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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.

926 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 926
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
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Ratings: 926 | Reviews: 441
Photo of Gosox8787
3.38/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

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

Appearance: (4.0)
- 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.

Smell: (3.5)
- 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.

Taste: (3.5)
- 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.

Overall: (3.5)
- 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.

Photo of Beaver13
3.23/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of 1Adam12
3.63/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of FARGO619
4.53/5  rDev +29.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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!

Photo of ManuelHerrera
3.89/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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.

Photo of jlindros
3.73/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of PhiloPsych
4.47/5  rDev +27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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!

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

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

Photo of AnPiobaire
3.21/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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!!!

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

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.

Photo of Stretch270
3.55/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of bamadog
3.48/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of Wadsey
2.6/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

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.  

Photo of Blakaeris
4.38/5  rDev +25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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.

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

Photo of infi
3.77/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of SFGuy187
2.46/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

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.

Photo of OldIronLungs
3.34/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter dark brown with a thing ring of off-white lacing.

Nose pulls a little roast and that anise/liquorish tone on top of alcohol. I like anise, so I don't think I'm put off the way most reviewers are.

Medium to full mouthfeel with light carbonation. Sweet roast is quickly swept away by the anise flavor, which develops into a slightly bitter finish. I really don't know what else there is in there. The ABV is well hidden and it warms interestingly - I wouldn't mind a taste after some cellar time and in a colder month, but I won't be buying another bottle - I like anise but this was too much, like drinking liquorish syrup - I got no hints of Belgian yeast notes, either. Their regular RIS is great, and I'm sure I'd enjoy a Belgian version just fine...It's an odd one, to be sure, but Stone makes no excuses about the big anise flavor, so I can't lay down too much hate.

The Jager comment the previous review is pretty accurate...I'd say a shot of Ouzo makes as much sense.

Photo of womencantsail
3.06/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

On-tap at Provisions

A: The beer pours essentially black with a finger of off-white head.

S: Huge licorice aroma is there, but I expected as much. Lots of roasted malts as well. A little bit of vanilla and graham cracker sweetness, but they're shortly overwhelmed by the anise.

T: Like with the nose, big time roast and anise character. A mild vanilla note and some definite booze. Lightly bitter with a touch of molasses, dark chocolate, and coffee. The licorice flavor is just invasive.

M: Medium to full in body with a smooth, medium carbonation.

O: Just way too much anise flavor. Almost like drinking Jagermeister.

Photo of JoeAmerican77
3.43/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Very near pitch black with a fat brown two inch head....

I smell Green tea, and mushrooms, hide cocoa beans in the back, also buried in the aroma of moist dirt

Sweet anise and alcohol burn meet the tongue, some dark malts arise to the occasion as well. The promised belgo yeast is there, yet arrives in such an insignificant number that it takes a huge backseat to everything else

Heavy bodied syrup, and warmth of booze make this a nice cold weather warmer, mild carbonation fits the style well

Overall I would change a few things here, jack up the belgo yeast, it is so scant yet half the reason I wanted to try this IRS, the other being that I love IRS's in general. Second this is very booze heavy. If the flavor profile could be emboldened, then I believe a balance one could find, and put this bad boy in a much higher grade.

Photo of BigB415
3.48/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours pitch black into my Bruery snifter. Pitch black with tan head. Smells of licorice which is what you expect from an anise stout. When I sip licorice blasts my taste buds which I don't like too much, it's too overpowering. The regular RIS this year was perfectly balanced with chocolate and coffee but this BRIS is all licorice. It's a unique beer though because there aren't too many anise beers on the market. Actually you'd expect anise in a beer from a brewery like Dogfish Head and not Stone. My only disappointment from Stone and if I liked Anise I'd buy it again but I don't so I don't think I will anytime soon. If the Anise was a little toned down and more balanced with other flavors than this would be a great beer.

Photo of foogerd
3.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pitch black with a tanned khaki head.

S- Strong anise aroma right upfront totally overpowers the brew, some notes of bitter dark chocolate and dark fruits.

T- Again anise is right there at the start then the brew starts to segue to present the result of its yeast which interplays with the anise in a way where it just doesnt meld together. Dark fruits such as cherries and berries just dont meld together with this strong black licorice taste.

M- Smooth with light carbonation.

O- Interesting, and a nice overall effort but dont come in here looking for balance.

Photo of alli4051
3.16/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a nonic.

Pours just how I remember (from previous non-belgo anise versions at least), black and viscious with a solid tan head. On the first sniff it's obvious this isn't the typical Stone IRS; however, the base beer is still there with some roasty and coffee notes but the anise is heavy. Anise is again front and center in the first sip. At first the anise mingles rather well and creates this kind of not-entirely-unpleasant charred, charcoal kind of flavor, but it just kind of felt like the rest of the beer was there to compliment the anise. As it warmed the anise just became more and more overpowering. It's odd, this is the first beer I think I've had that seems to get more and more one dimensional as it warms. Mouthfeel was about the only thing that wasn't ruined by anise. The regular version is one of my favorite stouts of all time, this version just didn't do it for me. It goes without saying that Stone generally makes great beers, I guess they can't all be winners though. I do wonder if a bit of age would mellow the anise a bit and turn this into something really interesting.

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Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout from Stone Brewing Co.
80 out of 100 based on 926 ratings.