One of my favorite dark beer releases every year and one of my favorite beers to stick in the cellar. Founder’s Backwoods Bastard is their Wee Heavy Scotch Ale aged in bourbon barrels. This beast of a beer is released yearly in the winter months and is one of the best beers to warm you up on a cold night.
Appearance: Cloudy dark brown, what little head from the pour dissipates quickly. Decent lacing down the glass.
Nose: Huge bourbon nose with vanilla and oak making serious contributions as well. Lots of chocolate, cocoa, toffee and caramel all of those huge malt notes. You really get the bourbon in the nose more than many of the other Bourbon Barrel Aged beers. You can feel the heat in the aroma.
Taste/Mouth: Bourbon, coffee, chocolate, oak and sweet malt notes. Good amount of malt, booze and sweetness to balance out the strong bourbon flavors. Light carbonation and lighter mouthfeel than you would expect from such a dark beer. Pretty drinkable for 10%. Really an extremely deep and complex beer, more and more flavors come out and develop as it warms up.
Price/Availability: 4 pack for around $10 and an annual release, pretty easy to get in the Midwest.
Overall: Without some time in the cellar it is a little heavy on the bourbon flavors but with time this beer becomes perfect. That small flaw is really nothing though in retrospect of how amazing this beer is. One of my favorite malt bombs out there and certainly one of the best bourbon barrel aged options.
I am very fortunate and was able to get my hands on a total of 5 KBS’s this year, one a friend saved for me at Bottle King and I was able to buy an entire 4 pack at a local liquor store. I plan on doing reviews on the KBS at various different points in the aging process (6 months, 1 year etc.) and figured I would start with a nice fresh one, bottled sometime between 2-4 weeks before consumption. This is the first time I have had KBS but obviously not my first time having a bourbon barrel aged stout. That being said I will have a totally unbiased opinion, only thing I know about this beer is that it is one of the most hyped annually releases in the US.
Appearance: KBS pours a dark, dark black as you would expect from a BBA stout or any imperial stout for that matter. Really small vanilla colored head that turned into some really nice lacing as I slowly drank this one down.
Nose: This beer had a really nice, complex smell to it that kept me constantly picking up new scents as I made my way down the glass. I got lots of chocolate and coffee/espresso both initially and throughout the beer. I was picking up some hints of tobacco, vanilla, toffee and caramel along the way as well. Deep in the nose you could also pick up some of the oak and bourbon from the barrel aging process but I would have liked to get some more of that,
Taste/Mouth: First I would like to say that the mouth was way thinner than I expected it to be, I was hoping for a super thick stout but I would guess because of all the additions of coffee/chocolate along with the aging process this one thinned out a bit. Good carbonation. Initial taste is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. I mean damn this thing is loaded with chocolate flavors that run the gambit anywhere from milk to dark chocolate. You also get coffee woven in with the chocolate flavors as well but not nearly as obvious as the chocolate. Some other flavors I picked up were hints of vanilla, some raisin and caramel all of which carried over from the nose. It had a nice amount of hops to help bring some more balance to the malt and sweetness of this beer. On the back end of the taste you can get a little bit of the bourbon and some heat from the 11.2% ABV but not as much as you would expect. I would have liked some more oak and bourbon in the flavor.
Availability/Price Point: This is where this beer kind of sucks. I appreciate limited edition things and hype behind stuff but this beer just promotes price gouging. It is almost impossible to get a whole 4 pack of it and most places around me in New Jersey were charging $8.50-$10.00 a 12oz bottle. That is insane. Most stores only got 1-2 cases of it as well. I have to take that into my final grade of this beer.
Overall: I love Founder’s and think they are definitely among the elite craft breweries in the US. Like I said before I also appreciate the idea of a limited production beer but the hype behind this one didn’t quite live up to what I got. This is definitely an amazing world class beer but do I think it is better than some readily available bourbon barrel aged beers? Not really. I think it is probably right there with a lot of the other great BBA Imperial Stouts I have had (most of which are far more readily available), maybe this is a little better but is it worth spending $10 a bottle on, not in my opinion. I am really glad I got to have it and I am glad I get to see how this one ages with the other four I have in my cellar but not sure I will go out of my way to get it in the future. I know this and Breakfast Stout aren’t related but I’ll take a four pack of that over one bottle of this any day, and probably pay around the same price!