In the wake of GABF, some people scramble to seek out the 300+ medal winning beers to check the pulse of respective styles. Often the confluence of hypewater and award winners are two separate academic tracks, resulting in two different diplomas and educational bodies. Some winners are straight up confusing. There are times when I try medal winning beers and have no idea how a relic of history made it past so many palates to take home serious hardware in light of modern advances and changing customer demands. If you remember in 2012 when TAP IT brewing won gold for IPA, you know exactly what I am talking about. The styles least subject to the weathervane of capricious flatbrimmed palates tend to shine the brightest. Barelywine and oak aged beers in general are indestructible with a lineage miles long, so when Great Heights took home bronze for bourbon legend, I wanted to dip in that caramel Houston fondue.
The beer itself is both historically on style and adds a flourish of modern casking to make it still feel relevant and delicious. This isn’t some tired BA Bigfoot hat trick, from which the children have long since moved on. It balances the year long Woodford Reserve cask with a clean, dialed in body with moderate carb so this silky Skor bar aspect at the outset. GABF medal winners usually excel in restraint and this beer is no exception. Instead of going super casked, or relying heavily on the English malts to massage out some creme brulee shell, it provides dark fruit leather and dates. It is very good and immune to the secondary market.
The most impressive feat is that this feels lithe and nimble despite the ABV and complexity. A can is totally fitting for taking some blackout adventures out and about to punish the town with your presence, dripping in bourbon Rolos. Houstonjuice to the fullest. It could have a longer finish, the cask could be more pronounced, it is a touch almost too attenuated, but these are minor complaints. Boohoo my Civic Type R doesn’t come with a full sized spare.
This is excellent and a testament to the nuanced ability to merge old world precision with the American modern predilection for excess. Scrape those sticky pegs, pump the brown sugar NOS fogger system, crack my barleyblock wide open, but make it a daily driver. Finish a beer with 16 platos and youll have a festival hit that no one wants to drink outside of thimble format. Make it too hoppy and dry or “thin” and you will buck the instarone crowd who are as dismissive as the line for Austin BBQ is long.
Bourbon Legend is the beer for your coworker obsessed with talking about how many Audible books he “read” this year, classically letting you know how if he could, he would not even own a car, hubris leaking while clutching resuable bags striding into Whole Foods confectionary aisle listening to non-fiction on Airpods. A person of taste and decorum that can be offputting in the subtelest way but the alternatives are far worse.