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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

910 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 910
Reviews: 440
rAvg: 3.5
pDev: 22%
Wants: 20
Gots: 162 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Stone Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: EgadBananas on 05-23-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 910 | Reviews: 440 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of challenja
4.6/5  rDev +31.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Having this beer on tap at Church Key in DC. A bit frothy with a nice 70 percent dark chocolate cocoa nib. You can smell a wiff of slight costa rican coffee with a turkish mint backbone. It pours well and settles like most imperial stouts. I really like the mellowness of this beer. The anise is noticed and appreciated. This is remarkably smooth with little alcohol bite. A great everyday stout that can really bring more people into the fold of what a great stout can taste like. Highly recommended for its drinkability and smooth mouthful feeling. Bravo Stone. Bravo

challenja, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of JRed
3.53/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black in body with coffee head that retreats to the edges of my glass. A light mist remains in the center. Aroma of anise (licorice feel), dark cocoa, cinnamon, and booze. I'm intrigued but not delighted, I know that this is gonna take me on a trip. A boxer's left hook even though I saw it coming: licorice, chocolate, cinnamon, prunes, syrup, roast, vaguely sour booze and hop bitterness mingle in the finish. Heavy in body with light carbonation. A powerful, rich assault on the palate. Not as bad as I'd expected but not as good either. A slow sipper that conjures up longings for the winter.

JRed, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of malvado78
3.85/5  rDev +10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark opaque black. No light through this baby. Decent maybe 1/2 inch head quickly dissipates. No lacing. Not suprising at 10.5%.

S - Coffee, Hazelnut, Anise, not much else.

T - Little coffee in the front. Finishes with nice strong anise. And some bitterness. I like it.

M - Not too dry not too heavy. Doesnt feel like 10%. Tingled a little bit.

O - Overall pretty good. Not stellar but pretty good. Do not try if you do not like anise. I love anise (aisse not anus). I was easily able to finish the 22 oz myself.

malvado78, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of smulkowski
3.48/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Looks like the Stone IRS - black, with a thick brown head, nice lacing and legs.

S: Overpowering anise. Tends towards a vegetal/herbal flavor more than anything. I smell not much other than anise at first, aftter a few tastes, it starts opening up and rounding out a bit.

T: Anise on the first few sips, this is smoother and softer than the Stone IRS - maybe because of the oak, maybe because of the Belgian yeast characters. Comes across much differently, would love to try without the anise. Somewhat vinuous, higher esters than the IRS.

M: Somewhat light for the style, thin.

O: Smoother than the IRS, meaning it is somewhat too soft for the style, but easier to get through. Uber-anus impressions from smell are not representative of this beer, but still...I think this would be a very compelling beer without the anise.

smulkowski, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of MbpBugeye
1.3/5  rDev -62.9%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

After tasting the monstrosity that was Belgo Old Guardian I just had to have this beer. $7.99 poured into a Jackie O's snifter.

It looks good. The head is slow to arrive, but slow to leave. The glass is quickly coated in spotty lacing. A minor pillow of spongy foam gravitates to one side.

This beer slaps you with anise, HARD. The black licorice aroma is very intense and comes at you right out of the gate. Burnt sugar is really the only representation of roastiness that I can pick out; and it really just smells like someone tried to smoke a licorice rope. Black pepper is found in the middle, like a shot of Jagermeister with pepper in it. This aroma has me seriously reconsidering the idea of drinking this beer.

At first sip I thought this was going to be alright, but the awfulness was merely a delayed reaction. I can barely get through this part of the review. Good grief this is one of the very WORST tasting beers I've ever had, and I actively seek out terrible tasting beers. The flavor is metallic, burnt and plasticy. Burnt licorice and charcoal, melted cellophane, weird spices and alcohol booze. This stuff is so bad that it is literally not even funny. The flavors are just a team of pure evil. The flavors are menacing, spiteful and immoral.

The beer hasn't really lost much of it's body, but I think the carbonation is a bit high. The finish is kinda slick, but the worst part is that nasty burnt anise that lingers and lingers.

This beer is utterly contemptible. I imagine that various fluids that drip off of an old car to taste very similar to this.

Use this beer to kill weeds or to keep deer out of your yard.

This beer tastes so much like old, turn of the century medicine that I keep expecting Mary Poppins to swoop in with a spoonful of sugar and a jaunty tune to make me feel better.

I'd drain pour this, but I'm not certified in HAZMAT disposal.

The worst tasting beer ever. Period. And I thought Belgo Old G was bad...

MbpBugeye, Jul 02, 2011
Photo of aficionado
2.93/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not as good as Stone's original Imperial Russian Stout.

The oak treatment makes this particular version drier. It smells like I'm inhaling treated wood with a mild smoked quality to it. The Belgian yeast is not an improvement to the original yeast, it is a detraction.

In addition to the flavors in the original, the anise really comes through and there is a strange, burnt black licorice flavor with a weird, thin mouthfeel. This beer needs more chocolate, less bitterness, and more of a robust Russian IS feel. It's just too perfumey to be an enjoyable drinking experience.

End result: Anise + Belgian yeast + RIS = not too good. It's overkill... like slathering truffle sauce atop prime aged rib eye beef. There's absolutely no reason to do this.

aficionado, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of drabmuh
3.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Really playing with the IRS recipes this year, we had a bourbon one, now one with a different yeast, and now you added anise to it. I liked it but not as much as I hoped for. Served on draft at Churchkey in a snifter.

Beer is black with no head low carbonation, no lacing, looks like a stout.

Beer smells roasty, mildly malty and at the end some licorice / anise, smells nice actually.

Beer is thin to medium in body and a little sweet, the anise comes up in the mid to back half of the palate. It is present but almost gives the beer a candy like flavor to it. Not my favorite but I still love Stone. Keep it up Greg and company.

drabmuh, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of Slatetank
3.43/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I appreciate Stone's willingness to go against the trends with a spice that is not used as frequently which is my disclaimer...however I guess it has to be a spice you are very fond of.

A dark black looking stout with thick cream of light brown -looks good with tight bead and opaque clarity, lace sticks okay. The smell is where I don't really enjoy the beer as much -the first sense of it going awry anyway. I am not much of a fan of black licorice which is exactly what this smells like-black twizzlers ugh. The feel is okay but a bit clean with the spice erasing the sense of malt and leaving the palate a little too cool for the style I am supposed to be enjoying it is like a medicinal almost minty quality which seems like a natural mouthwash or witchhazel maybe.

The flavor is good but the anise comes into the flavor of the stout midway and just overtakes any flavor of coffee or oak or vanilla or caramel that you wish you would be tasting or might get in the original. The taste is almost like rootbeer it is so herbal and earthy as one of my compatriots mentioned during our tasting. I suppose if I were a huge fan on Anise I would be in love with the taste. I am not so pissed that I would dump this or stop drinking it but feel like the original beer has suffered by the heavy handed anise addition. I guess the review already gives you an idea why I gave the overall score of 3 -it is flavor I personally find to detract from the overall enjoyment of the stout so buyer beware.

Slatetank, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of LordAdmNelson
3.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I have mixed feelings about this one, which is kind of a bummer considering that I really liked the Belgo Old Guardian. Pours jet black with a nice cap of creamy cocoa-colored foam. Stone IRS is a damn fine looking stout, and this one is no exception. Nose is big on the anise at first... black licorice is not my favorite thing, but underneath there is a good deal of smokiness, roasted malts, and some woodiness. Flavor follows with a brash anise assault, which I find to be rather unpleasant. To their credit, however, Stone notes that there is a lot of anise in this beer on the back of the bottle. So not my favorite, but as I adjust to the anise, the beer really grows on me as a dark roasty complex stout. Smoke, wood, leather notes all emerge. Not bad, just a bit tough for me with the overwhelming anise. Feel is good, thick, smooth, moderate carbonation. Overall, I'd say the beer was at least interesting, a little too much anise, little or no influence from the Belgian yeast, but overall decently good. I still like the regular IRS better.

Also, I woke up this morning with the same taste in my mouth that I get when I smoke a cigar the night before, despite having brushed my teeth. That is kind of gross.

LordAdmNelson, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of axeman9182
3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle, allowed to warm some before being poured into my DFH signature glass.

Stone's first official Odd Year IRS release pours an uncompromsing black, with close to three fingers of surprisingly frothy mocha foam serving as a crown for the beer (perhaps a bit of influence from the Belgian yeast strain). The nose is fairly heavy on the black licorice notes, but there is a faint coffee/chocolate hint of the base beer struggling to be heard as well. The flavor is still anise heavy, though not quite as much so as the nose suggested. Any spicy phenols from the Belgian yeast play right into accenting the notes of licorice. Those faint coffee/chocolate notes are my only reprieve with each sip. The body is on the full side, though not quite as much as most stouts (I suppose increased attenuation should have been expected with the switch in yeast strain), and has a solidly low key carbonation. If a licorice flavor works for me in a beer, it's in small doses, adding another layer to an already tasty beer. For me, it can't come close to carrying a beer as the main attraction. With so many options for an Odd Years beer (I would love to have seen a chilies treatment similar to one of GK Mad Man blend that was making the rounds last year), a brew that could be aka'd as Stone IRS: Jager Barrel Edition just doesn't quite cut it.

axeman9182, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of Krakistophales
4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours jet black with a finger of caramel colored head that recedes into lacing.

S: Big time aromas of anise, liquorice, dark roast, black coffee, caramel, and toffee.

T: The anise and liquorice is first and foremost, then fades into a dark roast/coffee/espresso bitterness, finishing with a slightly creamy sweetness and more of the anise/liquorice.

M: Definitely more of a buzz than from the original from the anise/liquorice, warms well, good carbonation.

O: I think I like the standard edition better, but this is definitely a tasty treat. Strong on the liquorice/anise, but I like that, and plus, what did you expect with a name like "belgo anise"?

Krakistophales, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of NefariousR
4.38/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. glass bottle into a tulip glass.

A - Same familiar, blacker-than-Hades appearance I'd expect from a typical Stone RIS. However, the head's a bit thinner and dissipates more quickly as well.

S - Dark coffee, chocolates, vanilla, a bit of licorice, and a lot of dark fruits, the aroma is extremely floral and complex.

T - A primary assault of dark coffee is quickly overtaken by a strong anise flavor and a slightly Belgian-flavored malt body. Tastes vaguely of gin in the aftertaste.

M - Somewhat lighter than expected, but still fairly thick. Medium-carbonation.

O - This is one of the most interesting beers I've had in a long time. I wouldn't say it's better than the standard Stone RIS, but the two are really incomparable. Get a bottle.

NefariousR, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of BobZ
3.23/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22 oz. Bottle poured into my Duvel Tulip. 2011 odd-year release.

Appearance: Very dark brown almost black. A richer head than the traditional Stone RIS, about a ½” that recedes to a ¼” and hangs around, nice lacing too.

Smell: Roasted malt, followed by the anise/licorice, also a bit of chocolate & coffee.

Taste: Just like the nose, big on the roasted malt bitterness, I found the anise to be noticeable without being overwhelming. I liked the combination of initial smoothness from the Belgian yeast followed by the anise flavor; however, the bitterness of the roasted malt is heavy and it combines with the alcohol to finish with an almost “burning” sensation (bordering on astringent).

Mouth feel: Very smooth up front but the finish is a bit harsh.

Overall: Again, I liked the initial combination of flavor; however, the finish was way too hot, maybe this will mellow with some age. I may give this one some time in the cellar and try it again in a year or so.

BobZ, Jul 01, 2011
Photo of John_M
3.1/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed at Matt's (slatetank) birthday stout tasting.

The Belgo Anise pours a blackish brown color with fairly good head retention and minimal lacing. On the nose.... good grief!!! The licorice aroma in this beer is completely overpowering, making it impossible to detect anything else. Also, while I think a hint of licorice is fine in the aroma profile of an IRS, this is just completely over the top. The flavorful profile is nearly as bad, though as the beer warmed up a bit, I started to get detect a hint of chocolate and coffee. However, the anise flavor continues to completely dominate the flavor profile, which adds an extra added degree of sweetness that I really don't care for. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, with a long, smooth, licorice finish. Also, I should add that this beer is pretty boozy, which coupled with the licorice and sweetness, really hurts this beer's drinkability. I cannot imagine trying to drink a bottle of this stuff.

Uggghhh.... You have to give Stone credit for experimenting and trying new things, but this is one experiment that didn't pan out (IMHO).

John_M, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of Eldalonde
1.98/5  rDev -43.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - Black pour with a full thick creamy tan head and sheets of lace clinging to the glass.

S - Smells of chocolate and loads of licorice, anise, coffee, and subtle hints of oak. The anise is really strong in the aroma and is really dominate.

T - Chocolate, loads of anise and licorice, coffee, belgian yeast, booze, and spices. The anise is so strong and overpowering that it turns this beer rather one dimensional. A bitter burnt roasted malt and spicy finish.

M - Somewhat oily and flat.

O - One needs to love licorice in order to really appreciate this. Just way too much licorice for me. Was not able to finish this one.

Eldalonde, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of Jparkanzky
3/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

From bottle into snifter.

Reviewing for the sake of future update, as I believe this one certainly is not best consumed fresh.

A) Looks great... deep dark black with a thick cocoa head.

S) You can smell the anise along with hints of chocolate and vanilla. Fairly pleasant.

T) The flavors hidden within are great but the presence of alcohol and strength of the anise are far too much.

M) Good carbonation but the alcohol burns the palate.

O) Great potential for the future, but not recommended fresh.

I split a 22oz bottle with my wife. I had placed the bottle purchased that day in the fridge for many hours and removed it 30 minutes before pouring. After pouring, I immediately took a sip (which was much too cold) and had doubts as to whether I would want to finish the entire glass due to the heavy taste of alcohol and bite it had behind it. I let the glass sit at room temperature for 30 more minutes and began drinking it, and when it was all said and done, I finished my glass of approximately 11oz's 3hrs after first taking the bottle from the fridge.

The final few ounces were much much better, so if you insist on drinking this fresh, I would drink it at or near room temperature.

Jparkanzky, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of colforbin73
3.8/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this is a VERY WELL MADE beer -- and when you break it down -- and read the words -- you should know what you are getting into with this one -- ANISE. know what that means?: black liquorice, absinthe, ouzo, jagermeister.

pours a rich gloppy black -- a deep burgundy black plop in the glass settles with a rich dark tan head and burbly brew texture -- made by a witch?.... the aroma is a DEAD STOP. take your time with this beer. no need to rush. there is oak in there somewhere...

you get amazing depths of flavor as this beer warms. beneath the spicy aromatic liquorice there is a rich chocy malt profile -- the texture is super rich and sweet with a good touch of oak. there is adequate bitterness but this beer is all malt, anise and rich silver spoons attitude.

given the choice, i would take a straight RIS -- but this is a rich rewarding beer. try it with something salty like a good sausage or even a pepperoni pizza...

colforbin73, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.18/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours an opaque black with a 2 inch tan head that fades to a thin cap. Random lattices of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smells of Good & Plenty candy first and foremost along with minor hints of wood and roasted malt. Slight whiffs of soy sauce come out as the beer warms. Definitely an interesting smell in a RIS, let alone any beer to be honest. I like black licorice, so I am not as wary of the smell as other reviewers are. Taste opens up with black licorice flavors that slowly fade into dark roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and wood flavors. The aftertaste is the same as you get from eating lots of black licorice. The mouthfeel on this beer is quite weird too. It's a bit flat with a smooth and thick feel, but the anise seems to have a numbing effect on the palate. I don't like the mouthfeel at all because of this. Overall, I am somewhat unimpressed with this beer. I know Stone is trying to be different with their "Odd Beers For Odd Years" campaign and this is a pretty odd beer. It's not bad per se but the anise/black licorice smell and taste are very one dimensional and pretty much overpower anything else this beer has to offer. For example, I detect no Belgian yeast in the smell or taste of this beer whatsoever. I only bought one bottle to give this a shot and I am glad I did because I will not be buying any more of this version. I love the normal Stone IRS but this one is just way off the mark in my opinion.

UCLABrewN84, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of BEERMILER12
3.85/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 "Odd Year" Release

A: Pours pitch black with about 1/2 an inch of chocolate brown head

S: Dark fruits most likely from the Belgian yeast along with fairly strong notes of anise/black licorice, faint notes of oak, chocolate, coffee and malts. Pretty much what you'd expect given the 'amped up' regular version

T: Pretty much dominated by the anise and yeast. The other aspects that usually make this an amazing beer are overshadowed, and the oak is barely present

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Not cloying, and none of the flavors, not even the anise, stick around for too long

O: Not bad, and definitely holds up to the name, but you REALLY have to like black licorice or else you will not like this beer

BEERMILER12, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of surprenant1138
2.23/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Pours a deep black with a quarter inch creamy tan hea with good retention of lacing. Aroma is of black licorice, and that is pretty much it. I hate black licorice. Taste is of black licorice. I hate black licorice. This tastes like a stout with black licorice in it. Maybe there is some oak there. I love Stone IRS, but I hate black licorice. This makes the first Stone beer I dislike.

surprenant1138, Jun 30, 2011
Photo of srandycarter
3.75/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours very black, not much head, ring and some spot lace.

S - Black licorice first, malt second.

T - Matches smell completely.

M - Medium body, good carb, cleans up pretty well by end of sip.

D - Was afraid from the review to try. Anise is not my favorite spice, but I find it works with this brew. Different and fun. Wouldn't want it all night and probably would never try it again, but definitely worth a try.

srandycarter, Jun 29, 2011
Photo of Ynot2
2.55/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I was excited to try this beer, I love most Stone beers and this should be no exception.

Pours a black, solid dark with 2 finger deep beige head. This looks nice in the tulip glass.

Aromas of alcohol, spices, oak?, Belgian yeast, earth, and caramel maybe waft up as I bring the glass towards my nose.

Initial flavors hit the tongue and I think WTF? Way too spicy and sweet, alcohol and licorice but nothing melds together in a good way. Not sure what the goal was, but pretty sure they missed the mark.

Mouthfeel is pretty good for a Belgo. No real complaints but nothing that blows me away. Thick enough, and creamy, decent carbonation but could have been bumped up a notch.

Overall, not impressed. The spices were too strong and varied to enjoy the complexity I think they were going for. Glad the standard IRS was released this year as well as it is great.

Ynot2, Jun 29, 2011
Photo of Trilogy31
3.98/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an obsidian black with a frothy two fingers of mocha tinged head leaving pretty lacing, impressive appearance. The nose has hints of mint chip, licorice slight hints of chicory coffee and roasted malt with the faintest wisp of belgian yeast spice. The taste brings prominent notes of mint chocolate chip ice cream up front, brandy barrel spices, cacao. Finishes with very dry cocao powder and oaky tannins. I was somewhat impressed by this beer and the mint chocolate notes i enjoy i can see as being interpreted as unpleasant. Good beer overall.

Trilogy31, Jun 29, 2011
Photo of StoneBrewFanatic
3.98/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours into my snifter jet black with a little more than a finger of mocha colored head that had moderate retention and lots of sticky lacing.

S - Deep roasted malts, lots of anise, sweet molasses, chocolate, vanilla, oak and spice.

T - Anise and oak are both very upfront and present, has a nice spice to it, a little on the sweet side with chocolate and vanilla, roasted malts kind of take a backseat to all the other flavors, finish is a touch on the warm side.

M - Smooth and creamy, just a little on the thin side to me.

O - This is really very enjoyable, as long as your an anise fan of course! Definitely worth trying.

StoneBrewFanatic, Jun 29, 2011
Photo of jayhawk73
4.08/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep black w/ a beautiful two finger chocolate head into my snifter. Just about perfect looking beer. Impossibly black, great carbonation and lacing.

S- Toast, chocolate, coffee, malt.. Nice smelling beer. Just wish the smell was a touch stronger. Not quite as good as the IRS version.

T- All the smells present here. Really nice beer. Not quite up to the level of IRS, but it's really well done. Enjoyed this one quite a bit.

M- Rich, luxurious, velvety. Very nice. Great aftertaste as well.

O- Great beer. Highly recommended.

jayhawk73, Jun 29, 2011
Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 910 ratings.