Founders Backwoods Bastard Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale

My first few Founders beers were really good. Since then, I've hoped that they would recapture that magic, but the best they can do is slightly above average. I'm looking for a return to form, and I have chosen this beer with a scraggly old man on it to drag them kicking and screaming into the toolshed of happiness.

She's a dark brown and red beer with an impressive opacity. The head doesn't amount to much, and what's left after a while is like a tiny negligee on top of an oak trunk. Speaking of oak, guess what I don't smell! That's right, anything. I don't smell a damn thing in here. It could be that I am recovering from a cold, but I swear I just dipped my nose so close that it was almost touching, and I couldn't smell a thing. So, I'm going in nose-blind.

First sip is ... quite bad. I've had these Oak Barrel beers before, and some have gone not bad. The problem is, it seems, the fact that this is a Scotch Ale rather than a Scottish Style Ale. The latter is one of my favorite styles - a version brewed by Stoudt's Brewing in Pennsylvania may compete for the best beer I've ever had - but the former (the Scotch Ale) is basically overpowering your weak or poorly-thought-out beer with a mixture of cheap whiskey to try and make a passable drink with a relatively high (11.2% in this bottle) ABV.

Tip-in is actually pretty nice. It's a sweet kind of caramel and toffee with a hefty bread base and the whiskey is only a hint at the edges. As the middle spreads out, it is also not that bad. It's not as good as the tip-in, but the bread and the sour mash seem to merge well enough, and the caramel sweetness continues to linger with earth and vanilla adding to the mix. Then the finish comes to rain on the parade. It is a bitter heap of too much whiskey and oaken shafts of splinters. The trail off is even worse, with a nasty flashback to some of the worst whiskeys I've tasted.

Bottom Line: They can't all be winners. This isn't.



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