Founders Brewing Co.
Grand Rapids, MI
I’ve waxed poetic before about my love for everything Founders, a love that’s only grown since they’ve popped up in SC again. As I continue to make my way through their catalogue, I tapped into my cellar the other night and opted for a bottle of Backwoods Bastard, birthday gift from last year courtesy of my friend Josh and one of the last few Founders beer I hadn’t tried yet.
This bastard is a 10.2% Scotch ale aged in bourbon barrels. It’s released late every year, perfect for those pre-winter nips you need to keep you warm. (Fun fact: The beer was temporarily banned in Alabama because they weren’t too keen on having “bastard” be on the label.)
The beer pours a murky rust-colored brown color. It sounds gross, but it kind of looks like dirty pond water when you hold it up to the light. It’s topped with half a finger of a thin bubbly head that vanishes quickly. The lacing falls fast, but there are some very strong alcohol legs.
The barrel-aging hits your nostrils hard. There are big oak and bourbon on the nose, along with lots of caramel, toffee and raisins. It’s a very rich, oaky sticky sweet smell with a bit of the peat and smoke you’d expect from a Scotch ale.
The beer is very mellow on the tongue with just a slight carbonation. It glides across the tongue and melts on the back of the throat. The oak is the most present at first, but then the bourbon melts over the palate and gives way to the big sweet notes. There’s a slightly woody finish, but the caramel and raisin notes are the biggest hit on the end.
Scotch ales/wee heavies are one of those styles I used to hate but have grown to really enjoy, and this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve had. Of course, anything from Founders that’s barrel-aged is going to be fantastic, and this is no exception. It’s rich, sweet, smokey, oaky, smooth … oh, just drink it.