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.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 102 |  Reviews: 70
Photo of buffettfan
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
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 -15.7%
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 +4.8%
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 -1.7%
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 -0.7%
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 -1.2%
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 -2.2%
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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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 11/7/2009. Bottle. Pours a clear dark brown with just a ring of white head. Aroma of oak, sour fruit, booze, vanilla, toffee. Flavor is tart on initial sip, with maple syrup, roasted malt, gingerbread, vanilla, and booze in the finish. A little on the boozy side but it was enjoyable.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle into Darkness snifter/tulip.

A - Pours a brownish reddish color with an off-white head. There's a thin cap of head on top of the beer and a thicker ring around the sides of the glass that produces some lacing.

S - Cherries, brown sugar, spices, cinnamon. Not near as much tart/funk as Gargamel, but there are notes of it on the nose. Funky sweet sugars meld with toasted oak.

T - Similar to the nose. Cherries, sugars, cinnamon, oak with a tart kick. A sweet cherry finish that's semi-dry.

M - Light, crisp, smooth, medium carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - Very easy to drink because the sour/tart notes are pretty subtle. I prefer Gargamel, but this is a good one.

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Photo of portia99
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

375ml bottle courtesy of, and shared with nonstick. Thanks Chris! Poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Pours an amber brown color with a thin layer of bubbles and a nice thick collar. No head.

S - Sour, nutty, woody aromas...and something I can't identify. Tons of nuts and toffee as it warms...a touch of alcohol joins in too. Definitely gets better and more complex as it warms.

T - Definitely sour, but not overwhelmingly so...a little bit drying and astringent. A bit of toffee as it hits the mouth. Some woodiness, (is this just in the inhale, or am I tasting this). A bit sweet too. On a particular taste, I got a memory of street vendors in NYC selling roasted nuts...a bit sugary and nutty at the same time. A touch of maple syrup too as it warms.

M - Quite thin, watery in texture....doesn't take anything away from this one though. Plenty of carbonation...not too much though. Nice prickly feel.

D - Quite high on the list. Very drinkable for what it is. Shared a 375ml bottle, 1/2 a bottle wasn't quite enough, would savor a whole bottle, I think. Very good overall...nice sour - very complex and a bit unique in character.

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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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Photo of rhinos00
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge props to Seth for hooking me up with this very special beer. Poured from a 375 mL bottle into a tulip glass.

A- Pours a hazy, brown with a maroon tint to its complexion. Produced two fingers width of cream colored head. Dissipated to a frothy ring throughout consumption.

S- Maple is very evident in the produced a nice, sweet base. Also picking up some nuttiness and a bit of cabernet. Great mix, just wish it was a little more potent to push it to another level.

T- Right off the bat picking up some deep layers of maple and nuttiness...a genius combination. Shortly after a grape, vinous character takes over giving the beer a semi-tart finish along with the acidity of a fine port. Also picking up a bit of graham cracker as well. Interesting mix of ingredients for sure, but worked rather well.

M- Very solid for a wild ale. Light to medium bodied. Plenty of carbonation.

D- Pretty high. Cannot believe this beer is 10% abv. The flavors disguise it very well and make it easy to drink.

Overall, this was way better than Gargamel. Not even close. One thing to remember is that you have to come into this beer with an open mind. It's not going to be super sour like the Cantillons, but it's more like a tamed down version of Consecration that has maple and nuts thrown into it. Just enough tartness to pass as a wild ale. Pretty impressive considering this is a sour at 10%.

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Photo of gregc
4.97/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle. Thanks to Jagger for this one.

Pours a deep aurburn color with a small fizzy looking white head.
The aroma of the beer is amazing. Port wine, sweet plums, cabernet grapes, oak and a touch of maple syrup sweetness. This is the most vinous smelling beer i have ever had. In my opinion this blurs the line between a beer and a wine.
The taste is outstanding...sweet plums, toasted nuts, graham cracker and port wine. The finish is very nutty. This is complex beyond belief. May be one the best beers I have ever had. I am blown away by the depth of flavors here....amazing...
I am very surprised at the mellow sourness of this beer. It was a lot less then i expected, almost non existant. A small amount of funk is evident, but very slight sourness. The carbonation and mouthfeel is supurb. The beer is very smooth and drinkable.
My second bottle will get some age on it before it is opened, it will be nice to see if this develops anymore.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.56/5  rDev -14.2%
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 koopa
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received in a trade with WkndatBernardus thanks!

Appearance: Deep iced tea body with minimal head and the tiniest swirls of lace.

Smell: Wow the nose is a very nice vinegar, tobacco and leather mix. Not quite pucker inducing but complex and inviting.

Taste: This one really isn't coming together for me and I'd in reality give it a 3.8 for taste if that was possible. Sweetness up front followed by wood notes, vanilla, butter, and nuts. The oak is probably the most dominant flavor. Minor alcohol note.

Mouthfeel: Light side of medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Very good considering its a 10% abv wild ale.

It's good but I'm surprised I didn't love this one....

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Photo of MasterSki
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
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 Viggo
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
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 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 HopHead84
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
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 Overlord
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to a very generous trader. This was a welcome surprise.

Pours slightly orangeish brown. Small white crust, with champagne-esque bubbles. Looks interesting.

Smells overwhelmingly like earthy nuts/pecans with a gigantic, huge aroma of oak, vanilla and ... burnt sugar? The description indicates maple syrup, so maybe that's what it is. .

This is one of the oak-iest beers I've ever had. Whoa. It is bracing. Sour, some sweet vanilla with balancing orange/citrus or dates/plums gone sour. The earthy nuttiness is so pronounced.

Surprisingly balanced sweet and sour. Very drinkable. Nice bubbly mouthfeel. Not elite, but solid.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.77/5  rDev +14.9%
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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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 rrheisler
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split a couple of bottles with umfskibum and our respective significant others.

Poured into tulip glasses, immediately upon opening we get a strong scent of plum, pear, and grape. Almost like opening a champagne. A deep, maple syrup colored liquid comes out the bottle, with about a quarter-inch of head.

The smell, as it warmed slightly, started to take on some characteristics of bourbon and maple syrup. Decadent.

Tasting was a journey. It starts very puckering, with that sour flavor as well as a champagne quality. However, as it warms, the subtle characters come out to play. Each sip hit the palate slightly differently, getting some smoke, vanilla, syrup, dill, plum, and alcohol, each to varying degrees on every sip. Crazy.

Mouthfeel was dry, well-carbonated. Really forced you to slow down, sip, and enjoy the brew.

The only thing keeping it from a 5.0 drinkability? The fact that it's so darn rare. In all, an exquisite beer.

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