When I saw Backwoods Bastard on the shelves of my local liquor store, the first thing that came to mind was the movie Deliverance and the “dueling banjos” scene. This beer, however, doesn’t originate from the backwoods of Georgia, it comes from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Many may not know that Grand Rapids has had the title of “Beer City, USA” bestowed upon it, and one of its most prominent breweries is FOUNDERS BREWING CO. Founders prides itself on making badass, powerful beers, and this is no exception.
The label art features an old, leathery-faced bastard wielding a double-edged axe. It’s an ominous forewarning. The color of the beer is dark mahogany with a faint hint of red. Its head is small and dissipates rather quickly. You smell bourbon—indeed, this ale ages in bourbon barrels–along with molasses and brown sugar. Not as weighty on the palate as one might expect, but intense flavors of bourbon and caramel accompanied by masked maple syrup mingle and give rise to a long, lingering finish. The carbonation and IBUs (50) are modest, but with an ABV of 11.2%, the Bastard warms up your palate and punches you in the gut. Indulge in too much of this stuff, and you might find yourself squealing like a pig. Cue: dueling banjos music. —R.K.