Back in 2013, two-year-old 4 Hands Brewing Company had a single empty barrel of Buffalo Trace whiskey. Partnering with local St. Louis grocery chain Schnucks, 4 Hands aged an imperial milk stout with Madagascar vanilla beans in that barrel and released under 20 total cases of the beer exclusively at the Schnucks in Des Peres. Those are pretty humble beginnings for a beer that is always in conversations when discussing the best Barrel Aged offerings that St. Louis craft beer has to offer.
This year marks the fifth batch of Madagascar and 4 Hands has some fun things in store for the release. As has become customary/necessary, getting to a beer release a while early is the best way to ensure you get all the bottles you want and meet some new people.
So on Sunday, January 28th, the release is at noon (with doors opening at 11:30) but if you want to get to the brewery before those times, you won’t be alone and you’ll be there in comfort. 4 Hands will have porta potties outside to make the wait more comfortable and if that weren’t enough, Peacemaker’s Chef Kevin Nashan will have homemade Spam, egg, and pimento cheese breakfast sandwiches for sale and Goshen Coffee will have some hot coffee as well.
Once inside the brewery, the bottle sales will be downstairs with the beers being served on draft upstairs. This year, alongside the original Madagascar, you’ll also be able to purchase three variants: Madagascar Uganda, Madagascar Port Double Barrel and Madagascar Single Barrel Knob Creek. For bottle sales, there are limits but they’re pretty generous and it’s important to note that the variants are available only at the brewery, they will not see distribution. They’ll also have some bottles pre-bagged so depending on how many you purchase, once you pay you can just grab a bag and walk right out. While supplies are limited, here’s how many of each you’ll be able to buy when the day begins:
Madagascar – 4 Bottles
Madagascar Uganda – 2 Bottles
Madagascar Port Double Barrel – 2 Bottles
As the day goes on, based on turnout, the number of each beer you’ll be allowed to purchase will taper back. So to ensure you get what you want, remember to get there early.
Also, we’re sure you noticed that the Madagascar Single Barrel Knob Creek wasn’t mentioned in the bottle limits. That’s because it’s only available in a gift set, not for individual bottle purchase. With only 100 gift sets available, purchasers will receive a 750mL bottle of the 13 year old Knob Creek Bourbon from the single barrel as well as a 22oz bottle of Madagascar that was aged in that single barrel as well. Here’s what 4 Hands’ Head Brewer, Andy Burgio, has to say about this project:
Madagascar Single Barrel was an incredible opportunity to hand select a barrel of Knob Creek that will pair perfectly with Madagascar. We agreed on a 13 year old barrel that had been aging in Warehouse J on the 4th floor. After participating in the bottling of our barrel we had it shipped back to the brewery to be filled with this year’s barrel aged Madagascar and vanilla beans. Next year we plan on doing the same thing, maybe with a different whiskey entirely. So while you can choose to age this one, it won’t be identical to next year’s version. – Andy Burgio
If all this sounds great, then you’re really going to want to mark your calendar for 4 Hands’ “Slipping Into Darkness” festival on March 3, where they’ll have four more Madagascar variants to try: Fat Elvis (peanut butter, banana, chocolate), French Toast, Boysenberry and Almond Joy. 2018 is off to a great start.
Madagascar 2018 Details
Madagascar | 22oz bottle | 9.3% ABV | $23
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. “This beer’s flavor is best right when we release it, although you are able to age it if you wish.” – Andy Burgio
Madagascar Uganda | 22oz bottle | 9.3% ABV | $26
Our friends at Goshen Coffee Company were able to provide us with a unique micro-lot of Ugandan coffee to add to our Madagascar Imperial Milk Stout. Grown on the northern slopes of Mount Elgon and processed at the Sipi Falls mill, this coffee has strong notes of strawberry, raspberry, and plum. Madagascar Uganda has layers of Vanilla and Bourbon that blend perfectly with the complex flavors of this small-batch coffee. “Drink this one within 60 days to get the full flavor we intended the beer to have.” – Andy Burgio
Madagascar Port Double Barrel | 22oz bottle | 9.5% ABV | $26
Madagascar Port Double Barrel is a new take on our Madagascar Imperial Milk Stout. After resting in Bourbon barrels for 8 months, this Madagascar was transferred into freshly-dumped Portuguese Ruby Port barrels and aged with Madagascar vanilla beans for an additional 3 months. Strong notes of vanilla dominate the aroma, backed up with a complex blend of port wine, oak, Bourbon and chocolate. “This beer’s flavor is best right when we release it, although you are able to age it if you wish.” – Andy Burgio
Single Barrel Knob Creek & Madagascar Gift Set | 22oz bottle Madagascar Single Barrel Knob Creek & 750ml bottle Single Barrel Reserve Knob Creek | $100
This gift set includes a bottle of Single Barrel Knob Creek hand selected by the brewers at 4 Hands with a bottle of our Madagascar that was aged in that same Knob Creek Barrel. Madagascar Single Barrel Knob Creek is an extremely limited edition of our Madagascar Imperial Milk Stout. We hand-selected a single barrel of 13 year old Knob Creek Bourbon at Jim Beam Stillhouse in Clermont, Kentucky. After bottling the Bourbon, we used the barrel to age our barrel aged Madagascar and vanilla beans. This project provided us with an incredible opportunity to showcase the unique characteristics of this single barrel. “This beer’s flavor is best right when we release it, although you are able to age it if you wish. Keep in mind that next year’s version of this beer will be from a different single barrel so if you plan on saving this for a vertical, you won’t be comparing identical beers.” – Andy Burgio