When I saw the recent winter weather advisory for the Chicago area, I knew I had to pick up a beer that would keep me entertained during the promised blizzard to come. So, while looking through the shelves of my local craft beer store, Founders’ Backwoods Bastard Ale caught my eye. I’m familiar with Founders Brewing Co., as many craft beer fans are, due to the insane nationwide following their All Day IPA and KBS have generated. Both beers are known for their flavor and for the tradition behind them, which is fitting for Founders, which has established itself as a founding father of the now craft beer-mecca, Grand Rapids.
To standout in a town like Grand Rapids which has over 40 craft breweries within its city limits, you need to have memorable owners and memorable flavors, which is something that Founders Brewing has a wealth of. Co-founder Dave Engbers prides himself on making impactful beers with huge flavor profiles. This makes sense when you realize that two of the beers Founders is known for, KBS and Backwoods Bastard, gained their flavor through extensive aging in bourbon barrels. That type of bourbon aging experimentation has been a calling card for Founders and helped impact my final decision when I eventually picked the 4-pack of Backwoods Bastard Ale from the refrigerator shelf. So, without further ado, here is my review.
Founders Brewing Backwoods Bastard Ale:
Stats: Scotch Ale made with smoky malts, caramel and bourbon barrel-aged. 11.2% ABV, 50 IBUs – sold in 4-packs
Thoughts: Oh boy, this beer has a lot going on at every level. It pours nice, with little to no-head and has a murky, dark brown color. From the first sniff you can tell this stuff is high-octane. No hops, straight bourbon and malt notes. You know from the start that you’re in for adventure not dedicated to hops, which is a nice change of pace from some of the summer and seasonal IPAs I’ve become accustomed to. The taste is a mouthful and takes a bit to get used to you as you try to seek out all of the different flavors happening here. You can tell this thing has been barrel aged in bourbon casks because that strong note is present throughout. Along with the bourbon, there are solid smoky notes and a flavorful caramel aftertaste that helps finish the beer off in a quite enjoyable way. Some kind of spice is also present but not overbearing. You can taste the alcohol that’s for sure, but the bourbon and malt flavors get stronger and stronger with each subsequent sip and are washed down each time by a rich caramel flavor – which is definitely a good thing.
Verdict: As winter rounds into form, you want a beer that will keep you from dozing off – and this beer is exactly that. It has a very strong flavor profile with the bourbon and caramel being the stars of the show. It’s definitely a sipping beer and will help keep you “insulated” from the winter cold. Great beer, memorable finish.
So, as the weather turns and you bunker down in your home, you might be faced with a tough decision of what to drink to pass the time. One can only watch the snowfall for so long. When that time comes, you might think to pick up a hearty stout or smoky porter, but – if you’re up to being adventurous – I recommend you pick up a 4-pack of the Backwoods Bastard Ale. It has more than enough flavor to get you through the winter – or at least a weekend. That’s my review, as always, let me know what you think and if you have any comments to share. Cheers!
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