it age in bourbon barrels. Barrel-aging does wonders for this style.

I highly recommend trying this one if you’re a fan of the style or just enjoy barrel-aged craft beers.

Have You Tried Backwoods Bastard? Do You Think It’s Better Than KBS?


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