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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout | Stone Brewing Co.

446 Reviews
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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian StoutBelgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by EgadBananas on 05-23-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Reviews
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Reviews: 446 | Ratings: 937
Photo of PeprSprYoFace
3.7/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Stone IRS Snifter. Has a super black color. Thin tan head dissapated to a slight film and ring. Ok lacing.

Aroma is very black liquorish forward. Mostly just roasty after that.

Taste has a bit of caramel but not as much as the aroma would suggest. Seems like those Belgian yeast flavors and the strong roast are kinda clashing.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a bite in the finish. Good carb.

Overall I like regular IRS better. This is just OK.

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Photo of DirtyDangler
2.22/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Stone Imperial Russian Stout Belgo Anise or Belgo Anus as I like to call it is a very interesting attempt at a unique boutique beer. While the idea was perhaps a good idea on paper it has proven to be a rather interesting disappointing meld of a good idea with some half-baked innovation. While the IRS is an awesome beer, the Belgo Anus is reminiscent of cough syrup or Nyquil. If you have ever had the misfortune of being ill and subsequently taken a remedy such as cough syrup you will understand the flavor and aroma I am describing.
I am a big fan of stouts and appreciate the intricacies that compose their pronounced flavors. Stone makes a great Imperial Russian Stout as well as Smoked Porter. They clearly have a grasp of this style of beer yet, this batch seems to be a beer gone horribly wrong. Its a good thing they decided to not brew the entirety of the IRS batch with these ingredients and brewed some of the original.

A-Very dark as you would expect from a stout. Dark chocolate appearance with a rich dark head that dissipated quickly to a thin layer. Low carbonation.

S-My first reaction to aroma of the beer was an acrid scent that was reminiscent of cough syrup; very odd. I have never smelled a beer quite like this. side from the pronounced smell of anise, it also had faint aromas of chocolate and roasted malts but these were vastly overpowered by the poignant aromas presented by the anise.

T-To my surprise, the flavor of the beer is very mild in comparison to the smell of the beer. I prepared myself for an immensely overpowering flavor but was in fact taken off guard by the “relatively” mild flavor emitted by the anise. This is a relative statement as the anise still overpowers the other flavors almost to the point where you’re not sure if you’re still drinking IRS. Although the flavor is mild in comparison to the smell it still does not yield the most pleasant flavor. I was not sure what flavors my tongue was detecting but in my book when you're unsure of what you're tasting, its no bueno. I don't really know if I was able to detect the Belgian yeast or the aging of the oak chips. All I know is I was tasting anus. Excuse me, anise.

O-I won't call this beer a flop but I definitely won't call it a success. Perhaps a toned down version will prove to be good. 22oz is far too much bottle for this kind of beer. It was an innovative idea but it seems like the measurements may have been miscalculated somewhere on the way. I mean Stone made their claim to fame with Arrogant Bastard by messing up their measurements. Perhaps this is a victim of the same event but the outcome wasn’t quite as fantastic? Ok so I am either calling it Belgo Anus or Belgo Licoranus.

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Photo of DaveHS
3.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours shiny obsidian with 1/3 inch of mocha colored head. Moderate sticky lacing.

S-Heavy aromas of anise. A suggestion of oak, but nothing that draws attention to itself.

T/M-Based on my experience with the Belgo Old Guardian, I went in expecting the worst. But this isn't nearly as extreme.For one thing, the base beer is more or less intact. The same roasty, bitter chocolate maltiness and moderately hoppy finish. The anise doesn't add anything, but it also doesn't significantly detract. It's much more significant in the nose than the flavor profile. The oak chips barely come across. The inclusion of Belgian yeast isn't nearly as blustery or estery as in Old Guardian. It's well integrated. Full bodied with low carbonation.

O-Inferior to the original, but I'm glad to see them trying something different. Worth trying once, but I won't bother cellaring any.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
2.34/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A-Pours obsidian black. No highlights, no light, nothing enters. The coffee colored head forms impressively but dies down quite quickly. There is not much lacing here. Pours a bit less sludgy than other big stouts.

S-The black licorice aroma from the anise is present to a near sickening amount. The anise is almost blocking some of those great roasty and chocolatey scents that make the original Stone IRS so awesome. There is some smoky aroma there as well. All in all, this one is perplexing. I don't love black licorice so I may not be very excited about the impending flavor.

T-The anise sets in quickly. I was expecting it to be more potent, but happily its less serious on the palate than in the nose. Actually, after the second sip...yeah the anise is in full throttle. Once again, the anise is killing the rest of the flavors. This is one of those beers that should have just stayed away from all the gadgets (oaking, anise etc.). Not in the same league as the original Stone IRS.

M-Pretty thick, slick. Low carbonation. The feel is good but the flavor is off. I don;t really want this beer to sit on my tongue.

O/D-Not for me. Didn't know what anise was before this so my own fault here. Just not as good as the original. Not a drain pour, only because I am too stubborn to pour most anything out. Just not for me. This one's going to take a while to finish... Belgo Anise; more like Belgo Anus.

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Photo of snpub540
3.28/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Sounded very interesting so I thought id give it a whirl.

Poured a black hue into my oversized wine glass with a. One finger brown head of bubbles that quicckly faded into a very thin ring.

Smell was of roasted malts coffee some pine and anise. You can definately tell by this point that the anise is going to be a major player.

Flavors were all the great things you expect from Stone IRS bitter roasted malts, vanilla, coffee, toast, until the anise kicked in and took over. Its not a sweet faint anise flavor this is like taking a bite out of a fennel bulb. I think it was too much and took away from the greatness of the regular recipe.

Mouthfeel was thick and good. Creamy at times it made for a nice texture. Alcohol flavor was pretty subdued with everything else goin on. I love Stone but I think this was a miss. I applaud them for breaking from the norm and trying something new and will still buy almost everything they put out, but this just wasn't my cup of tea.

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Photo of rudzud
4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up from Julio's. One bottle for now, one bottle for a few years from now.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a rich, oily black with an almost two finger mocha head that receeded to leave a mocha halo with minimal side lacing.

S - Cool, you can get some nice roasty malts and some slight chocolate along with light anise. As it warms though everythign is overpowered by the anise, theres some alcohol notes as well.

T - Very much like the nose. It starts with some nice roastd malts and chocolate, but all that is quickly overwhelmed by the anise. That being said I really dig the anise potentcy. Looking forward to see how this ages.

M - Low carbonation which is to be expected with this style. Its a touch syrupy, but I can accept that. Slightly creamy but the alcohol definately present.

O - Overall, I like this beer, but I feel its too rough around the edges. With time this could mellow out into something really, really nice.

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Photo of Dawgmeat
4.57/5  rDev +30.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great first taste of Anise in a brew for me. Very pleasant and so very tasty. Stone's flagship IRS that I tried for the first time almost a decade ago was a semi-nasty trip for me, but now I know and appreciate GREAT beer. Been a semi-rookie for some time now but this HOP head is coming around, FINALLY!!


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Photo of bohemiandonut
2.64/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I have been equally dreading and anticipating my review of this beer. Not realizing that the traditional Stone IRS would also make an appearance this year, I had been holding a grudge against all things "Belgo" for months. Let's see what's going on.

Pours like a familiar friend, but one that once lifted to the nose is suddenly run over by a Good & Plenty truck. Okay I admit it's not too bad, but I must submit that Belgian yeast, anise, and oak chips are perhaps the three flavor "enhancements" most likely to fail as far as my experience goes. I can smell those taunting oak chips, the missing chocolate depth, replaced by an herbal nightmare that I'm actually putting off tasting. Well, here goes nothing.

The taste is odd, full of licorice, and thankfully easy on the oak chips. The alcohol is masked quite well, and Stone strikes a fairly nice balance here between the sweetness of the yeast, dry malts, and subtle bitter hops. If you're a fan of anise, anise, anise, and Stone IRS, lucky you. Myself, I won't be having this again any time soon. Very glad to see IRS back on the shelves though, those were some expensive months without it.

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Photo of SkunkWorks
4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a Southampton IRS release day snifter. From the 2011, odd beers for odd years version.

Look: dark brown body, black body if you hold it away from a light, strikingly similar to the ordinary Stone IRS. An aggressive pour yields a thin layer of tan head with minimal retention and no lacing. Dark red highlights are around the edge of my glass.

Smell: woah. Licorice/star anise really dominates with a bit of oak. The licorice aroma is really dominating. A bit of dark chocolate is there too, but nothing really sticks out from the base beer.

Taste: follows the nose with an incredibly aggressive licorice flavor and a bit of tannic, oaky woodiness. There's not much Belgian yeast inspired flavors, and the licorice is so aggressive its hard to pick anything else out except for a little dark chocolate. Its certainly an interesting spin on the style.

Feel: full bodied, chewy, creamy, without much alcohol warmth. Certainly a sipper and the aggressive licorice flavor fatigues my palate a little bit by the end.

Overall: decent, but not an improvement over the normal IRS and not the best of the Stone IRS variants. After downright hating the Belgo Old Guardian, I thought this would be disgusting and was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't. If you don't like licorice, do not bother with this beer, because its pretty much like chewing on melted licorice. If licorice is your thing, give this one a go, but don't expect anything from the base Stone IRS to peek through.

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Photo of bobhits
1.75/5  rDev -50%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 1.5

Dark deep brown with a decent head, looks more or less just like their regular stout only perhaps a touch less head.

I’d never heard of anise before having this, turns out it’s a spice that tastes much like black liquorish. Apparently, Stone really like this spice because it more or less dominates the aromas and everything else is left out.

The flavor is even worse with the anise just controlling everything. Yes, there is oak in the finish to mellow things out, sure chocolate is apparent, and it does have some roasted flavors. This isn’t anything like their traditional Russian Imperial. It is so odd and off that even calling it an Imperial Stout seems a touch out of line.

Thick and creamy in the mouth with virtually no alcohol to be noticed.

This beer is an amazing failure. Their attempt with the Old Guardian very well could age for a few years and become a decent beer and at least it came out as a crazy different version of the original. This is just awful beer.

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Photo of grittybrews
4.1/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured just a shade lighter than black into a tulip with two fingers of dark khaki head. Heavy licorice/anise aroma with hints of spice ("mild Jägermeister" might be more concise).

Moderate carbonation and a full, creamy mouthfeel. Black licorice up front followed by subtle coffee, dark cocoa, and more bitter/spicy licorice on the warm and boozy finish.

Really enjoyed this brew -- it's a nice complement to Stone's standard IRS. Will I buy a bunch of bottles for the cellar, though? Probably not.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.06/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of MCorrea
4.33/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A- Pours pitch black with with an off white head. The head quickly fades, leaving a tan collar.

S- Lots of licorice and Dark chocolate. As the beer warms up, the anise really comes to the forefront.

T- A wallop of licorice, chocolate, slight oak.The anise rises to the forefront on the finish. I'm surprised that I don't taste as much of the belgo yeast influence as I was expecting. Especially since it was so apparent in the Belgo Old Guardian (and not really in a good way).

M- Probably my favorite part of this beer. Nice, chewy, creamy, smooth. Wonderful.

O- A cool interpretation of an already solid beer. Stone IRS ages with the best of 'em, so I'm going to stash one away and revisit in a few years.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.83/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

IRS Belgo Anise on tap at Valhalla in Hell's Kitchen, NYC, part of an upcoming Stone event there. Surprised to find this new release on tap after I just had and reviewed the bottled version.

Appearance: Served on a twelve-ounce thick goblet for eight dollars, IRS Anise comes looking a deep, unfathomable black, with less than a finger of head that nevertheless remains throughout. Along with the good retention there is a thick lace around the glass.

Smell: Salted black liquorice harking back to the wife’s childhood. Cookies, yeast, a tad of spice. Underwhelming nose that should be way better, but at least the "Belgo" part is present here, unlike in the bottled version.

Taste: Smoke, coal, darkness. A tad of burning wood and hops. The anise is much less pronounced than in the nose. Tingly finish, a lip-smacker! Some chocolate melting on a pot in the stove with British-style hard sugar diamonds.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, flavor and carbonation. Smooth, pleasant, but a little too thin for such a big beer. Too heavy on the anise, but more balanced than the bottled version.

Overall: Extremely drinkable! You could pound and chug this, despite the hefty ABV. It is, however, a bit of a disappointing beer. Enjoyable all around, but really, I expect so much more from a Stone Imperial Stout! Better on tap than in a bottle, as the anise is more evenly distributed and the Belgian yeast and oak do come to play a bit. Still, there is no reason to stray from the classic release or come back to this for seconds.

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Photo of GhettoFabulous
2.39/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I cracked open a bomber of this expecting a joyous evening of black licorice-infused imperial stout. I am an absolute fiend for black licorice, and am a huge fan of the Abyss and Uintas Labyrinth - two phenomenal RIS's that employ anise with great success. Basically, as a big fan of the regular Stone IRS and anise, I was excited as hell to try this beer.

After cracking the bottle and pouring it into my tulip, the utter blackness of the beer was striking - seemingly even darker than the regular version of the stout, which says something considering the vacuous darkness of the original. It really looks beautiful pouring into the glass, leaving a nice finger of brown foam and is looking like the perfect carbonation level for an imperial stout.

Taking a whiff of this sludge, there is a modicum of smokiness and oak, but black licorice absolutely inundates the olfactory center. At first I think this is a good thing, because I am an overzealous black licorice aficionado, but after taking my first sip, I have to reconsider. The anise is so strong in this beer that it dominates the chocolate, vanilla and wooden notes that you can suss out with your taste buds if you try really hard. The mouthfeel is also disappointing, in that the carbonation which looked good upon pouring has really dissipated and taken much of the life out of the beer.

The life that this beer does have is pure anise. This tastes like someone melted down a bucket of black licorice, mixed it with some alcohol and poured it in a glass. The heat is really strong and practically fuming with alcohol. Absinthe, though even hotter than this, seems a closer relative than the original Stone IRS.

Overall, very disappointed with this. The overwhelming anise flavor in this beer shows that you can indeed have too much of a good thing. At $5.50 this a nicely priced beer, but i can't help feeling stupid for having bought four bottles of it assuming it would be delicious. I struggled, but succeeded in finishing this bomber, and I have to recommend that you find at least a few others to split this with if you're inclined to try it - though it is more of a flavor oddity than a delicious beer actually worth your time. This is not a very successful beer and I have to wonder what it might have been like if Stone had cut the anise by say, 75%.

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Photo of Zorro
3.31/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Lightproof black colored beer with a small brown head.

Smell is strongly of smoke and licorice. There is a little chocolate cake scent here but licorice real obscures any other scents.

Starts out sweet and thick with a sharp metallic hit of something on the tongue. Chocolate and patent malt with the taste of green Anise bulb. Tastes different from anise the spice. This tastes like Anise the Italian vegetable. There is a green vegetable taste here that is a bit of a twang on the taste-buds. Tastes frankly a bit weird and I LOVE black Jellybeans.

Mouthfeel is thick.

Drinkability is a miss here. The green anise just clashes with the rest of the beer.

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Photo of WestValleyIPA
4.6/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Zaya rum tasting glass. Black like coke mixed with tar. A finger of dark tan head. Very sticky lacing, head doesn't last long. Smells straight up like a black licorice stick. Overwhelming. Same taste up front. Some coffee bitterness on the finish. Booze is hidden well. Tacky, sticky drying finish. Coffee. Tannins. Amazing if you like licorice. If not, stay away.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.15/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A: Poured jet black, brown head, plenty of bubbles and lacing. A very good pour leaving one sexy looking beer

S: Dark, bitter chocolate, roastiness, coffee, booze, liquorice, wood

T: To much anise for me is the first thing I noticed. Very in your face. Roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, booze and roasted notes, wood, Belgian yeast leaves some warming spice and even an underlying bubblegum pop to it.

M: Big and full, hearty. No issues.

O: I made it through half the bottle before the overbearing anise just did me in. I did not want anymore. I applaud anyone who stomachs a bomber of this

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.2/5  rDev +20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black with a medium off-white head, good retention and lace.

S: Black licorice and anise city. This is the defining smell, with a light amount of dark chocolate.

T: Very good mix of heavy cacao count chocolate and the prerequisite anise character. A very good mix that works well. The complexity allows this version of the Stone IRS to be much more appealing young than the regular. I'm really enjoying the Stone Belgian creations.

M: Full-bodied, very smooth, soft carbonation.

O: This is a very good imperial stout. I'm very partial to anise, and maybe that's why I like it so much, nevertheless, this is something to try for sure even with my bias.

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Photo of Manoftyr
4.33/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance-Pours black, not 'quite' motor-oil slick though, a sizable medium-tan head rises and bubbles its way back down to a film. Good lacing and legs.

Aroma-Huge notes of star anise and black licorice are immediately apparent, they weren't kidding when they said this beer screams it. I also pick up aromas of molasses, cocoa and coffee but its buried under there.

Taste-While the anise is still a star player it isn't nearly as huge as it is in the aroma, a good thing in my book. The first flavors are that of rich dark cocoa and black coffee which are cut almost immediately by the anise right before mid palette, plenty of licorice in there. The finish is the most 'blackly bitter' finish I've ever tasted on a beer; this is a pretty unique creation.

Mouthfeel-The mouthfeel is full, but not lusciously so; the carbonation is between reserved and assertive, kind of neutral.

Overall/Drinkability-Well, if the goal was to make a beer that screams anise then Stone certainly accomplished what they set out to do. The anise character is a bit harsh, even if tasty and refreshing, so that makes this a slow sipper.

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Photo of EgadBananas
4.08/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I added this despite the already existing Belgo IRS as an assumption that it was an earlier iteration of the proposed Belgo Anise Release, and essentially a different beer due to how long ago it was originally added to the database and that it was a Tap Takeover version. If not correct, Bros., feel free to delete and move my review to the former. Cheers!

A - As expected, this looks fantastic. Black as night, vicious pour, solid two finger mocha head and nice lace. Classic Stone IRS. I know that aspect will end with the aroma...

S - There's a myriad of things going on at all times. At times, it's a bold chocolate, roasted, burnt malts, coffee roast bitterness, espresso. And then you get the additions. The anise is fairly bold itself, definitely more than usual. And there's very distinctive spicy, Belgian yeast notes and definite woodiness. Though it's a very nice smelling IRS, I have to hold the regular as the control here, and it's not quite as good.

T - All the normal 2011 characters are here: Big chocolate/dark chocolate, burnt malts, roasted and toasted notes, big coffee with some bitter roast notes. In addition, the anise is more intense along with the same spicy Belgian yeast tastes. The oak plays a more miner roll here, and subtlety works. The usual tastes are still as intense as ever, so the new additions have a hard time overpowering, which is good.

M - Full bodied, thick, chewy, great as always.

O - Though I definitely like the normal version more, this is still an amazing RIS and a welcomed, unique spin on my favorite RIS of all time.

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 446 ratings.