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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Belgo Anise Imperial Russian StoutBelgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

443 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 443
Hads: 931
Avg: 3.51
pDev: 31.34%
Wants: 17
Gots: 161 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: EgadBananas on 05-23-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 443 | Hads: 931
Photo of Gushue3
3.46/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Stone IRS snifter

A pours flat black and sits the same in the glass. A good sized light brown head grows slowly and has nice retention. Lacing is left down the glass when the head comes down.

S Theres an odd scent that I can imagine some people call pepperoni. Not sure how to describe it. Some booze and sweet malts in there as well. Something smells a little bit off

T Dark fruits and black licorice ff the bat. Oak and a stronger bitterness comes out in the middle and carries to the finish.

M Full bodied stout with lighter carbonation. Drinks pretty smooth.

O Not a terrible beer. Some people have crucified stone for this beer and while its not the best stout, its an attempt at something a little different.

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Photo of gshak
4.54/5  rDev +29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this beer is drinking fantastic right now, and I dare say, I prefer this to the original. Here's why:
A- nothing much to write home about. Pours viscous and stays flat in the glass with no head whatsoever.
S - Strong notes of anise, oak, molasses and milk chocolate.
T - This is where the beer really shines. A cherry-like tartness opens up the palate. Molasses follows through, accompanied by milk chocolate, and coffee notes. Bittersweet toffee notes take up the baton and last quite a while, transcending into an all anise and woody finish. I'm really digging this!
M - Definitely full, and the (minimal) carbonation really helps his beer deliver a fulller flavor.

An extremely well crafted beer, and one that will age with the best! Glad I have a few more of these!

Update - 9/12/2012. The tartness has kicked up several notches in the last 7 months it spent in the cellar, aka wine cooler at 60 degrees. The taste now reminds me of chocolate covered sour cherries with some anise and wood in the back. It is easier to knock down a few ounc es of this in a sitting, but 22 oz is a challenge. At this rate this might turn into a world-class sour in about 2 years time, and I am not sure I like my stouts that way. On current tasting., I'd kick this down to a 3.75 at best.

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Photo of Ootppizza
3.63/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

i'm not a big fan of anise so i'm a little biased. over all a beer i could enjoy one of but thats it. I put it on tap at my pizza place and for the most part people enjoyed but it was a very limited crowed. The after taste is so strong that it kind of kills any beer you want to have afterward.

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Photo of donmonkey1
3.05/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark brown/black with a very nice dark tan frothy head that laces nicely.

Smell: Molasses, coffee, nuts, toasted malt, Coca Cola, burnt toast, licorace.

Taste: Burnt grilled hamburgers with burnt barbeque sauce, charred wood, alcohol. There's another taste that I can't begin to describe but it's actually quite bad.

Mouthfeel: Medium/heavy body, lacks carbonation.

This is a complex, heavy beer worth exploring but I don't like the taste. It would be fun to drink one with friends to compare notes but it's really pretty yucky. I'll bet everybody else will love this beer to the point of insanity.

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Photo of exodus1369
4.13/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What a great beer! Looks like a great Stout Dark and rich. The small is a bit on the light side had to really get my nose in to it to pick up any thing and it had a very light head. But once it ran past the taste buds it really made up for it. All I could think was just rich caramel taste. Wonderful and a very smooth taste!

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Photo of billab914
2.62/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into y CBS snifter. It poured black in color with a frothy tan head barely covering the top of the beer.

The aroma has a strong anise presence. It has more of a bubble gum, fruity, licorice flavor that I don't think works for it at all. I get a little dark, roasted malts to it, but the anise is overwhelming in it.

The taste also unfortunately is dominated by the anise. I get a some vanilla to it up front and some roasty, bitter malts in the finish. The anise is too much for me though.

The mouthfeel is heavy and somewhat creamy. Carbonation is moderate for the style. Overall I just didn't find to be a very good beer. The anise was just too dominating and covered up too much of the IRS flavors. It just didn't work for me.

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Photo of Brabander
3.59/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A guy in the tasting group brought this beer with him at the tastingday @ de Molen in Bodegraven, Holland. This tasting was organized by THE beerlady of Holland, Fiona de Lange.

We had this bottle after a regular Stone stout and this one was better with a fuller taste and lovely anis smell and taste. For the rest....i had better stouts than this one

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Photo of Mar02x
3.81/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

We were at a tasting at the Molen, organized by Fiona de Lange (the Dutch Beer lady). This was the beer I brought with me.

A - A pitch brown beer.

S - A stron anise smell, like black candy 'drop'.

T - The taste is that from black candy.

M - The body is Tha bit thicker than the normal RIS from Stone.

O - It is a good stout, but not excellent.

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Photo of PDXHops
1.8/5  rDev -48.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Bomber poured into a DFH snifter. As dark as you'd expect with a generous tan head and plenty of sticky lacing.

In fairness to this brew, the measuring stick is the excellent regular version of the IRS, a lofty standard indeed. Having said that, this is, well, a pretty odd beer. Aromas of licorice, bubblegum, fruitcake and, I dunno, flowery air freshener(?) completely drown out the goodness of the base beer.

Frankly, I'm not sure I'm really picking up on the 'Belgo' yeast. The licorice is pretty overpowering, but a charred, somewhat dirty presence demands attention as well. There's a burnt plastic element that reminds me of Sweetwater Happy Ending, another beer from another generally impressive brewery that disappointed. Kinda boozy, too. On the positve side, a nice bitterness, molasses and bittersweet chocolate loom underneath. They simply don't get a fair shake here. I'm a Stone fanboy, but this beer misses the mark by a wide margin.

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Photo of Brad007
3.83/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours the universal hue for stouts (dark, dark black) with a one-finger brown head into my glass. If it looks like a stout, it must be a stout, right?

Creamy and spicy with only a mild amount of roasted malt in the nose. A bit of cocoa here and there. Very balanced for the style. I don't feel overwhelmed at all.

The anise is present upfront and it is actually kind of unpleasant. I don't know why but it detracts from the creaminess and the roasted malt. I'm just not feeling it.

Mouthfeel is a bit weird as well but somewhat more tolerable. Again, not my thing.

Pass, big time. I would rather have the original.

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Photo of MaximalC
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark, opaque brown as one would typically expect from an imperial stout. Head is nothing to write home about and recedes in short order, though that is not out of the ordinary considering the alcohol content. Strong point here is big, bold flavor. It says anise on the label, and it's certainly there, but I don't find it to be overwhelming. Nice dark chocolate notes linger in the aftertaste along with an alcoholic warmth that slightly exceeds my ideal level of presence, but once again, that can be forgiven in a brew with 10.5% AC. Hops don't impinge on the overall flavor, which is surprising for a Stone offering and a plus in my book. Mouthfeel is sticky, but not viscous. I wouldn't describe this as a decadent stout, but flavorful, balanced, and substantive would certainly fit.

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Photo of CHickman
3.9/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer review from 1/18/2012, on tap in NYC at Taproom 307: pours pitch black color with a huge frothy 2 finger tan/brown head that faded very slowly and left excellent sticky lacing clinging to the sides.

Smells of anise, licorice, coffee, cocoa, caramel, molasses, dark fruit, and more licorice on the tail end. The alcohol is well hidden by the nose if you discount the liquor odor from the anise/licorice.

Tastes like it smells, with anise, licorice, coffee, cocoa, caramel, molasses, syrup, charcoal, dark fruit like plums, dates and raisins, herbs, pepper, light floral hops, toffee, faint vanilla, toasted grains and liquor like Sambuca. The flavor is complex, roasty and very much like an after dinner liquor. Wow, the flavor is rich, sweet and completely hides the alcohol; this is a slow sipper that is aggressive, yet goes down smooth and leaves a nice warming sensation.

Mouthfeel is creamy, crisp and somewhat chewy, with mild carbonation, a medium body and a sweetness that lets the anise and licorice shine through the roasted malts.

A slow sipper that is tasty, unique and enjoyable. Another winner from Stone, but I’d go for other Stone stouts before going back to this as I’m not a big fan of anise, licorice or Sambuca.

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Photo of beerbellydaddy
3.5/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Pour – pours an opaque blood black and gives three fingers foam with some spotty lacing.
Smell – can smell black licorice, anisette, and alcohol
Taste – as indicated by its scent, a strong black licorice and anisette flavor is at the forefront. It also gives a creamy roasted taste and offers a warm alcohol afterbite with 10.5% alcohol content.
Mouth – it fills ones mouth with a full, creamy, lightly carbonated feel.
Overall – I love pretty much everything from Stone, but this one is not my favorite offering from them, nor is it my favorite Imperial Stout that I’ve tried. This one is a little too heavy on the extra anisette taste and I think it might benefit from a bit more carbonation.

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Photo of ggodzik
3.23/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Served in snifter. Pitch black with 1 finger of foamy off white/chocolaty head.

S - Stong smell of anise/black licorice. Sweet.

T - The anise is very prominant. I happen to really enjoy the taste so this was pleasant. Sweet with hints of the high alcohol content. Definitely a sipper and enjoyed in small servings.

M - Lightly carbonated. Full bodied and smooth. Slight heat from the alcohol.

O - Definitely worth a try if you enjoy anise. If not, this may not be the beer for you. Not my favorite offering from Stone but definitely something unique and worth a try if you get the chance.

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Photo of rarbring
2.99/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A black beer with hints of brown, a brown head, rather small, leaves no lacing but has good curtains.

The smell is anise. I don't like anise.

The taste is sweet, dried fruits, dates, and then of course sweet licorice.

Little carbonation, soft and oily, slightly sticky.

As said, I can't really stand anise smells. Probably my loss. But for me this beer suffers from that.

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Photo of TechTriumph
3.41/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 release; Poured in a snifter.

A - One inch of creamy, bubbly tan head with pretty good head retention; Pitch black appearance; Nice web of lacing present

S - Loads of anise, providing a licorice type smell, as well as vanilla beans and hints of cocoa

T - Lots of anise present here as well; In addition, I taste vanilla beans, molasses, and slight earthy, roasty, oaky flavors; Just a bit of bitterness in the finish; Faint alcohol warmth present

M - Low carbonation; Full bodied; Smooth mouthfeel with a fairly dry finish; Very mild alcohol warmth

O - I really wish I could try Stone's standard RIS because I see great promise in that beer. This beer was certainly unique, but unfortunately, it had too much anise for my liking. The licorice flavor was very dominating and made it difficult to pull out the other characteristics hidden within this beer. I'm not sure I will drink this one again, but even so, Stone remains one of my favorite breweries and I look forward to trying more of their numerous offerings.

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Photo of CrystalShipMS3
3.82/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"2011 'odd year' release"

It certainly is odd. There's a funk to the smell. Sort of woody with licorice.

Pours oil-black. Very thick. Holds some of the head but the high alcohol content mostly does away with it. Looks sticky. It is sticky. Very sticky.

This is a sipping beer. It would be tough to pair it with food, sort of a palate wrecker. Big bold dark malt right up front. The licorice pretty much punches you in the face just to get noticed. Maybe a little overwhelming at first but you get used to the beatings. There is a definite woodyness to it but its pretty subtle. There's some dark fruit flavor too, but not much. Leaves a somewhat sour then coffee-bitter aftertaste. It's good but as with most Stone brews it seems unabashedly unbalanced which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Doesn't quite work as well with this beer as it does with their others.

Highly carbonated. It's stings a bit, but not in an especially bad way. It's a bold beer so this quality fits it.

Overall it's a good but one glass is plenty. Not my favorite from the stone family, but it's an interesting take on the imperial stout.

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Photo of JayS2629
3.97/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid black with a two finger tan head that fades fast. Low carbonation, sea foam lacing.

Aroma of anise with coffee, toffee, licorice, dark fruit and chocolate. Hint of vanilla.

Follows the flavor with a nice licorice bite, sweet dark fruit underneath with roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Nicely balanced.

Smooth, creamy, rich and thick.

Great stout. Nothing amazing.

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Photo of Fubar1453
3.18/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pitch black like any other imperial stout.

S: Not much of a smell. Burnt coffee, dark chocolate, little bit of alcohol.

T: Anise, licorice, burnt coffee but not very bitter. Does a good job of covering the alcohol.

M: Very sticky, and a little clumpy at times.

O: Nothing special, wouldn't buy again.


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Photo of russpowell
3.67/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours mahogany/black with a pinky of brown colored head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Dark fruit, cocoa, a little anise

T: Molasses, plums, carob& dryness up front, some cherry boozeyness & leafy hops. Molasses, stone fruit & ainise as this warms with a touch of oakyness. Finishes with cherry, oaky notes, booze warmth & a bit more molasses & carob, plus just a bit caramel, chicory & oddly; cayenne pepper

MF: Medium bodied, firm carbonation, somewhat slick

This is a quirky kind of RIS, but I do think that Stone's claims of historical accuracy are valid. Many years ago I tried courage RIS in England, this reminds me of that beer in many ways. I prefer the "Americanized versions, but this is interesting & good enough I would buy again

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Photo of Flounder57
3.68/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle poured into a Stella glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a nice mocha head that has reduced to a thin layer and left some clumpy lacing on the side of the glass. Pitch black with no signs of carbonation and clarity.

Smell: Anise/licorice aroma, chocolate, roasted coffee, and sweet malts.

Taste: A weird blend of all the flavors. Anise flavor is a bit overbearing and burns. Good at first, but goes downhill fast. Burns as it goes down. The anise kills a lot of the good features of the beer.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, medium carbonation, smooth, lingering tastes in your mouth that I am not too crazy about, and booze sticks around for a while and is not well hidden like most RIS.

Overall: This is probably a good twist on their normal RIS, which I haven't had yet, but this beer was alright and enjoyable to drink. The anise was just a little too much for me though.

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Photo of cookedw
4.33/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: To me, this is as sexy as a stout gets in look - pitch black pour with a good 3/4" dark tan head. There was a good amount of lacing, and the head did not subside quickly. Appearance isn't that important to me, but this beer lets you know to buckle up.

S: The anise awakens your nose immediately, front and center. Behind that is a deep dark fruit note, predominantly currants, maybe a little bit of raisin...something along those lines. There is also a coffee bitterness that plays well with the anise. I could not help but be reminded of a birch beer while drinking this.

T: The bitterness is pretty punch-you-in-the-mouth strong on this, which was kind of surprising and very assertive, even though that's kind of a theme with Stone's stouts. Coffee notes were more like a burnt roast with some slight thinness reminiscent of chicory. As this subsides, it yields to the dark fruits again. As I got used to the bitterness, I also noticed some vanilla up front. The oak certainly feeds into the bitterness, but this plays well with the high carbonation to detract from the fact that you're drinking a 10+% ABV beer. But the anise in the taste is a little clashing, here combining with the oak to give a very woody flavor not unlike peanut shells. On the back of the tongue in the finish, however, the anise shines. I found myself tasting licorice and fig long after.

M: I really enjoyed the carbonation on this. The beer itself was thick and coating, but the bitterness combined with the high carbonation kept it bubbly, enough to make the beer dance on the palate.

D: You won't notice you're drinking a 10.5% ABV beer at all. The mouthfeel coats, but the complexity of the aroma and long-lingering taste will keep you coming back for more. This one really surprised me just how delightful it was to drink.

O: A delicious, earthy beer. I'd say that it's so earthy, it's almost like topsoil...very deep, rich, moist flavors that coat and compel the tongue. I could not get over how enjoyable the beer was to drink - I'm glad I've got another bottle!

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
3.82/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours motor-oil-black with a large tan head that sinks into decent lacings.

S: Lots of liqourice up front - kind of sweet (probably from the Anise - duh). Hard roasted malts but also some coffee, and dark chocolate. Faint notes of vanilla.

T: More balanced than the smell; the liqourice is held back just a tad and the roasted malt and the vanilla comes out. Coffee and chocolate in the back to help balance the Anise. Some very faint notes of dark dried fruits.

M: Aftertaste lingers with a modest bitterness and shy sweetness. Body is full while carbonation is held back.

O: Quite nice with the Anise - I can't help but wonder - how would this beer had tasted without the Anise...

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.58/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Review adapted from notes taken 7/17/11

Appearance: Jet black with a tan head - some tan around the edges if held to the light - some lacing

Smell: Black licorice - like, a punch to the face with a fist made of licorice - this aroma overpowers everything - as it warms, burnt malts, chocolate, coffee, and some sweet aromas emerge

Taste: The flavor is about 90% black licorice - kind of tastes like a nasty black jellybean - so much licorice - beyond this, the beer is actually good - oak, chocolate, coffee, burnt malts, roasted malts, a touch of Belgian yeast - as this warms, some of the black licorice drops and the Belgian component becomes more obvious - regardless, it's not bad

Mouthfeel: Heavy, smooth, nicely carbonated, kind of a prickly spiciness

Overall: Very strange, but really not a disaster

If you hate the use of anise, you are going to hate this beer. The black licorice component of this beer is absurd, but not awful. I imagine this will get better over time.

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Photo of thepeter
3.72/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Black with a finger off white head
S - lots of licorice and then some roasted malt and a hint of vanilla.
T - Nice at startwith licorice/Anise Flavor as well as malt but gets a bit rough and strong after a second or two. finishes a bit rough as well, stronger aftertaste than I would like.
M - Not quite as full bodied as I would like and over carbonated
O - Did not live up to expectation, nothing close to the original, I would not mind a bit of the anise in my RIS but though.

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 443 ratings.