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Madagascar | 4 Hands Brewing Co.

58 Reviews
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Brewed by:
4 Hands Brewing Co.
Missouri, United States | website

Style: Milk / Sweet Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.30%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by ThePorterSorter on 02-15-2014

User Reviews
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Reviews: 58 | Ratings: 548
Photo of Kramerbarthomer
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Nice vanilla and barrel notes here. But the body is so damn thin for what I was expecting. Definitely a great beer, but i'm not sure I'd put it into the world class vanilla stout category...

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Photo of Stevem68
3.7/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark chocolate color. Aroma is terrible, it's baby diapers with a touch of vanilla. Flavor is vanilla with some roasted malts. Drinks very smooth. Overall this is disappointing, it has nice points but it's aroma is bad and flavor doesn't match the description.

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

Madagascar Batch 1 - A very nice BA Stout! A little vanilla may have faded but was still present as were the barrel notes. Overall a wonderful beer that lived up to the hype for me!

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Photo of Mar02x
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

What in incredible smell. If you know Madagascar Vanilla then you know this is real. Amazing. Unfortunately I am missing bourbon. I could have been aged a while longer to pick up some more barrel tones.

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Photo of tywhite
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is one of those beers that you'd buy 3-4 of each year if it were a shelfie at your grocery store, not a world-class stout. A tad thin (really not bad in that department), very oily, and wound up tasting more like cream soda than a stout. Enjoyable, but not worth seeking out.

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Photo of yankeepride
3.96/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Really disappointed in this, given the hype. Got big vanilla on the nose, and it was very smooth to drink, but the barrel was very faint and it didn't have a lot of pop to it. Did I enjoy drinking it? Yes, but considering what it takes to get one second-hand, it'll likely be the last time I do. This was batch 2, so maybe it's gotten too mellow since then?

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Photo of Treyliff
4.44/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a deep black color with a bit of light creeping in on the edge, small foamy white head that leaves a few patches of lace behind

S- charred malt up front brings aromas of chocolate, followed by burnt marshmallow, vanilla bean & sugar cookies. Barrel notes are subtle but give aromas of bourbon, vanilla & toasted oak. Slightly smoky close with milk sugar sweetness

T- marshmallow and vanilla open up followed by dark chocolate and vanilla whipping cream and milk sugars. Light barrel character gives hint of bourbon and toasted oak in the mid-palate, along with a trace of coconut. Finishes with more marshmallow and chocolate with a sweet linger

M- medium body and low carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel that continues to the finish

O- the sweetness of the base milk stout compliments the vanilla addition very well, with the barrel character balancing the sweetness. One of the best milk stouts that I've had to date.

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Photo of Gambyt20
4.87/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

No doubt bourbon and vanilla on the nose and taste. Great balance. So smooth. Vanilla is the dominant flavor. Great beer and sipper! Had on tap, now must find a bottle.

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Photo of W_Des
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours black from the bottle. Has a lot of vanilla in the nose but it seems to be one dimensional lacking barrel characteristics. The body is again full of vanilla with very subtle bourbon and oak. A bit unbalanced in my opinion. The feel is great though with a light silky mouth feel. Underwhelmed from the hype.

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Photo of Hootie159
4.76/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

From bottle. Pours an oily black. Good retention on head. Holy Madagascar vanilla bean. What a smell. Bourbon shines as it warms. This is fantastic. Vanilla bourbon excellence. Like a fancy dessert. Make this an ice cream. Good level of carbonation but this is straight velvet. Wow. This is an incredible beer. Unlike most milk stouts it's sweet but not overly so. Bourbon reins it back and the quality vanilla likewise provides a great flavor rather than an extracty sweetness.

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Photo of costanzo_mike
4.71/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a dark oily black with a light brown foamy head that dissipates quickly, some lingering on top. Smell is fresh vanilla and some bourbon. Taste is chocolate, bourbon, vanilla in that order. Medium mouthfeel with some sticky vanilla feel to it. Whoa, loved this one

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Photo of Fireman_RK
4.77/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Deviating from my normal review notes because I was so floored by @smakawhat's review - this awesome BA captured the essence of everything I thought. Batch 3 is a decadent treat and infinitely complex with its depth of vanilla, bourbon, cocoa, and marshmallow flavors. It feels lame mailing in a review like this, but I read that review and found myself agreeing with every sentence - 4 Hands should pay royalties for tasting notes!

For what it's worth, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. Too many bourbon barrel-aged stouts get overpowered by a jarring alcohol taste and this batch of Madagascar deftly avoids that and presents a refined and nuanced flavor profile that keenly plays on a rich milk stout complemented by robust chocolate and vanilla notes. A phenomenal brew for sure.

TL;DR: This is a glorious bourbon-soaked s'more replete with milk chocolate and sweet marshmallow flavors. Do everything in your power to get a bottle!

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Photo of pbgnar
4.95/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Very sweet on the nose. Tons of vanilla

Taste is full of vanilla and sugar but is perfectly balanced by bourbon flavors. Vanilla and bourbon combine in perfect harmony

Full bodied but could be a bit thicker

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Photo of smakawhat
4.83/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass. Vintage 2015.

Deep walnut brown body with a hint of clarity around the edges. Small basic tan head, with little retention and can't quite make a finger. Settles to a creamy but even bubbles collar, and a little bit of lacing.

Aroma is quite impressive. Huge thick chocolate notes, and Duncan Hines cake batter. There's a hint of coffee roast in here, a bit of char as well as the roast character really pipes out just a little bit as well. Extremely impressive nose, with a bit of powder cocoa mixing in as well. Like a warm inviting bakers chocolate cake even with the matching icing, and a small cup of coffee. Very impressive.

One word. Wow. Where do I start? For a brew that seems to be fairly straightforward this is incredibly diverse on the palate. Thick rich and balanced, the light bodied quality opens up tremendously on first sip. Coffee light acid then a thick mixing cake like milk chocolate and vanilla sweetness fills the palate. Blasting char roast on the finish, and even in the mid palate as well, with some great amounts of dry roast porter like tones, and coffee bean grinds. Nice wonderful toned lactose sweetness with cream and vanilla complimenting perfectly, each of these roast, dry, sweet, and chocolate notes are just all paired together wonderfully. Aftertaste takes more of the sweetness away perfectly, almost cigar breath and coffee like quality. Oaky whiskey notes really seem to have just sat in the dust and given all their power to the other elements in sweetness and vanilla. There's no booze on this whatsoever either.

This doesn't even taste like a milk stout, and it's absolutely flooring. Drinks so incredibly easily, a great creation.

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Photo of eifster82
4.57/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On draft, into snifter.

Dark (but not pitch black) appearance, no foam head. Load of vanilla smell. Very vanilla forward taste with a smooth ending. Bourbon note is there but not overpowering. The taste and feel is really dominated by vanilla. Overall a great stout, and one of the better vanilla ones out there. Would happily drink again, if I could ever find it.

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Photo of RAlmeida77
4.58/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Not the darkest stout....was able to see through the pour.
S: Heavenly...vanilla, vanilla, and more vanilla. Some nice bourbon notes as well.
T: Huge vanilla with subtle bourbon notes. Delicious beer.
M: Super smooth. Very drinkable. Med mouthfeel with med carbonation.
O: Finally, a beer that lives up to the amount of vanilla I want! Not as much as VR but this still has a lot of vanilla. Excellent beer!

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Photo of clay23
4.49/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The vanilla really hits on the nose. The beer is smooth all the way through and starts out marshmallow and finished chocolate. As it warmed burnt caramel tones came though. I would def recommend searching this out

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Photo of 2beerdogs
4.31/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to @choobaccaHB for sharing this gorgeous drink

Pours deep mahogany. Head is minuscule and soon disappears.
Nose is gracefully complex. Rich, deep vanilla that is not overwhelming. I must disclose vanilla as a dominant note tends to be a negative for me, but this one is rounded and smooth, yet ever present. Also, gentle bourbon, hints of cocoa, and maybe marshmallow.
Taste is sublime. Like the nose, the vanilla is a constant yet it sashays with numerous partners. The cocoa is the strongest, and alludes to deep buttery brownies. The bourbon takes turns, especially in the swallow, bringing sweetness infused with slight char. And marshmallow hovers and retreats and taps in shyly. Madagascar is gently "warm." No burn, just a warn hug to the back of the mouth. The flavors really go back and forth. As it warms, the bourbon approaches parity with the cocoa.
Mouthfeel is perfect, creamy yet some heft.
Glorious Drink.

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Photo of Kraj30
4.91/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

love this beer.. huge vanilla and bourbon smell as soon as you crack the bottle.. when its warm it is so smooth.. one of the BBA stouts I have ever had.. really really well done.. solid mouthfeel.. overall great beer

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.64/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: black, but not the blacklist. Poured like a stout, but not an ultra thick pour.
S: vanilla and bourbon. Not an intense aroma, but a great smelling beer.
T: big vanilla, then slight bourbon. This is fantastic!
F: very smooth, supremely drinkable for a ba stout. Medium thickness and better than average coating.
O: this is a ba vanilla imperial milk stout, and my best comparison is this is vanilla rye's little brother. It's a fantastic beer, a real treat for sure.

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Photo of Kevinpitts
4.2/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer was a little one note for me. Some chocolate and marshmallow taste. No barrel aging detected whatsoever. Flavor fades quickly as well, though that flavor is good. Glad to try. 2015 version.

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Photo of pagriley
3.65/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pours dark mahogany, settles to almost black in the glass. Not much head or lacing
Big vanilla on the nose. Not as medicinal as VR, but about the same level - Vanilla turned to 11, but not much else from the base beer.
Big thump of Vanilla milk shake, then nothing. No barrel, no base beer, just vanilla
Thin, almost watery mouthfeel even when at room temp

Overall I put this in the same category as Funky Buddha adjunct stouts - really nice, if you are into the kapow! over the top adjunct flavor, but that is all you are getting. Huge nose, but not much else to back it up

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Photo of Monkeyknife
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle a deep, opaque black with one finger of khaki head.

Aroma of vanilla, cocoa and bourbon.

Tasted of cocoa, marshmallow, vanilla, bourbon and oak. Some boozy warmth in the finish from the 9.3% abv.

Medium/Full bodied and creamy with a lighter carbonation.

One of my absolute favorites from 4 Hands.

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Photo of rabbott2
4.61/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2015 vintage drank out of a bottle in a snifter on 12/29/2015.

Look - Motor oily thick and extremely impressive lacing for a 9% milk stout. This is a quite nice start to this beer.

Smell - vanilla marshmallow at the forefront. Also some nice notes of chocolate and cocoa with a little bit of roast, toffee, and coffee as well.

Taste - love this. The vanilla is excellent but not overpowering. The bourbon really comes out more and more as it warms, but the balance continues to get better and better. The oak comes out nicely after a little warming too. Some sweet dark chocolate adds to the mix, but nothing overly complex. A very enjoyable mix of flavors.

Feel - very creamy. Not super thick, but this goes down very easily with minimal booze. A little heavy on the carbonation, but impacts more as it goes down and not on the flavor profile.

Overall - a great beer. Had this at FOBAB and sought out some bottles from this release and extremely glad I did. It's certainly no FO or VR, but it's a very strong vanilla stout and I will seek this one out annually. Love 4 Hands more and more every beer I try of theirs!

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Photo of woosterbill
4.23/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks, Dino!

A: Black body, reddish highlights; half-inch head of dense tan foam; decent retention, good lace. Attractive.

S: Plenty of vanilla, but it's not overpowering or one-note. There's also substantial chocolate, bourbon, and oak. Really nice.

T: Follows the nose: sweet vanilla up front, rich barrel character closing things out with caramel, bourbon, and toasty oak. Long, bittersweet finish with lingering vanilla and dark chocolate. Tasty.

M: Not too thick, not too thin. Moderate carbonation.

O: Excellent beer, but not as memorable as it might have been. At least it wasn't as cloying as some other vanilla stouts I've had.


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Madagascar from 4 Hands Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 58 ratings.