Backwoods Bastard has been said to be one of the best scotch ales on the market, and I would have to agree. This scotch ale is actually bourbon barrel aged drinks wonderfully when fresh. It's warming and slightly boozy but ages extremely well over a year or two. These bottles generally get consumed after about a year as they reach a great point in their age cycle, but just for a look, we put one away for 3 years to see what develops.

The smell is sweeter with less up front booze. The smokiness has faded and loads of caramel, molasses and fig dominate the aroma. There is a bit of oak present and the char of the barrel comes out a bit more as it warms up.

The flavor has mellowed out a lot. It's actually really smooth and doesn't have that alcoholic, peated bite that scotch ales are known to have. Fig and date come to mind about a quarter in. The molasses is very present and so is the oak char. All of this combines to make the beer pretty sweet, but no need to worry, the hops are still intact. They really help to balance the beer a lot at this point rather than being a sharp bitterness.

The booze has toned way down and makes you wonder about the 10.2% mark on the neck. It definitely doesn't drink heavy or boozy. The mouthfeel is quite sticky with a bit of creaminess, almost like a Wurther's Original.

I really wasn't sure what to expect out of this after 3 years. This beer does so well, and probably peaks, within 12-18 months after bottling. After this much time, it really mellows out and almost takes on a different character. Not sure how much longer I'd let this one go as a lot of the initial spark and life of the hops and malts are mellowing a bit too much to still be fit for what this beer was intended to be, but it hangs on very well.


Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.

Posted on September 19, 2014 .