Vagabond Ale | Allagash Brewing Company

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Vagabond AleVagabond Ale
102 Ratings
Vagabond AleVagabond Ale

Brewed by:
Allagash Brewing Company
Maine, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
With only 500 bottles made, this beer is from one of the only barrels to move with us into our new brewery three years ago. Aged four years in American oak barrels, it boasts a complex aroma of maple syrup and port, with background notes of marzipan, plum and dill. Flavors of tart, unripened plum and caramel give way to a warming, toasted almond finish.

Added by mikey711 on 10-19-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 102 |  Reviews: 70
Reviews by berkey:
Photo of berkey
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The first truly rare beer I've landed via trade. Thanks Cedar!

375ml corked and caged bottle poured into an Allagash branded glass. Forms a small but persistent off white head with a semi cloudy dark brown body. Looks like a slightly dark Flanders Red. Surprisingly good lacing for an American Wild Ale.

Plenty of wood, sour fruit, and subtle vinegar acidity. Again I'm reminded of a Flanders Red but with much more sweetness. The wood sugar I'm picking up is more than I anticipated and leaves me wondering more about the barrel they aged this in.

First taste and all comparisons to a Flanders Red end. This is very sweet for the style. I'm getting caramel, oaky vanilla, dark fruit, and a very strong almond aftertaste, almost like an almond liqueur or maybe almond butter. Not at all what I expect from an AWA. Tart bacterial flavors are in there but really take a back seat to all the sweetness from both the wood and the malts. The wood/sweet combination has me thinking dessert wine actually.

Fairly full bodied for the style, carbonation is low but I'm not missing it on a beer like this. Drinkability is very high for 10%. The time in the barrel did a great job softening any alcohol heat.

I'm not entirely sure how to review this one, it doesn't really have the wild bacterial character or strong brett presence I look for in the style but if I judge purely on how much I enjoyed it I'll have to give very high marks. It's too bad this won't be brewed again but at least I still have equally great offerings from this brewer like Confluence available year round to soften the blow.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of ricke
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish brown with a small off-white head leaving some lacings.

The aroma is quite intense and peculiar. Lots of semi-funky barrel, smooth mild edgy bourbon, herbs and lactic notes. Hints of caramel, leather and nuts.

The taste is quite spectacular. It's very spicy and has quite a lot of fresh herbal notes to it (thyme, dill). Then, along comes prominent barrel notes of wet wood. Some malty caramel sweetness and muted and strange bourbon notes. Lactic and tart middle leading the way to a tannic and herbally bitter finish (do I taste rocket?) with notes of tart cherries.

Medium to full body, smooth with a dry finish.

Definitely a weird one. A strange and interesting, surprisingly herbal, character, Complex and edgy with a nice tart side to it. But also more fun than good actually. Can't think of many occasions when I would crave anything like this.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

375ml corked & caged bottle at NotF poured into a sampling glass. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a dark hazy brown with a small light brown head that fades fast. Nose is sweet and malty with a lightly tart bite.

Taste is funky and tart with a lightly sweet bite that's really crisp and nice. Mourhfeel is light an smooth that's very nice. The finish is tart and crisp, overall very good.

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Photo of glid02
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Joe - thanks!

Pours a murky amber-brown color with a half-finger light tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells interesting. Indistinct medium malt aromas mingle with deep port aromas, similar to booze-soaked tart black cherries with a hint of chocolate. Also present are mild amounts of maple and very slight amounts of funk.

Tastes good, though not as complex as the aroma. Moderately dry caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by very mildly tart medium fruit flavors. Midway through the sip the port flavors take over, overrunning the light tart flavors. Near the end of the sip the flavor profile sweetens a bit with hints of maple and brown sugar before fading out into a slightly muddled ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without a problem and could have another.

Overall I thought this was the weakest of the three (currently available) limited releases, and others agreed. It was interesting to be sure but the flavors didn't seem to meld together very well. Worth a shot but not worth trading a kingdom.

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Photo of dc55110
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours an uneventful burnt mahogany. A slight effervescence reveals minimal carbonation. A still bright cherry nose, with hits of wood. The taste is tart, but not overly acidic. Overall not an amazing beer, but a great aged example of a fairly early foray into the American Wild Ale style.

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Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of jh1982
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of mikey711
4.77/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow I can't believe I get to add Vagabond to the BeerAdvocate community. First, lots of thanks to the good people of Allagash for handling what could have been a difficult situation. Also, Thanks to the Lion's Pride for the after party, which I unforunately had to leave much earlier than I would have liked.

A: It was murky brown, looking almost like muddy water. The head was very minimal but left pretty rings of snow white lace. Carbonation can be seen rushing up from the bottom of the glass.

S: It hits first with an initial funky and bretty aroma followed by some earth wood notes. As it warms sweet maple syrup becomes more prominent as do a bit of grapes. Plenty of fruitiness that is both tart, sweet and dry.

T: Tart plums and berries are the initial flavor before a wave of sweet maple syrup, caramel and wood and maybe even a hint of licorice finish it off. Very complex and extremely balance between sweet and sour.

M: Slightly butter in it's full bodied flavor. It has a tinge of acidity, but very little vinous quality. A slight dry finish with a bit of detectable alcohol can be felt as well.

D: This is definitely one of the most enjoyable sours that I have ever had. The complexity and changing flavors with the added warms showcase all of the time and effort that went into this beer. Great beer all around

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Photo of Gonzoillini
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of nickd717
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Official tick #2300 (although my BA review count is less than half of that at the present moment) - let's do this! André (Bardwashrind on BA) was nice enough to open this 375ml bottle when I was in Denver for GABF, so big thanks to him for hooking up this milestone tick. At #2300, many beer ticking journalists can't help but draw comparisons to Michael Jordan, the best basketball player of all time, who wore #23. Do I have what it takes to become the Michael Jordan of beer ticking? Probably not, but I can probably at least be the Michael Jackson of ticking. CHEE-HEE!

This tick - I mean beer - pours into the tulip glass a hazy reddish-brown color. A well-formed whitish head sits on top.

Tart funky oaky and nutty aroma. The -bal aging asserts itself, along with caramel and some vinous and acetic notes. Slightly buttery, but otherwise nice.

The flavor has a caramel and nutty malt base, as well as red wine, vinegar, and red wine vinegar. Rather oaky and funky...and oh, I almost forgot: buttered chives. You've heard it before for this beer I'm sure. It's undeniable, and I just can't get past it.

Pretty solid mouthfeel for the style. Slight acidity on the mouthfeel with average carbonation and medium body. Slightly tannic.

This is a pretty good wild ale. Is it a great one? Not even close. Above average but not worth the hype in my opinion. But oh man that rarity tastes so good sometimes!

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Photo of davod23
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip. I've been saving this one for awhile. Watch out when opening this, the cork wants out of this bottle.

Pour is a nice looking burnt sienna, perfectly clear. A light tan head forms and sticks around a while, but ultimately recedes to nothing. When swirled, the beer sticks to the sides of the glass for a brief instant. Nice looking beer.

Huge oak aroma. Strong aspects of vanilla, backed up with dried berries and dates. I detect the slightest mild bretty funk as well, though I wonder if I'm imagining that aspect of this beer.

Oak, oak, oak. Vanilla, raspberry, dates/prunes, and more oak. Not as sour as I would like, but that's admittedly a personal preference. It's actually close in nature to a Flanders red in terms of the balance between the sweet and the sour, though not in any other way. Dry-ish finish.

Mouthfeel is appropriate.

Drinkability is very strong. I could drink a lot of this beer if I wanted to. That said, while this is a very good beer, it's not in the upper echelon of American wild ales. Almost any sour by Russian River and Lost Abbey beats this one, head-to-head. Of course, that's perhaps not a fair fight in the first place, with those two breweries putting together epic sour beers. I can recommend this beer, but it's not worth trading your cellar to be able to tick it.

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Photo of jsilva
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of emerge077
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to Joe for sharing this one!

Paper wrapped with a simple card illustrating a hobo's bindle sack. Cork popped with little fanfare, and the beer poured placidly into a small stemmed tulip glass. It appeared nearly still with a sanguine copper color a few trace bubbles around the edges.

Aroma of wet wood, dark cherry skins, port, musty, light oxidation.

Tastes rich and lightly tart with dark cherry skin flavors coming to the forefront. Fairly substantial feel despite the very low carb level. Caramel and prunes in the periphery. Overall it's unique, though the long aging period makes me more curious what it was like in the early stages.

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Photo of Diomede
5/5  rDev +20.5%

Photo of TheKingsOfHop
4.87/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12.7oz bottle poured into Allagash tulip shaped glasses:
First ones to review the bottled version of this beer, very exciting. Well here it goes...

A: As this highly anticipated brew plummeted into our glasses, the frothy vanilla head billowed leaving a fingers width of foam. The body is a brown mahogany, with an amber red glow, reminiscent of a deep dark maple syrup. The head slowly dissipated leaving a white lace edge bubbling slightly.

S: Starts with a rich bourbon aroma that brings out a presence of alcohol that is not off putting but welcoming. Gradually turning into bananas foster, a decadent dessert. Then drizzling the senses with maple syrup and a slight hint of molasses, vanilla and a finishing touch of hazelnut.

T: As the journey of Vagabond continues, the front of the palate is hit with a sweet sappy nectar. Followed by a refreshing crisp pear. At its climax, your mouth puckers and jaw clenches due to the intensity of the crab apple like flavor. Your mouth salivates asking for more, simultaneously leaving your palate dry like a port wine. Concluding with a nutty, smooth after taste.

M: Medium-bodied with a steady flow of carbonation. Giving you a tingly sensation and the warming comfort of alcohol.

D: This brew is equally refreshing and complex as it is desirable among advocates. The only thing preventing us from opening another bottle is its rarity. Hats off to Allagash Brewing Co.

The Kings of Hop

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Photo of Mike
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared by ipa247. Thanks, Jeff!

Vagabond is a clear chestnut brown in the glass, beautifully colored but virtually headless. The aroma is musty, fruity, a bit buttery, like a rich California chardonnay. There's a touch of solvent beneath the surface, and a sweet vinous aroma that reminds me of cognac. On the palate it's nutty and warming, cognac coming to mind again along with dark fruits, white wine and malt vinegar. The finish is dry, woody, very tannic, and the mouthfeel a bit slick. This isn't sour per se; more tart, musty and oaky. An interesting and drinkable beer, clearly a big step up from Gargamel, but nothing outstanding.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Samichlaus for trekking up to Portland, Maine for the release to pick this up for our trade! I brought this one out of the cellar for our epic tasting, beer number 16 overall, number 7 on day 2.

The cork nearly popped right out of my hand as I twisted it to open, but despite the heavy pressure in the bottle, there was not even an inkling to gush. Not too much head in the pour either, and the body of the ruby brown liquid is clear. Appearance is almost like that of an oud bruin.

A lot of acetic aromas in the nose. Dark cocoa powder and raspberry tartness highlight a big sour funkiness. They are supported by brown sugar sweetness and some cherry notes as well. On the palate, the acidic sourness and sour cherries come through again. The four years spent in barrels contribute a strong oakiness. Peach esters come through in the middle and give way to a pronounced woody earthiness that blows me away. The earthiness stays with me after the finish, too. This beer is extremely well-balanced.

Incredibly smooth, the acetic aroma doesn't make it into the flavor profile. The balance and earthiness couple nicely with the fruity esters and sourness to make this one a highlight of the day for me.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap over at Lion's Pride, ordered a couple samples after picking up bottles at the brewery.

Pours rusty looking, like unfiltered apple cider (which I like, mmmm), not much head and no lacing to speak of.

Smell isn't as strong as Gargamel's was (nor as good), definitely picking up the barrel aging since there is quite an aroma of wood with a slight tartness.

Taste is similar to the nose except stronger, the wood really takes ahold of it but isn't quite like other barrel aged beers where the bourbon or brandy is in charge, instead it's the wooden characteristics themselves, this melds with the mild tart/sourness to make a good complex taste, but those looking for something really sour will be looking in the wrong place with Vagabond.

Just might need to go back tomorrow to get another sample or two (if it's still around). Can't wait to see what Allagash puts out next.

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Photo of BearsOnAcid
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from release day.

The presentation of it was very misconceiving with it's small off-white head. The smell had a very loud pinot and oak character to it followed by sour cherries and a musty basement scent.

The taste was sour/tart then opened up to a huge array of flavors. Pinot, oak, slight vinegar, molasses, almond, over rip cherries, licorice, and some breadiness at the end. The bourbon is not present in the flavor profile and it actually took on the characteristics from the barrel itself. The finish was dry and left a tingling sensation on the back of your tongue. Incredible.

There was moderate carbonation with a slight alcohol burn afterwards. The flavors balanced very well together and paired beautifully with its aroma. It gives me an old world feeling.

Updated tick (3/1/2012):
The bourbon seemed to become more and more present as this one aged. As it sits now this is getting pretty oxidize. Caramel and bourbon dominates the flavor. Sherry-like finish. Some vanilla but whatever sourness it used to have has mellowed a lot.

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Photo of Casey10
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at the Lion's Pride after going to the release day at Allagash.

A - Dark beer oak apperance with a wispy head once poured to glass.

S - Many complex smells wood notes, plum/ raisan notes very nice.

T - Good, to me earthy but smooth the beer takes on a lot of the barrel agaging that took place to make it.

M - Strong feel that was most likely due to the aging that took place very different feel then one might get from another brew.

D - Good, this might not be my style because of this I know its good but not really searching this out.

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Photo of iRun2Beer
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Kaydogg
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%

Photo of Thorpe429
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to bmanning for opening this up at a recent tasting.

A: Pours a dark reddish copper with some nice carbonation throughout.

S: Lots of oak and sweetness coming from dark fruit and hints of maple syrup. A little bit of funk in there as well. Very unique.

T: Quite similar to the nose with just a lot going on. Not completely blended together in the flavor department, but there were so many little things about it that I enjoyed. The dark fruits, oak, and funk were a great combination.

M: Pretty smooth with fairly low carbonation and a light-to-medium mouthfeel.

D: Definitely would not have guessed that this one was 10%. Very drinkable with some nice flavor characteristics.

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Vagabond Ale from Allagash Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 102 ratings