1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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.
BA SCORE
80
good

924 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 924
Reviews: 441
rAvg: 3.5
pDev: 21.71%
Wants: 18
Gots: 163 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 924 | Reviews: 441 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Hatzilla
3.61/5  rDev +3.1%
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
4.23/5  rDev +20.9%
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
3.18/5  rDev -9.1%
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
4.06/5  rDev +16%
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.

Photo of MadCat
4.82/5  rDev +37.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stone seems to be getting some flack for these Odd Year releases. And they're not getting as good of reviews as the regular version does either. But I think this is a perfect example of Stone doing what Stone does best, making crazy beers that aren't for everybody, and it just so happens that they've finally hit the note where its clear that they aren't for all Beer Advocates either. Which is totally cool for me, because that hopefully means more Belgo Anise IRS for me!

Appearance: Like the standard IRS, this pours a thick black color with a muddy brown head that doesn't get too big or stick around, but it does leave decent lacing.

Smell: This is an anise bomb! Tons of anise in the nose, with plenty of chocolate, caramel, coffee, oak, and roasted malts in the background. A less discerning nose might only get anise out of this, but the beauty lies in that they didn't mask what makes the regular IRS so good.

Taste: Again, you get hit with tons of anise up front, with chocolate, caramel, coffee, oak, and roasted malts backing it up, and then a nice sweet anise finish to it. It is exactly what Stone says it is on the bottle, tons of anise! There is less bitterness to this than the regular IRS. I also don't detect any Belgian yeast flavors. But still a win in my book.

Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth, and creamy, low carbonation gives this a mouthfeel that is like drinking dessert.

Overall: This isn't for everybody, but I'm in love with it. It reminds me of when a friend and I put a shot of jaegarmeister into Guinness, but on a much more delicious scale. This was worth the wait with the massive delays.

Photo of rdilauro
3.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep dark black coffee chocolate color. I was excited to try this one since I've recently tasted Stone's Imperial Stout which I raved about.

The bouquet of this brew was not as brilliant as I was hoping or expecting. I did not sense the chocolate or coffee in terms of the stout

Right away I noticed more carbonation in this stout. I did start to pick up some coffee/expresso tones. I also noticed a little burnt caramel as well as a hint of vanilla.

I did not detect any oak and tasting so many wines over the years, oak is something I generally pick out pretty easily.

But I did enjoy this, not the best, but still a very good stout

Photo of dgilks
2.81/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch inky black with a large tan head. Good head retention and nice lacing.

Big anise aroma with a touch of chocolate and smoke. For me the over the top anise kills the aroma.

This is quite sweet with a lot of liquorice. For me I don't get the awesome chocolate and coffee of the normal RIS. The anise just kills it.

Medium body with moderately-high carbonation.

For me this is hit and miss. I love liquorice but I find that the anise kills the awesomeness of Stone IRS. I think that Stone IRS with Belgian yeast would be fine but the additional liquorice is over the top and almost unpleasant.

Photo of BeardedRiker
3.61/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's too bad this beer isn't getting to high of reviews. It definitely sounds like a stout that would taste excellent. It's also too bad that I'm not a liquorice fan either. :P But when I saw this at my local store I couldn't help but pick it up. A new, different beer from Stone? Even though the beer is a stout and it's summer here in Texas...yes please! Give me that beer.

Oh boy does this stout impress with its look. It is black as midnight. Black as coal. It's a black hole. Light cannot escape from it. Even when held up right in front of a light I can't see through it at all. The head pours thick and looks like a chocolate foam. It's so creamy-looking! It recedes fairly quickly and leaves some lacing.

If I said this smelled like liquorice would anyone be surprised? Well, that's the dominant smell but there is some sweetness there too like dark fruits. I think the oak chips soften up the nose because this doesn't have as strong of a smell overall as most stouts though it's difficult to smell much else than the anise (liquorice aroma). Dark malts are in there too. In some ways it smells sort of like a root beer but less sweet and liquorice being dominant. I'm not really sure what I should think about the smell. On one hand I'd say the anise is overpowering but on the other hand I've never smelled a beer like this. However, a good beer has balance to it and the smell is definitely not that albeit the smell is interesting and unique.

Taste in many ways is like the smell. The anise is very strong. I'd recommend letting this sit out for awhile before drinking because if you drink it very cold the anise is extremely overpowering, sort of like if you drink a very hoppy beer ice cold. With the anise there is a lot of warmth from the 10.5% ABV but it doesn't have a boozy taste. I'm not picking up the Belgian yeast much. Sweet chocolate and dark fruits come in at the end that helps balance out the beer more but in the end this beer is simply not balanced enough for me to really enjoy it. The flavors are good but the anise if just too overpowering.

I find it interesting that this is called an Imperial Russian Stout instead of an RIS. It's definitely not a heavy bodied beer like an RIS but it's still up there. If you disregard the overpowering anise, the Belgo Anise IRS (OMG! It's a government beer!) is pretty drinkable. It's syrupy and velvety with medium carbonation.

I think I'm with most here in saying this is an interesting try at a beer. The anise brings a different flavor that I've ever tried but it's too dominating to make this a more balanced and therefore much more enjoyable beer. Perhaps people who like liquorice will like this more but to me, and it seems the vast majority of others, think there's just way too much of it. I'm really not sure what to rate this overall. It's an interesting take and not something I've experienced before...but I don't like it too much. Maybe next time Stone you'll figure out how to balance this better.

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

A- Black black black with a two finger tan head, good retention. Heavy lacing.

S- Black licorice, and that's pretty much it. Spicy.

T- Dark chocolate, licorice. Jesus Christ a lot of licorice. The usual coffee flavors, maybe some dark fruit notes (black cherry?). Good spiciness.

MF- Thick and creamy but really fuzzy. Over the top carbonation. Heavy, almost hot chocolate like feel.

O/D- Cant taste the booze, which for 10.5 is pretty amazing, I think.Why do I continue to drink this style all summer? Because I love it so. Even for not being a black licorice eater, I still really liked it. Try this!

Photo of Diesel76
4.16/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bottle at the stone brewery gift shop since my local stores did not have it in stock yet. (Also piced up a bottle of their regular IRS).

I cracked this one open first, and greatly enjoyed the Oaky flavor... it went very well with the Tri Tip I had grilled up for dinner.

Nice thick pour... I love not being able to see thru my pint glass... I enjpoyed this so much I went and picked up two more bottles and have them stored in my wine fridge to enjoy this winter!

Photo of biglite351
3.26/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - black as night. Tall tight brown head.

S - licorice (the anise obviously) malts,dark chocolate with a hint of hop.

T - licorice, cocoa powder, malt, yeast and just a hint of hop bitterness in the finish.

M - tingle through entire mouth and tongue. Potentially too much tingle. Medium amount of coating.

O - you MUST be in the mood for licorice and not mind the bitter hit.

Photo of zaphodchak
3.95/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Half finger tan head, dark garnet body.

Nose is soooo anise. Delicious licorice.

Taste follows the nose, quite bitter with a bunch of anise to temper it. Pretty dry otherwise.

Mouthfeel is a bit prickly, but good.

This is big on anise, but I'm not picking up the Belgian yeast. Still quite nice if you like licorice.

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

Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

Pours a midnight black into the snifter, off white/brown head forms and leaves little lacing. Looks appealing and dark. Aroma full of anise, with some oaky suggestions as well. In the flavor, big roasted malt, big anise, some well defined oak/vanilla/wood notes pairing well and even cutting some of the anise flavors. A small piney hop is noticed cold, but upon warming is lost. Mouthfeel is full bodied but ultra smooth. Overall, not an every day drinker, but a nice brewing experiment.

Photo of nickfl
3.2/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours with half a finger of orange-tan head on an opaque, black body. The foam disappears quickly and leaves very little lace on the glass.

S - Earthy notes of chocolate and licorice with a bit of clove. Surprisingly little else, maybe a little molasses but that's about it.

T - Dark sugar notes up front with lots of molasses and brown sugar as well as some licorice. Some slightly fruity notes of cherry and red apple in the middle as well as a bit of tobacco. The dark sugar dominates the finish and the anise is right there with it in a sort of charred, woody way.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a somewhat dry finish.

D - To be honest, this sounded a lot better than it turned out to be. The anise works with the dark malt in a strange way that makes it come off more like licorice with a very dark, syrupy character rather than the bright, spicy notes I would normally expect. The Belgian yeast character is kind of subdued and only contributes a few fruity apple and cherry notes in the middle. The oak is really the last straw as it gives the beer an astringent harshness in the finish and contributes to the burnt character of the molasses notes. It isn't quite a drain pour, but it is pretty disappointing and I definitely won't be drinking this beer again.

Photo of smcolw
3.68/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown where light only passes through the glass edge. Tan head that settles to a single layer of bubbles. Leaves ring lace after each sip.

Dark malt aroma with a light tinge of licorice. No coffee or dark chocolate smells.

Imagine Good-n-Plenty dissolved in a dry porter. It doesn't have any of the burnt elements of a Stout. I'm fascinated by the taste--this unlike any beer I've ever had. So, I have to give it points for originality. The main taste and the aftertaste is mostly licorice (anise). Thinner than most stouts.

Worthy of a try because it is a very different beer.

Photo of mindlucent2007
3.93/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a menacing black body with a quarter-inch tan bubbly and fluffy head that settles into a small mass. There appears to be lower carbonation and pretty much no lacing. The scent is smokey, molasses, coffee and licorice. Taste is dominated by the anise, but at the same time it is not overdone. This is a smooth stout and carbonation is very low. I don't sense a strong kick to this brew and it definitely has a light mouthfeel with no aftertaste, except a faint trace of coffee. No alcohol detected at all. A well-developed Imperial Russian Stout and you can tell that Stone took the right approach as usual delivering a unique and complex, but very drinkable heavier style stout. A great style and one of the better stouts I have experienced in a minute.

Photo of Viciousknishs
4.32/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- pours an opaque inky black with a finger and a half of tan crema colored head. Retention is not that great but what do you expect at 10.5% ABV. Head recedes intoba thin halo of tight bubbles.

S- let me start by saying that I am a sucker for anise/licorice aromas and flavor. Starts out like a good and plenty. Anise black licorice fills the nostrils with a note of candy sweetness. A hint of oak cuts the sweetness beautifully but doesn't overpower. I'm having a hard time picking out the Belgian yeast but there is a softer nose to this then the classic IRS. Finishs with a smooth roast and subtle chocolate.

T- Tastes like a chocolate covered licorice stick. Dark chocolate and anise flavors run rampent on the palate. Dark bakers chocolate mingles in with a dusty char roasted note that I have found in a lot of belgian style stouts. Finishs with a slightly rough oak and a choolate aftertaste.

MF- smooth thick chewy mouthfeel with a full body and average carbonation.

D- this is a big boy with lots of complexity. Drinkability is ok however. Time, I think, would work out some of the kinks and meld the flavors a bit better. Overall great beer and love the anise!

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

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!

Photo of CaptainTripps
1.56/5  rDev -55.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

22oz bottle poured into a duvel tulip. Served slightly chilled.

A: This beer pours jet black with slight, and I mean slight dark brown hues on the edges in the light. The pour came with about 2-3 fingers worth of dark mocha brown head. Left some lacing on the side of the glass. A great looking beer.

S: Black licorice. Holy freaking CRAP. The anise quality of this beer is almost to much to handle. The smell is so intense its actually hard to make other aromas the beer is giving off. I smell very faint roasted malts and chocolate; also some oak and dark fruits.

**I don't mind licorice at all, but this is going over board. At first whif, i was actually thinking about not taking a sip at all but went with it for the hell of it.**

T: Following the nose perfectly, taking a sip of this beer is like geting slapped in the face with a anise plant. It is over powering and completely revolting. It is so strong, I have hard time trying to figure out the other flavors. After powering through a quarter of the beer it became a drain pour.

M: Besides the awful taste, the beers mouth feel wasn't to bad. Medium bodied and very smooth. It was slightly over carbonated but not to bad. Alcohol was well hiddin by the disgusting taste.

O: Just plain bad.

They tried to turn Jagermeister (which I love) into beer and it simply did not work. Will be avoiding this beer like the plague.

Photo of TheWhiskerReview
4.27/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 "Odd-Year" Release

Pours pitch black with a 2 finger tan head. Moderate retention and sticky lace. Very similar to the 2011 RIS.

Once this nose opens up, and it takes a good 10-15 minutes for it to harmonize, it attacks with the purest and most intense black licorice character you'll ever smell- with intense earthy and medicinal undertones of dark forest fruits, oaky mushroom and dark german bread. The immensely spicy, herbal character of the anise combined with the Belgian yeast makes this very reminiscent of absinthe and/or a 19th century-recipe root beer.

The palate is full-bodied, rich and slightly thicker than the RIS- moderate bitterness, a chewy malt and a slightly stewed fruitiness- more flavors of black licorice, cassis, absinthe, bran flakes, coffee, cacao and that intense spice. Finish is long, starts roasty sweet, and ends intensely bitter and herbal with mate and mocha flavors.

This thing is so freakin wild. Flavors such as black licorice, mushrooms, absinthe, root beer and mate, are all sort of love or hate kinda flavors, and they're all here. I love how Stone can make a beer that challenges even the most adventurous of palates. This will certainly not appeal to everyone, but that's the point. If all the breweries of the world went to a rock concert, Stone is definitely the ass-hole in the mosh pit.

Photo of HoppyToad
3.32/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Reviewed by three people after picking up a bottle at the Stone Brewery, World Bistro & Gardens gift shop.

Appearance: Looks darn good. Just like Stone's traditional Russian Imperial.

Smell: All three of us agreed there's some serious pepperoni going on.

Taste: Drinkable. Could use more cheese.

Mouthfeel: Quite nice, actually.

Overall: It would be a good addition to your next Stout-tasting party. Not something we'd drink on a regular basis, but we certainly respect Stone for taking a chance and changing up their tried-and-true formula this year. But we're also glad to have purchased a few bottles of their original recipe on our brewery visit.

Photo of Naugros
3.87/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I loved the IRS that Stone originally put out...not the tax people. So now they've made a Belgian-style stout with anise. The ratings don't seem favorable so far, which makes me smile because I think sometimes anything Stone, DFH or Russian River puts out is smiled upon by the beer geeks and they get props just for being who they are. Either that didn't happen here or this beer REALLY sucks. One dude did complain about there being too much anise...read the bottle! If anise is not your thing then buy a beer that doesn't advertise it on the bottle.

The look of it is standard for a stout of any kind (except the freakish nitro stouts that defy nature..apologies to Old Rasputin which I love, but beer is carbonated, not nitronated).

It smells unlike any beer I've ever smelled. It's like a Coca-cola had a handful of black jelly beans melted into it...almost root beer. There a re a few of the regular aroma notes from a Belgo stout: vinous booze (but well hidden) and some roast/chocolate (even more hidden). So it doesn't really conform to the style but I really like the smell, knowing what it is they're trying to do here.

The flavor seems to be what might be tripping people up. If they expected an RIS (no idea why Stone goes IRS unless they're trying to avoid an audit by paying homage to that Federal band of thieves) then they're going to be put off by the taste. If they were expecting a Belgian-style import stout then this is not far off. BA is not helping by putting this into the RIS category though. Still, getting the style square only helps a little...it doesn't make it taste any better. The anise still comes through as licorice, as is its wont, and the vinous notes of this style are present and the roast is more prevalent on the tongue than in the nose. The root beer as an overall flavor sense is strong. What's really not doing it for me is the misbalance of this one. The flavors don't come at you in a cohesive attack. It's more like the extras in a kung fu movie who all wait until it's safe to attack the star, because if you hit him when he's busy with someone else you might hurt him. The flavors are disjointed and almost at odds with each other, but this improves as the beer warms. It's not completely integrated but it becomes more drinkable.

Stone can do better than this (we ALL know that), but I like that they tried this on a national scale. I'm an East Coaster so I've never been to their brewpub and have not had a lot of their Belgian-style offerings other than Belgique. I hope to have more and see what they can do. The West Coast still kicks the crap out of the East Coast in their genius and ample utilization of hops, but the East Coast is still a bit ahead on employing Belgian yeast strains coherently.

Photo of DavidST
3.98/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I've looked for the Stone RIS since I got into craft brews five(ish) years ago (which started due to Old Rasputin), I've not had any luck until this year where I've been lucky enough to get both the Belgo Anise and regular RIS. I decided to start with this one.

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a goblet.

This pours a pitch black color which stops light from getting through even the edges. There was a small mocha head which very quickly dissipated. The smell is mostly of anise and licorice, there are also roasted malts, coffee and an alcohol smell. The mouth feel is thick and creamy very nice. The taste is of roasted malts, espresso coffee, licorice / anise, maybe a hint of sweetness, it ends big with a good hop bite a slight alcohol burn (surprisingly well hidden though considering how fresh this is) and you get some anise lingering after flavor. Overall this is a nice taste brew, love it, can't wait to try the regular soon.

I have 5 more of these so I might make additional notes when I try them every 6-12 months or so.

--- EDIT ---
One major negative for me is after drinking this beer perhaps from the loads of anise I had one of the worst stomach aches ever, I'm scared to tr another bottle. Hopefully it was something else.

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

Enjoyed in a snifter at Papago.

Inky, creamy black, absorbing like the ocean at night. A tight, one-finger head of khaki slowly becomes a medium ring.

The original IRS is definitely in the nose, though it’s behind a buttload of anise. Milk chocolate, peanuts and toast combine with the spice to smell like root beer.

A similar takeover occurs in the flavor — I get lots and lots of black licorice, ginger and acrid toast. Behind those are sweeter nutty notes and some cocoa. It becomes drying and licorice bitter after the swallow, with lots of anise lingering on the sides of the tongue.

The feel exhibits the same awesomeness as the standard version. Super soft and creamy, with a medium-full body, moderate massaging carbonation and very soft fizziness that combine to feel like liquid velvet

Well, it sure is different. I was afraid the additional ingredients would take over the base RIS, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I dig the blend.

Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 924 ratings.