Allagash Vagabond Ale | Allagash Brewing Company

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Allagash Vagabond AleAllagash Vagabond 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.

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Reviews: 70 | Ratings: 102
Photo of brentk56
4.71/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a tawny color with a very modest head that quickly becomes a film; very little lacing

Smell: A cornucopia of aromatice elements, ranging from undertones of caramel, maple syrup and port to the more subtle elements of oak, vanilla, strawberries and tart apples

Taste: A real dichotomy of flavors, ranging from the sweet ones on the opening (caramel, maple syrup and port) to tart ones that arrive shortly thereafter (tart apple, unripe strawberry and balsamic vinegar; by mid-palate, swallow, the vanilla, oak and chocolate elements add complexity; after the swallow, the tart elements take it up a notch, with the sweeter ones lingering underneath into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with low carbonation

Overall: I love the contrasting elements of this beer, finding much more complexity here than in many others that are more straightforward sours

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -3.8%
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 emerge077
4.06/5  rDev -2.4%
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 Thorpe429
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
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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Photo of mothman
3.59/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Part 2 of 3 for the Allawelsh tasting.

Poured into snifter. Pours ½ finger of beige head. Color is a mahogany hued caramel brown.

Aroma: Notes of plums, cherries, caramel and oak. I get a big port flavor and some wine like characteristics. It is fairly malty. It is a bit sour.

Taste: Cherries, plums, caramel, nuts, toffee, wine flavors, port, and oak all showing. It has a slight sour flavor with some vinegar notes, but in general, this one is not too sour or funky.

Mouthfeel: A bit sour, fizzy, and almost warming. Medium bodied with a bit higher amount of carbonation. Ends dry, but relatively clean.

Overall, this is quite the odd beer. It has some nice flavors, but it is simply just odd. I guess I really didn't know what to expect with this one. For how high the abv is, it is somewhat drinkable. I just expected more sourness to it.

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Photo of jlindros
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark maple brown color with a light head that fades semi quickly.

Nose of light tart fruits light malts and brown sugar and maple syrup. A bit of oak and vanilla.

Taste light tart darker fruit, little sweet malts, touch of syrupy flavor with more maple and brown sugar and light bready malts. Some light oak and vanilla too. A bit of a bready malts and touch of dry musty taste. Sticky finish lingering tart fruit.

Sticky mouth with med to lighter body and decent carbonation.

Drinkability is OK, lots of tart fruit and a bit of sticky mouth, touch of flemmy feel, bit of booze, and dry bready finish.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.16/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours amber in color with a short lived off-white head. Smells just terribly buttery. Lots of diacetyl overall. Butterscotch and maple syrup are also present, maybe some over-ripe fruits. A bit of spicy oak and a light herbal note. The flavor is really no different from the aroma. A bit more oak and herbal character, however. But still a lot of butter, butterscotch, caramel, and maple syrup. Just really odd. Not a fan.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared by Thorpe429 alongside several other Allagash sour/wild ales. Thank you very much, Mike!

The beer appears a dark, reddish copper hue with a small, fletting head. The aroma brings maple syrup, booze, overly ripe dark fruits, caramel. The flavor follows suit. Complex and tasty. Notes of earth and nuts. Not especially tart or sour. Medium to full bodied with fairly low carbonation. Overall, I enjoyed this and am thankful to have tried it.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to d0b for sharing a bottle of this with me on New Beer Sunday. I also had a 3oz pour at Night of the Funk, but wanted a second crack at this brew before I posted my thoughts. Served in a Hopleaf tulip glass.

A - A finger of quick-dissolving light tan foam that leaves a slight haze and thick collar. Visible carbonation at the edges of the glass in an otherwise murky dark red-brown body. Lots of suspended sediment. I think Dave's pour looked a bit better (more clarity and glow).

S - This is not what I was expecting when I read about this brew. Very sweet, with a good amount of funk that tapers off a bit as the brew warms up. Lots of maple and nuttiness, with some light earthy tones and a bit of vinous character as well. There's a slight hint of booze when it warms up, but I'd never guess 10%. Very complex and works quite well.

T - Starts with a slight touch of pucker and tartness, then quickly moves back towards the maple sweetness, hazelnut, and a bit of oakiness. The finish is very barrel heavy and also contains a fair amount of butteriness - more cashew butter than microwave popcorn, but still a little off-putting for me. I think I'm personally very sensitive to this type of flavor, so one's mileage may vary. It's not bad, and the booze is well hidden, but it's not really what I want from a wild ale - not enough sour or tart elements to interest me.

M - Feel is terrific - nice dry tannic finish, no alcohol heat, low soft carbonation, medium viscosity. Might even surpass Gargamel in this regard.

D - I could drink a 375ml no problem thanks to the well-hidden booze, but I wouldn't go out of my way to trade for this one. It's good, but don't believe all the hype.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer is dark and has nearly no head. Its hazy, the smallish head forms a halo of tiny off white to light brown bubbles that leaves a little lacing on the glass.

Aroma is tart with a malty sweetness up front, not very lactic in the nose, almost acetic and citric.

Beer is sweet and malty that gives way to a light midpalate body and a tart / citric finish. Minimal acetic brightness and the forward is not creamy as I was expecting. Almost a chocolate like sweetness up front with some bitterness in the back. Interesting. Easy drinking and a clean finish.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled March 2010
A soft pour produces a fat, one-finger thick, amber tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a dark, concentrated red color that shows a clear, rich ruby hue when held up to the light. Quite fruity smelling with raspberry seed notes, bright berry aromas, some light tartness, quite a bit of tannic, spicy oak. The more I inspect this the more the oak becomes apparent and the fruit falls to the background; almost smells like a freshly cut oak plank at times. The fruit aromatics come out if I take a break from the nose; this really is quite fruity with a spicy, fleshy raspberry, perhaps a touch of dark plum notes and some complimentary clove aromatics and brown sugar notes.

Quite tart tasting based on the light spiciness that was in the aroma. This has quite a bit of body to it, and it seems to have a lactic slickness to it that washes the beer off the palate; there is also a tannic texture to this. Oak flavors are perhaps the most dominant (at least after the initial hit of lactic sourness), with ample peppery, oak-derived spiciness, a freshly cut wood-plank flavor, some very soft butterscotch, and maybe just a hint of vanillin. The fruit flavors are much more subdued compared to the aroma; but still notes of rich plum, seedy raspberries and some soft berry notes are noticeable under the oak. A rich, caramelized, perhaps even maple like note mixes with oxidized, dry sherry notes and perhaps some hints of port sans sweetness.

This is just a bit too over-oaked; it gets in the way of the other flavors and can seem a bit heavy-handed at times; having said that, if you don't mind oak flavors, this is actually a pretty tasty brew.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to a generous trader for the bottle. Consumed on a nice day in Carlsbad on 11/03/2009 and poured into a snifter.

The beer appears brownish burgundy with a small wispy off white head, decent retention, and scattered lacing.

The nose is tart unripe plum and berry-like with strong nutty notes. It's very, very oaky. I guess 4 years in American oak will do that. Notes of maple syrup and subtle brown sugar are evident. After reading the beer's description, I suppose I can pinpoint the dill that is mentioned. I don't think I would have otherwise, as it's subtle and I've never associated beer with dill. Other aromas are of dark unripe berries and low lactic notes. Great and complex aroma.

The taste is moderately acidic and tart unripe plums. The flavor is nutty throughout with a dominant yet pleasant oak character. The oak has contributed a moderate tannic quality, and maple provides a low sugary quality. There's a distinct earthiness to the beer, and the finish is toasted pecans with unripe plums and a low moderate lactic sourness. Alcohol is strong in the finish when the beer warms. The beer possesses an unexpected combination of interesting flavors that combine to be pretty enjoyable. The beer is medium bodied with a nice medium level of carbonation.

This is an interesting beer with a great aroma. I can't say I've ever before tried anything like it. Recommended.

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Photo of corby112
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark mahogany/coppery chestnut brown color with a one finger pinkish off white head that slowly fades into a lasting ring. Minimal spots of lacing.

Slightly oaky butterny aroma with some roasted nut character. Surprising amount of malt alongside some faint dark fruit notes.

Very buttery, slick medium body that is prett tart and puckering without being acidic. The sourness is balanced out by the buttery notes and nutty character. This tastes a lot like a buttery white wine which is surprising given the style and appearance. Long dry finish.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dan shared this rare beer this past weekend. Thanks a bunch, man!

Mildly hazy amber with a thin off-white head with great retention and some lace. Solid. The nose is great. Surprisingly acetic for an Allagash beer, there's also a mellow oaky vanilla, brown sugar, and cherries. Alcohol is noticeable, as is a little chocolate. The nose is beautifully integrated. The funk character is low, and the blend of vanilla and brown sugar brings to mind a pleasant caramel. This makes me think of a Bon Chien, but only less wild.

The palate opens moderately sour with a blend of juicy over-ripe lemons and vinegar with a great vanilla and brown sugar. Oak is prominent, noticeable in the finish with a mellow tannin character balanced bu a delicate sweetness. Moderately fruity, I get some berries and stone fruit, Earthy on the finish, this is smooth and quite excellent. Medium-light in body with a moderate carbonation, this beer was a pleasure to consume.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.19/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured the color of unpasteurized apple cider; caramel-colored and murky. No head, just a thin, tight white band around the perimeter of the glass. Nose reveals notes of bourbon, wood, citrus and vanilla - nice complexity without being muddled or an affront to the senses. Taste consists of citrus upfront, followed by some acidity with woody and bourbon notes in the middle, and more citrus at the back. Mouthfeel was medium-light with a gentle effervescence and an astringency that stimulates the salivary glands initially, followed by a light bitterness and tart quality that finishes dry and almost clean. I'm relatively uninitiated to this style, but I have to say that I found Vagabond quite enjoyable and approachable. Nice complexity, with a well-hidden abv and a flavor profile that doesn't punch you in the face and then pick your pocket. Definitely an exceptional one-off from Allagash.

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Photo of Viggo
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a big ass Jeroboam at BBF. I got about 4 oz because that thing must have been hard as hell to pour.

Pours a very lightly hazy dark orange brown, thin off white head forms, settles to a thin ring, leaves some lace spots on the glass.

Smell is wacky, lots of acidity, vanilla, wood, raisin and other fruit, feet, butter, lemons, vinegar, lightly nutty, some funky sourness, pretty cool, nice wood character.

Taste is similar, vanilla and nuts, hazelnuts to be more precise, nougat, sour fruit, butter and oak, acidic lemony and wood finish, some neat sour and tart notes, light on funk.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation, real nice acidic bite, bit of astringency from the wood, not overly sour but pretty damn drinkable.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.56/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I drank this from a 375 ml bottle into my rochefort chalice.

This ale is a very dark amber, a little lighter in the light. It is brown with highlights of red, reminding me of tea. There is little carbonation as the head is about half a finger but fades way too quickly. There is little lacing.

The aroma is strong with sourness coming from tobacco, leather and oak. There is oddly no tartness from fruit detectable.

The taste is very similar to the aroma with a strong oak taste followed by a sour finish. The after taste sour lasts several seconds.

the beer is good but its not something you could or would drink a lot of. I'm a big wild fan and find them drinkable but this is on the very far end of drinkability.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.97/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12.7oz bottle, corked and caged, wrapped in paper with a gold colored seal. The cork popped out with a loud report but thank God no gushing.

The beer is dark reddish copper color, clear, with initially a few fingers of off-white foam that quickly changes to no head. The aroma is a little similar to Consecration, dark fruits (mostly plums) and hints of earthy funk.

This tastes somewhat sour, but more tart and flavorful than acidic. Lingering after-taste not unlike a fruity red wine. Less carbonation than expected based on the cork pop, but it fits the flavors well.

This is closer to the taste of wine than most other beers I'd tried. Definitely recommended, but not something to pay too much for.

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Photo of glid02
4.12/5  rDev -1%
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 cosmicevan
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes taken from 9/29 from the craziest bottle share that i have ever been a part of. Thanks so much to the NYC and Hoboken crew for letting me participate in this incredible day of drinking long time wants and insanity.

Thanks kindly to Mark for sharing.

a - maroon brown, very thin head if at all
s - brown sugar and oak
t - taste is nice. nutmeg. soft chocolate notes.
m - smooth, easy drinker.
o - overall, really nice. very enjoyable.

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Photo of cpetrone84
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Sarah for sharing this at our basically weekly tasting.

A-pours a cloudy, grainy copper color, rusty brown. a tight light tan head on the side.

S-oaky vanilla up front, wild yeast, grapes, balsamic, notes of tart cherries behind.

T-the taste has the wild yeast up front with notes of oaky wood underneath. a touch of earthy grain, very light balsamic notes, tart cherries and grapes in the back.

M-grainy on the palate, soft with a medium body. good carbonation with a crisp finish but not biting.

D-this is a well balanced sour with nice subtle flavors blending together very well this is a top notch sour.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.37/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to lurchingbeast for sharing this longtime want of mine.

A - Not the best looking sour. A dark amber/almost brown colored beer with a moderate off-white head that left very little in the way of stick on the sides.

S - Smells of oak, some sweetness, maple, earth tones. Not really sour or particularly funky, which was kind of disappointing.

T - Slightly more tart than the nose suggests. A lot of earth as well as some maple sugar sweetness that kind of obliterates any of the tartness there might have been. Some earth tones. Just kind of sweet and boring, not a great taste.

M - Medium bodied, softer carbonation, nice dry finish.

O - For something I'd heard a lot abut, this beer was somewhat disappointing. Not that it was bad, per se, just not really that great. Wouldn't care if I never had this one again.

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Photo of gford217
3.92/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Joe for sharing this one, tasted alongside Gargamel and Victor Francenstein.

Pours with very little carbonation and settles in as a murky orange brown...looks like tea actually.

Aroma is interesting and unexpected with the sweetness of the maple syrup dominating with dark fruits and sugar. There is a definite oak character with some spiciness, while the tartness is very, very subtle. It smells almost like a port.

The taste starts with some sweet, but overripe dark fruits, with a little more tartness than the aroma but still not much. The sweet sugary backbone and sweet port flavors are dominant until the finish where the oak starts to show.

The mouthfeel is boozy and a little dry, but, again, really feels like a tawny port on the palate. Carbonation is low.

This is an interesting sour though nothing like I was expecting. Less like a sour and more like an after dinner wine.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.46/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle into a Weyerbacher tulip. Huge thanks to Jason for sharing this rare gem.

A: Dark, muddy amber. Thin tan head. Pretty gross in my glass, but I got some of the dregs; other tasters' samples looked significantly better. I'll average things out to average.

S: Sour candy apple. Caramel, vanilla, and straight lactic tartness. Crazy and awesome.

T: Sourness up front, backed up by sweet, buttery richness. Tart caramel apple, sweet butterscotch, and a dry finish. Weird and great.

M: Eminently smooth body, low carbonation.

D: Intense acidity, huge sweetness, and yet I crave more and more. I can't believe it's 10%.

Notes: This was a fantastic beer, and extremely distinctive. I didn't know what to expect going in (other than it being a sour, of course), and it was a shock to see how evenly the emphasis was divided between fruity sourness and sweet maltiness. The brief descriptor can't be anything other than a candied apple, and yet that doesn't begin to do this beer justice. Great stuff.


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Photo of Reagan1984
4.77/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A bright aggressive pop of the cork has me excited to try this brew. Thin layer of foam forms then fades to a small ring of foam around the edges. Basically can't get any head to form atop the deep amber beer with excellent clarity. Held to the light there is some deep copper/orange tones. No lacing to speak of.

Aroma is tart with some maple, nuts, some oak as well.

Well, my first thought after several sips is.... This is, by far, the nuttiest beer I've ever tasted. (not crazy, of nuts) Initial tartness gives way to some great oak notes. A touch of maple, but more molasses next. Then the beer enters this awesome toasted pecan phase. This nutty tones are just fantastic. There is a dark baked hard crust bread flavor in the finish as well.

Mouth feel is bright, body is medium light. The carbonation is just a tingle on the end of your tongue. Just enough to brighten the initial tartness.

As I enter the phase of enjoying sour beers, I am so happy to have the opportunity to enjoy this beer. Drinkability is off the charts. The only let down is that this is a one time beer. If they could do it again.. They should.

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Allagash Vagabond Ale from Allagash Brewing Company
4.16 out of 5 based on 102 ratings.
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