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Madagascar - 4 Hands Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

32 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 32
Hads: 349
Avg: 4.51
pDev: 23.06%
Wants: 324
Gots: 54 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
4 Hands Brewing Co. visit their website
Missouri, United States

Style | ABV
Milk / Sweet Stout |  9.30% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ThePorterSorter on 02-15-2014

This Imperial Milk Stout was aged in bourbon barrels with whole vanilla beans. Madagascar pours a dark black with notes of bourbon, chocolate, and vanilla.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 32 | Hads: 349
Photo of RMelyon
4.87/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage, drank 11/22/2015. This beer tastes like vanilla chocolate milk with just a hint of bourbon. Therefore, if given the opportunity, you should drink it.

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Photo of swanfungus
4.49/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. I was really impressed by this brew. Pours jet black with a thin tan head. Aroma is bourbon and vanilla, with an equal amount of tasty vanilla and chocolate flavor. Thick, creamy mouthfeel. Smooth finish. Awesome.

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Photo of TampaRainman
4.46/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Damn fine Vanilla Stout. If it's this good now, I can imagine it was probably a vanilla rockstar when fresh. Nicely balanced, but leans sweet as a vanilla stout probably should.

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Photo of floridadrift
4.7/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A really tasty beer, lots of vanilla going on, solid bourbon notes but a bit light on the mouth feel, possibly because of the lack of ABV but it's delicious. Its so good! Black as night, light fluffy tan head, medium mouth feel but really quite tastey to drink!

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.07/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- This beer hits the glass in a thick, black pour that kind of looks and feels like chocolate milk. A small head of about a centimeter forms and is medium tan in color. Most of the head ends up sticking around a good while and leaving a solid amount of lacing on the glass.

S- Sweet lactose sugar and chocolate greet the nose first on the beer. Just a hint of vanilla sweetness mixes in next before the barrels lend their flavors to the scent. The oak and char are more prominent on the end of the smell. Overall impression of the scent of the beer is sweet upfront with balancing burnt malts and barrel on the back end.

T- The beer starts you off with a mildly bitter bang of burnt malts and chocolate right up front. The semi-sweet nature of the chocolate takes over for a brief moment before the barrel characteristics move in and give a bit of oak and char spiciness. Right after the barrel on the very end of the drink, the vanilla sweetness kicks in more noticeably. The lingering flavor on the tongue is what I imagine licking the inside of a bourbon barrel to be like, with spicy char and oak mixing in with vanilla sweetness.

M- Thick and creamy is the best way to describe this milk stout. The lactose sweetness in the beer lends itself to thickening the flavor up and making the body heavy and smooth. Outside of the bourbon barrel flavors, there is no detectable alcohol or warmth to be had.

Overall, this beer feels like it should when you drink it, but the flavors are a little less than I was expecting. The vanilla is definitely a subtle flavor that mixes with the barrel and malts rather than being a standout flavor. This is a very good imperial sweet stout, but I was hoping for something a little stronger in the vanilla department.

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Photo of Houser
4.67/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

been looking to try this for quite some time, and was very happy i was finally able to land my hands on it. not as thick as vanilla rye, but given the different styles, it was expected, although the two beers do have their similarities.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.17/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Tried this at Great Taste of the Midwest. Tons of vanilla in the aroma and flavor. Taste is slightly boozey, but there is a lot of vanilla here. Medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The beer feels a little thin on the pallete and the booziness makes it feel a little bigger so they kinda cancel each other out. Glad to try this at a festival. Hype train is going on this beer.

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Photo of TastyIsBeer
4.72/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Best beer I had at the Great Taste of the Midwest (2015) - vanilla is not at all artificial, mouth feel is perfect for what tastes like a great vanilla shake. One of the few "dessert beers" with this flavor profile, it definitely impressed.

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Photo of Zaximus
4.13/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In the minority here as I think this one is a bit overhyped. Looks the part as it pours a nice black/extremely dark brown with minimal head. Smells nice - vanilla and bourbon as you would expect.

Tastes good? Solid. I think the vanilla is a bit overly sweet and it leaves a sticky sweet, somewhat medicinal taste in the finish. Nice bourbon heat and a great thick, mouthfeel. But... Solid. Not exceptional.

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Photo of ironchefmiyagi13
4.81/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was close to perfect. Vanilla was natural-smelling and the bourbon did a good job of punching through any cloying sweetness from the beans and malts.

Seriously, a wonderfully executed beer. Class act.

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Photo of Franziskaner
4.09/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Jet black in color with absolutely no penetration to light. A fingernail of brown foam rests on top. Heavy Brussels lacing. Amazing aroma of dark malt, slight smokiness, and a hint of vanilla at the end. The flavor is dark roasted barley, lactose, and the bitterness is offset by a touch of vanilla. The mouth is thick and creamy.

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Photo of lupercmda
4.48/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Dave for sharing this. Pours a black medium color. Smells of bourbon and vanilla but with neither one predominating. Tastes like it smells with a great balance of vanilla, chocolate and bourbon. Nice creamy finish with the mouth feel for this milk stout. Excellent.

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Photo of crazyfoMostout
4.81/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had this at a 4 Hands tap takeover at 44 Stone Public House. Kevin Lemp, the president of Four Hands was in attendance and actually bought me a pint of it.
Wow, just wow. This beer is off the chain complex. The vanilla is very apparent, but not cloying. Lots of roasted character, with a big chocolate and coffee punch. And sure, the bourbon is there, but it blends nicely with the other flavors. The finish is velvety smooth. Despite being over 9%, the alcohol is virtually undetectable.
As Kevin explained to me, " we buy the best vanilla beans we can get. And we skin, disinfect and split every bean by hand before it goes in to the fermenter". The attention to detail and dedication to perfection is mind blowing. World Class? Oh Yeah!

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.67/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at EBF in Boston, MA.

This one pours a fairly dark black, with no real head or lacing, maybe a few spots here and there.

Smells so richly, strongly, and wonderfully of vanilla beans, there's a ton here, clearly. I also get chocolate and bourbon tones pretty strongly.

I think this one possibly beats out Vanilla Rye. It's got a less syrupy, molasses-like flavor, and more just pure vanilla and barrel character. There's some oak, chocolate, and bourbon, but the main story is all about the vanilla. Delicious.

This is thick bodied, but not syrupy in the mouthfeel, luckily. There's a lower level of carbonation, and a really nice drinkability.

This was definitely one of the stars of the weekend, super tasty.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.37/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

EBF sample. Pours black and fairly thick. Vanilla bean nose is aromatic and very appealing. Milk chocolate, lactose and soft bourbon. The flavor is pungent vanilla. Genuine vanilla bean. Creamy milk chocolate candy bar. Milky lactose. The bourbon character really rounds out the flavor well. This one isnt necessarily the most complex and that's fine when you really nail the intended flavors. You want vanilla, bourbon and chocolate? Here it is. Actually now that I think about it, this was a pretty complex beer so I retract that previous statement. Nice, creamy feel. One of the best EBF beers I tried.

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Photo of roger617
4.53/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Batch 2 bomber poured into a BCBS snifter.

A: Pours a rich black color with over a finger of khaki head that reduces slowly and leaves a thin collar. Lacing is minimal. Viscosity seems right no par at just below 10%.

S: I get vanilla up front as the most dominant. Bourbon next, with just a slight bit of coffee. The chocolate gets lost in the mix. I'm a huge vanilla anything fan, so I really enjoy the aroma of this beer.

T: Vanilla up front which drives a very sweet flavor, with the bourbon coming in right at the end to leave a semi sweet and semi dry after flavor. Again, coffee and chocolate are more afterthoughts. As the glass warms I pick up a bit more chocolate notes, but not it is still a complementary flavor to the vanilla.

M: So creamy. Carbs is low, which lends to just how creamy this beer is. Slightly dry on the end, attributed to bourbon. Yet enough sweetness that the dryness is very mellow.

O: Granted not a lot of Milk Stouts are barrel aged, this is easily the best Milk Stout I've had to date. The vanilla and bourbon additions are very welcomed, I only wish that the coffee made it through more - a possible sign of not having fresh. I love this beer, and love even more that a fairly unknown brewery can nail a style like that and redefine what a Milk Stout can be.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.97/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body. Medium khaki head. Wispy surface.

Smell - Vanilla. Lots of vanilla. Chocolate. A hint of oak, but not much barrel.

Taste - That is an insane amount of vanilla in this. Milk chocolate. Whiskey comes through a little in the back. Vanilla lingers, too.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Buckets of vanilla. It overwhelms, but works nicely.

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Photo of mothman
4.43/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hot cocoa with vanilla. Very chocolaty. Bourbon and oak. Rich and complex. Creamy and smooth. Some roasted malts. Very impressive. I really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
4.53/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours near black with some light coming through around the edges. Delicate khaki head settles to a ring. Aroma brings it with the vanilla. A lot going on, but bottom line there a tantalizing marriage between the bourbon, oak, and vanilla beans. The vanilla just smells so pure and so damn good! I'm usually let down with the flavors of vanilla stouts that smell divine as they can come off as too artificial, but not the case here. Delicate, refined, smooth, balanced, and in no way artificial. Hint of bitterness on the back end ties everything together. Body is light, yet creamy. So freaking drinkable.
Overall...incredible. A harmony of natural vanilla and bourbon barrels that is on another level and matched by very few.

$17 for a 22oz bomber

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Photo of Kurmaraja
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The comparison to Vanilla Rye is inevitable but I think a bit misguided. We're talking about a 9.3% milk stout versus an almost 14% imperial stout. Cue up the comments of "Madagascar is too thin" ... absurd considering the impressively creamy, almost marshmallowy body, close to perfect for the style. And, again, comments "needs more bourbon" ... when the bourbon marries perfectly with the beer and serves to highlight the incredible vanilla flavor rather than overwhelming it, which would turn this into a souped up version of vanilla extract.

If there is one "critique" I have it's that the base beer does get a touch lost under the vanilla. But, then, perhaps it's just married so closely that the two become indistinguishable. The purest expression of real vanilla I've come across in a beer. I'd love to see them amp up the base a bit to an imperial version and give it the same treatment.

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Photo of Getalegup
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is batch 2 done at the end of 2014. Not retired! Vanilla Rye wins a head to head vs Madagascar but this is very very good. Not enough bourbon and kind of thinner than I expected. Lots of sweet vanilla smell and flavor. This would be fantastic if bourbon barrel aged for a longer time to give it more barrel flavor.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.65/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

650ml bottle from the recent 2014 release. Much thanks to Dylan for sending this one. Served in a snifter 2/13/2015.

A- Dark brown body, opaque and close to being pitch black. One finger offwhite head, nice retention, no lacing.

S- Vanilla ice cream. Seriously, this smells like authentic vanilla with a nice dose of bourbon and lactose. Some milk chocolate sweetness, a small bit of oak. Sweet smelling enough but not over the top. This is perfectly beyond what I expected it to be, and I knew its reputation going into this. Wow, the vanilla balance in this is perfect. Surprised there wasn't more barrel in this, but honestly, I really don't care- it adds more vanilla to the overall flavour than anything else.

F- Vanilla ice cream flavour, milk chocolate, a bit of roasted malt, slight espresso, slight smoky bourbon flavour. This is phenomenal and drinking better then BCBVR is right now. Perfect amount of vanilla that is genuine and not extract-like at all.

M- Medium bodied, nice silkiness and moderately creamy; does not reach the mouthfeel of BCBVR but not a lot of beers do, anyway. Drinks great, easy to drink and zero heat.

O- This beer is drinking better than BCBVR is right now, and reminds me a lot of aged BCBVS. It hits that sweet spot of perfect vanilla goodness without being boozy at all. Seek this one with prejudice!

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Photo of lemmy187
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge vanilla bean on the nose. Taste is as good as it gets....perfect blend of vanilla and bourbon. A true masterpiece by 4 hands. A little thin on both body and feel...but not enough to take away from this being a top tier stout.

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Photo of TotallyHosed
4.32/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black liquid with mocha head that fizzles away quickly. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The aroma has milk chocolate, bourbon, and liquor. There is some faint vanilla notes after swirling the glass.

The taste starts with big vanilla notes nicely combined with a little bourbon. The finish has lots of milk chocolate and a little charred barrel.

The feel is a solid medium with some slickness.

Overall this is a very enjoyable BA vanilla stout. None of the flavors are cloying, but the vanilla is definitely pronounced. Luckily the backing flavors of chocolate and bourbon are able to come through on the finish. The question of aging always comes up and I feel like I must strongly recommend against. Drink this now, because there is no alcohol to mellow and no flavors to subdue.

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Photo of SeanBond
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pretty impressive. I haven't had some of the big BA vanilla beers (BCBVS, BAVDL, etc.), but of those that I've had, including Vanilla Rye BCS, this is probably the best. The taste of vanilla bean is very strong in the beer, and the combination of barrel-aging + vanilla give the beer a really pleasant creaminess, without any sort of bitterness or alcohol heat. Great stuff.

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Madagascar from 4 Hands Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 32 ratings.