Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout - Stone Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 907 | Reviews: 440 | Display Reviews Only:
4.22/5 rDev +20.6%
This is the beer that started it all for me. That first beer that I reviewed: Stone Imperial Russian Stout. It was so good that it literally compelled me to write something about it. How does it get any better than that? How about…anise oak chips and Belgian yeast? Yep, that’ll do it. It’s really hard to not over-hype this in my mind’s eye, with the nostalgia and all, but I’m trying my hardest. So, like always, here’s an objective review for a beer that may or may not rock my world. Cheers!
A: Black as night, though not as thick around the top – there’s some light shining through in places. It’s done well; it doesn’t look too syrupy. The head is bold and crisp, receding to leave random hints of dark brown around the edge of the glass in a slight ring. Lacing is thin but creamy, adding a pronounced sheet of film as I twirl the glass. Wonderfully dark with some light, lively tendencies to balance.
S: Wow; I was definitely not expecting a nose this oaky. The woodiness is so strong that it reminds me of a nice leather jacket or a brand new cigar humidor – very, very pleasant. Coffee is next, providing a nice bitter change of pace, followed soon by familiar chocolate and heavily-kilned malts. There’s just that slightest hint of the alcohol and Belgian yeast at the finish, combining for earthy, estery, and peppery aromas. A very well-rounded, delectable nose, with some of those promised sprinkles of anise in the background. I especially love the spirit that wood aging brings.
T: Big peppery booze out the gates – it rouses the taste buds and warms all the way down. The anise is huge, too - almost too overpowering at times. The aged wood/leathery tastes are there for the entire ride, no doubt about that, but they are most prevalent right after this spicy start. A savory transition, indeed. The palate expands to fit in roasted coffee beans and some incredibly tart hops, seeming to appear in just the right place. The bitters overwhelm the biggest part of the oak aging just as it’s about to show signs of syrupy over-saturation. Perfect execution. Some sweet chocolate and toffee tastes are prevalent in a mixed sort of way, but they make their counterpoints nonetheless. As for the special Belgian yeast strain: well, it’s mild. It doesn’t pack the punch that the yeasts of the classic Belgian ales do, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t deliver at all. The medicinal, estery aspects of Belgian yeast make a slight appearance near the finish, providing a light pick-me-up in a mostly acidic manner. Sweeter hints like rose, clove, banana, and bubblegum arrive sporadically throughout. Just because it isn’t perfect, though, doesn’t mean that it isn’t great. I’m still glad they decided to make this a Belgo-Anise stout instead of just an Anise one; it certainly adds depth, even if it is only slight.
M: Light on the tongue, especially when considering its 10.5% ABV. Like most high alcohol Stone Brews, though, it kicks back as easy as soda. Very drinkable, though it sacrifices a certain fullness for being so easy. I love smooth-drinking beers, but sometimes thickness is the more appropriate feel.
O: This is an incredible beer. I love it in so many ways. The nose, the boozy warmth, the deep taste profiles – it’s all good. Plus, it was nice to see a brewer tackle a special edition stout other than vanilla or just barrel-aged. High standards and forward thinking are the things that make me most proud to be a Stone lover. But for this beer in particular: am I in love the way I was with their original Imperial Russian Stout? No. To be honest, I’ll take an original IRS over this in a majority of situations. But I will say this: if the plan was to revolutionize one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts out there, I think Stone has the right idea.
06-22-2011 04:06:30 | More by BarryMFBurton
3.6/5 rDev +2.9%
578th Review on BA
Bottle to snifter
Purchased at Bevmo Chino Hills, served at 57 F
App- This looks like the original RIS and contained a huge three finger head. Not much in the way of cling. Very khaki in color and very bubbly.
Smell- It's a soft aromatic beer which I was not expecting. The anise and the oak are quite prevalent but that's about it. The toasty roasted malts aren't there. More one sided than anything.
Taste- For the uniqueness of this beer I was expecting to have a face of WTF did I just drink. I had the '11 RIS the other night and it was quite tasty. This seems to be a bit of a base stout with some pepper notes and some sweetness.
Mouth- I like the feel of the pepper, sweet and bubbly. It's medium bodied and a bit higher in carbonation. The bubbles dance and it's quite nice.
Drink- It's an oddity for sure. The flavors are balanced and unique. For every other year this is a nice break from the ordinary. I'll have it again in 2013.
06-22-2011 02:47:35 | More by FosterJM
4.35/5 rDev +24.3%
Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout 2011 odd year release!
Poured into a palm sized snifter.
Appearance: Dark, almost impenetrable by light. Like the classic Stone IRS the head is kaki colored, soapy, thin, and dissipates rather quickly.
Aroma: Burnt malt, dark fruits, coffee, and a good amount of Anise. I get a pleasant bready note as well I am not sure if that is because of the anise, the Belgian Yeast, or a combination of the two.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied to full. This beer feels a lot like a milk stout its quite velvety but not thick.
Taste: Obviously this is very reminiscent of the original Stone IRS. This beer is also similar to the Old Rasputin. This odd year release, however, is unique because of its significant anise flavor. Some will find the first impression to be unpleasant or weird. I think it’s great. The finish is long and bitter much more so than the original IRS. It almost feels like eating a black licorice stick, it’s a bit minty but pleasant!
Overall: This beer gets a lot of bad rep due to the anise notes. It is not nearly as strong as some have made it seem. Sure the anise is present but it is not cloying. Give this beer one or a few years and the anise will serve as complementary note!
06-21-2011 05:44:24 | More by ChanChan
4/5 rDev +14.3%
A - Pours a dark jet black color with a finger of frothy tan-brown head. The head hangs around for quite a while leaving behind some thick lacing.
S - Aroma is a mix of roasted chocolate malts and potent anise. There is also some oak and Belgian yeast in the background as well.
T - Starts off with a mix of anise and roasted chocolate malts. The anise is pretty potent. Through the middle, a mix of some oak and vanilla as well as a bit of the Belgian yeast flavor. The finish is a mix of all of the mentioned flavors with the addition of a bit of booze.
M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth and fairly creamy. The oak and the booze in the finish warm the mouth alongside anise flavor lingering.
D - Pretty drinkable. The balance is not quite perfect here. The anise feels a bit too strong and the oak a bit too weak, and the Belgian yeast does not seem to make all that much of a difference.
06-20-2011 06:38:35 | More by ngeunit1
4.25/5 rDev +21.4%
Served in a tulip.
Pours black with a half finger tan head, as to be expected. Nothing groundbreaking here, but some nice lacing appears after several sips.
A deep whiff imparts dark malt, coffee, chocolate, but suspiciously lacks anise. Looking forward to the surprise in the taste.
Ah yes, there it is. I'm disappointed by other reviewers' reports of overt anise flavor in this brew, as I feel it blends quite nicely. Sweet dark malt, chocolate and a decent amount of licorice round out the flavor. Absent is any hint of Belgian yeast. Did I miss something?
Nothing to balk at here, this is the Stone RIS that you know and love with a good, spicy kick to it. This beer won't break the bank, so definitely worth checking out.
06-20-2011 01:21:21 | More by morningthief
4.4/5 rDev +25.7%
Bottom line - tastes like black licorice dissolved in a good milk stout. If you like black licorice and stout, you might like this beer a lot. I do.
22 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass. Inky dark, good head if you let it develop. Licorice dominates the aroma and the aftertaste, but taste is of a robust but not bitter stout. Roasted but not smoky, great full mouthfeel. Then after a while the licorice reasserts itself.
I normally don't like non-beer tastes in beer (fruits, bourbon, caramel, maple), but I find the anise to be an exception, at least for me.
06-19-2011 22:15:56 | More by SteveStein
3.35/5 rDev -4.3%
Presentation: 22 oz. bomber bottle poured into my Dogfish Head snifter. Served at room temperature.
Appearance: Midnight black in color with a nice two finger medium brown head. Pretty good retention.
Aroma: The anise notes are definitely dominant. Coffee and tobacco notes are underlying. Some light chocolate and oak notes as well. Not very well balanced as the anise is overpowering.
Taste: Again, the anise is way overpowering. It actually takes a while before I can pick up any of the underlying notes. Chocolate, coffee, and earthy tobacco notes are there, but are definitely not that strong. The Belgian yeast doesn't leave much flavor either. Unbalanced and anise heavy.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied and smooth. Very similar to the regular IRS.
Overall, I didn't hate this beer, but it was definitely a downgrade to the normal version. Some balance would have done a world of difference. Combining the anise with chocolate or bourbon barrels would have really done this beer wonders. The anise was just too heavy handed, for the sake of being bold. Not bad, but a pretty significant downgrade over the great base beer.
06-19-2011 21:39:54 | More by Gosox8787
3.53/5 rDev +0.9%
- Poured a jet chalky brown with three big fingers of light latte colored head. Took only a short time for the head to settle to a thin blanket with a slightly thicker island in the center. Light lacing about the glass.
- Slightly salty, licorice nose. Almost a smoked woody touch. Slightly sweet good n' plenty smell for sure. Chocolate and roasty grain and malt. Earthy and grassy herbal touch. Very interesting smell for sure. Light boozy alcohol, and a bit rich and bready. Yeast doesn't shine through too much through the thickness.
- Very smokey woody flavor. Sure this isn't a smoked woody stout? Salty touch with a chocolate malt bill which isn't too overpowering and sweet. Very woody aged, and classic flavor. Earthy herbal hop notes, a bready yeast touch. Light esters. Overall very interesting.
Mouth Feel: (3.5)
- Certainly dry from the bitter hopping. Touch thick and chewy. Leaves a blanket of creamy stout film on the tongue. Lightly chalky.
- I think this stout will do far better with age, and perhaps then I will update my review accordingly. For now it is a very different RIS compared to their usual classic version which is known to be one of the best. It's certainly worth the try fresh.. but I am thinking it will be far far better with near 5 years on it or so.
06-19-2011 06:52:56 | More by Docer
3.25/5 rDev -7.1%
22oz bottle. Pours an opaque inky black with a small light tan head that quickly goes to a thin collar.
The aroma is oatmeal, chocolate, roasted slightly ashy malt, and a little spice. It's more subdued than expected.
The flavor is roasted chocolate with some black licorice and a bitter tarry finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly watery.
Overall, I don't care for this as much as the regular version. It seems more subdued. I don't get much Belgian yeast other than a slight twang in the finish. The anise seems about the same as the regular.
06-19-2011 05:13:01 | More by Beaver13
3.63/5 rDev +3.7%
Split a bottle of this tonight with a friend that is moving away. Poured jet black, maybe an inch head on it. Smelled like licorice. Also tasted like licorice, some malt. More licorice than anything I've ever had. Mouthfeel was creamy and full. I think this needs some time to sit. The licorice is too overpowering right now and I'm hoping that with time it will fade some and have more flavors in it. Good brew, but IMO it needs a lot of time to age.
06-18-2011 22:26:28 | More by 1Adam12
4.53/5 rDev +29.4%
Had it at the release straight from the tap. I have a bottle of it, and will oepn it up soon. Very strong licorice smell from the start.
A: Dark , pitch black with a tint of red light that shined through from the light. Mocha head that lingered for a bit.
S: Strrong licorice and coffee aroma, dark chocolate hits the nose right away.
T: Coffee, licorice, malt...no bitterness from the beginning. Seems to be matured a bit for the taste to come through. I feel this is going to be a better beer later on down the line.
D: It went down smooth. The smell was different from the drinkability. I didn't think I was going to like it as much as I did.
O: Great beer!
06-18-2011 16:57:43 | More by FARGO619
3.9/5 rDev +11.4%
Two things I'm always down with trying: New imperial stouts and new types of spicy bean dip. Naturally, I'm having both tonight.
Stone's Belgo Anise (Anyone know how to pronounce that?) is overall pretty good, although not quite a WOW.
A - Pours a promises deep black with a chocolatey foam head. Lacing evaporates surprisingly quickly.
S - Aroma doesn't open up too strongly, malty chocolate with notes of nickel, however in my tulip it's not quite coming on strong.
T - Immediate chocolate notes with barely a touch of hop bitterness. Robust bourbon flavors lace this beer and light oakiness, although not as heavy as we come to expect.
M - moderately heavy, although not overwhelming in the slightest. Carbonation cuts through what could be a syrupy beer.
Overall a decent effort although not quite as massive as I hoped.
06-18-2011 04:06:44 | More by ManuelHerrera
3.7/5 rDev +5.7%
Pours a nice large fluffy thick 1 finger darker head that fades at a medium pace with some thick lacing, over pitch black beer, no light coming through there.
Nose is kinda weird, plenty of anise in there, but not spicy anise. It has some sweet sugars and a light cinnamon, kinda like those Italian anise flavored snowflake shaped cookies. Some light chocolate, hint of cocoa, a bit of roast, some vanilla and a light toasty oak.
taste brings plenty more anise, again not spicy or crazy, but a light but definite anise, but not really licorice either, its weird. Again some sweet malts and hint of cinnamon as well as other nutty spices bring a anise cookie flavor. Some creamy chocolate, hints of roast and cocoa, some caramel and darker malt flavors. A slight darker fruit and Belgian stout like roundness (if you know what I mean). The sweetness comes lighter but there, and brings some warming and slightly tingly booze. Some vanilla and hints of toasted oak round off the flavors. Some bitterness comes through partly from roasted malts and partly from a bit of earthy hops, which seem to pop up at the finish but are quickly pushed back down by the spicy booze and anise flavors that linger for a while.
Mouth is a bit heavier bodied, creamy, decent carbonation for the style, and warming and spicy booze.
Overall not bad but not great either. The anise is at least not overpowering, but not quite what I was hoping. Interesting but weird flavors, the darker malts are there but not as big as it should have been, and the anise cookie flavor and aroma was interesting but not quite right for this beer IMO.
06-18-2011 01:48:17 | More by jlindros
4.47/5 rDev +27.7%
I reviewed this years batch of standard Stone IRS and this one looks just the same--maybe the head was slightly darker, for sure the head dissipated more quickly. The smell is sweet Sambuca. Somehow the alcohol heat that is so powerful in the aroma of the standard version is hidden or absent in this variant. The taste is definitely different from the standard brew, too. The Belgian yeast seems to have brought out more chocolate and coffee from the malt--this one is the sweeter of the two by a clear margin. The anise is clear and distinct without being overwhelming. I love Sambuca and I love this beer, too. I'm giving myself a genius award for pairing it with Indian food. I win!
06-18-2011 01:21:45 | More by PhiloPsych
3.68/5 rDev +5.1%
A-pours a silky deep brown black with a thin layer of tan head
S-roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of smoke
T-Roasted malts, molasses start out and then bitter coffee and dark chocolate finish. The anise is somewhat in the middle with a slight licorice spice to it. The yeast gives it more of a sweeter, lighter finish than most other RIS
M-medium body, very light carbonation, leaves a bitter coffee like coating on the mouth
Not as good as the standard Stone RIS but pretty interesting
06-17-2011 22:09:46 | More by ksimons
3.18/5 rDev -9.1%
I had been looking forward to this release and finally got my hand on several bottles. I poured the Belgo Anise at about 50 degrees into a snifter. It poured a rich dark brown/black with a thin caramel colored head that dissipated fairly quickly.
The nose is overpowered by the anise/licorice note. There are some faint underlying notes of malt and espresso, but make no mistake licorice rules the nose.
The taste is more of the same. Whatever complexity is in this brew is overpowered by the copious amounts of anise.
The mouthfeel is rich and chewy and carbonation was right where I like it for an imperial stout.
Overall, I was disapointed. Not being a fan of licorice I do like subtle notes of anise in my imperial stouts but this much is too much. The Belgo Anise is a prime example of too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing. I will be aging these bottles for a year or two in hopes that the anise will subdue somewhat. Enjoy!!!
06-17-2011 21:22:30 | More by AnPiobaire
3.95/5 rDev +12.9%
Really surprised with this one, will definitely buy a case or two before it starts disappearing.
Not for the normal stout drinker if you expect overly bold roasted flavor that isn't hindered by any additional flavors.
The anise is slightly too much impeding on the stout native flavors; I can only assume it will fade with time. I expected similarity to Abyss and as far as body the beer holds up but really, the anise is far more than any beer I’ve tasted.
Slightly arid flavor with the traditional chocolate notes and roast of Stone IRS. Medium Carbonation, brown/chocolate head, pitch black overall. I would definitely keep a lot of these for future tasting, especially for the price, it is something worth testing out year after year.
06-17-2011 02:47:33 | More by buzbuzzer
3.55/5 rDev +1.4%
Served in a Stone tulip glass.
Appearance - It is a coffee brown/black with an almost milk chocolate head.
Smell - Well you certainly smell the anise, which was already very prominent in the standard IRS Stone puts out. The anise combines with some pretty strong oak aromas. You can certainly tell it was aged in oak barrels.
Taste - Well, if you don't like anise, then you probably won't like this beer as it is there in abundance. I had a very positive view of the Stone IRS because of the hints of anise, I am not sure that I would go for this one over the standard IRS because it is less drinkable. You really have to sip slow or you might be overwhelmed.
Mouthfeel - Heavy, heavy, heavy. That said, it is really what I was looking for when I decided to go with this beer, so I am pretty satisfied by the feel. With the heavy anise flavor, you might not want it on your tongue too long.
Overall - I certainly would prefer the standard IRS, but this is a fun beer to try as it really highlights a flavor I really enjoy generally. To someone who is not a big anise person, might not be for you.
06-17-2011 02:09:44 | More by Stretch270
3.48/5 rDev -0.6%
Excited to finally get my hands on this year's batch of the IRS, let alone the odd year release. I'm not really a fan of black licorice, but I figure that Stone has never really let me down, so I'm willing to give it a shot. Review is from notes taken on 6/16/2011 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.
Appearance: Pour is a thick and viscous looking brew, and comes out darkest brown/near black and starts with a short 1/2 finger creamy tan head that fades almost immediately to nothing other than a faint scum and uneven ring around the surface; body is entirely opaque, and gives me no idea what the carbonation may look like; no lacing holds on.
Smell: It's interesting -- big roasty malts with a touch of smoke; bittersweet chocolate with some sweeter notes of vanilla; definite presence of the anise and it's not as off-putting as I thought it would be.
Taste: Hmmm... definitely different... I like how it starts and I feel that the anise is more mild than I thought it was going to be, and the big roasty/espresso-like maltiness and some of the bittersweet chocolate, but as it sits in the mouth, the anise really makes a presence and brings a bit of a dark, tart cherry with it; I really don't pick up on any of the Belgian style yeast; rounds out with a warming alcohol.
Mouthfeel: Feels like I would expect, and it's pretty much spot on with the '11 IRS that I cracked a couple of nights ago -- thick, sticky body with carbonation that provides a little bit of prickliness, but is overall a pretty smooth body; entire mouth is coated and the teeth feel gritty; gums are left tingly and the belly is left warm fro the nearly 11% ABV.
Overall: I'm glad I got to try it, but the anise proves to be a bit much for me. Better luck next time.
06-17-2011 02:04:38 | More by bamadog
2.53/5 rDev -27.7%
Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout
Served in DFH signature glass.
A: Pours black with a big tan head that sticks around for a few moments before settling to a skim atop the beer.
S: Spicy and licorice, smelling like Good & Plenty. Some damp wood. Slight menthol. Sedate roasted malts. At subthreshold of smell, may be citrusy hops.
T: Licorice pervades taste and runs roughshod over other characteristics. Sweet malt up front.
Medium bitterness. The finish is damp wood and a bit of roast, mixed, of course with licorice.
M: Fairly heavy beer with medium-light carbonation slick and mouthcoating. Also, warming and a little astringent.
O: Belgo Anise IRS is an experiment that has gone somewhat awry. The star anise would work well if it were used less liberally. As it is, we are dealing with a licorice bomb. And its drinkability rates poorly.
06-16-2011 03:29:32 | More by Wadsey
4.4/5 rDev +25.7%
Pours pitch black with a creamy tan head that quickly becomes a thin ring, leaving some nice sticky lacing.
Aroma is dominated by smokey dark grain and anise. Underneath, there is some dark fruit and prevalent alcohol.
Taste is more of the dark grain and massive anise flavor from the nose along with rich molasses, and chocolate notes. plenty of sweet dark fruit - notably plum and date. Then a charred dark grain bitterness takes over; along with a very peppery yeast character. Alcohol warmth comes on strong and has a presence throughout. Finishes very dry and woody, along with a welcome touch of aromatic spice and vanilla from the oak aging.
Mouthfeel is thick and viscous.
This is a beer with bold rich flavor. I love the intensity, and the alcohol warmth. One of my favorite RIS.
06-16-2011 00:08:09 | More by Blakaeris
4.05/5 rDev +15.7%
Poured a dark and thick black with a long lasting sticky dark brown head.
Has a strange nose with a big blast of oak and anise along with some burnt black malts.
Wow the flavor is super intense, big black burnt smokey malts mixing in with some alcohol sweetness and a big anise finish. Its almost like if you replaced the hops with black licorice. The belgian yeast comes through with a touch of spiceyness, but just barely, the smokey black and anise flavors are very dominant.
The mouthfeel is thick and chewy and has a surprising bit of hoppy resin stickiness as well.
I like it, it might be a bit extreme for some and isn't the balanced perfection of Stone's regular Imperial Stout, but fun none the less.
06-15-2011 23:52:00 | More by bashiba
3.9/5 rDev +11.4%
22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass.
Appearance: Pours a glossy black color with a thick, film-like dark tan head.
Smell: Definite licorice aroma right up front. And, I can't really smell anything else beneath it.
Taste: Very malty with anise/licorice, chocolate milk, and mildly bitter flavors. The various flavors seem to fluctuate with no real relation to start, finish, aftertaste, etc. in each sip. Each peaks at different times. Tasty, but lacks a bit of dimension.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and very smooth. Moderate carbonation, but not very powerful.
Drinkability: Strong ABV, but not apparent in the taste.
Not quite sure what is "Belgo" here. It is an enjoyable beer, but seems a bit monolithic. A fun drink, to be sure, but I'd probably just get their regular RIS instead next time. (And if you don't like licorice, you won't like this! It does - to me - taste a bit more of licorice than it does of pure anise.)
06-15-2011 23:47:55 | More by mithrascruor
3.8/5 rDev +8.6%
22 oz. bottle, shared with BAs brun, glard and NYManc.
Poured into a Corsendonk tulip.
Typical stout appearance: midnight with dark brown edges, mocha-colored head of tight knit bubbles with good retention. On the nose is the immediate emergent spiciness of the anise, giving it a very aromatic smell of licorice. Underneath the anise is a very thin malt breadiness. Belgian yeast is barely recognizable – drowned out by the totality of the anise overall.
Taste is nice and bold due to the anise spiciness. Basically, like a melted black jelly bean added to each glass. But not overpowering like a Jägermeister, either. Not much of any Belgian qualities to be noted of as well. Considerably thin malt complex to back the beer and some bittersweet chocolate underlying the rest.
Medium-bodied stout with palpable carbonation qualities on tongue. I guess generally people don't like licorice due to the low grading, but I enjoyed this "odd" beer. Look forward to many others on the odd years.
06-15-2011 15:34:45 | More by infi
2.45/5 rDev -30%
A: Looks like a normal Stone RIS, but that's about all it has going for it.
S: Licorice orgasm. Yuck.
T: See above.
M: See above.
O: See above. Stone done messed it up with this licorice disaster. And since BA.com requires my review to be at least 250 character, I guess I'll further comment about how I hate this licorice bomb from hell.
06-15-2011 08:17:16 | More by SFGuy187
Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 907 ratings.