Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 907 | Reviews: 440 | Display Reviews Only:
3.18/5 rDev -9.1%
Pours an opaque black with a 2 inch tan head that fades to a thin cap. Random lattices of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smells of Good & Plenty candy first and foremost along with minor hints of wood and roasted malt. Slight whiffs of soy sauce come out as the beer warms. Definitely an interesting smell in a RIS, let alone any beer to be honest. I like black licorice, so I am not as wary of the smell as other reviewers are. Taste opens up with black licorice flavors that slowly fade into dark roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and wood flavors. The aftertaste is the same as you get from eating lots of black licorice. The mouthfeel on this beer is quite weird too. It's a bit flat with a smooth and thick feel, but the anise seems to have a numbing effect on the palate. I don't like the mouthfeel at all because of this. Overall, I am somewhat unimpressed with this beer. I know Stone is trying to be different with their "Odd Beers For Odd Years" campaign and this is a pretty odd beer. It's not bad per se but the anise/black licorice smell and taste are very one dimensional and pretty much overpower anything else this beer has to offer. For example, I detect no Belgian yeast in the smell or taste of this beer whatsoever. I only bought one bottle to give this a shot and I am glad I did because I will not be buying any more of this version. I love the normal Stone IRS but this one is just way off the mark in my opinion.
06-30-2011 04:10:47 | More by UCLABrewN84
3.9/5 rDev +11.4%
On-tap at Mugs Alehouse, Brooklyn, NY
A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a half-finger high tan head that has good retention properties.
S: Anise really stands out in the nose, which also has aromas of dark roasted malts and chocolate.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, although the flavors of anise and licorice aren’t quite as strong and more balanced with those of roasted malts and chocolate (in line from what you would expect from a Russian Imperial Stout).
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The addition of anise to this beer makes for a very interesting taste and keeps your taste buds stimulated.
12-06-2011 00:42:52 | More by metter98
4/5 rDev +14.3%
Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of black chocolate and roasted coffee notes with some anis and light lactose notes. Taste is a very nice mix between some anis which is well balanced with black chocolate notes and roasted malt with light dry astringent coffee notes. Body is full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. I really liked the addition of anis to the classic Stone RIS but I can’t say I really noticed the Belgian yeast strain that was used.
09-12-2011 19:54:47 | More by Phyl21ca
4.08/5 rDev +16.6%
With the typical malty-rich coffee, chocolate, and molassas flavor of the standard IRS, this Anise Belgo version offers the complementary flavors of licorice, over all fruitiness, and a spicy bit that seems to amplify hop bitterness.
As expected, the Anise Belgo IRS pours a deep and dark brown that's just a hair from pitch black and total opaqueness. A dense and froathy blanket of foam coats the surface with medium tan foam and an impressive display of lace. Hard to keep the appearance off of top mark honors.
French roast coffees, cocoa, heavy toast, and molassas laden maltiness set the stage, but the complimentary notes of licorice, raisons, red grapes, blackberries, and figs all make marks on aroma.
Rich and lavish flavors of the coffee and cocoa dominate the palate while a dance of walnuts, figs, anise, berries, and a dash of sherry begin to decorate the peripheries and announce themeselves individually with each sip. Very complex as layers upon layers of flavor come wave after wave. Delicious throughout, especially for those who like their stouts with more estery character. Even the hops combine with the yeasty phenolics for an increased bitterness, citrusy, and white pepper impact especially in the finish.
Full bodied and extremely creamy, the beer takes on chewy proportions until after mid palate where the carbonation disipates and the malty-dry textrues usher in an alcoholic warming and peppery spice on the tongue and throat.
The Belgian yeast strains seem to be keep the stout a bit clean but create a salty, briney flavor along with estery fruitiness and phenolic spices. All come together in a very bitey and bitter conclussion. Though not preferred to the standard IRS, this Anise Belgo version is a great variant from the original.
06-06-2011 15:35:56 | More by BEERchitect
4.08/5 rDev +16.6%
dark brown color and a light bit of foam coming up and over the top of the glass. Settling down quickly it left a little lace along the sides and a touch of light shining through on the bottom keeping it from being completely black. Aroma of deep, sweet chocolate dominates here, rich with overtones of coffee and rich malted goodness. Interesting mix of aromas here, full with warming bringing out a touch of brown sugar. Smooth, easy sipper. Rich warming chocolate covers the palate and a nice back splash of hops dries you out and leaves you looking for the next sip. Complex, smooth and light enough to be enjoyed thoroughly. Not the best I have had but it certainly held its own.
08-15-2011 01:37:10 | More by mikesgroove
3.05/5 rDev -12.9%
On-tap at Provisions
A: The beer pours essentially black with a finger of off-white head.
S: Huge licorice aroma is there, but I expected as much. Lots of roasted malts as well. A little bit of vanilla and graham cracker sweetness, but they're shortly overwhelmed by the anise.
T: Like with the nose, big time roast and anise character. A mild vanilla note and some definite booze. Lightly bitter with a touch of molasses, dark chocolate, and coffee. The licorice flavor is just invasive.
M: Medium to full in body with a smooth, medium carbonation.
O: Just way too much anise flavor. Almost like drinking Jagermeister.
06-14-2011 20:09:02 | More by womencantsail
3.53/5 rDev +0.9%
A: thick, oily black without light getting through. Not much lace. The head is milk chocolate brown and frothy.
S: strong coffee roast, with smokey and chocolate notes.
T: initially sweet milk chocolate which fades to bitter coffee grounds. Bitter hops or intermixed. Licorice dominates the finish.
M: moderate carbonation and thick body, oily and creamy.
Overall: This is a bold and big beer. I though the flavors were tough to transition between but the booze are well hidden.
10-23-2011 00:57:12 | More by kylehay2004
4.13/5 rDev +18%
This poured out nice and black in color. The head came and went leaving just a thin tan ring around the glass. The smell of the beer is roasted and a little spicy. The taste packs a punch here. The flavors of roasted malts with Belgian yeast and herbal qualities just scream out with every sip. The mouthfeel is thick and slightly oily. Overall I think this beer is very good, at 12% it can be a bit dangerous though. Either way I think it's a must try.
08-03-2011 00:13:41 | More by Knapp85
3.48/5 rDev -0.6%
Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.
Thanks to Florida9 for sharing this bottle!
It's not like Kirk was reticent to relieve himself of the bottle, either, so I was all set to see how this fared against his negative comments. It pours a deep black-brown topped by a finger of tan foam. The nose comprises black licorice, roasted malts, blackened pretzels, and light chocolate. So far, not too bad, but also not as good as the normal RIS either. The taste brings in more of the same, with the roast and anise characters amped up a bit. The body is a straight medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a kinda chewy feel. Overall, this stuff ain't so bad, bud it just doesn't stack up to the normal RIS. It's thinner than it ought to be, and while the anise character isn't offensive, it doesn't quite jive all that well with everything else (like I've seen elsewhere).
07-25-2011 22:16:41 | More by TMoney2591
3.68/5 rDev +5.1%
A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a two-finger, light brown head of foam. The long lasting head had large bubbles and left some sudsy sheets of foam on the glass.
S - It smelled a little fruity with raisin and plum notes. There was a touch of black licorice and some chocolate aroma.
T - It tasted strongly of black licorice and burnt molasses. There was an underlying blend of chocolate, toffee and caramel.
M - It was crisp, sharp and velvety smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a clean finish.
O - This was a good RIS. If you don't like black licorice this probably won't be your thing.
07-20-2011 16:49:24 | More by zeff80
3.58/5 rDev +2.3%
A small snifter at the Front Door in Boise, ID.
This beer appears a very, very dark brown colour, nearing black, with a half finger of arrested foamy beige head, which leaves some thin webbed lace upon its retreat. It smells of sweet chocolate malt, earthy licorice, mild booze, and somewhat bitter leafy hops. The taste is heavy caramel malt, baker's chocolate, Sambuca, a bit of burnt fruit, and fairly strong, bitter earthy hops. The carbonation is sedate, the body heavyweight, almost full, with a thick smoothness. It finishes still all over the place, the leafy hops, chocolate, licorice, and astringent booze fighting amongst themselves.
I like big left-coast hops, and I like anise flavours - however, I never thought to blend them, and this makes it abundantly clear why. A challenging beverage, this one, replete with flavour, but maybe just not yours.
07-21-2011 19:58:13 | More by biboergosum
4.22/5 rDev +20.6%
Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout
Right off, let's look at the components of this beer: Belgian yeast, anise, and oak chips. Do they seem to incorporate well into the Russian Imperial Stout category? I think so. Certainly Belgian yeast has been used to great effect; and the oak chips should help to dry it and give it a little more character. What of the anise? Well that's been done as well; and a licorice flavor occasionally ends up in the style anyway due to the combination of dark malts and 'minty' hop flavors.
In tasting it fresh, the anise is quite strong. It's fairly bright in the nose, and quite bold in the flavor. That may change as it ages, however I think it'll probably remain the dominant note given my experience with it. What we'll end up with is a softer, almost sweeter malt, with almost as much anise as it currently has, leaving it almost cola-like. But who's to say? A big hit of anise seems to be what they were going for as the bottle reads "...this Odd Year version doesn't just have 'notes' of anise... it screams it. Big, loud and proud. Like the Russian Czarists. Presumably". (Hmmm... whomever wrote the text for this bottle could use a refresher in grammar). That said, the brazen note of anise hurts the aroma because it's so bold, and it blocks out the remaining complexity of the beer. Intended or not, it's a bit of a pitfall.
The Belgian yeast works within the confines of the 'brightness' of the anise, and it's sometimes hard to find it in there. I pick up some spiciness (clove, pepper), some vanilla (or is that coming from the oak?), and some dark fruit (raisin, plum). Beyond that I get a little bit of molasses, and some buttery sugared bread in the malt.
The oak makes its way through though, and lends a raspy edge to it. That should die down a bit with age, and if the anise cooperates, some nice woody character may shine through.
As for the rest of the beer, it's well put together as it always has been. It seems that they've reduced the bitterness quite a bit, although I might be imagining that. With all that anise, however, a bold bitterness isn't even needed as it dries it on its own.
Overall, I'd have to say this beer needs to be looked at hedonistically rather than stylistically; and that's basically asking "Do you like the flavor of anise"? Well, do you punk?
But I also think it has immense possibilities for cooking and food-pairing: a reduction drizzled over crispy-baked, golden and fatty pork-chops atop a bed of fried brown rice and grilled green pepper; just brushed onto a porterhouse steak with some fresh crushed pepper while grilling and then set aside raw carrots and basil-infused mashed potaotes; as an accompaniment to a wide variety of Indian dishes; or in an ice cream with peanut butter - the possibilities are endless and I hope some professional chefs pick this beer up and run with it!
07-07-2011 19:26:58 | More by NeroFiddled
3.9/5 rDev +11.4%
Anise. Mmkayy. The first sip of this did not work for me, and I was prepared to not appreciate this beer. That did not last long though as I felt my mouth being coated by the thick body of the beer and the ingredients continued to hit mouth with the flavor profile. It gelled with my tastebuds and worked pretty quickly. The standard Stone RIS is a beer that, in my opinion, shouldn't be messed with, so I take this...decision...as a dangerous one. It works though, in its own way. But it'll be a one time shot for me as the anise is something I don't really want to return to. Excellent mass produced experiment with anise though. That should be commended.
08-23-2012 08:22:22 | More by RblWthACoz
Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 907 ratings.