How would you like to spend some time with a Backwoods Bastard? Or a Dirty Bastard?
The Backwoods Bastard doesn’t sound so bad:
Expect lovely, warm smells of simple malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice, and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.
And the Dirty Bastard sounds pretty good:
So good it’s almost wrong. Dark ruby in color and brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Complex in finish, with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a right hook of hop power to give it the bad attitude that a beer named Dirty Bastard has to live up to. Ain’t for the wee lads.
Backwoods Bastard and Dirty Bastard are made by Founders Brewing Company, a craft brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as:
- small – annual production of 6 million barrels or less
- independent – less than 25% of the brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who isn’t a craft brewer
- traditional – either an all malt flagship or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor
People also call craft breweries microbreweries. The term originated in the UK in the 1970s to describe a group of small breweries that were focused on making traditional cask ale. “Microbrewing” initially referred to the size of the breweries but came to reflect a different attitude and approach to brewing, summed up by Founders Brewing as “We brew beer for people like us” – passionate beer enthusiasts.
By the 1980s the microbrewing trend had caught on in the US. This article touches on what had preceded it:
In the early 20th century, Prohibition drove many breweries in the US into bankruptcy because they could not all rely on selling near beer or “sacramental wine” as wineries of that era did. After several decades of consolidation of breweries, most American commercial beer was produced by a few large corporations, resulting in a very uniform, mild-tasting lager of which Budweiser and Miller are well-known examples.
Consequently, some beer drinkers craving variety turned to homebrewing and eventually a few started doing so on a slightly larger scale. For inspiration, they turned to Britain, Germany, and Belgium, where a centuries-old tradition of artisan beer and cask ale production had never died out.
Some of these breweries were so successful that a new category had to be created for their product – craft beer. The largest of the craft beer brewers in America is the Boston Beer Company. They make Samuel Adams.
Founders Brewing Company began in 1997 and has become one of the highest recognized breweries in the US, they tell us. They’re an award-winning company that has been ranked the second-best brewery in the world since 2011. The company made news earlier this summer when the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board lifted a ban on Backwoods Bastard and Dirty Bastard.
The board’s licensing director rejected the names last spring because of a state law that says no ad for alcoholic beverages can show a person “posed in an immodest or sensuous manner” and that they can’t have any profanity or offensive language.
In Alabama, grocery stores and convenience stores sell beer and wine where anyone can see them. Dirty Bastard beer got rejected over a concern that parents wouldn’t want their kids to see rough language on the shelves.
Founders Brewing and craft beer lovers in Alabama raised a fuss over this decision. A committee that was set up to review the decision approved Dirty Bastard and Backwoods Bastard at the first meeting.
A major reason? If they were going to deny Dirty Bastard and Backwoods Bastard, they’d have to reconsider a board decision years earlier to allow the sale of Fat Bastard. Fat Bastard is a French wine that had been sold in Alabama for years. No one wanted to pull it off the shelves.
You can sit down with a Dirty Bastard or a Backwoods Bastard in 23 states now.