Nick Carr on November 27, 2017 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Founders Brewing Co. Location Grand Rapids, MI Style Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy (Wood Aged) ABV 11.2% IBU 50 Hops ? Malts ? Shelf Life Many, many years. Suggested Glass Thistle or Snifter Serving Temp 55 – 60°F Availability Limited: Released in November (2017) Food Pairings Roast Lamb, Braised Pheasant, Smokey Blue Cheese, Asiago Stravecchio, Fruitcake Another offering from Founders’ Barrel Aging series and boy, am I excited for this one. Unlike Frootwood, and a couple of the others, which I was excited about because they were brand new creations, this one excites me because it’s like an old winter friend come home for the holidays. Backwoods Bastard isn’t a newly invited stranger to Founders lineup, but more an old and cherished uncle. It was first released in 2007, and before it moved to the Barrel Aged series it was part of the Backstage series. The brewery was founded in 1997 and, in 2002, they started barrel aging. It began with only two barrels and the first thing they barrel aged was KBS (their April release this year). As the barrel aging program picked up steam, the brewery began to run out of room. By 2007, they had run out of storage room and so they decided to move the barrels 85 feet underground into the old Grand Rapids gypsum mines. The mines date back to the 1890s, when open quarry mining was initiated by the Alabastine Mining Company. The mine remained in operation until the company went bankrupt in 1943. The land was vacant for three years until Bert Kragt purchased it and, in 1957, opened Michigan Natural Storage Company with the intention of using the 6 miles of cool caves to store produce and other commodities for interested companies. These days the caves hold more than 7,000 of Founders barrels, but rewind back to 2007, and the first beer to be aged in the cool caves was… you guessed it, Backwoods Bastard. Photo Credit: Founders Brewing Co. / Twitter THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Founders’ Backwoods Bastard. If you’ve tasted this beer or have a glass sitting in front of you as you read this review, please share your own tasting notes with everyone down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Backwoods Bastard falls into the glass a beautiful dark chestnut, but once it’s in the glass and held to good light it shows a deeper and richer color with more red, like Amethyst almost. Head is a light tan. It climbs to one and a half fingers and drops over the next couple minutes to about half a finger, but then magically holds, defying the alcohol load buried in the liquid. Swirl the glass and viscous legs stitch the sides, beautifully hanging, sliding slow. Oh, the aroma. Layers of complexity bring big velvety smooth bourbon, hints of sweet vanilla, spice and a malty core of butterscotch, toffee, and caramel. A whisper of smokiness clings to the edge. Mouthfeel and Taste: It runs velvet smooth across the front of the palate with a nice round full body. Alcohol heat rises at the back, slightly stinging like a good whiskey on the swallow. The taste is painted at the front with the big brash shout of spicy bourbon with a quieter passing of vanilla. This is a malty sweet one and makes me think of a hard butterscotch-caramel candy infused with whiskey… or something. There are hints of dark fruit here, but not much; a little age and they’d likely show more prominent. Oaky notes as the alcohol rises and just a bit of smokiness before dropping away with enticing hints of chocolate. The aftertaste brings low heat and memories sweet tobacco. FINISHING THOUGHTS The bourbon flavors in here are pretty strong and it would be fun to see how the profile changed over a few months or a few years, as the bourbon mellowed, more fruity elements popped up, and the alcohol heat lost some of its low sting. Maybe I’ll have to pick up another 4-pack and put it away for a while. Backwoods Bastard isn’t a beer for just any old occasion. It retails for around $15 a 4-pack. Sure, it’s a steep price, but it’s worth every penny. Best saved for that right occasion. You need some time to drink this one. It’s what you’d replace a low snifter of smooth bourbon for, if you’re a bourbon drinker searching a beer. It’s one to drink over a solitary contemplative evening while cold blankets the outside world, and you sit close to an open fireplace in that deep leather armchair, your pipe or cigar at hand. Yeah, it’s that kind of beer. Cheers!