Madagascar - 4 Hands Brewing Co.

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279 Ratings
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Ratings: 279
Reviews: 34
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: 6.9%
Wants: 235
Gots: 53 | FT: 3
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 279 | Reviews: 34
Reviews by ThePorterSorter:
Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.18/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Imperial milk stout aged in bourbon barrels with vanilla beans
The beer pours a dark black (not inky/oily) and has a razor thin head of tightly packed small tan bubbles that fades into nothing quickly. The nose has vanilla sweetness upfront, dessert like, with some chocolate and bourbon in the background, maybe some donuts too (?). It seems a little biting and spicy, but it's predominantly overpowered by the beer's lactose sweetness. The taste has a smooth, chocolatey sweetness upfront followed by a woody, caramel, and (slight) booze in the finish. The beer has a medium-heavy body, not as thick as expected, bold vanilla and lactose, with more subtle barrel characteristics, very little carbonation, masked booze, and is rounded and drinkable. This is a solid offering from 4 hands, reasonably priced, but disappointed with the limited production...would definitely drink again.

More User Reviews:
Photo of drmcleod10
4.71/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Was really excited to get to try this new batch. Bought several bottles of this and boy am I glad that I did.

22oz bottle poured into a Jester King Teku

A - Shiny black color, minimal white/tan foam head, minimal to media lacing, good ring retention

S - Huge vanilla nose upfront followed by milky chocolate and hints of coffee and bourbon on the back end. Really decadent vanilla and chocolate though

T - Taste follows the nose here, huge amount of vanilla chocolate and coffee up front, highly drinkable with a touch of bourbon on the back end. The 9+% makes this relatively easy to drink and crushable. Vanilla is definitely the dominating taste here.

M - Mouthfeel is actually pretty full, smooth creamy light mouthfeel that drinks smooth

O - 4 Hands hit a homer with this beer. Really nailed what a vanilla stout can be, there aren't too many vanilla BA stouts out there that go toe to toe with this one, looking at you 2010 BCBVS. Cant wait to do a side by side with this and 2014 Vanilla Rye

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.

Photo of roger617
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

Photo of Jared14
4.64/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Head and lacing is minimal, but to be expected with vanilla beans.

Chocolate and vanilla bomb. Bourbon is minimal, barrel adds to the vanilla/marshmallow character.

Photo of Franziskaner
4.09/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

Photo of Homer53
4.65/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

If you're not into sweet beers this will definitely not be your cup of tea. Had this at Dark Lord day and boy was it amazing.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.97/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.67/5  rDev +4%
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.

Photo of Desp59
2.5/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Just ok. Nothing too special.

Photo of sendsilk
3.94/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

It's okay. Kind of a weird spice to it

Photo of crazyfoMostout
4.81/5  rDev +7.1%
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!

Photo of Bosoxfan20
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
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

Photo of Davepoolesque
4.34/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Vanilla bomb. This drank smooth and easy. Wished it was a bit thicker.

Photo of bcrossan
4.24/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Good for a milk stout but would prefer a thicker mouth feel Don't get much barrel from this either

Photo of kveton09
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

We opened this at a bottle share for the CW17 release. We had quite the list of BA brew and I think this beer is as good (if not better) than Vanilla Rye. 4 hands hit this one out of the park, well done!

Photo of lemmy187
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As good as it gets....perfect blend of vanilla and bourbon. A true masterpiece by 4 hands.

Photo of Stevedore
4.65/5  rDev +3.6%
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!

Photo of JackieAnton
4.96/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Just amazing, chocolate and vanilla all over the place with just enough oak to balance out the sweetness.

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.37/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

Photo of mothman
4.43/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Photo of t8dd
4.94/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Ridiculously good. Smells and tastes like a hot fudge sundae. Vanilla, chocolate, marshmallow. Creamy mouthfeel. Subtle bitter chocolate on the finish.

Photo of leroybrown10
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a shiny black with virtually no head. Some lacing around the top of the glass when I gave it a swirl.

Aroma is vanilla first and then bourbon and milk chocolate.

Dominant flavor is vanilla followed by bourbon. Some chocolate and heavy cream. Mild sweetness which increased as the beer warmed. Very smooth drinking and alcohol seems less than the listed 9.3%.

Has the traditional creamy feel of a milk stout though not as thick as some I've had. Low carbonation.

Overall, an outstanding beer which is drinkable enough to get you in trouble at 9.3%. I had 1 22oz bomber and could have easily gone for another.

Photo of TotallyHosed
4.32/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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

Definitely don't drink this too cold. Harsh vanilla extract turned into delicious chocolate cake as it warmed up.

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Madagascar from 4 Hands Brewing Co.
99 out of 100 based on 279 ratings.