Seldom do I find a beer that balances has the right measure of alcohol flavor versus sweetness. Founders Brewing Co.’s fall specialty brew, Backwoods Bastard, not only balances the two, but all of its ingredients.
As I cracked open the oak-aged four-pack I had purchased, I knew this was going to be a special brew. Pouring a deep, dark brown color with hints of redness, there was a minimal head that held a heavy bourbon smell. I could recognize a minor fruit smell as well. I’ve always been a fan of oak-aged, bourbon-barrel brews, so it was only natural for me to be instantly attracted to the richness I smelled.
The bourbon flavor was the first I noticed when I sipped. It wasn’t overpowering, which it often can be with aged brews. But it was the lingering flavors that impressed me the most.
Being Halloween weekend, I already had a sweet tooth. Brewed annually each November, Backwoods Bastard advertises itself as having sweet caramel, nut and malt flavors, so it was right up my alley.
The sweetness isn’t over the top — it’s a perfect balance of bourbon and sweet flavor. The maltiness was the most impressive to me — this was a very evident taste at the end that was the perfect ending for the brew, similar to what you would taste from chocolate malt balls. And as I sipped more, I could taste the sweet caramel and nuttiness, as well as a hint of vanilla.
In a sense, it was the perfect adult Halloween drink.
Now mind you, this isn’t your average night on the town beer. This is special — at 10.2% ABV it’s certainly a sipping beer and one I say is best to stick with one serving per sitting. Served best a bit above normal refrigerator temperatures (between 45 and 50 degrees), Backwoods Bastard pleases the senses in the best way possible. No flavor is over-dominating — everything balances very well.