Founder’s Backwoods Bastard: 10.2% abv
Here we go with another review. Backwoods Bastard. Might ring a bell, even if you haven’t heard of it. Why? Well, this is a bourbon-barrel aged Scotch Ale. I’ve done some small research on Scotch Ales, because there is a bit of contention about this term in our minds. If you go to Founder’s website, they will tell you Backwoods Bastard is reminiscent of a Single Malt. I will clarify to you that this is not the case. It contains malt flavors, but in this sense it reminds us of malted barley, as is a prominent flavor in TONS of beers. The problem we have with saying this is reminiscent of Single Malt Scotch is that it really won’t remind you of that, and eludes to some intrinsic quality in the beer. This beer has no real affiliation with the spirit itself, so far as we can tell.
Anyway, now let’s talk about the beer itself. The nose has malt in it for sure, but you get the classic bourbon dominant flavors like caramel, oak, large butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, and wheat. There is even the presence of raisons, cream, plain yogurt, molasses, and slight starfruit. That makes this a fairly unique, interesting nose. The arrival reflects the smell pretty accurately, but with a little less to it. Prominent flavors include vanilla, butterscotch, caramel, and dried fruits. The body contains the same sort of flavors, with butterscotch, malt, vanilla, caramel, weak coffee, milk chocolate, creaminess, and even slight ginger. The finish contains cinnamon, malt, vanilla, butterscotch, caramel, slight grapefruit and apple.
We can comment that is a pretty bourbon-dominated beer, and if you want to understand the influence bourbon has on beer, this is a great combination of two beers to try it out, with Dirty Bastard and Backwoods Bastard. On the other hand, we think this bourbon influence was a little overdone. A unique quality that bourbon brings out in beer is a creamy butterscotch flavor, which isn’t necessarily huge in bourbon itself, but time and time again we see it in these beers to varying degrees. Overall, the complexity wasn’t earth shattering, and neither was the balance. We like Dirty Bastard better and this could use a little less of its oak time.