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 mrandypandy
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle thanks to an outstanding BA. Split amongst a few of us at our Epic Allagash Tasting.

A- Pours a slightly murky copper with amber hues and tones. Thin white head leaves average lacing.
S- Off the bat, oak. Lots of oak. Some musty wine like aromas as well.
T- Interesting. Oak mixed with dark fruits (figs, plums). Toffee and buttery flavors in the finish.
M- Medium body, smooth, light carbonation. Not as sour/tart as I'd like, but thats my preference.
D- Complexity and a variety of flavors make me come back for me more. Slightly more acidity or tartness would bump this up in my book.

Overall - Hype and rarity aside, Vagabond is a good brew. Good, not great. I'm a fan of things tart/sour, and this could have used a touch more. Definately glad I was able to try this and I would get more if the opportunity arose.

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Photo of davod23
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
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 craytonic
3.87/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle consumed 6/27/2010

Appearance: Near still pour, although if I listen I can hear tiny pindrops of carbonation. Dark ruby red, nearly opaque.

Smell: Raspberry aromas, along with plums, prunes, light tartness, funk, and oak.

Taste: Not overly sour or tart, the raspberries dominate, followed by plums and fruit. Also some funk and oak in the backseat, along with a hint of port. A bit similar to consecration; I enjoyed the oak element here (but I like oak in anything but chardonnay). Oak also seems to be of good quality, not cheap staves.

Mouthfeel: Lack of carbonation places a big ding here, I do like a flat beer but this isn't one of them.

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Photo of beachbum1975
4.48/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared with Henkenberns, netwonty and DrewOSU tonight. Again, sorry Mr. Woods, I hope you had a good time at work tonight.

Pours a gorgeous, reddish brown with a nice, creamy white head.

The smell is quite different from Gargamel (obviously). Sweet caramel, toasted pecan, almond and other very unique smells.

My vocabulary is extremely limited at this time. Toasted pecans, caramel, very complex malts, wow.

This was newtonty's favorite beer of the night.

This beer was fantastic. Almost like KRE. Wow...

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to maltzilla for sending this my way!

A- Pours with a 1/2 finger foamy white head which eventually fades to a thick collar and leaves little to no lacing behind in the glass. Body is a dirty bronze hue that is slightly translucent with a dynamic cloudiness.

S- The overall impression of the nose is mild, soft, and balanced. Vinegar, slight tartness, vinous grape, and pear come through.

T- Flavor is very balanced and mildly sour. This is a really complex brew and with every sip I am picking up something new. Grape, light spiciness, light vinegar, yeasty background, raisin, cinnamon, apple, pear, soaked oak, . Overall impression is delicate, sweet, sour, and slightly oaky- a mild alcohol heat comes through for the finish.

M- Carbonation is soft. Body is medium weight and exceptionally smooth and yeasty.

D- I had no idea while drinking this that it was 10%! This is an awesome brew-its delicate and very complex overall. Probably the best I have had from Allagash (that isnt a collaboration) so far. I love it!

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

375 mL bottle, courtesy of someone's name who's lose to the ages - many thanks to him! Split at the C'ville Throwdown #3, poured in to a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a largely transparent but surprisingly dark - that is, caramel copper amber - body, inviting but not exactly radiant. The initial fuzz that appeared atop this one - about a quarter-finger tall - fades quickly to a thin swirl on the surface and a fairly thin collar. Extreme agitation leaves a few glittery, runny blobs of lace on the sides of the glass that last for less than twenty seconds before dripping back down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Very sweet and fruity, but also very herbal. Lemon and other sour notes mingle with peppery, dill, and cardamom notes to hint at lemon baum and sassafras, but there are also a lot of darker malt notes - toffee, caramel - and a few lighter flourishes, vanilla mostly, courtesy of the American oak. At points its almost like teriyaki, sweet and slightly spicy and fairly herbal with a hint of acidity. Mild funk and an unfortunate amount of alcohol brings - that suggests a rail-level rum and diet coke at some level - it down to a 4.0, but it's not an unpleasant smelling brew.

Taste: Well that's interesting. More funk than acidity, at least relative to my expectations based upon the nose, but the main aspect of this one that stands out to me are the herbal notes. It's anise-like at some points, particularly in the finish, but with tons of dill and slight thyme, though those two notes do work well with the lemon acidity note. The dark base malts lend toffee, definite brown sugar and maple syrup, specifically, though there's also a fair amount of barrel notes, slight vanilla and coconut. A remarkably odd assortment of flavors, and one that I'm more entertained by by virtue of the task involved with teasing them apart than by the way in which they work together.

Mouthfeel: A thicker beer, but reasonably well-attenuated, with no sugary notes or cloying attributes. Slight amounts of carbonation in an otherwise very slightly carbonated brew make for a nice though not outstanding mouth.

Drinkability: Perhaps a little hyped, and this makes me want to seek out that Gargamel less. I wasn't terribly impressed by this one, though I do respect it for what it is - an early attempt at a wild ale by a prominent east coast brewery that hasn't really tried this before, and for that I do appreciate it. It's mostly the odd combination of flavors and aromas, so maybe it was partially expectations that threw me off a little. Also, the 10% abv has to bring this one down a little - I would hope (or need, perhaps) for something a lot crisper, lighter, more cleansing than this for a 10% brew. Regardless, this one would be worth seeking out if you could get it for less than what I'm sure someone would charge you to trade/buy this one now. If you can find it on the cheap, though, go for it.

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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 Jmoore50
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

jh1982 was nice enough to share this one with me. A very interesting brew that was very enjoyable. Served into a Lost Abbey tulip on May 24 during the Celtics vs Orlando playoff game.

The appearance on this one is beautiful. The color is so amazing, in the deep heart of the glass is a deep ruby red color that has a gradient out to lighter rose edges. With a medium strength pour it produces a one finger crisp khaki head that doesn't stick around for very long.

The smell is of fruits that include strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry. It also has some green apple sweetness with an acidic earthy wood smell. Tart and sharp, just a hint of wet sock funk.

The taste is good, but something is lacking. There is a nice tart berry taste that is very upfront, with some dry earthy tastes. The wood or oak tastes in this has to come from the barrel, and it is pretty strong. Notes of cranberry, raspberry, some lactic cheese, and a sour funk. I think this one would of been better when it was first released, the fruit flavors would be stronger and more pronounced.

The beer overall is good, but I believe when this came out it was gathering a fair amount of hype. Like I said earlier, when it was first released it might have been better, but as is this doesn't deserve the value it's at. Its a good Wild Ale, but nothing spectacular.


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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 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 NittanyBeerFan
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
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 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 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 ricke
4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
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 ElGallo
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to chowdahead for sharing a bottle.

I was hoping to age this one for a while, but I'm only human and curiosity got the best of me.

Not too much head on the pour and little lacing. Appearance is like that of a typical oud bruin. Nose and taste are very Cantillon-esque though the 10% ABV is not, but this beer is designed for sipping.

The cherry tartness was balanced by subtle oaky, musty flavors. I won't go into all the beautiful nuances of this beer, but from a big picture perspective, this tasted like a perfect blend of a lambic and an oud bruin - loved it.

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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 indiapaleale
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour - dark auburn with nice reddish hues and lots of tiny suspended bubbles (my friend said it looked like a tiny galaxy in the glass). The head is seltzery and off-white in color. Pretty amazing stuff to look at and ponder what exactly went into the formation of this particular elixir.

Aroma - maple syrup, sour mash, cider vinegar and slight hints of vanilla. Very unique smells that make you realize this is something special. The maple aroma is very apparent and it reminds me of a maple liqueur somewhat until that sour funk smell kicks in.

Taste - a sip of this makes your mind go to work. It something you want to enjoy but really analyze as well. A lot went into this beer so a lot comes out of the bottle. Flavors of maple, light vanilla, dark fruit and of course sourness abound. A little more sour than I might have expected but I'll take it, especially from a beer brewed without fruit, pretty damn amazing. Light and bubbly on the tongue, this beer can't be 10% alcohol?!?! Wow. Just wow.

Overall - If you can appreciate the creativity, know how and patience that goes into creating a beer like this then you certainly should give this a try. Sours are not easy to make and the margin for error is extremely slim. This is a great beer and one worthy of your finest glassware and a good amount of your free time.

Would I buy more of it? - wish I could. Two bottles per person was the limit and they are long gone. Thanks goes out to my buddy Luke over at BlogAboutBeer for generously giving me one of his two bottles. Cheers Luke!

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.92/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

After having Gargamel I was really looking forward to this beers relase.

A: Poured a murky brown color with just a touch of red. Much darker than most other wild ales out there except for Brabant. Little bit of head that had just a touch of brown in it.

S: The smell is nothing short of awesome. TONS of oak. Every kind of dark fruit you can think of mixed but never becomming abrassive. Dates, raisins, plums. With that there is a little bit of funk to it as well. Some maple syrup. Just a really weird but great nose.

T: Again lots of barrel. Little bit of funk. Just like nothing else I have ever had. Just amazing depth of flavor. You get all the dark fruit etc like you would from a Belgian dark. Then you get a little bit of funk. All backed by a massive oak flavor. Epic.

M: Very soft mouthfeel. Low carbonation but very smooth.

D: No hint of the ABV at all. Just an amazing beer. I don't know how this will age but I wouldn't. It is so smooth to begin with it might just become bland. Amazing beer.

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Photo of buffettfan
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Allagash glass!

Appeared a nice, somewhat dark color, with more head then I was expecting for a 4 year old beer, but still, only about a fingers worth.
The aroma was quite enjoyable, and got me excited to drink it. Sort of a sweet caramel/green apple smell.
Taste was great. I am not a huge fan of sours normally, but this was a very complex sour flavor. A buttery/ caramel was present, along with a green apple tartness that was there, but bot over powering.
Not sure if I would pair this beer with a meal, I think its more of a stand alone beer. It was a very good beer, I'm glad I got 2 bottles!

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.5/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

375mL bottle. Generously shared by ipa247 at his recent sour tasting. Thanks, Jeff.

A: Pours a brilliant, clear maroon/amber body with a finger of off-white head. It retains moderately well, collapsing into a respectable collar and displaying some effervescence up the glass. Not much in the way of lacing.

S: Nuts, solvent, wood, spirit (cognac?), fruity somehow (eventually identified as buttery chardonnay by largadeer -- I got as far as "grapes").

T: Nutty and a little bit of barrel up front. It's more tart than genuinely sour. I'm tempted to say cherries. Either way, it nicely complements the white wine and cognac qualities that come through. It has a spicy, warm finish with some musty wood. No funk or vinegar here. Seems more like a tart strong ale than a sour wild ale. Miscategorization?

M: It's fairly mellow, and is not too hot, but warm.

D: It's pretty drinkable, though nothing I'd get up in arms over. I wouldn't turn it down but I certainly wouldn't seek it out.

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Photo of k3n
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle.

Ruddy-brown with a 1/2" of off-white head. Spotty lacing.

Fruity, and acetic tartness on the nose.

Taste is bracingly sour, yet very approachable. Underlying oak and tannin helps to break up the flavors and dry out the finish. Plenty of carbonation, mouthfeel is lively enough to keep the sourness from getting old. High drinkability.

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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 ThirstyBird
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a hazy honey color with a mild tan head that ends up in a ring.
Smells of sour green apples, wood, bourbon - nicely blended.
Taste is follows nose but more concentrated. It's a complex brew.
Active carbonation is fairly fine in structure. Fairly light in body.
A nice wild with a great nose. A lot going on.

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Photo of Samichlaus
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opened and poured into Allagash tulip.
A:Pours a translucent deep rich mahogany. Thin off-white head, no lacing.

S:Cherries, Oak, and a background of barnyard funk.

T:Bittersweet, wine like flavor. Slightly different from what you would expect from the smell. Cherries and mild oak. Geuze like sourness of the yeasts that lingers. Dry, tart, warming finish. Absolutely delicious.

M:Full bodied, sticky. light carbonation

D:I could drink this all day. Shame I may never have it again.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.06/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an Allagash chalice. Looks medium dark. All sorts of smells coming here. I get pinot character and a little bit of oak. Very complex and enjoyable smell. The taste is very interesting. I get a good ballance of hops and wood. I do get a lot of crouton taste. Only when I concentrate am I able to hone in on the funky yeast flavor...that's a good thing as it allows the other flavors to be showcased. The taste gets a bump up if only because it's so unique. Good amount of carbonation for a higher alcohol brew. This beer really drinks like a wine. A very good sipper, swirl it around in your mouth so it hits all parts of the tongue for the best effect. Very very enjoyable.

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