I just returned home from the Allagash Brewery release party for the Vagabond Ale – the second installment in their now famous Limited 375ml Series which began last spring with the release of Gargamel. Unfortunately, I rarely have all of my wits together at 8 o’clock in the morning so I very embarrassingly forgot my camera. So if you weren’t there, you’ll just have to rely on the written word to imagine it.
Suffice it to say, the Vagabond release made the release party for Gargamel look like peanuts. Put it this way: for Gargamel, I arrived at 8:30 (for a 9 o’clock door opening) parked in the parking lot and was probably the tenth person in line. A line that formed in front of the door to the gift shop. That release was on a Thursday and there were even a few of the bottles left the following Tuesday.
Today I arrived at 8:40, parked half-way down the street, and got in a line which was all the way out the side door and through the loading area of the brewery itself (before you even get to the gift shop). Everyone in line got two tickets – one for two bottles of Vagabond (no ticket = no beer) and one for a free Belgian waffle. There were also huge vats of free coffee for everyone. It really was a festive event. One which reportedly began about 5:30 this morning (the guys in line in front of me left Brooklyn, NY at 11:30 last night to arrive in Portland by 5:30 this morning). Rob Tod, the owner of Allagash, told me that while bottles of Gargamel lasted for nearly 5 days, he didn’t expect the Vagabond stash to last past noon today!
Tod also said of the Limited 375ml Series, they don’t yet have a beer ready for the next release but to expect something next spring. He’ll also need that much time to try and devise a plan to accommodate the obviously growing crowds and enthusiasm.
While special limited releases like this are always a little gimmicky, I think they are also a big part of what makes craft beer (at least in the U.S.) and this industry so much fun. Either way, if you’re reading this from Maine right now and you want a bottle of Vagabond, you’d better get to Allagash on your lunch break or you’ll be S.O.L.