Calling All Boozy Bastards
A Review of Backwoods Bastard by Founders Brewing Co.
Posted on 6/5/2012 by Chops
                   
Great
For avid beer fans, there are few events more exciting than a tap takeover. Specifically, the [insert one of your favorite breweries] tap takeover. The concept is simple. Let's say that your favorite local pub has 5 available taps. A tap takeover is when a specific brewery decides to come in for the day and showcase 5 of their best brews on those taps to promote their brand. It's a great deal of fun for pub regulars and fans of the brewery. And if you fall into both camps, it's a match made in heaven. Such was the case recently at my favorite local beer store. The Founders Brewing Company, one of my favorite breweries, decided to host a tap takeover in the store to promote the release of their highly coveted KBS specialty brew. On one of those taps featured the Backwoods Bastard Scotch Ale. Founders describes this beer as so:

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.

In the glass, this brew has a murky dark brown coloration that appears thick and syrupy. It comes with a creamy tan head that has decent retention. On the nose, there is a boozy sweetness that dominates the aroma profile and masks any notable malt traits. To be honest, it smells much more like a barleywine than a wee-heavy. Course, these two styles are closely related when it comes to appearance and aroma, so it wasn't too surprising.

The first sip was also heavy on the boozy sweetness like a barleywine. There is an immediate alcohol burn laced with bourbon at the front of the flavor train, which can get distracting at times and takes several sips to get used to. The mouthfeel is surprisingly thin for the style. Scotch Ales are well known for their big full bodies and the appearance certainly alludes to that, so I'm not sure what the discrepancy is here. Other notable flavors include a thick malty roast, some bittersweet chocolate notes, an oaky quality, and a few dark fruit flavors, namely plum. It's a pretty complex and rewarding brew once you get past the boozy layer. The finish is quite tangy and leaves behind a residual alcohol bite.

Overall, Founders' Backwoods Bastard Scotch Ale is a really good brew, but not a great representation of the Scotch Ale style. I would classify it more as a Scotch-barleywine hybrid. Fans of big boozy beers like barleywines, Belgian quads and cask ales will definitely find the Backwoods Bastard to be a tasty treat. The rest of the better beer community will probably find it to be a bit too harsh on the taste buds. Novices especially should stay away from this beer, at least until they gain some imperial experience. The Founders fan base has come to expect these kinds of monstrous delights from the brewery, so to them it's business as usual. The only question is, are you brave enough to join the party?

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Backwoods Bastard by Founders Brewing Co.
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