Name: Backwoods Bastard
Brewing Company: Founders Brewing
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
ABV: 11.2% (2016, but it ranges from year to year)
From the beer’s description on Founders’ Web site:
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.
Scotch Ales are one of the beer styles less consumed than say, an IPA or a Stout. The style has been around since the 19th Century and is known for being malty, dark brownish in color, with a sweet almost caramel-like flavor profile. It is also a style that I’ve come to really enjoy over the past year or so as I’ve had a small handful of well-made beers in this style.
One of Founders’ year-round styles is their Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale. The style has proven popular enough that Founders puts the beer out in 12-packs of cans. What they’ve done here with Backwoods Bastard is, in a word, sublime. Taking that already malty beer and aging in bourbon barrels weaves a magical spell over a beer that has an existing taste profile that is quite tasty and well regarded. As much as stouts benefit from the barrel aging (see Founders Kentucky Breakfast stout), the Scotch style ale may benefit even more as the profile of a Scotch ale may be more complementary to the refinement in bourbon barrels.
This was, I think, the second major Barrel Aged release from Founders when it was first released in 2007. They have since implemented a year-long “Barrel Series” of 6 beers which began in early 2017 with Frootwood (a Cherry/Fruit beer aged in barrels that at one time held both maple syrup and bourbon). When it releases in November 2017, the four packs of Backwood Bastard will be joined by a 22oz bomb.
Beer connoisseurs talk about the “nose” of the beer, which is basically the aroma. I can’t recall having a beer with such a wonderful nose to the point where I’d almost want to bask in the aroma and not drink the beer. That may be a bit of a stretch, but breathing in the complex aroma, a blend of caramel and bourbon, produced by Backwoods Bastard is a sensual experience that hints at the deliciousness of the beer itself. For as much attention as Founders receives for Kentucky Breakfast Stout (and it is well-deserved attention), Backwoods Bastard is a beer equal in complexity and taste.
I split a four pack with a friend/co-worker as we were both unsure what to expect from the beer. After consuming both bottles (a few months apart), this beer is quite firmly in my top 10 of all time. I had one in November shortly after getting the beer and I let the other one sit until April of this past year, which I think made the beer even better. When I get the four pack in November, I think I’ll let one of the beers age for at least a year to see how that changes the taste. In November, I’ll be getting at least a four-pack of my own.
Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 5-star rating.