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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.

919 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 919
Reviews: 440
rAvg: 3.5
pDev: 22%
Wants: 19
Gots: 160 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 919 | Reviews: 440 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Fenris244
3.88/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Meant to grab the regular one but got this instead, oh well ha

Poured into my Jester King grand opening snifter, pours jet black with a thin orange head, no real retention of lacing but does leave a super thin ring around the beer.

Huge chocolate and licorice aromas with a bit of roasted malt and spice, i love the aroma

Little bits of chocolate and spice on the palette, the licorice is very strong, its also a bit boozey

Medium in body, little carbonation, very smooth and it heats your mouth up pretty well ha

Overall, blue wizard needs age badly, glad a grabbed 3

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

22oz bottle into Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Free pour yields a one and a half inch tan head that dissipates slowly and lacelessly. Pours solid black and leaves a few sweeping arches of lacing along with big legs.

Smell: From the bottle: Pepperoni and some anise. In the glass: Roasted malt and a huge, creamy vanilla oak note. Fair amount of anise as well. Wow, who knew strong American oak and anise went together so well? Maybe that's natural to someone else, but it's news to me. Smells awesome.

With warmth, a bit of a peppermint quality comes out. Some piny hops, roasted malt, and booziness as well.

Taste: Smoother and creamier than the normal Stone IRS. Heavy roast and piny hops up front, with a chocolate, oak, and anise finish. Aftertaste contains the only hint of Belgian yeast.

Deeper into the glass, the finish gets progressively nuttier, spicier, and hotter. Heavy, bitter, resinous piny hops dominate the middle.

This is not a very complex RIS, but it's robustly flavored and well-balanced. When I read complaints about Stone's "over the top," or "unbalanced" beers, I really have to scratch my head... Do people think 'balanced' means subdued? Stone is the king of balancing bold flavors. The hops, anise, oak, and charred flavors in this beer work together beautifully, and the alcohol heat is appropriate with flavors like this.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and thick. Occasionally prickly from hop bitterness and carbonation. Hot.

Overall: I think this beer is a successful experiment. Not sure what the apparently Belgian yeast is doing, but the flavors are good, and the strong anise and oak combination is educational for me. Very nice beer.

Photo of champ103
2/5  rDev -42.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

A: Pours pretty much opaque black. A two finger tan head rises with good retention. Light lace is left as the foam gently recedes after a few minutes.
S: Of coarse black liquorish/anise in the nose, and it is a little overwhelming at first. Big roasted a burnt coffee aromas come next. Charred and burnt wood with bitter dark chocolate. Some bitter and oily hops with plenty of alcohol in the nose.
T: Everything that is in the nose, and it all works at odds with each other. Black liquorish, burnt coffee, bitter chocolate. Burnt and charred wood with lots of burning alcohol. Oily hops that gives this another bitter bite on top of the chocolate. I am not a fan.
M/D: A full, syrupy, and oily body. Very thick, viscous, and like adhesive sticking to the roof of my mouth. Very hot alcohol and just all around unpleasant to drink. A chore to finish the bottle.

Another harsh, unbalanced, and crass beer from Stone. Nothing works right here. I will avoid from now on, and would not recommend this.

Photo of flexabull
3.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep dark black color with a dark tan head, that turned cream colored, but stayed strong.

Aromas are of light anise, cream, minerals, and light cocoa. Aromas are nice, but kind of weird for a stout, almost smells more like a porter.

Taste is very full flavored. Lots of dark heavily roasted malts up front. Some minerals, anise, dark chocolate, and subtle hints of Belgian Yeast. Finish is warm, but not overly boozy.

Mouthfeel is full and smooth, with nice carbonation.

Overall this is a flavorful and interesting beer, but it's quite a few notches below the normal Imperial Stout from Stone, while this isn't bad, they could retire it and it wouldn't hurt my feelings...

Photo of JizackFH
3.88/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - This beer pours a very dark brown color, almost black. It has a nice 2-finger chocolate milk head on it. The head has good retention and leaves behind some nice lace on the glass.

S - It smells of anise up front. There is also dark roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, molasses, wood, and some dark fruits. There's quite a bit of booziness here as well.

T - Big anise flavor right off the bat. There are nice flavors of roasted malt, coffee, some chocolate, dark fruit, and some earthiness. The finish has some lingering roasted bitterness and some booziness.

M - This has a medium to full body and good carbonation. It goes down easy and has a slick feel to it. There is some bitterness and alcohol warmth in the finish.

D - This has good drinkability. It is a bit of a sipper, but I could have a few glasses. Overall, I thought this was a nice RIS. I tasted a lot of the anise, but I didn't really get much from the belgian yeast. That said, I enjoyed this beer, and I don't know why so many people thought it was horrible. To each their own I guess. I would buy it again.

Photo of bld81
2.78/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle highly recommended to me when picking up the regular Stone RIS:
A: rich black pour, very little head dissipates immediately into a thin dusty ring
S: sweet anise present, with chocolate and malt
T: roasted and burnt chocolates, anise strong but doesn't overwhelm, much more malty ale taste than alcohol
M: anise lingers, nicely carbonated, thin and peppery
O: probably worth trying if you don't mind the flavors, the Belgian yeast not obvious in the smell/taste, doubt its something I'll pick up again

Photo of SchmittyRexus
4.03/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Black - almost like black licorice, appropriately. Tan head dissipates fairly rapidly.

Smell - Anise mixed with alcohol. A good hint that this isn't an ordinary IRS.

Taste - At first the anise is light next to the roastiness and chocolate, but it comes up big in the finish. Initially I was a little put off by the combination of flavors, but it grew on me pretty quickly.

Mouthfeel - Thick but not chewy. Pretty similar to Stone's regular IRS.

Overall - I really like anise, so I enjoyed this beer. If you're not a fan of that black jellybean flavor you probably will not like this.

Photo of projectflam86
3.43/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a deep black color with a large pillowy brown head that leaves great lacing. Nearly perfect for a big RIS.

S- Dark roasted malt aroma with some coffee and a fair amount of black licorice which I guess can be attributed to the anise.

T- Roasted and slightly smoky upfront with a very pronounced flavor of anise. The finish is boozy and charred with a lingering black licorice flavor. Some oak and coffee can be detected as well.

M- Full bodied with decent carbonation. A bit cloying.

O- I view the regular Stone IRS as the model for big imperial stouts and I'm not sure I loved the way they tweaked this. The anise addition is interesting but I think it deters from what is already a great beer.

Photo of marvin213
2.53/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pitch black w/ tan head, it's perfect for a rendevous. That bubbling tan fizz, however, disappears with a quickness. As previously noted, anise is extremely heavy on the nose and it does aptly drown out oak notes and Belgian yeast wafts with a similar quickness. 'Tis perhaps the first Belgian beer I've quaffed without it smelling so.

The taste is liquid licorice, or I'd go so far as to say smoked liquid licorice. How can there be double-digit ABV produced by otherwise absent Belgian yeast. Here, it's not necessarily dubbed a 'Belgian' beer. The bottle, nevertheless, leads me the consumer to believe it is. As a Belgian, it's a fail. As an RIS, it's still a miss.

The smoky black Twizzler thing offers some appeal to the feel, and a S'mores-like campfireness accompanies the sipping, but overall, this is indeed an odd-year one-off not worth revisiting.

Photo of rootbeerman
3.28/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: pours very dark brown basically black. Head started between one and a half to two fingers but settled to a halo with small amounts of lacing.
S: I'm not sure if I'm sold, smells a little bit like sambuca and coffee. Some dry cocoa and a touch of yeast spice.
T: completely different from the IRS I know and love. Strong anise from the front end to the long anise aftertaste. Coffee and chocolate nuances are there but are hard to really notice over the anise. There is a little oaky vanilla.
M: thick and coating, low to medium carbonation.
O: the anise is a little much to me. It is definitely an 'odd' beer, but just isn't for me. It is at least worth a taste.

Photo of tripelhops
3.93/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a tulip glass, color is dark black with a hint of ruby to it, a finger or two ofdark tan head rise but quickly falls, leaving just a bit of lacing. The aroma is dominated by the anise. It reeks of black licorice and the taste is similiar.very heavy on the anise with a touch of bitterness and a hint of alcohol at the tail end. I don't get any belgian yeast qualities.

Photo of hckyfn9999
3.4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a couple finges of tan colored head that sticks around for a bit but leaves virtually no lacing. Aroma of anise of course as well as dark fruit and cocoa.

Taste is dominated by anise. There is a bit of flavor from the oak chips and a bit of cocoa powder with a dry, roasted bitterness on the finish. Excited to try this, a bit disappointed with the result.

Photo of cmq103
3.93/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a Nutbrown Ale Schooner glass.

Appearance: Very dark brown, almost black with a decent 1/4" dark brown head that reduced to a thin ring within two minutes of sitting. Lacing very minimal, which is typical of the style.

Smell: The aroma blasted forward immediately with anise, followed by expresso coffee and dark chocolate. Definitely a unique combination, as this is the first Imperial Stout I ever sipped that was brewed with anise. The smell reminds me of the Italian Anise flat cookies my Mom used to make during the Christmas season when I was a kid. I do detect a mild booziness in the finish, which is to be expected with a higher ABV RIS. As the beer warms, the anise aroma is more prevalent.

Taste: Wow, the anise bombards the tongue with intense flavor, which turns to dark chocolate/expresso coffee, then finishes with a mild boozy bitterness. Just the right amount of sweetness rounds off the anise flavor. I can't wait until the next sip...I really like this beer!! As the beer warmed, the anise flavor dominated all the other flavor combinations.

Mouthfeel: Creamy texture with the perfect blend of carbonation for this thicker style beer.

Overall: This a full body, "slow sipping" RIS for sure. I really enjoyed this one. One will do though, as you must be a fan of anise (licorice) to truly appreciate. I'f you didn't like the taste of black licorice (or Good 'N Plenty for that matter) as a kid then you probably won't like what Stone was trying to do with this beer. I would buy this again when I'm in the mood for a full-body RIS that stretches the flavor boundaries.

Photo of buffs9
1.63/5  rDev -53.4%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Appearance: Very dark w/ a one finger tan head, a little lacing.

Smell: What I pick up here seems to be a mix of anise and taint.

Taste: Matches the smell fairly well, which isn't good. Licorice, ass and a bit of char.

Mouthfeel: Doesn't feel bad, just tastes bad. Decent body and texture.

Overall: I bought this based on a recommendation from one of the beer guys at my favorite shop. We talked about our mutual love for Abyss, and he said this was a great substitute. Not sure I'll listen to him next time...

Photo of jimboween
4.58/5  rDev +30.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

hello: lets face it, imperials complement snowstorms and turtlenecks more than tiki-bars and bikinis. it is only with the great merit of stone's RIS and my love for anise that i drink this during the hot part of florida's year.

appearance: it is a perfectly dark, moonless night in a glass. i can hear wolves. this is ed zachary what a stout should look like.

smell: even my nose can smell the anise. start brewing coffee in the other room, rip open a bag of black twizzlers then step back three feet from it, and you'll likely have a similar experience to smelling this beer.

taste: the experience comes in two parts. act 1 is all imperial stout: roasty, burned chocolatey coffeeness. act 2 is black liquorice. not like eating a black jellybean, per se, but more of a morphing trick. like when they take, say, a picture of a zebra's face and morph a picture of your face into the zebra. now do this same thing with tastes, starting with coffechocolate and ending with black liquorice.

mouthfeel: its a heavy bastard. but at 10.something%, i expected more of an alcohol burn or something. not really. it is very smooth and wonderful, and sneakily alcoholic.

overall: yeah, i gave it a high rating. but i am emotionally attached to the flavor of black liquorice. being greek, i am quite comfortable with my alcohol tasting like jellybeans *cough* ouzo *cough*. you like stoutes and liquorice? then have at it, its awesome!

Photo of CampusCrew
4.5/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance: deep dark brown nearly black, nice dark brown head retention

smell: coffee, loaded chocolate, and some herbal sweet spice

taste: tons of dark raw chocolate, mixed with an abundant licorice flavor. It's big, but not over done. I loved it.

mouthfeel: full bodied

drinkability: I know other don't agree, but I love this beer.

Photo of GregSVT
3.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into a snifter

A: Pours a dark black with a brown head that fades to a ring and leaves a bit of lacing on the glass.

S: At first all I could smell was cocoa and roasty chocolate malts but after a few sniffs I started picking up aromas of dark fruit and then a big whiff of black licorice. The licorice is definitely on the forefront after it settles...I can see why some people wouldn't like this, it smells like Jager in a beer.

T: The taste is full of the licorice from the smell along with some nice cocoa and vanilla flavors. There is a slight roasted malt flavor on the finish but the main component here is the licorice although it's not as pronounced as in the nose.

M: The feel is medium bodied and pretty creamy. Same as the original.

O: I can see why it's gotten such low scores...black licorice is a very acquired taste and even I don't like it but I can appreciate what Stone was trying to do here. The other flavors and aromas are definitely there if you can get past that anise/licorice stuff.

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

22oz into tulip. 2011 release

A: Rich, sludgy black body pours a one finger light khaki head, that holds good retention. The visible level of carbonation is good for style. Lacing is left in small but sticky swaths. 

S: The aroma is fairly forward, with strong hints of anise and vanilla. A bit of a smoky note comes through on the finish.  Medium to strong intensity for style.

T/M: Body is rich in sweetness and nice silky character flows to the finish. The anise is present, but not to the point that it dominates the palate. Hop bitterness is lacking, but maybe due to the oak and anise. Roasted character is present, but not smokey. High overall sweet backbone.

O: A nise addition to the odd year beer series ;). Good, but rather have the original IRS. Having finished the bottle, the anise would blend better if there was a touch less used, but achieved the anise flavor profile. 

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.85/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at the Stone Bistro on 6/30/11.

A - Poured dark black with a small amount of brown head

S - Intense licorice domonates the nose with some faint roasted malts in the background.

T/O - Heavy licorice with roasted malts and coffee. The anise/licorice really dominates this beer and I think it would be much more balances and better overall if they toned down the anise. That said, I normally HATE the taste of licorce yet I somehow really enjoyed this beer, which scores some points with me.

M - Medium to full body. Chewy. Lightly carbonated.

Photo of DovaliHops
2.08/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a thick, fizzy black color with a small tan head that diminishes quickly. Scent is...HOLY SHIT! They weren't kidding with the anise... this thing is a black licorice bomb! And I hate black licorice! There are some chocolate and roasty notes as well, but the anise dominates. Taste is anise dominated as well. This awful flavor takes over throughout...with mellow roasted malt flavors and dark chocolate. A bit of coffee and oak as well. Mouthfeel is full bodied but not too sticky. Drinkability is low, as I HATE black licorice, and this beer just tastes like I'm eating a ton of it. That, or a handful of Good N' Plenty. Overall, this beer is AWFUL! I could see why people would like it, but I just can't stand black licorice. Give me the original IRS ANY DAY!

Photo of Hatzilla
3.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - A pitch-black oily pour a with a 2 inch head and lots of lacing.

S - Licorice, cocoa and dark fruit, but the licorice dominates the nose.

T - More licorice with oak, cocoa and dark fruits. Again the licorice is the dominant force, and the aftertaste is a lemon-licorice combination that I'm not crazy about.

M - Smooth, silky with low carbonation and a dry finish.

O - An interesting take on an IRS, but too heavy on the licorice for my liking.

Photo of Dhren1979
4.25/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vuntage: 2011

Serving Type: 22 oz Bomber poured into a Tulip glass,

A: Pours a very dark brown, aklmost black but for hints of a reddish hue. The head is tough and doesn't want to leave as expected. Color is caramel. Lacing is tight.

S: Sugary malts but it is quickly overpowered by the roasted aroma of licorice.

T: A roasted licorice (anise) flavor which plays very well with the roasted coffee malts that are present.

M: Thisk as oil! Ok, not really but you get the picture.,,Carbonation is minimal which is expected with a RIS.

O: I like this stout a lot!! It's different from the other RIS that I have had and I like that creativity. I also love the taste of anise in the notes so this added a big plus for me. I know many people don't like real licorice taste so this may not be for everyone.

Photo of jnn4v
3.58/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Looks fantastic. It's identical in pour to Stone's normal Russian Imperial Stout. I was expecting some additional head from the Belgian yeast, but apparently that's not happening. Black, viscous and next to no head.

S: Anise, licorice, coffee, dark chocolate, anise, and licorice. Maybe some Jägermeister too? Come to think of it, that's exactly what this is. Coffee Jägermeister.

T: Fortunately it's not nearly as repulsive as Jägermeister. Good Stone RIS base character - cocoa powder, molasses, and coffee, but definitely with heavy anise flavors at the beginning, middle and aftertaste. No hint of Belgian yeast in the flavor anywhere that I could find. And I'd have to really strain to pretend I could taste oak.

M: Texture is great - just like it looked in the appearance. Viscous, thick and only slightly carbonated. Just about right for a RIS.

O: My wife threatened to pour hers out immediately, but then again, she hates licorice. If you're not a big fan of anise, don't buy this beer. Then again, that should be self explanatory since anise is IN THE NAME of the beer. If you do like anise and Russian Imperial Stouts, you'll like the beer.

Photo of OakedCanuck
3.15/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle into cervoise. from notes

A - Pours a nice medium black, slight brown edging. One finger sandy brown head. Medium lacing.

S - Lots of anise. Smells like the old black liquorice candies that grandma would give you when you were a kid. The old kind that were crazy powerful. Also pick up some chocolate, brown sugar and vanilla.

T - Very strong liquorice/anise which makes me remember the high school days of mixing cokes and sambuca. The chocolate/coffee/vanilla is also there, just like the classic Stone RIS. The belgo yeast is provides a faint funkiness but is drowned out by the anise bomb.

M - Medium, stinging, warming ABV.

O - An interesting experiment from Stone, as usual. I didn't really like it but I have had worse. As always, it is well constructed, just am not convinced about the ingredients.

Photo of BeerImmediately
4.05/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into snifter in the 50's.

Pours with a short tan head over an opaque black body. Head fades quickly to ring, but no lacing.

Anise comes through strong in the aroma, but accompanied well by the sweetness of black strap molasses, vanilla, and cocoa.

Smooth and elegant on the palate. Flavors of dark chocolate, black licorice (star anise), rich coffee, sweet bread, and just a subdued hop bitterness in the finish. If I looked down and saw a mint sprig sitting in the glass, I would not be surprised.

The mouthfeel is terrific - starts off a bit sticky, but finishes with a rather a spritzy, dare-I-say Belgian lightness, which keeps it feeling more like 8%, not 10%.

I really enjoyed this one, and shocked to see it with such a low rating, unless people are not reading the label, or otherwise just averse to original takes on 'traditional' styles. Stone did a fine, fine job w/this one.

Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 919 ratings.