Madagascar | 4 Hands Brewing Co.

74 Reviews
no score
Send samples

Brewed by:
4 Hands Brewing Co.
Missouri, United States

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 74 | Ratings: 687
Reviews by ThePorterSorter:
Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.18/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

 885 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of drmcleod10
4.71/5  rDev +5.4%
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

 1,007 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.83/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

 1,749 characters

Photo of Kurmaraja
4.43/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | 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.

(B1 review; subsequent batches haven't quite impressed me as much.)

 967 characters

Photo of LambicPentameter
4.06/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed out of a 22 oz bomber from Batch 3 (2016) and reviewed from notes after drinking it on 5/4/2016. Poured into an oversized brandy snifter.

Appearance (4.0) - A pitch black body topped by a fleeting half finger head that disappears almost immediately. Just pinstripe-thin ringlet of tan suds around the edge of the glass and a single dollop of film in the middle of the surface of the liquid. No lacing or legs to speak of.

Smell (4.25) - Pretty nice aroma wafting out of the glass, with the sweetness of lactose and vanilla beans hitting my nose first, followed by some bittersweet chocolate and light bourbon caramel sweetness shortly thereafter. As it warms, the vanilla and bourbon become a little more prevalent, creating a nice sweet aroma with a pinch of astringent booze on the finish.

Taste (4.0) - I have to admit, I'm a little underwhelmed here. I know this bottle is now about four months old, but it's just not as decadent or rich as I was hoping/expecting. The flavors are all there--vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, light bitterness--but in the end it's just a good barrel-aged stout with vanilla bean. On the taste, the vanilla isn't quite as dominant as it was in the aroma, which allows the base milk stout to come through a little more, and gives the barrel-aging a little more leeway as well. Slight alcohol astringency on the finish, but overall, the taste is sweet.

Mouthfeel (4.0) - Medium body, although it seems light to my palate, given the style of beer. Carbonation is moderate to light. I think the body may be where my issues with this beer are rooted.

Overall (4.0), it is a very good beer, but I can't help but feel that it fell short of what I was looking for. I'll fully admit that my disappointment may come from chasing this beer for a year before finally happening upon a bottle in a pretty easy trade, but there are simply other vanilla bean imperial stouts (and no, I'm not talking about VR) or even porters that I'd take ahead of this one. I can think of about three off the top of my head. That said, I do want to reiterate that this is far from a bad beer. It's actually quite delicious and if someone offered me a pour or bottle in the future, or I randomly came across it on tap, I'd drink my fill and enjoy it immensely.

 2,273 characters

Photo of roger617
4.53/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

 1,311 characters

Photo of t2grogan
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of cjn40277
4.46/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of SkiBum22
4.46/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of lateralundertow
4.31/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Photo of oddlandf
4.14/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of warnerry
4.25/5  rDev -4.9%

Photo of Jared14
4.64/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

 166 characters

Photo of 77apm
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of JakerLou
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of mmcurran
4.62/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of jaminjohnson
4.75/5  rDev +6.3%

Photo of gibgink
4.64/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Franziskaner
4.09/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

 335 characters

Photo of buyyourfreedom
3.16/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Photo of sourdog
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Cynic-ale
4.14/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Bupp22
4.96/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Photo of Oliekan
4.59/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Schlafly33
4.15/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Madagascar from 4 Hands Brewing Co.
4.47 out of 5 based on 687 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.